Origin Narratives: Pier Paolo Vergerio and the Beginnings of Hungarian Humanism

Farkas Gábor Kiss
Eötvös Loránd University
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Earlier studies have attributed a pivotal role to Pier Paolo Vergerio Sr in transmitting the fundamental ideas of humanism to the writer Johannes (Vitéz) of Zredna, the first acolyte of Renaissance humanism in Hungary. This paper investigates the possible contacts between Pier Paolo Vergerio Sr and Johannes of Zredna, mapping the channels through which Johannes of Zredna first encountered humanist rhetoric. Whereas many of these possible connections turned out to be historical fictions that proved to be untenable in the form they are described in later historiography, there seems to be a genuine core to the embellished stories. I argue that his direct use of Italian early humanist texts (Guarino’s translation of Plutarch, Gasparino Barzizza’s letters) and an avid reading of Livy’s historical work (witnessed by the ms. Cod. 3099 of the Austrian National Library) are the earliest testimonies of his humanistic interests.

Keywords: Pier Paolo Vergerio, Johannes (Vitéz) of Zredna, humanism

The appearance of Renaissance Humanism in Hungary is closely connected to the most decisive political events of the first half of the fifteenth century in Europe. First, the Council of Constance (1414–1418) succeeded in eliminating the schism in the Catholic Church and brought religious peace to Europe, with the exception of conflicts with the Hussites. The meetings of the emperor, kings, church prelates, and ambassadors created numerous occasions for cultural exchange between north and south, Italy and the rest of Europe. Italy’s new “cultural capital,” Renaissance Humanism, could infiltrate northern courts through the agency of the representatives of the states by spreading new stylistic ideals in Latin composition and new interest in the discovery of long-lost, ancient texts.1 The following efforts to resolve the conflict between the Council and the Pope and to unify Eastern and Western Christianity (the Council of Basel in 1431–322 and the council of Ferrara and Florence in 1438–39) offered further opportunities to generate new diplomatic and intellectual ties. Thus, intellectual exchanges were created in a new context, in the field of politics and diplomacy, and not limited to the scholasticism of the university and or to the monastic environment.

The other important element of change, which became especially important for Hungary, was brought about by the new political situation following the first Battle of Kosovo (1389) and the Battle of Nicopolis. After these two clashes, the rising Ottoman empire became a direct threat to Western Christianity. The organization of a common resistance resulted not only in collective political action but also in a mutual exchange of ideas and a redifinition of a political and social identity (e.g. the idea of Europe, or the Respublica Christiana), which could be perceived as a common ground for Western and Central European political powers. These ideas became a primary touchpoint for the intellectuals of the regions which were most exposed to the Ottoman expansion, i.e. Italy (mostly Venice and the Papacy), Hungary, the Empire, and Poland.

The idea of a Europe primarily not as a geographical but as a cultural and political unity was created in the writings of the Enea Silvio Piccolomini (the future Pope Pius II) from the perception of a common threat. It reached back to the ideology of the Crusades.3 Two parallel theories tried to describe the process of how Renaissance Humanism took root in Hungary, which, although they did not contradict each other, put emphasis on different events and personalities in this process. In his classic work, “The Revival of Classical Antiquity” (Die Wiederbelebung des classischen Alterthums, 1859, revised in 1893), Georg Voigt (1827–1891), a professor at the prestigious university of Leipzig, identified Enea Silvio Piccolomini in his role as the secretary to Emperor Friedrich III as the most important instigator of Renaissance Humanism in Hungary.4 Voigt’s conception of the genesis of Humanism was entirely based on the nineteenth century nationalistic idea of a competition between nations which tried to outdo each other by absorbing various cultural and political agendas in order to reach a higher intellectual rank. As Voigt writes, Hungarians were generally open to ideas coming from Italy, as they had shared sympathies with Italians, and they were politically distant enough in order to avoid any conflicts of interest.5 Accordingly, the early acceptance of Humanist ideas was facilitated by the agency of Enea Silvio Piccolomini, who was an Italian, even if he was acting on behalf of the German Emperor, and thus more sympathetic among the Hungarians than a German would have been. Thus, according to Voigt, the lack of a conflict of interest between an Italian movement and the Hungarian national spirit explains at least in part the early acceptance of Humanist ideas brought to Hungary by Piccolomini.

Another theory supposed a more direct connection to Italian Humanism in the person of Pier Paolo Vergerio the Elder. The Hungarian literary historian József Huszti saw the importance of Vergerio in the fact that he was the first Humanist to join the chancellery of the Hungarian king (and later Emperor) Sigismund I, which helped spread Humanist ideas in the scriptoria of Hungary.6 As he wrote in his monograph on the poet Janus Pannonius in 1931, “I cannot explain the Humanism of John Vitéz [of Zredna] without Vergerio […] I think that John Vitéz [of Zredna] could not have existed without Vergerio, and Janus Pannonius could not have existed without John Vitéz [of Zredna].”7 Sigismund of Luxembourg, the king of Hungary and emperor from 1431, received book dedications throughout his life from Italian Humanists, but especially during his travels in the last decade of his life. Just to name the most significant authors, Ciriaco d’Ancona, Francesco Barbaro, Maffeo Vegio, and Antonio Beccadelli (whom he crowned poet laureate in 1432) all dedicated works to him. Nevertheless, only Pier Paolo Vergerio came to Hungary and settled in the country. Hence, Huszti stressed that Vergerio’s Humanist ideas may not only have exerted a lasting impact on the style of Vitéz of Zredna’s official and private letters, but also may have influenced the Humanist education which King Mathias and Janus Pannonius received under the guidance of Vitéz of Zredna. Furthermore, he assumed that after his death, Vergerio’s books might have become integral parts of Vitéz of Zredna’s library, thus forming the first Humanist library in Hungary.8 A similar theory was exposed by Leonard Smith, the scholarly editor of Vergerio’s letters in 1934. In a long footnote to his work, he claimed that both the “father” of Hungarian Humanism (John Vitéz of Zredna) and the “father” of Polish Humanism (Gregory of Sanok) were students of Vergerio,9 although there was no direct proof of such a relationship between any of them. The same thesis became the foundation for József Huszti’s speech held on the occasion of becoming a full member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1941 (although it was published as an article only in 1955),10 and the idea of a direct link between Vergerio and Vitéz became a cornerstone of Tibor Kardos’s history of Humanism in Hungary.11

In comparison with the theory which posits the local origins in the influence of Enea Silvio Piccolomini, this hypothesis might have seemed to suggest “autochtonous” origins, with Vergerio being present in the Buda court. Nevertheless, there were serious problems with its foundations. There was hardly any proof of direct personal contact between Pier Paolo Vergerio and John Vitéz of Zredna, not to speak of any exchange of letters or any contemporary written documents.12 Whereas Vitéz of Zredna was a member of Sigismund’s chancellery at least from 1437,13 Vergerio, who died in 1444, did not seem to have had any influence on the official literate culture of the court, and he did not have the title of secretarius. There survives one single reference as to his official activity in Hungary from a contemporary Bolognese copyist of his famous letter against Carlo Malatesta, addressed to Lodovico Alidori (1397). According to the explicit of this copy (Vatican, Barb. Lat. 1952, 110r), Vergerio was a “referendarius,” a referendary of the Emperor at the time of copying, which is otherwise unknown.14 It seems that Vergerio did not participate actively in politics after 1426, and King Sigismund did not him take him along anymore on his frequent travels after this date.15 How can the scarcity of written documents be reconciled with the importance attributed to Vergerio’s presence in the Buda court? The aim of my paper is to reconsider these ideas in the light of recent research on early Humanism in Hungary.

In order to understand how Vergerio could have had such a pivotal role in the evolution of Humanism in Hungary, it is worthwhile to give a summary of his literary output. The first phase of this Capodistrian Humanist’s career is closely connected to Padua and its ruling family, the Carraras, at the end of the fourteenth century. In his youth, Vergerio compiled a historical work on the deeds of the family,16 and his most popular text, On noble character and liberal studies of youth (c. 1402), was in fact a pedagogical guide for Ubertino Carrara, the son of Padua’s lord, Francesco Carrara. Vergerio’s cultural canon was entirely secular, and it completely ignored theological subjects. In addition to raising questions of moral philosophy, he emphasized the importance of Ciceronian “civilis Scientia,” rhetorics, poetics, and the seven liberal arts, and he also held the practical sciences, such as military knowledge and sports, in high esteem.17 His treatise became one of the bestsellers of the fifteenth century, transmitted by more than one hundred manuscripts and printed at least 30 times until 1500, mostly in Italy.18 Vergerio was the author of the first Renaissance Latin school comedy, entitled Paulus.19 His translations of the history of Alexander the Great by Arrianus, and the Hippocratic oath demonstrate his knowledge of Greek, although we do not know how and when he learned the language. He was probably the first person in the Hungarian royal court in the fifteenth century to attain this advanced knowledge of Greek, although his translations were deemed unsuccessful by the following generation of Humanists.20

The Venetian conquest of Padua in 1405 meant a significant break in his career, as he had to flee the town together with the members of the Carrara family. He joined the retinue of Cardinal Francesco Zabarella in Rome, and through these ecclesiastic connections, he met King Sigismund of Hungary. The history of these contacts has been fully expounded by Florio Banfi, thus a short summary will suffice. King Sigismund started a war against Venice in the direction of Friuli in 1411–12, and he joined his army in October 1412. The war came to an end with a truce with Venice in April 1413, and Sigismund’s Italian contacts were greatly intensified afterwards. In October 1413, the king started negotiations with Pope John XXIII with the participation of cardinals Francesco Zabarella and Antonio de Challant, which were terminated by an agreement in Lodi in December 1413, which specified the time and place of a general council as Constance, November 1, 1414.21 Zabarella’s retinue included not only Vergerio, but also Manuel Chrysoloras, who became so closely connected to the Hungarian king that the king named him his “familiaris” on June 15, 1414.22 Vergerio reached Constance together with Cardinal Zabarella on October 18, 1414, followed by Pope John XXIII and his secretaries (Poggio Bracciolini, Antonio Loschi, and Leonardo Bruni) and King Sigismund himself, who arrived on December 24, 1414.

The unexpected death of Manuel Chrysoloras on April 15, 1415 had important consequences for Vergerio, his friend, who composed a funerary inscription for the Greek scholar which is still visible in the former Dominican convent in Constance.23 As Chrysoloras was a “familiaris” of Sigismund, Vergerio could take his place. On July 15, 1415, the council elected him as one of the fourteen “procuratores generales et speciales,” the special envoys who were supposed to join King Sigismund on his road to Perpignan and help him reach an agreement with Antipope Benedict XIII.24 Vergerio disappears from the records of the council of Constance between July 1415 and January 1417. Florio Banfi’s suggestion that he remained part of the retinue of King Sigismund and traveled around Europe with him seems reasonable.25 After his return to the council, Vergerio openly switched sides and changed his patrons. Sigismund and the cardinals from Northern Europe preferred to bring a conclusion to the Church reforms first and only then to elect a pope, whereas the Italian and “Latin” cardinals would have rather elected a pope first and then finished the reforms. Vergerio, representing himself both as a lawyer and a poet (“utriusque iuris ac medicine doctor necnon laureatus poeta”), suggested an open disputation and proclaimed three statements, which he attached to church doors in Constance (“affixe valvis ecclesiarum”) and promised to defend on August 10, 1417: 1. those who want to elect a pope without the council support the schism; 2. it follows from the term “reformatio in capite” that church reform should precede the election of the head of the church; and 3. the negotiations concerning the election of the pope should be postponed.26 With the publication of these three theses, Vergerio distanced himself from his former patron, Cardinal Zabarella, who was a leading figure of the “Latin” party, and began to side with King Sigismund. Nevertheless, the switch was not completely successful, as Vergerio fled from the debate when it turned out that the counterparty would present three canon lawyers and three theologians against him. Therefore, as the diary of Cardinal Fillastre indicates, “many thought that the abovementioned Pier Paolo is foolhardy, and he was derided.”27 After hearing Zabarella’s moving oration, Sigismund finally accepted the plan to have the council elect a pope first. In September 1417, Cardinal Zabarella died, thus Vergerio could join the retinue of Sigismund without moral scruples. Afterwards, his name occurs in documents concerning the circles surrounding Sigismund more often: he vindicated the bull of the Crusade against the Bohemian heretics, stepped up as an orator in Prague against the Hussites, and his name occurs in several charters of Hungary in 1424 and 1425.28

Nevertheless, the only surviving documents which bear testimony to Vergerio’s Humanist activity are his translation of Arrianus, dedicated to Emperor Sigismund and dated to 1433–37 by Smith, and the two letters (n. 140 and 141 in Smith’s edition), which contain altogether three short anecdotes. Whereas the second letter (n. 141), which is addressed to Giovanni de Dominis, Bishop of Senj (Segna/Zengg), must be dated to after 1432 on the basis of the bishop’s title,29 the story comparing the Czech and the Polish (n. 140) was dated to after 1420 only because of its Central European references.30 A recent discovery was made of Vergerio’s scholarly interests in Hungary. György Galamb has called attention to a lost text which was once contained in the ms. Münich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, clm 359031 and which bore the title “Collatio D[omini] P. de Capodistri super Disputatione Fr. Iacobi de Marchia ordinis Minorum facta cum Iudeo Rabbi Ioseph in Buda, A. D. 1433. Scripta in Pelisio sine manibus. A. D. 1468 per Michaelem Ruttenstrauch” according to a catalogue from the seventeenth century.32 Although this part was later torn out of the manuscript,33 the description clearly states that it contained a collation (a speech or perhaps a reportatio or a summary) on a disputation held by the famous Observant Franciscan, James of Marchia, who was active as an inquisitor in Hungary, against the rabbi Joseph in Buda. According to the note, Pierpaolo Vergerio prepared this summary of the disputation in 1433, and the only (lost) copy was made by the otherwise unknown Michael Ruttenstrauch in 1468 in the Cistercian abbey of Pilis, which had a significant library.34 Nevertheless, this collation was probably not a Humanist literary product, but rather a scholastic summary of James of Marchia’s disputation against the rabbi of Buda.

Thus, the contemporary evidence of Vergerio’s influence in Hungary is meagre and uncertain. Four decades later, in Cracow Filippo Buonaccorsi wrote a biography of his former patron, Gregory of Sanok (Gregorius Sanocensis, 1403–1477), archbishop of Lvyv. In this biography, Buonaccorsi described the symposia held in the court of the Bishop of Várad (Oradea, RO), where Gregory of Sanok was supposedly also present and Vergerio was among the select participants. Unfortunately, Buonaccorsi’s description conveys several chronological impossibilities, and the events could not have happened in the way the text suggests.35 As Buonaccorsi claims, a certain John Gara, Bishop of Várad (who later was transferred to the See of Esztergom) hosted Filippo Podocataro, the Cypriot Humanist, Vergerio, and Gregory of Sanok in his court, where they held literary debates and poetic exercises. As Vergerio died in 1444 (at the age of 74), but John Vitéz became the Bishop of Várad in June 1445, the bishop in question could not have been John Vitéz, who in fact became Archbishop of Esztergom later (and whose surname was not Gara anyways).36 On the other hand, Vitéz’s predecessor, the Italian Giovanni de Dominis (Bishop of Várad from December 1440 to Nov 10, 1444, dying in the battle of Varna) was never transferred to the See of Esztergom, and he hardly could have been mixed up with the famous Humanist bishop and archbishop, Vitéz.37 Buonaccorsi remarks that Bishop John lured Gregory of Sanok to his court because he persuaded the governor of Hungary (i.e. John Hunyadi) that his sons should be educated by someone who spoke their mother tongue, not a foreign one. The fact that the bishop was entrusted with the education of the governor’s sons befits John Vitéz.38 Furthermore, at one of the Humanist debates described by Buonaccorsi, the bishop recounted the entire history of Hungary by heart (“memoriter et ornate recensuisset varietatem fortunae utriusque Pannoniae39 et qui mortales diversis temporibus eas tenuissent”), which implies that the bishop was a local, not an Italian. It is clear from Buonaccorsi’s words that when he spoke of Bishop John of Várad, he meant John Vitéz, and not Giovanni de Dominis.

These anachronisms throw Buonaccorsi’s historical reliability into question, and the doubts which arise are further strengthened by other arguments. According to Sabbadini, Filippo Podocataro, who must have been very young at this time, was in Ferrara in 1444, the year Vergerio died in Hungary.40 Although Buonaccorsi claims that Vergerio was better in oral rhetoric performance, while Podocataro was prominent in poetry, and Gregory challenged both of them, no poetry by Podocataro survives to my knowledge.41 In many respects, Buonaccorsi’s descriptions of the Humanist debates do not seem to be more than fictional rhetorical exercises embellished with small details from the actual events. According to the Italian Humanist, Vergerio raised the subject in Várad (ch. 19) that, according to the law of Charondas, one who has been widowed once, should not remarry, because if his previous marriage was successful, it is not reasonable to risk his luck, but if it was bad, he must be considered foolish, because he did not learn from his experience.42 The law of Charondas states that if one’s marriage ends, that person should not remarry, because he could be blamed for foolishness, and it survives only in Diodorus Siculus’ historical work (in prose: 12, 12; in verse: 12, 14).43 When Vergerio, Podocataro and Gregory of Sanok were supposed to discuss these issues, the twelfth of Diodorus was not yet accessible in a prose translation.44 Buonaccorsi’s version follows the prose variant given by Diodorus word by word, and it is hard to imagine that he was not working from the original Greek text. Of course, this does not exclude the possibility that Vergerio read the Greek original,45 Gregory of Sanok remembered it, and Buonaccorsi searched the locus in Diodorus for the exact phrasing. But it is more probable that Buonaccorsi selected stories according to his own preferences, as he did in other places, where he embellished the figure of Gregory of Sanok with stories taken from Diogenes Laertius.46 In sum, his account seems to contain more fiction than fact.

I raised the possibility of another connection between Vergerio and Vitéz in an earlier article. Johannes Tröster was an Austrian Humanist who enjoyed the patronage of Enea Silvio Piccolomini but who was forced to leave the court of Friedrich III because of a conspiracy. He turned to John Vitéz of Zredna with a letter on September 14, 1454, and tried to speak to his heart, asking for help. He started his letter, with which he introduced himself to the bishop, with the following words: “So that I would talk about domestic and contemporary people, my reverend father, many have told me that Pier Paolo Vergerio of Capodistria used to say often that there is nothing more salutary among the mortals, than to become the friend of excellent men and to be revered and loved by them.”47 Tröster, in his troubled situation, looked for a new patron in the person of Vitéz, and this gesture gives the impression that Vitéz had indeed been a close friend (de domesticis) of Vergerio, who could have remembered the favorite saying of the great Italian Humanist. Nevertheless, a thorough research on the sources revealed that the proverb comes not from Vergerio, but from Tröster’s own master, Enea Silvio Piccolomini. In fact, it was Piccolomini, the secretary to Friedrich III, who wrote to Zbigniew Oleśnicki, the Archbishop of Krakow, in April 1443 that, “there is nothing more salutary among mortals than to become the friend of excellent men and to be revered and loved by them.”48 Thus, Tröster copied the sentence word for word from this Viennese patron and used it as a friendly introduction to Vitéz, putting it into the mouth of Vergerio. Upon a closer look, it turns out that several phrases in Tröster’s letter to Vitéz are derived from the letters of Piccolomini. When Tröster cites from Cicero the sentence that “as Plato has admirably expressed it, we are not born for ourselves alone, but our country claims a share of our being, and our friends a share,”49 the direct source was probably the letter collection of Piccolomini, who cites the same dictum in a letter written to Johann Eich on October 21, 1445.50 When Tröster describes himself as a homuncio, a tiny man, he again imitates Piccolomini, who characterises himself as such in his letter to his father.51 Speaking of his “small genius,” his ingeniolum, Tröster reapplied a term that was once written down in a letter to Giuliano de Cesarini by Piccolomini in 1434.52 Thus, he mostly used the stylistic patterns set by the imperial secretary, whose letter collection started to circulate in Central Europe in several copies after 1443, and the reference to Vergerio in his letter is nothing more than a clever imitation of Enea Silvio Piccolomini.53

The research efforts to establish a well-documented historical link between Vergerio, the “referendarius” of King Sigismund, and John Vitéz, the first Hungarian chancellor with Humanist interests, have proven fruitless. Another method of retracing the genealogy of Hungarian Humanism would be to examine the literary output of its first author, John Vitéz of Zredna, with a more thorough examination of the imitation and paraphrase of Classical and contemporary Latin sources in his texts. The method of composing epistles by paraphrasing and imitating expressions taken from earlier letter collections, formularies, and Classical texts was in widespread use in Humanist correspondence. The epistolary material was still considered a kind of dictamen.54 A telling proof of this is the title appended to the letter collection in Vienna, ÖNB cod. 3330, in which Humanist authors such as Guarino Veronese and Gasparino Barzizza appear as medieval dictatores and the entire collection is called “epistole diversorum doctorum et excellentium dictatorum” (1r). Furthermore, not only letters but also basically any linguistically powerful form of expression could serve as the basis of imitation if it had a Classicizing tone. Also, Ciceronian Latinity was not an inevitable standard in the first half of the fifteenth century, especially among Central European early Humanists. Late Antique authors and Medieval texts could inspire authors like John Vitéz of Zredna just as easily as Humanist translations of Greek literature if they seemed to possess enough rhetorical force.55 Many examples can be found of this stylistic eclecticism in Vitéz’s epistolary, and some of them (e.g. his imitation of Rufinus of Aquileia) have been already analyzed.56 His dedicatory letters in particular are well-formed rhetorically.57 I offer the following example:


statui mittere tibi infirma mea legenti potiora, ut cum inter excellentes illas litterarum veterum regiones lassus forte versaberis, ad haec remittens animum iocabundus conquiescas, utque tandem, si summa miraberis, inferiora quoque probes.58


I have decided to send you my weakest to the one who reads the better, so that when you get tired of moving around in the excellent regions of Ancient literature, you can rest your soul a bit jokingly, and so that you would approve the lower planes if you admire the summits.

It is obvious that Vitéz’s sentence is built around a phrase from Gregory the Great’s dedication to his homilies on Ezekiel, addressed to Bishop Martinian:


Sed rursum dum cogito, quod saepe inter cotidianas delicias etiam viliores cibi suaviter sapiunt, transmisi minima, legenti potiora, ut dum cibus grossior veluti pro fastidio sumitur, ad subtiliores epulas avidius redeatur.59

But again, as I ponder that amid daily delights simple food also often tastes sweet, I have delivered the least to the one who reads the better, so that when you consume cruder food, you may, as if through aversion, the more eagerly return to subtler feasts.60


Whereas the clausal sentence structures are clearly parallels, Vitéz imitates only one phrase word by word, “legenti potiora,” and the rest of the sentence is transformed to reflect his own situation.

Another example shows him at work transforming two citations. one from Antiquity, specifically Cicero, and one from the writings of a contemporary Humanist, Guarino Veronese, into a single sentence in his:


Igitur si tu quoque recte erudiri volueris, perge ut hos deinceps imitabundus aemuleris, ex iis velim edas paresque studia, ac demum adiungas frequentem usum, qui omnium magistrorum praecepta superabit. Nec amplius properes indoctam hanc scientiam consectari, qua Те ipsum facile perdes, ad labefactandas eloquii vires procaciter obeuntem.61


So, if you want to achieve real erudition, you should continue to imitate and emulate these texts [Jerome and other Church fathers], because I would like you to eat from these, and prepare your studies, and finally add a bit of frequent practice to it, which surpasses the precepts of all the masters. And do not hurry anymore to follow that ignorant science by which you would easily lose yourself, because it cheekily comes to meet you, only to weaken the power of your eloquence.

While the first italicized phrase was imitated from Cicero (de oratore 1, 15), the end of the second sentence was a clever and complicated idea (“cheekily coming to weaken someone”) taken from Guarino’s translation of Plutarch’s Life of Alexander the Great.62 This translation was prepared by Guarino, who was still in Constantinople, between 1403 and 1408, and he started to circulate it publicly after 1412.63 The latter example also demonstrates how the description of a person who wanted to overthrow the empire (imperium) could be transformed into the abstract concept of weakening one’s eloquence (eloquium).

The manuscripts which Vitéz used for these texts (Cicero’s de oratore, Plutarch’s Alexander the Great, and Gregory the Great’s homilies) have not been found yet.64 In a unique case, Vitéz’s actual source manuscript could be identified. It is the cod. 3099 in the Austrian National Library, containing the first, third, and fourth Decades of the Ab urbe condita of Livy.65 The large folio manuscript is damaged both at the beginning and the end (with one folio missing at the beginning), but the fact that it was in Vitéz’s possession can be established with relative certainty, as the margins of the two-column text contain a large number of marginalia from at least three different hands. One of these hands, who often annotates the text in red ink, copied hundreds of stylistically interesting words, expressions, and phrases from Livy to the margins, and his hand resembles that of Vitéz. Livy was perhaps Vitéz’s favorite author, as revealed by the number of expressions used in his letters and orations from him.66 Many of the expressions in the margins of the ms. cod. 3099 reoccur in Vitéz’s letters and speeches. Just to quote a few examples, on May 28, 1448, he wrote from Buda the following sentence: “feratque opem, qui spem dedit, ne differendo elangueat res” (“let the person bring help who gave hope, so that the situation would not languish because of procrastination”), which is composed of two sentences from Cicero (pro Ligario 30) and Livy (5, 26, 3: differendo deinde elanguit res). The annotator of the cod. 3099 (most probably Vitéz himself) noted twice in the margins: “Nota differendo elanguit res” and “nota bene hanc rem” (“Note that the situation languishes because of procrastination” and “note well this thing”; ÖNB, cod. 3099, 57va). In a letter addressed to Pope Nicholas V on June 15, 1450 in the name of John Hunyadi and the prelates of Hungary, he used the phrase “hoc incommodo in irritum cadentis spei preter ius et phas amplius torqueremur” (“we would be further tortured by this inconvenience of the uselessly failing hope beyond what is legally allowed”).67 At the exact place where Livy uses this phrase (1, 6), Vitéz’s annotation can be found in the cod. 3099 (13ra): “dolore ad irritum cadentis spei. Nota bene” (“Because of the pain of uselessly falling hope. Note well.”).

Vitéz of Zredna also used Livy’s phrases in his orations. Accordingly, orations were of special importance to him in his copy of the Ab urbe condita, and wherever a speech occurred in the text, he marked it with the sign ω. In his speech addressed to the young King Ladislaus V on October 8, 1452, he wrote: “quamvis heres esses, consenciens tamen vox populi — ut veteres dicere solebant — ratum nomen imperiumque tibi regi efficeret” (“although you are a heir to the throne, nevertheless the consenting voice of the people—as the ancients used to say—ratified your name and rule as a king”).68 The source of this expression (Livy 1, 6) is noted in red in the margin of the first surviving leaf of the ms. cod. 3099: “Consenciens vox ratum nomen imperiumque regi efficit” (1ra). In another oration, held in front of Friedrich III on March 23, 1455 in Wiener Neustadt, the emperor’s task appears as “ut sociorum salutis vindex sis et custos tue” (“so that you would be a vindicator of the security of your allies and a guard of your own”),69 which is again a phrase from Livy repeated in the margins of the cod. 3099 (12rb: “non acrior vindex libertatis fuerat quam inde custos fuit”). In sum, the marginalia in his Livy show how Vitéz of Zredna made use of the vocabulary of the Ancient historian and show him as a systematic and eager reader of Classical authors. These examples clearly show that Vitéz’s quotations from Livy could and should be doublechecked against the manuscript he used, which would lead us to a better understanding of his compilation methods. At the same time, the chronology of these Livian appropriations also demonstrates that he must have owned the Vienna manuscript cod. 3099 of Livy early in his career, already before 1445.

Along these lines, the best method to prove Vitéz’s dependence on Vergerio would be to demonstrate his direct use of Vergerio’s letters, which often appeared in early Humanist letter collections. Unfortunately, no unquestionable example of the imitation of Vergerio has surfaced yet in Vitéz’s letters, but there are a few signs which tend in this direction. Vitéz’s epistolary collection opens with a rhetorical game in which Vitéz reacts to the request of his subordinate, Paul of Ivanić, who asked him to compile a letter collection, as if it were a debt which he was forced to take upon himself:


Rursus evocor instancia tua usum seriemque laboris repetere, quo compos efficeris debiti, superiore mea caucione polliciti. […] Sed uter nostrum initum exinde pacti genus prevaricatus sit, tu pro te videris […] At mihi multo asperior exactio ipsa visa est, quam pactio fuit, quandoquidem decidis tempore condicto, et numero adicis, atque (ut pace tua loquar) fenore in fedus irruis. Quo fiet, ut dum me debitorem huius morati federis insimulas, tu ipse fenoris expetiti reus videberis.70


I am forced again by your perseverance to take up this long job, by which you receive back the debt, which was promised to you by my earlier provision. […] But you should see for yourself which one of us has violated this agreement which we have made […] For the retortion seemed to me much coarser than the covenant was, because you have shortened the agreed deadline, raised the sum, and (pardon my word!), you destroy the contract with usury. As a consequence, while you pretend that I am a debtor of a delayed loan contract, you actually will be sinning in usury.


Thus, the compilation of the letter collection is presented as a debt, but the repeated demands of Paul of Ivanić are usury.

Gasparino Barzizza wrote a letter to Cardinal Francesco Zabarella from Padua in August 1414 in which he used a similar leading metaphor of indebtedness, as he felt obliged to his new patron because of the praise transmitted to him by Vergerio. Barzizza described his feelings for his new friend, Zabarella, using the same rhetorical motifs:


Tantum ergo hac re tibi debeo, quanti amicitiam hominis et eruditissimi facio. Qui si solvendo essem, non differrem in diem, sed statim hoc alieno aere me exolverem. Nunc vero quum nihil dicere mihi etiam religio sit, ut verbis poetae comici utar, et me ipsum superiori tempore pro multis aliis meritis tuis insolutum dederim, faciam quod debitores non mali solent, quum non suppetentes sunt, unde suis creditoribus reddant, saltem hoc curant, diligentem calculi rationem habeant. Conficiam ergo novos calendarios, nam priores tuis creditis iam omnes sunt pleni, et a capite libri in albo, ut dicitur, scribam: ‘Receptum P. P. Vergerium nostrum’: Summam autem non taxabo, est enim mea sententia inextimabilis. Tu quanti voles taxabis, et ego ratum habeo. Vale.71


I owe you as much because of this as much I esteem the friendship of a man, and of a very learned one. If I had to pay now, I would not delay it even a day, but I would pay it even by a loan. But now, when I am scrupulous not to say anything, to use an expression of the comic poet [Ter. Heaut. II, ii, 6], and I have become insolvent to many of your honors previously, I will do what those debtors do who are not that bad: when they cannot secure the money from which to pay back their debts, at least they care for a diligent and careful payroll. Thus, I will start a new calendar, because the earlier ones are full of your credits, and on the first page of the book I will write on an empty page: “I received P. P. Vergerio.” And I won’t even estimate the final sum, because it is invaluable.

Was it perhaps this section of Barzizza’s letter which inspired him to compose his own metaphoric dedication to his works?

This connection seems all the more probable because of some circumstantial evidence. Vitéz of Zredna’s letter collection, which was edited by Paul of Ivanić, his collaborator at the royal chancery, in 1451, survives in two copies, the elegantly written Vienna manuscript cod. 431, which bears Humanist tendencies,72 and another one in the Library of the Metropolitan Chapter in Prague ms. G. XX, written in characteristic Central European Gothic bastarda scripture. Whereas the Vienna manuscript contains only the letters of Vitéz of Zredna, the Prague copy also includes a Humanist letter collection on folios 315r-451v with the works of Gasparino Barzizza,73 Guarino Veronese, Ognibono Leoniceno, Pier Paolo Vergerio, Francesco Barbaro, Piero da Monte, Poggio Bracciolini, Carlo Gonzaga, Leonello d’Este, and others. As this part of the manuscript has not been described in detail in the catalogue of the library, no one noticed that this collection is closely related to the one transmitted in the manuscript Munich, University Library 2o ms. 60774 and, to a lesser extent, to the mss. London, British Library, Arundel 70, and Vienna, National Library, cod. 3330.75 This connection hinted at by Ludwig Bertalot,76 but the contents of the Prague manuscript, which transmits these early Humanist letters and orations along with Vitéz of Zredna’s letters, have been never examined. This Humanist anthology in the Prague manuscript was copied by the same hand as the letter collection of Vitéz of Zredna, and it can be safely dated to 1459 (“feria V ante festum S. Bartholomaei,” 315r). It is important to note that Barzizza’s letter to Zabarella, which we have cited above and which might have influenced the rhetoric of Vitéz of Zredna’s letter to Paul of Ivanić, is contained in the Prague manuscript (331r-331v: “Gasparinus Pergamensis Francisco Gabarele [=Zabarelle]”), as well.77 Thus, it seems reasonably possible that this—probably Bohemian—copyist had access to Vitéz’s letters in the same place where he had found this Italian Humanist letter collection: at the Hungarian chancery. If this hypothesis is correct, this “Humanist copybook” might have had a serious impact on the composition of Vitéz of Zredna’s letter collection.

In sum, the beginnings of Hungarian Humanism can be better characterized using a philological approach and finding the codicological evidence behind the practice of textual appropriation than by looking for direct personal and historical contacts. As Humanism began to take root in Hungary, there stands a letter collection, that of Vitéz of Zredna, which relies heavily on late medieval notarial practices. His working method reflects the compiling techniques of medieval litterati: texts are basically made up of formal elements the primary function of which is to confirm the authenticity of the text, not to recognize the source or establish some kind of textual relationship. Nevertheless, in this Humanist letter collection, the most important difference from a medieval formulary is the range of texts that are considered authentic and worthy of imitation. In the case of Vitéz of Zredna, the range of these authentic authors extends from Plautus through Cicero, Livy, and Lucanus to figures of late Antiquity, such as Saint Jerome and Gregory the Great. Most probably, he also turned to contemporary Humanist authors, such as Guarino Veronese, Gasparino Barzizza, and Pier Paolo Vergerio. The final result was not yet a clean, Ciceronian Latin prose, but something that was Classical at least in its intention. One could apply the judgment of Marcantonio Sabellico on Gasparino Barzizza’s Latinity to Vitéz of Zredna: “As I hear, he was the first person who cast an eye on the shadow of Ancient eloquence, because that was all that was left of this very noble subject.”78



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1 Helmrath, “Diffusion des Humanismus,” 9–54.

2 My study summarizes the results of Kiss, “A magyarországi humanizmus” and “Konstanztól Budáig.” On the importance of the Council of Basel to the evolution of Humanism in Hungary, see Pajorin,
“A bázeli zsinat,” 3–26.

3 Bisaha, Creating East and West; Meserve, Empires of Islam; Helmrath, “Pius II. und die Türken,” 79–137; Pajorin, Keresztes hadjáratok,” 3–14.

4 Voigt, Die Wiederbelebung, vol. 2, 315. About the role of Enea Silvio Piccolomini in the introduction of Humanism into Central Europe, see Luger, Humanismus und humanistische Schrift, 49–64; Helmrath, “Vestigia Aeneae imitari,” 99–141; Zippel, “Enea Silvio Piccolomini,” 267–350.

5Die Neigung der beiden Völker, der Magyaren und der Italiener, war eine gegenseitige, obwohl es nicht leicht sein möchte, die verbindenden Elemente herauszufinden [my italics]. Vielleicht standen sie einander örtlich und politisch fern genug, um Collisionen zu vermeiden, während doch der Ungar stets mit Frömmigkeit und Ehrfurcht nach Gräbern der Apostelfürsten blickte und nach dem Lande überhaupt, in welchem einst die Sprache seiner Geschäftsführung und seiner Landtage als Muttersprache geredet worden.” Voigt, Die Wiederbelebung, vol. 2, 318.

6 Huszti,Pier Paolo Vergerio,” 521–33.

7 Huszti, Janus Pannonius, 20. My translation in the following, unless otherwise stated. John Vitéz of Zredna used only the name form “Iohannes de Zredna” in his writings, and the family name “Vitéz” is only a result of a mistake in Bonfini’s late fifteenth-century historical work, which was nevertheless perpetuated in later scholarship. Thus, I use the form John/Iohannes Vitéz of Zredna everywhere. See Pálosfalvi, “Vitézek és Garázdák,” 15.

8 The same theory was put forward by Klára Csapodi-Gárdonyi, who identified twelve manuscripts which might have belonged to Vergerio and then went on to the library of John Vitéz of Zredna (Csapodi-Gárdonyi, Die Bibliothek.). Nevertheless, the scientific criteria applied in her research were rather vague, and the identifications were often based on the presence of red ink annotations in a manuscript. As both the late Gothic bastarda and the Humanist minuscule scriptures are very widespread and generic, only the cases in which there is serious external proof of the identity of the annotator should be accepted as authentic manuscripts of writings by Vergerio or Vitéz. The current catalogue of “authentic” Corvin manuscripts only accepts Oxford Bodleian I.F.14. and Paris, BnF Lat. 6390 from these twelve manuscripts as authentic Corvinas, although in both cases the identity of the annotators is unclear, and neither of them bears an ownership mark of Vergerio or Vitéz. Cf. [Anonymous], A hiteles Corvinák listája. Hence, Csapodi-Gárdonyi’s suggestions cannot be a-critically accepted.

9 Vergerio, L’Epistolario, 390.

10 Huszti, “Pier Paolo Vergerio,” 521–33.

11 Kardos, A magyarországi humanizmus.

12 This point was already stressed by Pajorin, “Vitéz János,” 533–40.

13 Szakály, “Vitéz János,” 11.

14 Rome, Vatican Library, Barb. Lat. 1952, 110v: “nunc serenissimi Imperatoris referendarium.” The same Humanist hand copied the folios 79r –121v, including Poggio’s De nobilitate (79r–92v), the De amicitia of Lucian, translated by Giovanni Aurispa (97r–107v), Vita Pauli Aemilii by Plutarch, translated by Bruni (110v–121v). Banfi, “Pier Paolo Vergerio,” 17. The note is critically evaluated by Kiséry, Et poetis ipsis,
147–48. The ms. is now accessible online https://digi.vatlib.it/view/MSS_Barb.lat.1952 (accessed on October 5, 2019).

15 Banfi, “Pier Paolo Vergerio,” 17–21.; cf. Vergerio, L’Epistolario, 379. On Vergerio, see also Solymosi, “Pier Paolo Vergerio,” 147–63.

16 The authorship of the Historia principum Carrariensium was disputed by Leonard Smith, the publisher of Vergerio’s letters. See Vergerio, L’Epistolario, 492, but it was defended by Marchante, Ricerche. For an edition of the text, see Vergerio, “De principibus Carrariensibus.”

17 On its circulation, see Robey, “Humanism and Education,” 27–58. For a new English translation, see Humanist Educational Treatises, 1–45. The Latin text is available in Vergerio, “Ad Ubertinum de Carraria.”

18 Ld. Robey, “Humanism and Education,” 56–57. For the incunable editions, I have used the data of the Incunable Short Title Catalogue. Apart from the De ingenuis moribus, the only printed text published from Vergerio in the fifteenth century was the Latin translation of Hippocrates’ oath (Iusiurandum).

19 See Katchmer, Pier Paolo Vergerio and Hermann Walter, “Il Paulus di Pierpaolo Vergerio,” 241–53.

20 On the translation of Hippocrates, see Stok, “Pier Paolo Vergerio,” 167–75. On the translation of Arrianus and its impact on Enea Silvio Piccolomini, who copied information on India from it into a letter, see Tournoy, “La storiografia,” 1–8.

21 Banfi, “Vergerio,” (2) 2.

22 Banfi, “Vergerio,” (2) 10 n. 11. Banfi refers to Loenertz, “Les dominicains byzantins,” 12–16.

23 Ld. Wulfram, “Ein Heilsbringer,” 94–95.

24 Mansi, Sacrorum conciliorum, vol. 27, 769; Banfi, “Vergerio,” (2) 13, n. 21.

25 On Sigismund’s itinerary, see Engel and C. Tóth, Királyok, 55–159.

26 The texts have been published in Finke, Acta, 668–69, followed by the answers, ibid., 669–70.

27 Ibid., 203: “Ille autem Petrus Paulus fuit reputatus a pluribus temerarius et derisus.”

28 See Banfi, “Vergerio,” (3) 19–21.

29 Klára Pajorin dated it to 1435–36. See Pajorin, “Alcuni rapporti,” 47.

30 Vergerio, L’Epistolario, 388–95. For an analysis of the short stories, see Pajorin, “Per la storia,” 33–45. On the textual tradition, see McManamon, Research Aids.

31 Galamb, “Egy budai hitvita,” 132–33.

32 Ehinger, Catalogus, col. 125.

33 Rauner, Katalog, 430.

34 Hervay, Repertorium, 149 (a note praising the library in 1505 from Munich, BSB, clm 19822, f. 167). The note “sine manibus” (without hands) is a common scribal joke (e.g. “Finivi librum totum sine manibus istum.”).

35 For the text, see Callimachus, Vita et mores. On the historical unreliability of Buonaccorsi, see Morawski, Histoire de l’université, vol. 2, 20. On Gregory of Sanok in Hungary, see Toldy, “Szánoki,” 183–93; Olasz, “Szánoki,” 169–87; Huszti, Janus Pannonius, 305; Balázs, “Veronai Gábor,” 3–9; Klaniczay, A magyarországi akadémiai mozgalom, 27–37. Cf. Kristóf, “Egy lengyel humanista,” 21–32.

36 Pajorin, “Alcuni rapporti,” 45–52; Pajorin, “A bázeli zsinat,” 12–13. Florio Banfi argued that these events happened within a longer period between 1440 and 1454 in several different settings and with more participants. Banfi, “Vergerio,” (3) 29, n. 31.

37 Leonard Smith tried to resolve this chronological problem by identifying the bishop with Giovanni de Dominis: Smith, “Note cronologiche,” 127, which was supported with further arguments by Pajorin, “Per la storia.”

38 Obviously, the part of Buonaccorsi’s sentence that implies that Bishop John (and John Hunyadi) spoke the same language as the Polish Gregory of Sanok is completely false and was made up by the Italian historiographer.

39 This expression is a further mark of Buonaccorsi’s anachronistic approach: probably Janus Pannonius was the first to characterize himself as “Pannonian” instead of “Hungarian” in the 1450s, followed by John Vitéz only in 1464, and Humanists started to use the Ancient concept of two Pannonias (i.e. inferior and superior) only at the end of the fifteenth century. See Klaniczay, “The Concepts of Hungaria,” 173–89.

40 Remigio Sabbadini rejects the possibility that they could have met: Sabbadini, L’Epistolario di Guarino, vol. 3., 510. Podocataro, who later became a schoolmate of Janus Pannonius in Guarino’s school together with his brothers, Lodovico and Carlo Podocataro, is still an unexplored figure in many respects. See Huszti, “Hans Gerstinger: Johannes Sambucus,” 185.

41 Podocataro was a student of Gasparino Barzizza and was very young at the time (whereas Vergerio was more than 70 years old): Sabbadini, “Lettere e orazioni,” 572. In fact, only small portions are edited from his epithalamy, written in 1447 to Ginevra d’Este and Baldassare di Tomeo Paganelli. Sabbadini, L’Epistolario di Guarino, vol. 3, 508–9; Giuseppe M. Cagni B., Vespasiano da Bisticci, 118. In 1452, he became a schoolmaster and participated in symposia with Bernardo Bembo: “Noto quod contubernium celebratum cum Podocataro, magistro ludorum, initiatum est 12 oct. 1452. Item cum magistro Philippo de Vale romano.” Giannetto, Bernardo Bembo, 93. On the political importance of the family and on Filippo’s sons, Livio and Cesare Podocataro, future archbishops of Nicosia, see Rudt de Collenberg, “Les premiers Podocataro,” 130–82. The Podocataro archives (inventoried by Poli, Inventario della collezione) are extremely rich in Hungarian relations, but no trace of Vergerio appears in them. Csapodi-Gárdonyi suggests that the cod. lat. 141(Csapodi-Gárdonyi, Bibliothek, 94) of the Hungarian National Library belonged to him.

42 Callimachus, Vita et mores, 38: “ne quis, cui primum matrimonium feliciter cessisset, secundum iniret, illos vero, qui infortunati fuissent in primis nuptiis, loco insanorum ducendos, si iterum ea in re fortunam tentarent.” About the sources of Buonaccorsi, see Sinko, “De Gregorii Sanocei,” 241–70; Miodoński, “Spicilegium Gregorianum,” 204–6. The other law of Charondas cited in this debate (banning the practice of “an eye for an eye”) is similarly derived from Diodorus Siculus (Bibliotheca historica 12, 17).

43 In prose: Ἔφη γὰρ τοὺς μὲν πρῶτον γήμαντας καὶ ἐπιτυχόντας, δεῖν εὐημεροῦντας καταπαύειν· τοὺς δὲ ἀποτυχόντας τῷ γάμῳ, καὶ πάλιν ἐν τοῖς αὐτοῖς ἁμαρτάνοντας, ἄφρονας δεῖν ὑπολαμβάνεσθαι. (Diodorus, Bibl. hist., 12, 12). In verse: Εἴτ’ ἐπέτυχες γὰρ φησὶ γῆμας τὸ πρότερον // Εὐημερῶν κατάπαυσον· εἴτ’ οὐκ ἐπέτυχες, // Μανικὸν τὸ πείρας δευτέρας λαβεῖν πάλιν. (Ibid., 12, 14.)

44 Poggio Bracciolini translated the first five books into Latin in 1449–50, which were published three times between 1472 and 1485. See Monfasani, George of Trebizond, 69–70. The law of Charondas occurs in a completely different form in Stobaeus: “the person who brings a stepmother to the family should be cursed, because he promotes his own restlessness.” (Stob. serm. 42.)

45 Vincentius Obsopoeus attributes one manuscript of Diodorus to Janus Pannonius in his editio princeps (Diodorus Siculus, Historiarum libri, Aα 2v), which he used as the basis of his edition. This manuscript might be the ms. ÖNB Suppl. gr. 30., which was copied by Ioannes Skutariotes in Florence in 1442 (See Csapodi, “Janus Pannonius könyvei,” 194.). Cf. Csapodi-Gárdonyi, Die Bibliothek, 100–101. Csapodi-Gárdonyi identified the Greek marginalia found in this ms. as coming from John Vitéz’s hand, which is of course questionable, as there is no evidence that Vitéz knew Greek.

46 See Olasz, “Szánoki,” 185–86. Callimachus, Vita et mores, 26. Unfortunately, these references are not decisive on the question of authenticity either, because Vitéz could have known the translation of Diogenes Laertius by Ambrogio Traversari, which started to circulate after 1437. See Pajorin, “A bázeli zsinat,” 10.

47 “Retulere plurimi, Pater reverendissime, ut de domesticis nostrique aevi gentibus dicam, Iustinopolitanum illum Petrum Paulum Vergerium semper id in ore sol[i]tum habuisse, nihil inter mortales felicius, quam praeclarorum hominum familiaritate potiri, ab hiis observari diligique.” For an edition, see Kiss, “A magyarországi humanizmus,” 129–31 and Szilágyi, Vitéz János.

48 Piccolomini, Epistolarium, 140: “ea namque mea sententia est, ut nihil inter mortales felicius sit, quam preclarorum hominum familiaritate potiri, ab hisque diligi et observari.

49 Kiss, “A magyarországi humanizmus,” 130; paraphrasing Cic. de officiis 1, 7, 22, translated by Walter Miller.

50 “Nec enim nobis nati sumus, ut Plato dicebat, sed ortus nostri partem amici, partem patria vendicant.” Piccolomini, Epistolarium, 482.

51 Piccolomini, Epistolarium, 177.

52 Ibid., 39.

53 One more indirect trace of Vergerio’s influence surfaced in a manuscript, the so-called “Szalkai-kódex,” into which a section of the De ingenuis moribus was copied around 1490, attributed to Petrarch. See Lengyel, “Egy Petrarcának,” 143–46. The so-called “grammar of Vergerio,” hypothesized by Csapodi-Gárdonyi, has probably nothing to do with Vergerio: Domonkos, “A ELTE Egyetemi Könyvtár,” 121–34. The basic level of this grammar and the “barbaric” Latin style of the short annotation attributed to Vergerio by Csapodi-Gárdonyi (e.g. “infirmus ad mortem,” “per antea”) also contradict this theory.

54 In many respects, Humanist letter writing is a direct continuation of the Medieval practice of “ars dictaminis.” See Witt, “Medieval ‘Ars Dictaminis’,” 1–35; Revest, “Au miroir des choses,” 455; Revest, “Naissance du cicéronianisme,” 219–57; Revest, “Les discours de Gasparino Barzizza,” 47–72.

55 Concerning Vitéz’s Latin style, it is worth taking a note of the remark of the eighteenth-century polyhistor Matthias Bél in the first edition of Vitéz’s letters, who claimed that Vitéz did not want to emulate Cicero or Pliny the Younger. Rather, according to Bél, his stylistic ideals were Symmachus and Sidonius Apollinaris. Bél felt that Vitéz outmatched the second, but not the first. Schwandtner, Scriptores rerum Hungaricarum, vol. 2, V.

56 Boronkai, “Vitéz János,” 213–17.

57 For a rhetorical analysis, see Zsupán, “János Vitéz’ Book,” 117–39.

58 Vitéz de Zredna, Opera, 31–32. (Dated to Várad, April 24, 1445).

59 Gregory the Great, Homiliarum in Ezechielem, Patrologia Latina 76, 785; Grégoire le Grand, Homélies sur Ezéchiel, 48.

60 Translated by Anlezark, “Gregory the Great,” 19.

61 Vitéz de Zredna, Opera, 31. (Dated to Várad, April 24, 1445).

62 Plutarchus, Graecorum Romanorumque illustrium Vitae, 264v: “Inde Lysimachi et Agnones instare, qui virum affirmabant ad labefactandas imperii vires procaciter obeuntem.”

63 For the dating, see Pade, “Guarino,” 133–47; Pade, “The Dedicatory Letter,” Pade, The Reception of Plutarch’s Lives, vol. 2, 133–36.

64 In the case of Plutarch’s life of Alexander the Great, the text survives in a Corvinian manuscript (ÖNB, cod. 23.), which might have been seen by Vitéz, but this precious illuminated copy was surely prepared later in Florence (1470?, cf. Hermann, Die Handschriften, 63) than the date when Vitéz used Guarino’s text (his letter is dated to 1445). Similarly, the ms. cod. lat. 148. in the Hungarian National Library, which contains Cicero’s De oratore, would have been prepared too late to influence Vitéz in the composition of this letter.

65 On this ms., see Pellegrin, “Notes,” 190–92, and Billanovich, “Per la fortuna,” 271–72.

66 Many of these were identified by Boronkai in the apparatus of his Vitéz de Zredna, Opera, but their number could be easily doubled through a thorough reexamination of textual sources with the tools of modern technology.

67 Vitéz de Zredna, Opera, 143, 1.

68 Ibid., 225, 22.

69 Ibid., 258, 8.

70 Ibid., Opera, 37.

71 Vergerio, L’Epistolario, 356.

72 Papahagi, “Gothic Script,” 5–14.

73 Podlaha, Soupis rukopisů, vol. 2, 95–96.

74 See Natalia Daniel, Gerhard Schott, Peter Zahn, Die lateinischen mittelalterlichen Handschriften der Universitätsbibliothek München: Die Handschriften aus der Folioreihe, Hälfte 2. (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1979), 107–16. Very often, the Prague Metropolitan Chapter, ms. G XX includes these texts in exactly the same order as the Munich, University Library 2o ms. 607; e.g. the series of letters of Guarino on Prague, 337r–247v and Munich, 154v–164v.

75 On this group of manuscripts, see Bertalot, “Humanistisches Studienheft,” 83–161.

76 Bertalot, “Die älteste Briefsammlung,” vol. 2, 41.

77 For a list of all the copies of this text, see Mazzuconi, “Per una sistemazione,” 212.

78 “Est in Bergomati agro vicus obscuri olim nominis, nunc clarus suoque partu illustris, Barzizam vulgo nominant. His Gasparinus grammaticus ac rhetor sua tempestate illustris, qui in hac urbe ut audio, mox Patavii, inde Mediolani multa nominis celebritate litteras docuit magis felici consilio, quam quod tantae cladis resarciendae spes ulla praetenderetur. Primus omnium, ut audio, ad veteris eloquentiae umbram, nam ex re tam nobili nil tum praeter id unum supererat, oculos retorsit.” Sabellico, De latinae linguae reparatione, 97.

The Codices of György Handó1

Dániel Pócs
Research Centre for the Humanities
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The Florentine bookseller and cartolaio Vespasiano da Bisticci included the life of three Hungarian prelates in his Vite, dedicated to the the lives of his most famous clients. Two of the Hungarians, the archbishop of Esztergom, János Vitéz of Zredna, and the bishop of Pécs, the poet Janus Pannonius, are well-known personalities of early humanism in Hungary and some of their codices prepared in Florence still exist. The third one, however, György Handó (c. 1430–1480), provost of Pécs cathedral chapter from 1465 until his death, is much less known. Scholars of early humanism in Hungary were unable to contextualize the information given by Bisticci on Handó’s library, because no other written source could confirm his accounts, and no manuscript could been identified as a Handó codex. The present study demonstrates that contrary to the common belief that his codices had been completely lost, there are, in fact, twenty manuscripts originating from this early humanistic library. This research result is based on the identification of his coat of arms.

Keywords: György Handó, Orbán Nagylucsei, Péter Garázda, Vespasiano da Bisticci, Bartolomeo Fonzio, Piero Cennini, Corvina Library, Matthias Corvinus, Florence, Buda, humanistic book culture, illuminated books

The library of György Handó (c. 1430–1480) provost of Pécs cathedral chapter and archbishop of Kalocsa has so far been known on the basis of a single source. In the second half of the 1480s, ten years after his retirement, the elderly cartolaio, Vespasiano da Bisticci, the “king of booksellers,” dedicated a collection of biographies to his famous clients, such as rulers, prelates, and humanists. His Vite includes three prelates from Hungary: János Vitéz of Zredna, archbishop of Esztergom, the poet Janus Pannonius, bishop of Pécs, and the abovementioned György Handó. The humanist erudition of János Vitéz and Janus Pannonius and to some extent the profiles of their libraries are well-known to scholars, and some of their manuscripts still survive. The third prelate, however, has long remained in obscurity, since his codices have not been identified yet, and apart from the few sentences by the Florentine cartolaio quoted below, no other written source reports on his bibliophile activity. All we learn from Bisticci is that he bought manuscripts in Florence for 3,000 florins, he deposited them in the Cathedral of Pécs, and he left a priest in charge of his library consisting of 300 codices:

While he was in Rome he received letters from the King bidding him go to Naples to negotiate a marriage between King Ferdinand’s daughter and the King of Hungary. This matter took little time, for with his prudence and dexterity he soon concluded this betrothal. He returned by the way of Florence, where he bought books to the value of three thousand florins for a library he was collecting for his provostship at Cinque Chiese [i.e. Pécs]. The King had already given him the chancellorship, and as all things passed through his hands he did what few men in his position have ever done. To the church of which he was provost he added a very noble chapel […]. He gave a very fine library to the same church, in which were books of every faculty, three hundred volumes or more, and arranged them suitably. He put this library under the charge of a priest with good salary […].2

If we give credit to Bisticci’s story about Handó purchasing books in Florence, then, after the libraries of Janus and Vitéz, Handó’s was the third most significant collection of early humanistic manuscripts in Hungary. (The details of Bisticci’s memoir, however, should not be taken at face-value, as he often exaggerated numbers in his other biographies. The amount of money he mentions is unrealistically high, and the number of volumes must also have been much lower.)3 Nonetheless, not a single codex has been identified as having once been part of Handó’s collection. In this paper, I will argue that his library was never actually lost. In fact, at least twenty of his manuscripts still survive. Some of them have been right in front of us for a long time, as after Handó’s death, several of his manuscripts became part of the collection of the royal library in Buda.

The “Second-Hand” Books of the Bibliotheca Corvina

The stock of King Matthias’s library, the so-called Bibliotheca Corvina, can be categorized in various ways. If provenance is chosen as the criterium of categorization, the manuscripts can be divided into two main groups. Many of the codices were first owned by Matthias (and his wife, Beatrice of Aragon): the luxury manuscripts commissioned for the king in Florence in the late 1480s and the codices with dedicatory texts presented to him by humanists belong to this group. On the other hand, the proportion of second-hand manuscripts, i.e. in which the king’s coat of arms covers that of a previous owner, within the presently known stock of the library is strikingly high. These second-hand volumes prove that the royal library of Buda incorporated smaller or larger parts of other book collections. In addition, several of these manuscripts were certainly produced before the foundation of the royal library in Buda.

In the case of the second-hand manuscripts, the circumstances of their acquisition are often obscure, and sometimes it has been impossible simply to identify their original owners. In the late 1480s, Taddeo Ugoleto, the librarian of Matthias, certainly purchased manuscripts in Florence on behalf of the king, probably including the two volumes that ended up in the Buda library from the collection of Marino Tomacelli, the long-time ambassador of king Ferrante of Aragon in Florence.4 It was also around this time, c. 1488, that Ugoleto bought some (to our present knowledge, at least six) exceptionally sumptuous manuscripts from the library of Francesco Sassetti, head of the Medici bank.5 The mediator in the transaction must have been Bartolomeo Fonzio, who, as the librarian of Sassetti from the early 1470s on, coordinated the formation of the collection, determined its thematics, and, as a scribe or emendator, was often personally involved in the production of the manuscripts.6 He had already gotten in touch with the leading figures of humanism in Hungary, János Vitéz and Janus Pannonius, in the second half of the 1460s, and he was on friendly terms with Péter Garázda, who stayed in Florence in 1468–69. Twenty years later, he participated in the development of the royal library, and he copied some of the manuscripts produced for the king in these years.7 In 1489, he visited Buda, where he presented a collection of his works to Matthias Corvinus, and as an acknowledged teacher of the Florentine Studio, he also delivered an oration at the Hungarian court.8

The Group of Manuscripts with the Crown-and-Lily Coat of Arms

There are two significant groups in the holdings of the Corvina Library that originate from Florence and bear the coat of arms of a previous owner. One of them includes the books that once belonged to Sassetti, while the volumes of the other group contain the coat of arms of a yet unidentified possessor: parti per pale sable and gules with a crown or surmounted by a lily argent.9 (The lily diverges from the form usually used in heraldry, as its side petals quasi embrace the three-lobed middle leaf of the crown.) This coat of arms with a lily and a crown appears on the title page of six manuscripts from the library of King Matthias. In four of the manuscripts, these original coats of arms were covered with the coat of arms of Matthias by the so-called First Heraldic Painter, an illuminator trained most probably in Florence and working in the Buda scriptorium in the late 1480s.10 The four manuscripts in question are as follows: two volumes now preserved in the National Széchényi Library in Budapest, the so-called Liber Alcidi (or Altividi), a Neoplatonic dialogue entitled “De immortalitate animae” by a twelfth-century anonymous author (Cat. 3) (Fig. 1), and a manuscript containing three theological works by Cardinal Bessarion (1403–72) (Cat. 4) (Fig. 2); a Plato manuscript now in the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna (Cat. 18) (Fig. 3); and a collection of ancient Roman poetry (Horace, Juvenal, Persius, Cat. 8). (Fig. 4) Though they have been painted over, the original coats of arms are still discernible, as they were not scraped out before the addition of the new coat of arms. (Fig. 5) Thus, the originals show through the secondarily painted royal coats of arms and are visible even to the naked eye, and in almost every manuscript, we can make out the details in gold leaf on the verso side of the folio on which the coat of arms is painted. Furthermore, in several cases, bits of the royal coat of arms have flaked off here and there, as paint peels off easily from gold leaf surfaces, so details of the original heraldic motifs have become visible.

On the other hand, in the two Livy manuscripts held in the Biblioteca Capitolare in Verona, which are the most lavishly decorated codices with the crown-and-lily coat of arms, the heraldic devices of the original owner have not been painted over (Cat. 14–15). (Fig. 6–7) Although the royal coat of arms does not appear in these volumes, they certainly were part of the library of King Matthias. Their characteristic blind stamped and gold-tooled leather binding produced in the late 1480s tells of their Buda provenance. The two volumes contain the third and fourth Decades of the history of Rome by Livy, known as Ab urbe condita. Their title pages were painted by two different Florentine illuminators, and they were copied by Hubertus W., one of the most prolific scribes of the second half of the 1460s and the next Decade. Today, these two volumes form a series together with a third manuscript, containing the first decade of Livy’s history of Rome. This volume, however, was not illuminated in Florence, but in Rome, and the crown-and-lily coat of arms does not appear on its title page.11 Its size also differs from the size of the two other volumes, it was copied by a different scribe, and its binding is not the characteristic Buda-type. It “met” the other two volumes only c. 1580 in Italy, so originally the three could not have formed a series. The original first volume, however, can be identified, and thus, the group of manuscripts with the crown-and-lily coat of arms can be extended. (The three Decades that survived from Livy’s monumental work are usually contained in three separate volumes. Since the content of each volume never varies, series were often created from manuscripts of different provenance as early as the fifteenth century.)

The provenance of the third and fourth Decades suggests that the first volume originally belonging to the series should be found among the manuscripts of the Corvina Library. The stock of the royal library of Buda, as is known today, includes three codices that contain Livy’s first Decade. Among these manuscripts, the copy kept in the Barberini collection of the Vatican Library is the most worthy of our attention (Cat. 7). Its fifteenth-century blind stamped and gold-tooled leather binding is of the same type as the Verona manuscripts, and the parchment leaves and the text blocks are also of the same size. Furthermore, all three volumes have 32 lines per pages. In the middle of the verso of the leaf preceding the present-day incipit page, we find the same type of decoration as in four other volumes of the crown-and-lily group (Cats. 5, 9, 10, 19): a laurel wreath decorated with ribbons and framed with a double line of gold leaf contains the title written in golden Roman capitals. The white vine-stem initials inside the Vatican manuscript also show evidence of a Florentine origin and date the codex to roughly the same period as the Verona volumes. Furthermore, the scribe of the Vatican manuscript must be identified as the one who copied Livy’s third and fourth Decades kept in the Biblioteca Capitolare, i.e. Hubertus.12 Its provenance also resembles that of the Verona codices: they all left the seraglio of Istanbul around 1560, though the Vatican Livy arrived in Italy via a different path. On the basis of this evidence, the Barberini codex can without doubt be considered the first volume of a set of Livy’s Ab Urbe condita of which second and third volumes are the Verona codices.

The coats of arms on the title page could help us identify the manuscript’s first and later owner, but unfortunately this leaf is missing. The first two text leaves had already been removed before the second half of the seventeenth century. Without them, we can only assume that the crown-and-lily coat of arms was covered by that of King Matthias. This would also explain why the coats of arms in the other two volumes were not painted over by the royal devices. In the royal library of Buda, a project of unifying the previously acquired, often not or very modestly decorated manuscripts was launched in the late 1480s, within the framework of which the volumes received the characteristic, so-called Corvina bindings and the king’s coat of arms was painted into the manuscripts.13 The latter was usually necessary to indicate the new owner, King Matthias, in the second-hand codices. The primarily aim, however, was not to remove all signs referring to the previous owner completely, but rather to put the new possessor’s coat of arms in the most prominent place in the manuscripts. Therefore, the previous coats of arms were painted over only on the incipit or title page and were usually left untouched elsewhere. For example, in one of the manuscripts from the library of Francesco Sassetti, the volume containing Cicero’s philosophical works and decorated in the workshop of Mariano del Buono, only two of the coats of arms of the original owner (argent, a bend azure) were painted over. On six other leaves they were left untouched in the marginal decoration, like the Sassetti emblems.14 In the two Verona codices the original coat of arms was most probably spared because placing the device of Matthias Corvinus at the beginning of the first volume of the set was considered sufficient in the Buda scriptorium.

The group of Corvina codices that originally belonged to the “crown-and-lily” owner can be further extended. There is another manuscript produced in Florence in the 1460s of the same provenance decorated with the coat of arms of Matthias Corvinus. This codex contains—similarly to the abovementioned manuscript of the British Library—ancient Roman poetry, in this case the works of Catullus, Tibullus, and Propertius (Cat. 17) (Fig. 8). On the verso of the title page, beneath the reverse of Matthias’s coat of arms, the distinctive outlines of the lily faintly show through, and we can discern, even more faintly, the shape of the golden crown. This observation calls our attention to the potentials of a more thorough and comprehensive examination of the similar manuscripts from the Corvina Library, which might allow us to clarify their provenance in several cases.

While the manuscripts presented above with the crown-and-lily coat of arms have not revealed anything about their original owner, another volume—the only one not produced in Florence but in Rome—might bring us closer to him. The small codex, consisting of only fifty-six leaves and bound in a typical Corvina leather binding in the late 1480s, contains the Latin translation of three works by Cardinal Bessarion which were originally written in Greek (Cat. 4). (Fig. 2) As for their subjects, they are all related to the Cardinal’s activity at the Council in Florence in 1437–39. Thus, they urge the unification of the Eastern and Western Churches and a crusade against the Turks, but were written as late as 1463–4 and translated to Latin by the author in the following years. Since the Cardinal collected these works into manuscripts in 1467, the copy that ended up in the Bibliotheca Corvina must also have been produced in the late 1460s.15

The white vine-stem decoration on the title page of the manuscript can be attributed to a master active in Rome, and it was copied by Leonardus Job, a scribe who was also active in the city.16 In the middle of the bas-de-page, in a medallion encircled by a laurel wreath, the coat of arms of King Matthias covers that of the author, Cardinal Bessarion (which is clearly visible on the verso), while in the middle of the outer margin, in a smaller medallion, the crown-and-lily coat of arms appears underneath the partly flaked-off paint of Matthias’s raven emblem. (Fig. 9) The arrangement of the coats of arms, the content of the manuscript, and its date suggest that it was a gift by the cardinal to the owner of the crown-and-lily coat of arms. Therefore, we are looking for a person who stayed in Rome in the late 1460s and whose position and contacts allowed him to get in touch with the uppermost circles of the curia. On the basis of these observations, the figure of a Hungarian patron is beginning to emerge, who visited Rome in the second half of the 1460s, presumably as a prelate and an envoy of the king, and around the same time commissioned manuscripts in Florence. Since at least eight of his manuscripts ended up in the library of Matthias Corvinus, we can assume that he passed away before the death of the king in 1490.


Figure 9. Basilius Bessarion: De ea parte Evangelii ubi scribitur “Si eum volo manere, quid ad te?”; Epistola ad graecos; De sacramento Eucharistiae.
Budapest, National Széchényi Library, Cod. Lat. 438, details of fols. 3r and 3v

Hungarian research has never really dealt with this group of manuscripts, although it would have been worthy of our attention for several reasons. First and foremost, the group exceeds the eight volumes so far mentioned. Albinia de la Mare, as a by-product of her ground-breaking research on fifteenth-century Florentine scribes, listed seventeen manuscripts (eleven beyond the previously known six codices from the Corvina Library) that contain the crown-and-lily coat of arms, and she identified their first owner as a humanist from Hungary.17 This group, which is thus of considerable size, seems surprisingly homogeneous. Apart from three manuscripts originating from Rome, the others were produced in Florence in the late 1460s, and their title pages were adorned with simple white vine-stem (bianchi girari) decorations. Most of them are written on parchment, and they contain exclusively Latin texts. Some of them, such as the codex containing the military treatises by Aelianus and Onosander (it is now in the Harvard University Library), the Justin manuscript in Besançon, and the Liber Alcidi from the National Széchényi Library in Budapest, still preserve their original, Florentine blind-tooled leather bindings (Cat. 2, 3, 5). (Fig. 9)

Although the subjects of the manuscripts vary considerably, it is obviously a humanistic book collection. In addition to writings by the classical Greek and Roman historiographers (Herodotus, Livy, Justin) (Fig. 11, 17), there are texts of both Pliny the Elder and the Younger, and with the exception of Virgil and Ovid, all the important ancient Roman poets are present (Catullus, Horace, Tibullus, Propertius, Juvenal). Key texts of Greek philosophy (Aristotle, Plato) (Fig. 12–13) in contemporary Latin translations appear in a surprisingly high number, and the group also includes a rare medieval Neoplatonic text in the Hermetic tradition, the De immortalitate animae or Liber Alcidi, which was known, copied, and quoted by Marsilio Ficino in the 1450s. In addition, there are military treatises by Aelianus and Onosander (Fig. 14), works by texts of the early Church Fathers frequently read in the fifteenth century, such as the Commentary on the Psalms by Saint John Chrysostom (Cat. 13), the complete works of Pseudo-Dionysius translated by Ambrogio Traversari (Fig. 15), and the works of Lactantius. (Fig. 16) The presence of Vitruvius’s treatise on architecture (Cat. 6) is of special interest. Another manuscript originating from Rome figures on the list compiled by De la Mare: the paper codex from the Universitätsbibliothek of Basel, which contains the Commentary on Ptolemy’s Almagest by George of Trebizond.18 (Cat. 1) The presence of this latter text in the group offers insights into the context of the whole library, as its author dedicated it to King Matthias Corvinus in the late 1460s, in the same period when he sent his other works and translations to János Vitéz and Janus Pannonius.19 Although the Basel manuscript does not contain the dedication to the king, together with the Bessarion codex they suggest that their original owner belonged to the intellectual milieu of János Vitéz, which at this time, when the organization of the university in Pozsony (today Bratislava, Slovakia) was high on the agenda, had close contacts with two Greek scholars living in Rome: Cardinal Bessarion and George of Trebizond.20

The group of manuscripts was apparently produced within a very short period of time. Based on their codicological and stylistic features, all of them can be dated, with certainty, to the second half of the 1460s. It is especially telling, for example, that regarding their illumination, they exclusively contain white vine-stem decoration and no trace of the floral ornamentation that replaced the previous fashion in Florence in the first half of the 1470s. A more precise dating is difficult, because only one of the manuscripts, the Justin codex in Besançon, has a dated colophon (Cat. 2), which, however, perfectly fits into the time frame: the copying was finished in November 1468.

Based on De la Mare’s research, Gabriella Mori Beltrami analysed the group, focusing primarily on the stylistic connections of the illuminations, and she concluded that the manuscripts of Florentine origin must have been produced in the workshop of Vespasiano da Bisticci.21 She distinguished two main masters among the illuminators who worked on the manuscripts: one of them decorated Livy’s third Decade now in Verona (Cat. 14) (Fig. 6), the Aelianus and Onosander manuscript (Cat. 5) (Fig. 14), and at least five other codices (Cats. 6, 9, 10, 11, 19) (Fig. 12, 15, 16), while the other illuminated Livy’s Fourth Decade (Cat. 15) (Fig. 7) and the Justin manuscript in Besançon (Cat. 2).22 (Fig. 17) The latter, in my opinion, comes from the circle of Cosimo Rosselli: the putti on the title pages of these manuscripts resemble very much the figures of children on his panel paintings dated to the second half of the 1460s and the putti in illuminated codices attributed to him and produced in the same period. These putti are drawn with firm outlines but seem oversized and overweight for the ornamental details of the border decorations, while their composition, standing in overemphasized contraposto with their hands resting on their hip with the palm turned outwards recalls Donatello’s bronze David (Florence, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, c. 1440).23 (Fig. 18)

The attribution of the miniatures in the first group presents us with a more complex issue of style criticism. Previously, Annarosa Garzelli had identified the illuminator of the third Decade in Verona with the so-called Maestro delle Deche di Alfonso d’Aragona.24 Beltrami, however, rightly pointed out that this illuminator, who was active in Florence in the 1450s, cannot be the same master who decorated the manuscripts with the crown-and-lily coat of arms much later. According to her, the title pages of the Livy and the Aelianus manuscripts should be attributed to another master, namely Bartolomeo di Domenico di Guido, who worked together with Francesco d’Antonio del Chierico, the leading illuminator in Florence in the 1470s.25 I believe, however, that this attribution needs revision. First, I doubt that the Livy manuscript in Verona and the Aelianus manuscript were illuminated by the same hand, and second, this attribution seems to be unconvincing.

I can agree with Beltrami that the master of the Livy manuscript in Verona was also the illuminator of other manuscripts belonging to the first group: one of the Aristotle manuscripts in the Bodleian Library in Oxford and the two codices in the Biblioteca Estense in Modena. The details of the miniatures on the title pages of these manuscripts (at least the details that can be taken into consideration when it comes to attribution, especially the figures, i.e. the putti) confirm that they were all made by the same hand. (Fig. 19) In my opinion, however, they are less close to the works attributed to Bartolomeo di Domenico di Guido with relative certainty than to the miniatures of another, very prolific master of the period in Florence, namely Mariano del Buono.26 At the same time, the putti of the Aelianus manuscript now at the Harvard library, which are more schematic and lack any modelling of light and shadow effects, are similar to the works of another Florentine illuminator, Ser Benedetto di Silvestro. These proposals for new attributions, however, did not affect the validity of Beltrami’s conclusion: both illuminators worked intensively for Vespasiano da Bisticci in this period.

In addition to Beltrami’s observations, another feature of the manuscripts containing the crown-and-lily coat of arms also supports the hypothesis that Bisticci was involved in their production: although several illuminators and scribes cooperated in their production, their general appearance is very homogeneous. The surviving original leather bindings and the illuminated decoration of the tables of content on the verso of the leaf preceding the title page, which are written in Roman capitals with gold leaves and adorned with the same type of ornaments, all suggest that this uniformity was deliberate on the part of the creators. The manuscripts produced in Bisticci’s workshop in the same period for the Urbino library of Federico da Montefeltro, were also given similar, uniform decoration.27 Another Corvina manuscript now in the Budapest University Library which originally belonged to one of the Hungarian bibliophile prelates, presumably to Vitéz or Janus Pannonius, also contains the same type of title-page decoration.28 (Fig. 20) The peculiarity of this manuscript is that it is the only codex produced for a Hungarian patron in Florence and adorned with a white vine-stem decoration that bears the signature of the cartolaio: according to the note of production on the first flyleaf, it was made in the workshop of Vespasiano da Bisticci.29 The scribes identified by De la Mare lead us to the same conclusion. Most of the manuscripts with the crown-and-lily coat of arms were copied by scribes who were primarily working for Bisticci around this time, such as Sinibaldus (Cats. 8, 9), Hubertus (Cats. 5, 7, 14, 15), and the so-called “Scribe of Venezia, Bibl. Marciana lat. Z.58” (Cat. 18, 20), who received his name of convenience after a set of manuscripts containing the works of Saint Augustin, which were produced in the cartolaio’s workshop for Cardinal Bessarion between 1470 and 1472.30

Péter Garázda and Bartolomeo Fonzio

The research of De la Mare yielded another important finding: she noted that Bartolomeo Fonzio had contributed to most of the manuscripts as emendator or the scribe of the table of contents. Moreover, one of the Aristotle manuscripts in Oxford was entirely copied by Fonzio (Cat. 11). (Fig. 12) This observation allows us to date a part of the manuscripts with more precision, or at least it provides us with a probable terminus ante quem, as Fonzio left Florence in summer 1469 and stayed in Ferrara until the death of Borso d’Este in 1471.31 By all indications, his contribution to the manuscripts should be dated before his departure from Florence. It is necessary to remark, however, that De la Mare recognised Fonzio’s hand only in the codices that do not bear any sign of ever having been part of the Corvina Library. Based on this alone, we cannot, for the present, set up a relative chronology within the whole group. It may be mere coincidence.

Fonzio’s participation in the production of the manuscripts is important for at least two reasons. First, it supports the conclusion that Bisticci was the organizer of the work, as the young humanist, who was living in narrow circumstances at the time, worked for Bisticci’s workshop as a professional scribe.32 Second, if we suppose that the manuscripts with the crown-and-lily coat of arms were produced for a Hungarian patron, and, as we have seen the texts were emended by Fonzio, then the production of this group of manuscripts may be connected to one of the most important episodes of early humanistic book culture in Hungary, i.e. the events that took place in Florence in 1468–69.

Fonzio first got in touch with Hungarian humanists at this time, when Péter Garázda, a relative of Janus Pannonius, after finishing his studies in Ferrara, arrived in Florence around 1468.33 Garázda’s stay in Florence even left a trace in the diplomatic correspondence between Florence and Matthias Corvinus: the Signoria sent two lions to the King of Hungary as a gift in December 1469, and the official cover letter addressed to Matthias mentioned Garázda as somebody whom “pro cive carum haberemus.”34 His friendship with Fonzio can also be dated to this period, as indicated by his correspondence with the Florentine humanist after 1471, when Garázda left Florence, as well as by his manuscripts.35 All four codices of Garázda that are known to us were produced in Florence, and three of them contain his coat of arms. The codicological features of the manuscripts can be interpreted as proof of cooperation between the members of a humanist fellowship: two of the manuscripts were emended by Fonzio, and the Macrobius codex in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich was not only copied and signed by him (this is the only case when he signed a work in the colophon), but the pen-and-ink drawings can also be attributed to him.36 This circle of friends included others as well, such as the Dominican friar Giorgio Antonio Vespucci, a member of a wealthy and influential Florentine family who amassed an immense library over the course of his life. The Greek passages in Garázda’s manuscripts, including the abovementioned Macrobius codex, were copied by Vespucci, who mastered the language. He is also present in the manuscripts of Hungarian humanists by means of heraldic representation: the title page of Garázda’s Cicero manuscript bears the combined coat of arms of Vespucci and the Hungarian humanist as testimony of their friendship, and in the third volume of János Vitéz’s lavishly decorated three-volume series of Livy, which contains marginal notes by Fonzio, some wasps (vespe), the heraldic animal of the Vespucci family, appear in the border decoration.37 The Livy manuscripts were probably commissioned by Garázda as a gift for the archbishop of Esztergom, which would explain why Garázda’s coat of arms appears in the title page of the third volume.

Some of the manuscripts with the crown-and-lily coat of arms fit well into this milieu: two of them have exactly the same content as two of Garázda’s four known codices: the Lactantius held in the Biblioteca Estense in Modena (Cat. 9) is the pendant of a manuscript with the coat of arms of Garázda now held in the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna, and the Justin codex in Besançon (Cat. 2) has a twin in Prague that contains an autograph possessor’s note by Garázda.38 There are other connections among these groups of manuscripts: the other emendator of the Justin manuscript was Piero Cennini, whose friendship with both Garázda and Fonzio in this period is well documented and who copied several of János Vitéz’s manuscripts, as well as other Florentine codices with white vine-stem decoration that once belonged to the stock of the Corvina Library. Based on Cennini’s dated colophons, he may have been working exclusively for Hungarian patrons between spring 1467 and November 1468. Chronologically, the Justin manuscript in Besançon fits exactly to the end of this series.39

Who could have been the patron and first owner of this important manuscript collection, which, without exaggeration, can be considered a library? A codex which has never been linked with the manuscripts containing the crown-and-lily coat of arms can bring us closer to an answer to this question. Among the early humanistic manuscripts of Hungarian provenance held in the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, there are two that bear the episcopal coat of arms of Orbán Nagylucsei. Both were, beyond doubt, produced in Florence in the late 1460s. Three margins of their title pages are decorated with white vine-stem illumination of exceptionally high quality, and the coat of arms in the middle of the bas-de-page is flanked by two winged putti. The one that contains Marsilio Ficino’s commentary on Plato has rightly been related to Janus Pannonius. (Fig. 21) According to the date in the colophon of Ficino’s autograph copy, the philosopher had completed the text of the Commentarium in Platonis Convivium de amore by July 1469.40 A few weeks after finishing the text, Ficino added a dedication addressed to Janus Pannonius and sent his work to Hungary. The Viennese manuscript is the only one that contains this personal, probably autograph dedication. Thus, by all indications, it was the original copy of Janus.41 The coat of arms of Nagylucsei must be a later addition, since he was appointed bishop (of Győr) as late as 1481, and here, as in every other manuscript that once belonged to him, the shield is surmounted by a mitre.42

The other codex (Cat. 16), the Pliny manuscript (ÖNB, Cod. 48) (Fig. 22), originates from a different owner: it has not been recorded yet that under Nagylucsei’s coat of arms, traces of another heraldic device are visible even to the naked eye. (Fig. 23) On the heraldic right side of the shield (parti per bend, gules and azure), a black field appears beneath the blue paint, while on the left of the golden six-point star that belongs to Nagylucsei’s coat of arms, we can see traces of another charge painted with an apparently different color of gold leaf.43 This tiny detail, however, can be identified with the left leaf of a crown, the heraldic motif well-known to us from the manuscripts with the crown-and-lily coat of arms. An oval form is also clearly visible in the lower part of the shield: based on the crown-and-lily coats of arms in the other manuscripts, it represents, in foreshortening, the lower rim of the crown that is typically depicted from below. Furthermore, the outline of the lozenge-shaped middle petal of the lily also shows through the gules of Nagylucsei’s coat of arms. The shape of the lily is even more discernible on the previous page, i.e. the verso of the front flyleaf (fol. Iv), as this motif, probably painted in silver leaf, left its print there. The manuscript was copied by Piero Cennini and his signed colophon contains the date January 11, 1469. The text was emended by Fonzio, who also wrote the table of contents on the verso of the first flyleaf (fol. Iv).44

György Handó

How could Orbán Nagylucsei acquire a manuscript from a collection the other items of which ended up in the royal library? To answer this question, it is worth confronting the supposed provenance of the other Viennese manuscript with the career of Nagylucsei. Assuming that the first owner of the Ficino manuscript was indeed Janus, the most plausible place where Nagylucsei could have acquired it is Pécs. Nagylucsei, who had a successful career in the royal court in the 1480s, had climbed the ecclesiastical career ladder rung by rung in the previous decade. First, he served as lector of Buda (1472), then provost of Esztergom (1473–74) and Fehérvár, finally, in 1480, a year and a half before his appointment as Bishop of Győr, he received the title of provost of Pécs cathedral chapter.45 He would have acquired Janus’s manuscript most probably in the last of these positions, and it seems that there, he had access to other codices as well. As we know from the biographies of Vespasiano da Bisticci, there was, in addition to Janus’s collection, another significant humanistic library in Pécs which consisted mainly of manuscripts produced in Florence: the library of György Handó.46 The problem is that we cannot verify Bisticci’s story. In contrast with his biography of Vitéz and Janus, which can be corroborated (at least in part) by other contemporary written sources and surviving codices, which thus prove that they were both bibliophiles, we know nothing about Handó’s library apart from what Bisticci wrote. No other source has come to light that would support the cartolaio’s words. Neither Fonzio nor Garázda mentions having been in touch with anybody, apart from Vitéz and Janus, from Hungary who commissioned manuscripts in Florence in larger quantities. No manuscript is known with a possessor’s note by Handó, and we have no information on any contemporary or later sources from Hungary which contain even a passing mention of this allegedly rich library so highly esteemed by Bisticci.

The desire to find the manuscripts of the Pécs cathedral’s chapter library has, of course, often arisen among scholars of Hungarian humanism, and attempts have also been made to localize the place of the library,47 but it seems as if, almost unconsciously, no one has taken Bisticci’s text seriously. One reason for this skepticism, which has never been put into words but is almost tangible, is that, compared to Vitéz and Janus, the figure of Handó seems very modest. It is perplexing that we do not know of any lines by him which would suggest that he was interested in book collecting and humanist culture or that he studied ancient authors. In the shadow of Vitéz and Janus, Handó cannot be more than an obscure figure with vague outlines. This desperate situation has recently led to the (in a way logical) hypothesis that this part of Bisticci’s biography does not refer to György Handó, and the cartolaio’s client was not the archbishop of Kalocsa, but another Hungarian, György Kosztolányi (known as Georgius Polycarpus).48 It seems that Bisticci did actually incorporate details of Kosztolányi’s life into his memoir on Handó, and until the publication of Vilmos Fraknói’s study on the diplomats of Matthias, modern historiography considered the two Györgys identical.49 Their lives indeed bore many similarities. In the 1460s, both had successful careers as the king’s ambassadors, and as such, they visited Rome several times in the second half of the decade. Kosztolányi, however, settled in Rome, married the daughter of George of Trebizond, and entered the service of the curia, while Handó’s career continued very differently.

György Handó was born in Kálmáncsehi, a small country town around 1430, presumably to a civic family, or he might have risen from the ranks of the peasantry.50 He started his studies in 1445 in the faculty of liberal arts at the university in Vienna. He continued studying in Ferrara, where he obtained a degree of doctor of canon law in 1451.51 Handó belonged to the group of ecclesiastics who rose from low ranks, but who were able to pursue further study abroad and then made good use of their education and knowledge in court service at the royal chancellery. Like many others, Handó was most probably supported in his career by János Vitéz and perhaps also by Janus Pannonius, as the latter was bishop of Pécs, where Handó headed the chapter of the cathedral in the same period. He became provost of Pécs in 1465, and he held this benefice until 1480.52

In the second half of the 1460s, he visited Rome several times as the ambassador of Matthias Corvinus in order to negotiate with Pope Paul II on behalf of the king. The pope was not the only person, however, with whom he negotiated. In 1467, when he departed on his Roman mission, he armed himself with five recommendations from Matthias. These recommendations were addressed to cardinals of the papal curia, although we do not know them by name.53 Since Handó’s mission aimed to gain the support of the pope and other Italian states for a campaign against the Turks, one of the addressees must have been Bessarion, who was one of the most influential cardinals in the curia and the keenest supporter of a war against the Turks. In the last few years of his life, Handó became one of the most important figures of the royal council exceptionally quickly. From 1476 on, he was treasurer for two years. In 1478, after the death of Gábor Matucsinai, he received the archbishopric of Kalocsa and, together with it, the title of principal and privy chancellor.54 His steeply rising career ended only with his death in 1480.

Bisticci seems to have remembered well the clients whom he had known personally. Even two decades later, he kept track of their careers. In the case of Handó, for example, he knew precisely that in his last years, he became principal chancellor and archbishop of Kalocsa, even if the most important events of the biography (the purchases of manuscripts in Florence), occurred much earlier.55 This earlier period can also be dated with certainty, as according to Bisticci, Handó bought the manuscripts when, returning from his embassy in Naples, he stopped in Florence. This embassy, the goal of which was to prepare the dynastic marriage with the House of Aragon, took place in 1469.56 Here, of course, we have to be cautious. Although Handó visited Florence in the second half of the 1460s, we cannot confirm that he was in the city in the year suggested by Bisticci. We have no further information on Handó’s presence in Florence in 1469.57 There is no reason to doubt, however, that the cartolaio met Handó in personal. If Bisticci was also right about the time when Handó commissioned the manuscripts, then it coincides with the period when Garázda was in town and the codices with the crown-and-lily coat of arms were produced.

This context throws new light upon a document published by Alessandro Daneloni. The contract, which is dated January 17, 1469 and was issued in Florence by Piero Cennini as a professional notary, designates Garázda, present as one of the contracting parties, as provost of Pozsega and canon of Pécs cathedral chapter.58 The document was issued only six days after Cennini finished the copying of the Pliny manuscript, which came into the possession of Nagylucsei, but had originally bore the crown-and-lily coat of arms. Furthermore, the document proves that Garázda had already been member of the Pécs cathedral chapter, which was headed by Handó.59 Given this, it seems plausible that at this time in Florence, Garázda was involved in commissioning not only Vitéz’s manuscripts, but also those with the crown-and-lily coat of arms. The chronological frame of their production, their codicilogical features, their Florentine and Roman provenance, and their connections with Hungarian humanists and their codices all suggest that Handó could have been the patron and original possessor of the “crown-and-lily” group of manuscripts. The provenance of the Pliny manuscript with Nagylucsei’s coat of arms also suggests this. When Pope Sixtus IV approved Handó’s appointment as archbishop of Kalocsa, also permitted the Hungarian prelate to keep his prebend of Pécs.60 As a result, no new provost of Pécs was appointed until the death of the archbishop of Kalocsa.61 After Handó’s death (1480), the Pécs benefice also became vacant, and since Orbán Nagylucsei followed Handó as treasurer when the latter was appointed principal chancellor, he also succeeded Handó in this ecclesiastical benefice. Thus, Nagylucsei was Handó’s direct successor at the head of the Pécs cathedral chapter.62

The Missing Link: The Identification of the Coat of Arms

If Handó was the first owner of the manuscripts with the crown-and-lily coat of arms, their fortune also becomes comprehensible. The manuscripts of the chapter library in Pécs must have remained there, even after his appointment as archbishop of Kalocsa, and after his death, Nagylucsei took possession of some of his (and perhaps Janus’s) books. If this is what happened, no wonder we lack sources on Handó’s library: ten years after its creation, it had ceased to exist. It logically follows that the manuscripts with the crown-and-lily coat of arms (and perhaps not only those whose Corvina-provenance is obvious)63 ended up in the royal library in the 1480s through the intermediary of Nagylucsei, who was provably in touch with the Buda scriptorium, where he had both the illumination and the binding of his Psalter executed. This Psalter is the only known manuscript beyond the stock of the Corvina Library that was given the same type of gilded leather binding as the royal codices.64 Therefore, we probably should attribute a more important role to the treasurer in the development of the Corvina Library.

The success of our attempt to identify Handó’s library and the validity of all the hypotheses formulated above stand or fall on proving one single thing: did the crown-and-lily coat of arms belong to Handó? The answer is not easy, as the grant of arms of the low-born Handó is missing, we know nothing about any constructions by him in Pécs where his carved coat of arms might come to light, and his tomb, which was probably set up in the cathedral of Kalocsa, did not survive. At the same time, Handó held important ecclesiastical and secular positions for decades, as a result of which he issued several sealed charters, some of which survive. However, those known to me are not preserved in Hungary and thus slipped the notice of researchers. On the old, black and white reproductions of charters kept abroad that can be consulted in the Photo Collection of the Hungarian National Archives (HNA, DF), the seals, often preserved whole, appear as blurred, dark stains. On the original charters, however, they are clearly discernible. The best preserved are the pendent seals attached to three charters now held in the Central Archive of Warsaw, that were issued on February 21, 1474, near the Polish border, in Szepesófalu (Spišská Stará Ves, Slovakia) on the occasion of the peace treaty between Matthias, King of Hungary and Casimir IV, King of Poland.65 (Fig. 24) One of the six issuers was György Handó, provost of Pécs and papal protonotary, who sealed the document, corresponding to the intitulation, at the fifth place.66 The print that his octagonal signet-ring left in the red wax is preserved in perfect condition. It consists of a crown with three leaves surmounted by a lily. (Fig. 25)


Figure 25. Pendent seal of György Handó, provost of Pécs cathedral chapter.

Warsaw, Archiwum Główne Akt Dawnych, Zbiór dokumentów pergaminowych, 5583, detail


Catalogue: The Manuscripts of György Handó

The list below, which is not intended as a detailed descriptive catalogue, contains only the manuscripts that were identifiable with a high degree of certainty. I only gave the most important codicological data, if they were available to me. I considered it necessary to provide information on the later provenance of the manuscripts, and in those cases in which it seemed possible, I made some remarks on the attribution of the illumination. The approximate date of each manuscript is not given, because, based on the conclusions I have presented in this essay, I date the whole group between c. 1465/68 and 1470. The two codices dated in the colophon are Cat. 2 (November 1468) and Cat. 16 (January 11, 1469). Seventeen manuscripts were produced in Florence, three (Cats. 1, 4, 12) in Rome. In the case of the codices that ended up in the Corvina Library (Cats. 3, 4, 7, 8, 14, 15, 17, 18), I quoted Hungarian secondary literature before 1990 only where appropriate. Previous literature can be found in Bibliotheca Corviniana by Csaba Csapodi and Klára Csapodi-Gárdonyi in the relevant entry.


1. Basel, Universitätsbibliothek, F. V. 2267

Georgius Trapezuntius: Commentarii in Ptolemaei Almagestum.

On paper, 356 fols., 325×225 mm. Written in humanistic cursive by the scribe, according to Albinia de la Mare, “Michael Laurentii Claromontensis diocesis.”68 Both the content and the scribe of the manuscript suggest that it was produced in Rome.69 The manuscript does not contain the dedication that Trapezuntius attached to his Commentaries on Ptolemy’s Almagest and addressed to Matthias Corvinus. The dedicatory copy sent to the king did not survive, but the text of the dedication was preserved in a contemporary manuscript which also contains autograph emendations by George of Trebizond.70 According to possessor’s notes on fol. 4r, the Basel manuscript was later owned by Heinrich Petri (1508–79), then Remigius Faesch (1595–1667).


2. Besançon, Bibliothèque Municipale, Cod. Lat. 83271

M. Iunianus Iustinus: Historiarum Philippicarum Trogi Pompei epitome.

On parchment, 152 fols. 265×175 mm. Original Florentine, blind-tooled, brown leather binding. Written in humanistic book script. Scribe: Nicolaus Riccius spinosus, but the colophon containing his name was actually written by Piero Cennini. Annotations by Cennini and Bartolomeo Fonzio.72 The copying is dated November 1468 in the colophon: “Transcriptum Florentiae mense Novembri. Anno salutis nostrae MCCCCLXVIII. Nicholaus Echinnus Riccius descripsit.” For the illuminator, see Cat. 15. In the right margin of fol. 2r, there are the seventeenth-century shelf marks of the library of Jean-Baptiste Boisot (1638–94) and the public library of Saint-Vincent of Besançon founded by him: “Cinquante / quattre,” below “h. 19 / Cotte cent / quarante et / un.” (Similar shelf marks, of the same format and by the same hand, appear in Cod. Lat. 166 of the Bibliothèque Municipale of Besançon, which once belonged to the Corvina Library but previously was owned by an unidentified cardinal in the 1450s: “Cinquante / huit,” below “h. 19 / Cotte cent vingt / deux.”

3. Budapest, National Széchényi Library, Cod. Lat. 41873

Liber Altividi de immortalitate animae.

On parchment, III, 53, III* fols., 260×186 mm. Original Florentine, blind-tooled, brown leather binding. Written in semi-humanistic book script by an unidentified scribe. The upper, lower, and inner margins of the title page are decorated with Florentine white vine-stem illumination. Although the author of the text is anonymous, based on the characters, the work has traditionally been attributed to the otherwise unknown Alcidus and Altividus, whose names have been transmitted in the title. (The text is usually called as Liber Alcidi, Alcidus or Liber Altividi). For a long time, the author was wrongly identified with the fourth-century Neoplatonic writer, Calcidius, who translated Plato’s Timaeus into Latin and wrote commentaries on the dialogue.74 In fact, the work was written in the second half of the twelfth century and can be connected to the cultural milieu of the royal court of the Norman kingdom of Sicily, but its spread was very restricted. Only five manuscripts survived that contain the entire text, and all of them are related to Florence. The earliest one is a thirteenth-century manuscript, which was in the possession of the humanist chancellor Coluccio Salutati in the last third of the fourteenth century, and together with his book collection, it ended up in the library of San Marco through the intermediary of Niccolò Niccoli.75 The other four manuscripts, including the Budapest copy, were all produced in Florence in the fifteenth century.76 Marsilio Ficino knew the text of the De immortalitate animae well and even used it: he copied part of it, the discourse on the virtues, into one of his manuscripts.77 The Budapest manuscript ended up in the Corvina Library. It was then acquired by Johannes Cuspinianus in Buda. It was purchased, together with Cuspinianus’s library, by Johann Fabri, bishop of Vienna, who bequeathed his book collection in 1540 to the Saint Nicholas College in Vienna founded by him (printed ex libris on fol. IIr, handwritten note on fol. 52v). The library of the college was incorporated into the Hofbibliothek in 1756. Finally, it was transferred to Hungary in accordance with the Venice Agreement in 1932 (for the agreement, see note 17). Original shelf mark: ÖNB, Cod. 2391.


4. Budapest, National Széchényi Library, Cod. Lat. 43878

Basilius Bessarion: De ea parte Evangelii ubi scribitur: “Si eum volo manere, quid ad te?”; Epistola ad graecos; De sacramento Eucharistiae.

On parchment, II, 56 fols., 285×200 mm. Original blind stamped and gold-tooled Corvina binding produced in the Buda scriptorium in the late 1480s. Written in humanistic book script by Leonardus Job in Rome. Signed in the colophon on fol. 16r: “Finis / Deo gr(ati)as. / Amen Leonard(us) Iob” and on fol. 25r: “Finis / Deo gr(ati)as. / Amen / LEONARD(us) IOB / S(crip)S(it).”79 The white vine-stem decoration on the four margins of the title page (fol. 3r) can be attributed to a master active in Rome.80

After the death of Matthias Corvinus (1490), the manuscript remained in Buda at least for two decades, since it was used for the first edition of the second and third texts, published in Strasburg (Argentorati, Matthias Schürer, 1513). According to the preface to the printed edition (p. III. S.), the publisher was provided with the text by Augustinus Olomucensis (1467–1513), provost and royal vice chancellor, who copied the two texts in Buda. Later (but before 1530), the manuscript was acquired by Johann Fabri, bishop of Vienna, together with other volumes from the royal library (printed ex libris glued onto the front pastedown, cf. Cat. 3.). After his death, it ended up in the library of Saint Nicholas College, then, in the eighteenth century, it became part of the collection of the Benedictine Abbey of Göttweig. The Hungarian State purchased it from the antiquarian József Faragó for the National Széchényi Library.


5. Cambridge (Mass.), Harvard University, Houghton Library, Ms. Richardson 1681

Aelianus Tacticus: De instruendis aciebus (translated to Latin by Theodorus Gaza);

Onosander: De optimo imperatore (translated to Latin by Nicolaus Secundinus).

On parchment, 85 fols., 287×216 mm. Original Florentine, blind-tooled leather binding82 (similar bindings: Cats. 2, 3) Written in humanistic book script attributed to Hubertus W.83 The illuminated decoration of the table of contents on the verso of the leaf preceding the title page has the same type as Cats. 7, 9, 10, and 19. The manuscript is supposed to originate from the library of Antal György Apponyi (1751–1817), which he founded in 1774 in Vienna. His son, Antal Apponyi moved the library first to the family mansion in Hőgyész, then to his palace in Pozsony (Bratislava, Slovakia), built in 1827. Then, the library was transferred to the family mansion in Upper Hungary, in Nagy-Appony (Oponice, Slovakia). In the second half of the nineteenth century, the manuscript was not unknown to Hungarian scholars.84 It was on display as part of the charity exhibition organized for the flood victims in 1876 in Budapest and the book exhibition which opened in 1882 in the Palace of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.85 In 1892, Lajos Apponyi (1849–1909) auctioned off a considerable part of his collection, including this manuscript, at Sotheby’s in London.86 Edith Hoffmann recognized that the coat of arms in the manuscript is the same found in several manuscripts from the Corvina Library, but her observation remained unnoticed by other scholars.87

Most of the Hungarian newspapers that reported on the auction highlighted the Aelianus manuscript, because the sale was considered a huge loss because of its presumed Corvina provenance.88 The manuscript was purchased at the London auction by Robert Hoe (New York), then it ended up in the possession of William King Richardson, who bequeathed his important manuscript collection to the Harvard College Library in 1951. The Apponyi provenance does not prove, of course, that the manuscript was constantly in Hungary between the end of the fifteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth. For example, one of the most significant pieces of the library of Antal György Apponyi, auctioned off in 1892, a Ptolemy manuscript that was also produced in Florence c. 1470 and was illustrated with 27 double-page maps, ended up in the possession of the founder of the library in 1813 at the auction of the famous Bibliotheca Ebneriana in Nuremberg.89


6. Chatsworth, The Duke of Devonshire Collection90

Marcus Vitruvius Pollio: De architectura libri X.

On parchment, 133 fols., 267×175mm. Eighteenth–nineteenth-century gold-tooled leather binding. Written in humanistic book script by an unidentified scribe, with emendations by Bartolomeo Fonzio.91 The margins of the title page are adorned with white vine-stem decoration, the coat of arms is encircled by a green laurel wreath, held by two winged putti. It has been in the Devonshire collection since the eighteenth century.

This manuscript, which, unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to study in the original, might help to resolve an important problem. As Gábor Hajnóczi has proven, in 1487, Antonio Bonfini must have used a Vitruvius manuscript for his translation of Filarete’s treatise on architecture (contained in the so-called Averulinus corvina, a manuscript from the Corvina Library: Venice, BNM, Cod. Marc. Lat. VIII. 2 [=2796]).92 This Vitruvius manuscript, however, cannot be the one that Ludovico Sforza (il Moro) sent from Milan to Hungary for John Corvinus, illegitimate son of King Matthias, as this happened a year later.93 (Budapest, UL, Cod. Lat. 32.) Since apart from this copy of Milanese origin, we have not so far known of any Vitruvius manuscript that was in Hungary in the late fifteenth century, the philological examination of the codex from Handó’s library, especially a search for any marginal notes by Bonfini, would be of special interest. If the Chatsworth manuscript were indeed the copy used by Bonfini, it would also prove, at least in this specific case, that more volumes ended up in the royal library from Handó’s book collection than those that bear the obvious codicological signs of their Corvina provenance (addition of the royal coat-of-arms, corvina-binding, etc.).


7. Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Barb. Lat. 16894

Titus Livius: Ab urbe condita, Decas I.

On parchment, I, 212, I* fols., 357×242 mm. Original, blind stamped and gold-tooled corvina leather binding produced in Buda in the late 1480s. Written in humanistic book script. The scribe has not been identified before, but actually he is identical with the scribe of the two Livy codices in the Biblioteca Capitolare in Verona (Cats. 14–15.), Hubertus W.

The title on fol. Iv is written in golden antiqua capitals, in seven lines, in the middle of the page encircled by a green laurel wreath which is tied on both sides with rippling blue ribbon. The illuminated decoration of the table of contents on the verso of the leaf preceding the title page has the same type as Cats. 5, 9, 10, 19. The text that begins according to modern numbering on fol. 1r (“incerte stirpis patrem nuncupat…”) is the end of the second sentence of Decas I, I, 4. Based on the length of the missing text, two leaves were removed from the beginning of the manuscript before the second half of the seventeenth century. The manuscript was acquired by Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq (Bousbeque) (1522–92), imperial envoy between 1556 and 1562 in Istanbul, together with other manuscripts originating from the Corvina Library. Then, according to a note on the top of fol. Ir, it ended up in the collection of Lucas Wijngaert of Bruges, from whom it went into the possession of Olivier de Wree (1596–1652), another humanist in Bruges (his possessor’s note is in the upper left corner of fol. Iv). The manuscript became part of the Vatican Library together with the book collection of Cardinal Francesco Barberini (1597–1679).95 In the manuscript catalogue compiled in the second half of the seventeenth century, the cardinal’s librarian, Carlo Moroni, already recorded that the title page was missing. The original shelf mark of the manuscript in the Barberini collection was: 2504.


8. London, British Library, Lansdowne Ms. 83696

Q. Horatius Flaccus: Epistolarum libri II; De arte poetica; Sermonum libri II; Carminum libri IV; Epodon; Carmen saeculare;

Decius Junius Juvenalis: Satirae;

Aulus Persius Flaccus: Satirae

On parchment, II, 234, III* fols., 240×155 mm. Gold-tooled blue leather binding produced after 1600. Written in humanistic book script (humanistica rotunda) attributed to the scribe Sinibaldus C.97 On the verso of the flyleaf preceding the title page (fol. 2v), a profile portrait of King Matthias Corvinus was painted in the last quarter of the sixteenth century or later. The portrait follows the so-called Mantegna-type, but derives directly from the woodcut by Tobias Stimmer published in 1575 in the Basel edition of Paolo Giovio’s Elogia virorum bellica virtute illustrium.98 Traces of a five-line text which has been scraped out, are visible partly above, partly underneath the portrait. Florentine white vine-stem illumination decorates the lower, upper, and inner margins of the title page (fol. 3r). The manuscript was acquired by Antal Verancsics, bishop of Pécs in Istanbul in 1555–57.


9. Modena, Biblioteca Estense Universitaria, Cod. Lat. 384 (=α.M.8.18)99

L. Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius: Divinarum institutionum contra gentiles ad Constantinum imperatorem; Epitome sexti et septimi libri; De ira divina; De opificio hominis ad Demetrianum; De phenice carmen

On parchment, II, 254, I* fols., 322×222 mm. Modern green leather binding. Written in humanistic book script (humanistica rotunda) by the scribe Sinibaldus C.100 The illuminated decoration of the table of contents on the verso of the leaf preceding the title page has the same type as Cats. 5, 7, 10, 19. Florentine white vine-stem illumination decorates the lower, upper, and inner margins of the title page (fol. 3r). It belongs to the so-called antico fondo estense and might have been purchased by Alfonso II d’Este from Nicolò Zen in Venice, like the manuscripts now in Modena that originate from the Corvina Library.


10. Modena, Biblioteca Estense Universitaria, Cod. Lat. 386 (=α.H.3.12)101

Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita: De coelesti hierarchia; De ecclesiastica hierarchia; De divinis nominibus; De mystica theologia; Epistolae X. (all translated to Latin by Ambrogio Traversari);

Franciscus de Mayronis: In expositione librorum Dionisii de mistica theologia; De angelica hierarchia;

Tomas abbas Vercellensis (Thomas Gallus): In expositione librorum Dionisii de angelica hierarchia; Extractio seu commentum in librum beati Dionisii de ecclesiastica hierarchia; Continentia primi capituli de divinis nominibus; Commentum in librum beati Dionisii de mistica theologica; Extractiones epistolae Dionisii ad Titum.

On parchment, III, 238, II* fols., 323×215 mm. Modern, green leather binding. Written in humanistic book script by Petrus de Traiecto (fol. 1r–112r) and another, unidentified scribe (fol. 113r–238r).102 The illuminated decoration of the table of contents on the verso of the leaf preceding the title page has the same type as Cats. 5, 7, 9, 19. Florentine white vine-stem illumination decorates the lower, upper, and inner margins of the title page (fol. 3r). It belongs to the so-called antico fondo estense. For its hypothetic earlier provenance, see Cat. 10. Edith Hoffmann already noticed in a review published in 1925, that it contains the same coat of arms as several other manuscripts from the Corvina Library.103


11. Oxford, Bodleian Library, Canon. Class. Lat. 289104

Aristotle: Ethicorum ad Nicomachum libri X. (translated to Latin by John Argyropoulos, with dedication to Cosimo de’ Medici); Politicorum libri VIII; Oeconomicorum libri II (translated to Latin by Leonardo Bruni)

On parchment, 204 fols. Written in humanistic cursive by Bartolomeo Fonzio.105 Florentine white vine-stem illumination decorates the lower, upper, and inner margins of the title page. The lily of Handó’s coat of arms in the bas-de-page, which was painted in silver leaf, left its print on the verso of the front flyleaf.


12. Oxford, Bodleian Library, Canon. Class. Lat. 292106

Aristotle: Metaphysica (translated to Latin by Cardinal Bessarion)

On paper. Written in humanistic book script, extensively annotated in the margins. Its scribe is unidentified, but according to De la Mare, it was copied in Rome.107 The manuscript is almost completely undecorated, except for fol. 1r, where, in the center of the bas-de-page, there is a coat of arms in a medallion encircled by a laurel wreath. Although the middle of the coat of arms has been scraped out, traces of the golden crown are still visible, while the outline of the lily left its print on the verso of the front flyleaf. On the title page, there is also a five-line O-initial, painted in gold leaf, placed in a blue field, and filled with white vine-stem decoration. On a piece of paper glued onto the verso of the first flyleaf, there is a note by a late fifteenth- or early sixteenth-century hand, according to which someone (presumably the owner of the manuscript) lent four of his books: “Dialogi deorum / Valerius Probus / Philelphus de educatione liberorum / Libellus, q(uas)i panegyricus Imp(eratoris) Maxi(miliani) / apud D(omi)num Joa(n)ne(m) Jamboscium sunt, / quos h(abe)t a me accomodatos.” The note probably refers to Jan Zambocki (c. 1475–1529), secretary to Sigismund I, King of Poland.


13. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Cod. Latin 2650108

Johannes Chrysostomus: Homiliae in Psalmum L, I et II;

Sanctus Gaudentius: Sermones

On parchment, 141 fols., 225×150 mm. Sixteenth century (?) leather binding. Written in humanistic book script by an unidentified scribe, but contains emendations by Bartolomeo Fonzio.109


14. Verona, Biblioteca Capitolare, Cod. Lat. CXXXVI (124)110

Titus Livius: De secundo bello punico (Ab urbe condita, Decas III)

On parchment, I, 214 fols., 354×245 mm, text block: 236×137 mm. Original, blind stamped and gold-tooled Corvina leather binding produced in Buda in the late 1480s. Written in humanistic book script (humanistica rotunda) by Hubertus W. Edina Zsupán examined the manuscript and declared that, contrary to the opinion of Klára Csapodi-Gárdonyi, it does not contain emendations by János Vitéz.111

The table of contents preceding the title page is written in an illuminated architectural framework imitating a Renaissance tabernacle. This decoration is of the same type as Cat. 2. In the lower, upper, and inner margins of the title page, there is white vine-stem decoration enriched with putti and birds. A standing figure of a Roman general is depicted in the thirteen-line gold leaf “I” initial. The manuscript was presumably purchased by Nicolò Zen in 1560 from Istanbul, through the intermediary of his father; in 1580, it was purchased by Mario Bevilacqua for his library; in the late seventeenth century, it was in the possession of Scipione Maffei, who gave it to Francesco Muselli, canon of Verona. Finally, Muselli donated it to the Biblioteca Capitolare of Verona. The manuscript Cod. Lat. CXXXV of the library, which contains the Livy’s first Decade, was produced in Rome and not in Florence, and “met” Handó’s codices only in the collection of Bevilacqua.

15. Verona, Biblioteca Capitolare, Cod. Lat. CXXXVII (125)112

Titus Livius: De bello macedonico (Ab urbe condita, Decas IV);

Lucius Florus: Epitome historiarum libri IV.

On parchment, 208 fols., 360×247 mm, text block: 236×138 mm. Original, blind stamped and gold-tooled Corvina leather binding produced in Buda in the late 1480s. Written in humanistic book script (humanistica rotunda) by Hubertus W.113 For its provenance, see Cat. 15. On fol. 2v, the monochrome, architectonic decoration of the title page forms a Renaissance tabernacle, which also contains the coat of arms of György Handó. Beltrami thought, primarily based on the putti holding the coat of arms, that the vine-stem decoration of the title page with its unusual colors and structure, must be the work of the same master who illuminated the Iustin manuscript in Besançon (Cat. 2.). I agree with her. According to Claudia Adami, the illuminator was the Florentine master known as Scipione, who also worked for Bisticci. In my opinion, based on his style, the illuminator belonged to the circle of Cosimo Rosselli.114 Below the original decoration of the bas-de-page, on the edge of the parchment, the small leaf garland, decorated with red and blue five-petal flowers, red and green ribbons, and colorful beads, can be attributed to the so-called First Heraldic Painter, an illuminator active in the Buda workshop at the end of the 1480s.


16. Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Cod. 48115

Pseudo-Plinius: De viris illustribus;

C. Plinius Secundus: Epistolarum libri I–VII, IX;

Johannes Mansionarius: Vita duorum Pliniorum;

Pseudo-Plinius: Panegyricus Traiani;

Panegyrici XII.

On parchment, 191 fols., 330×224 mm. Original Florentine, blind-tooled leather binding (border decoration consists of interlaced rings, with two ostrich feathers emerging from every other ring). parchment. Written in humanistic cursive by Piero Cennini. The manuscript is dated in the colophon of the second text (fol. 92v): “Transcriptus Florentiae. IIIo. Idvs. Ian(uarias) Anno Salvtis Nostrae MCCCCLXVIII. Paulo. IIo. Romae. Pont. Max. τέλος” which means, taking into consideration the Florentine calendar, January 11, 1469. (The colophon is often dated, wrongly, to 1468.) The table of contents (fol. Iv) was written by Bartolomeo Fonzio.116 It lists all the works in the manuscript, but the short biography of Johannes Mansionarius had originally been left out and was added later, together with the folio number, to the end of the list by a contemporaneous but different hand. On the title page (fol. 1r), the lower, upper, and inner margins are adorned with white vine-stem decoration, while the historiated initial “P” includes a full-length author portrait in his study. The upper and inner margins of the incipit page of the Panegyricus Traiani are also decorated with white vine-stem illumination and a “B” initial (fol. 95r). Throughout the manuscript, there are several three-line initials in a squared field, but they were left unfinished: only their colored (pale red, blue, green) background and the gilding of the letters are completed. It is important to note that the illuminator consistently used a Greek capital “M” instead of the Latin version. In a medallion in the middle of the bas-de-page, encircled by a laurel wreath, there is the episcopal coat of arms of Orbán Nagylucsei, and the traces of György Handó’s coat of arms underneath. The manuscript ended up in Vienna from the Hofbibliothek in Salzburg, its previous shelf mark was: Salisb. 1c.


17. Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Cod. 224117

Q. Valerius Catullus: Carmina;

Albius Tibullus: Carminum libri IV;

Sextus Propertius: Carminum libri IV.

On parchment, I, 171, III* fols., 240×165 mm. Written in humanistic book script attributed to Gabriel de Pistorio.118 The title page (fol. 1r) is adorned with Florentine white vine-stem decoration in the lower, upper, and inner margins and with a half-length author portrait in the initial “C.” The coat of arms of Matthias Corvinus in the middle of the bas-de-page was painted in the Buda scriptorium in the late 1480s. The codex was purchased by Sámuel Nádudvari in 1725 from the bequest of Michael II Apafi, Prince of Transylvania (1690–96).

18. Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Cod. 2384119

Plato: Phaedo; Gorgias; Axiochus; Apologia Socratis; Crito (all translated in Latin by Leonardo Bruni, except for the Axiochus, which was translated by Runiccio Aretino, also known as Rinuccio Castiglionfiorentino)

On parchment, 137 fols., 257×170 mm. Written in humanistic book script attributed to the so-called “Scribe of Venezia, Bibl. Marciana lat. Z.58,” who also copied a set of manuscripts containing the works of Saint Augustine for Cardinal Bessarion in the workshop of Vespasiano da Bisticci (cf. Cat. 20).120 The table of contents on fol. IIv was written in humanistic cursive in red ink, most probably by Bartolomeo Fonzio. Ernesto Berti noted that the codex was produced in Bisticci’s workshop, and its text was copied on the basis of a manuscript which belonged to Gianozzo Manetti (BAV, Pal. Lat. 974). According to Berti the copying mistakes were consistently corrected by a second hand. This emendator also collated the text of the Phaedo and the Gorgias with another manuscript (BML, Plut. 89.sup. 58) and corrected the mistakes of the archetype as well.121


19. Wormsley Estate, The Wormsley Library (formerly Holkham Hall, Ms. 440)122

Herodotus: Historiarum libri IX. (translated to Latin by Lorenzo Valla)

On parchment. Written in humanistic book script attributed to the so-called “Scribe of Bodmer Perotti.”123 The illuminated decoration of the table of contents on the verso of the leaf preceding the title page has the same type as Cats. 5, 7, 9, 10. Florentine white vine-stem decoration in the lower, upper, and inner margins of the title page (fol. 2r). The codex had belonged to the collection of the Holkham Hall library until 2001, when it was auctioned at Sotheby’s.


20. Private collection. (Formerly New York, Marston Collection, Ms. 54)124

Johannes Mansionarius: De duobus Pliniis;

Aurelius Victor: De viris illustribus;

C. Plinius Secundus: Epistolarum libri

On parchment, 148 fols. Written in humanistic book script attributed to the so-called “Scribe of Venezia, Bibl. Marciana lat. Z.58” cf. Cat. 19, table of contents and annotations by the hand of Bartolomeo Fonzio.125



Archiwum Główne Akt Dawnych w Warszawie, Zbiór dokumentów pergaminowych, Warsaw


Archivio di Stato di Firenze, Florence


Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vatican City


Biblioteca Capitolare, Verona


Biblioteca Estense Universitaria, Modena


The British Library, London


Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Florence


Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, Florence


Bibliothèque national de France, Paris


Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Venice


Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich


ELTE University Library, Budapest


Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel


National Archives of Hungary, Budapest


National Széchényi Library, Budapest


Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Vienna


The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York



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1 This paper is only a preliminary study on a topic which needs more detailed discussion. I plan to devote a monography to the history of Handó’s library, its connections with early humanistic libraries in Florence, Hungary and Central Europe, and the individual manuscripts. Taken into consideration, however, the importance of the subject and the amount of time that the writing of such a book demands, I decided to summarize and publish the most important results of my research here. To be more reader-friendly, all data and secondary literature on the individual codices are collected in the Catalogue. In the main text, manuscripts are only referred by catalogue numbers (Cats. 1–20). My research on the manuscripts of Handó’s library enjoyed the support of the János Bolyai Research Grant of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and my research travels were made possible by the Isabel and Alfred Bader Scholarship, which I received in 2014. This paper was originally published in Hungarian language in 2016, see Pócs, “Handó György könyvtára.” Further research was carried out within the framework of the Court culture and power representation in late medieval and early modern Hungary research project (NKFIH K-129362). I owe a particular debt of gratitude to Edina Zsupán (National Széchényi Library, Department of Manuscripts), who helped me draw conclusions on some important codicological questions. I am also thankful to Eszter Nagy (Research Centre for Humanities, Institute of Art History) for the detailed photos of the two manuscripts kept in the Bodleian Library in Oxford (Cats. 11, 12).

2 Bisticci, Lives of Illustrious Men, 199–200. For the critical edition of the text, see Bisticci, Le vite, vol. 1, 340–41: “Istando a Roma meser Giorgio in queste pratiche, ebe lettere d’Ungheria, ch’egli andassi a Napoli a praticare col re Ferdinando il parentado della figliuola del re col re d’Ungheria. Fuvi molto onorato. Istato non molto tempo in questa pratica, colla sua prudentia et destreza d’ingegno condusse quello parentado. Conchiusolo, se ne venne alla via di Firenze, dove aveva comperati libri per più di tre mila fiorini, per fare una libreria a Cinque Chiese, a una sua propositura v’aveva. Avendo avuto dal re inanzi la cancellaria, et andando ogni cosa per le sue mani, fece quello hanno fatto pochi uomini della sua qualità. In prima, in quella chiesa dove egli era proposto, fece fare una degnissima capella, [...]. Et nella medesima chiesa ordinò una bellissima libreria, nella quale messe libri d’ogni facultà, et ragunovi volumi trecento o più, et ordinò il luogo dove avessino a stare. Ordinò sopra quella libreria uno sacerdote con buona provisione, che avessi cura de’ libri, et ogni dì l’aprissi et serassi.”

3 In the early 1460s, Cosimo de’ Medici commissioned Bisticci to provide the Badia Fiesolana with a new library. Employing several scribes, the cartolaio produced a large number of manuscripts within an exceptionally short time, but not even their number exceeded one hundred volumes, see De la Mare, “Vespasiano da Bisticci,” 190–92; Dressen, The Library of the Badia Fiesolana, 14–16.

4 Budapest, UL, Cod. Lat. 11; BAV, Vat. Lat. 1951.

5 De la Mare, “Library of Francesco Sassetti,” 186–88, cats. 66–70, 73, 78. Csapodi and Csapodi-Gárdonyi, Bibliotheca Corviniana, 46–60, cats. 70, 85, 87, 94, 102, 116, 159. The manuscript Cod. lat. 9 of the Budapest University Library has been wrongly added to this group, most recently by Tünde Wehli in Mátyás király, 14–15, cat. 3. This manuscript, illuminated in the 1450s by Gioacchino de’ Gigantibus, had originally belonged to the library of Cardinal Francesco Condulmer, see Dániel Pócs in A Corvina könyvtár budai műhelye, cat. F12.

6 De la Mare, “Library of Francesco Sassetti,” 170. The purchase could take place because when the Medici bank was close to bankruptcy, Sassetti, being hard up financially, had to sell the most lavishly decorated and, thus, the most precious volumes of his library, which he had compiled with much care over the course of decades by investing a substantial amount of money. This coincided with a turn in the representation of the Buda court, which set as its primary goal the formation of a royal library consisting of luxury manuscripts.

7 Modena, BEU, Cod. Lat. 441 (=α.S.4.2); Florence, BML, Acquisti e Doni 233. His letters sent to Buda reveal his plans to have manuscripts copied for the Corvina Library in larger quantities, see Daneloni, Bartholomaei Fontii Epistolarum Libri, 78–85, ep. II, 11, 12, 13.

8 Wolfenbüttel, HAB, Cod. Guelf. 85.1. Aug. 2o. For a recent summary on Fonzio’s Hungarian connections, especially in 1488–89, see Daneloni, “Bartolomeo Fonzio.” For Ugoleto’s presence in Florence, see Branca, “I rapporti.”

9 Although the possessor of the coat of arms has not been identified yet, we can find, sporadically in the secondary literature, some—completely unfounded—guesses about its owner, which vary from Janus Pannonius to the “unknown” royal coat of arms of King Matthias Corvinus. According to Klára Csapodi-Gárdonyi, whose opinion led foreign research astray, the heraldic features of the coat of arms do not suggest a Hungarian owner. Her suggestion, however, was wrong, since the arrangement of the charges, the crown (a circlet with three leaves)–surmounted by a lily was not at all unknown in Late Medieval Hungary. Similar motifs appear for example on the coat of arms of Gergely T(h)akaró, titular bishop of Szörény, and his family. This coat of arms was granted by Vladislaus II, King of Hungary in 1502. The grant of arms unfortunately did not survive, but, based on an engraving, published in the nineteenth century, it must have been one of the highest quality Renaissance grants of arms illuminated in Buda, see Horvát, “II-dik Ulászló.” For Gergely Takaró, see C. Tóth, Magyarország késő-középkori főpapi archontológiája, 102.

10 The Florentine origins of the so-called First Heraldic Painter’s style were already correctly suggested by Edith Hoffmann. Hoffmann, Régi magyar bibliofilek, 82–84. For the list of the manuscripts from the Corvina Library with illuminations attributed to him, see Madas, “La Bibliotheca Corviniana,” 45.

11 Verona, BC, Cod. CXXXV (123). Csapodi-Gárdonyi, Die Bibliothek des Johannes Vitéz, 114, cat. 59; Csapodi and Csapodi-Gárdonyi, Bibliotheca Corviniana, 61, cat. 162; Spagnolo, I manoscritti, 220; Claudia Adami in Nel segno del corvo, 199–201, cat. 23. Contrary to the opinion of Csapodi and Csapodi-Gárdonyi, this codex has never belonged to the Corvina Library.

12 Eight-line initials in gold leaf, with white vine-stem decoration: fols. 22v, 47r, 74v, 97r, 118v, 136r, 153v, 170v, 192r. I am thankful for Edina Zsupán, whom I asked to compare the handwriting of the Livy manuscripts in Verona and Rome and whose expert opinion confirmed my attribution of the script to Hubertus.

13 Mikó, “Bibliotheca Corvina,” 404–6.

14 New York, PML, Ms M497. Fol. Iv: emblem of king Matthias Corvinus, fol. 1r: coat of arms and emblems of Matthias Corvinus, fol. 98r: coat of arms of Matthias Corvinus and Sassetti emblem, fols. 154r, 175r, 188r, 195r, 234r, 262r: coat of arms and emblem of Francesco Sassetti. The manuscript was copied by Hubertus in the mid- or late 1470s. De la Mare, “Library of Francesco Sassetti,” 186–87, cat. 70; De la Mare, “New research,” 505, cat. 32/27. Niccolò Niccoli’s letter Commentarium in peregrinatione Germaniae was written on fols. 269v–271r in a humanistic cursive script later probably by Sebastiano Salvini. De la Mare, “New research,” 489, cat. 9/14. Another manuscript from the Corvina Library, which was previously in the possession of Marino Tomacelli, presents a similar case (BAV, Vat. Lat. 1951): the coat of arms of the original owner is preserved on the incipit of the second book of Pliny’s Naturalis Historia (fol. 24r), while Matthias’s coat of arms was inserted in the bas-de-page of fol. 1r.

15 Apart from the Budapest manuscript, there are two groups of codices that contain—among others—the Latin translations of these three treatises and were produced under the personal supervision of Cardinal Bessarion. The first group of codices can be dated to 1467: one of these is an autograph copy (Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Cod. R. 4 sup.), the other one contains a dated colophon (Florence, BML, Plut. 54. 2., fol. 290v: July 6, 1467) and the third one is decorated on its title page with the episcopal coat of arms of Marco Barbo, who became bishop in September 18, 1467 (BAV, Chig. B. IV. 47). The codices belonging to the second group were produced around 1470–2 and contain a dedicatory introduction to pope Paul II, but all remained in the possession of Cardinal Bessarion and later, together with his library, ended up in the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice. Their shelf marks: Cod. Lat. 133 (=1693), 134 (=1519), 135 (=1694), see Cento codici, 16–21, cat. 14–16. On their production, see Bianca, “Roma e l’Accademia Bessarionea,” 35; for BNM Cod. Lat. 133 (=1693), see Concetta Bianca in Bessarione e l’Umanesimo, 511–12, cat. 121; Susy Marcon in I luoghi della memoria, 455, cat. 65. One of the Marciana manuscripts (Cod. Lat. Z 135 [=1694]) bears the papal coat of arms of Paul II on its title page, but it has never reached him. On the creation of the texts and their Latin translations, see Monfasani, “Bessarion Latinus,” 168–76.

16 The structure and style of the white vine-stem decoration distinguishes it from the Florentine examples. It resembles the bianchi girari illuminations of Gioacchino de’ Gigantibus, the most prolific illuminator in Rome at the time (e.g. BAV. Vat. Lat. 1051, fol. 1r, Pope Paul II’s dedicatory copy of the De sanguine Christi by Francesco della Rovere – the later Pope Sixtus IV), while some characteristics of the illumination differ from his style. The putti’s figure and the colors of the ornamental details suggest that the illuminator of the Bessarion codex was most probably trained in Florence. The fact that he was active in Rome, however, is supported by another manuscript, the title page of which can be attributed to the same master with certainty (BAV, Vat. Lat. 3295, available online on http://digi.vatlib.it/view/MSS_Vat.lat.3295, accessed on September 23, 2019.) The manuscript that contains Martial’s epigrams was produced in Rome in the circle of and probably even under the supervision of Pomponio Leto, shortly after 1470 (see Pade, “Pomponio Leto”). Nolhac identified the traces of a coat of arms (azure, three crescents gules) that had been scraped out from the middle of the bas-de-page of the title page with the coat of arms of the Vespi family. According to him, the same coat of arms appears in another manuscript: Paris, BnF, Cod. Ital. 1394, fol. 104r, see Nolhac, La bibliothèque de Fulvio Orsini, 199–200. The Martial manuscript now in the Vatican Library belonged to the book collection of Fulvio Orsini (1529–1600) in the sixteenth century.

17 De la Mare, “New research,” 456. (For bibliographical references to the scribes, see the Catalogue.) Eight of the manuscripts had already been identified in the catalogue of the illuminated manuscripts of the Bodleian Library by De la Mare, although she is not named there, Pächt and Alexander, Illuminated Manuscripts, 30, cat. 313. These manuscripts are the following: Cats. 2, 3, 6, 11, 12, 13, 14, 19. The Bodleian catalogue refers to the manuscript now in the NSZL (Cod. Lat. 418) by its old location and shelf mark (Vienna, ÖNB, Cod. 2391). The manuscript had been kept in Vienna until it was transferred to the library of the Hungarian National Museum in accordance with the bilateral agreement on the distribution of cultural assets between Austria and Hungary, which was signed in Venice in 1932. In the cases in which the original coat of arms has not been covered, one can clearly see that it was painted together with the illumination. Before De la Mare, Edith Hoffmann had already noticed that there are manuscripts with this coat of arms beyond the stock of the Corvina Library. Her observations, however, did not become part of the secondary literature of this group of manuscripts simply because she “hid” them in book reviews, see Hoffmann, Review of La Bibliothèque, 139; Hoffmann, Review of La Biblioteca, 177. In the latter, she calls attention to the manuscript containing the works of Pseudo-Dionysius kept in the Biblioteca Estense in Modena (Cat. 10).

18 The manuscript that contains George of Trebizond’s dedication to King Matthias Corvinus did not, in fact, belong to the Corvina Library, but it contains the author’s autograph emendations: Stuttgart, Württembergische Landesbibliothek, Math. Fol. 24. The text of the dedication was published by Monfasani, Collectanea Trapezuntiana, 286–87, cf. Ekler, “Adalékok a korvinák történetéhez,” 273–74.

19 For a summary on manuscripts containing the works of George of Trebizond connected to Hungary, see Ekler, “Adalékok a korvinák történetéhez.”

20 Trebizond’s connections with Hungary between 1467 and 1470 were summarized by Monfasani, George of Trebizond, 194–98; Klaniczay, “Egyetem Magyarországon Mátyás korában,” 114; Abenstein, Die Basilius-Übersetzung, 177–245.

21 Beltrami, “Manoscritti corviniani.” For an evaluation of Bisticci’s oeuvre and on the characteristics of the manuscripts produced in his workshop, see De la Mare, “Vespasiano da Bisticci as Producer.” Beltrami’s study focuses on the Florentine manuscripts, so she touches upon the question of the Roman manuscripts only tangentially, and she does not mention the Bessarion manuscript in Budapest at all. Therefore, her interpretation that would refer to the whole group is somewhat narrow in its focus.

22 Beltrami, “Manoscritti corviniani,” 266–71.

23 In the second half of the 1460s, Cosimo Rosselli was demonstrably active as an illuminator. The best analogies of the putti, however, can be found on panel paintings attributed to him or his workshop that were produced in the same period, primarily on a picture of the Virgin with the Child and two Angels held in the collection of the Museo di San Marco in Florence (Inv. 1890. n. 489), see Gabrielli, Cosimo Rosselli, 126–27, cat. 17. For further examples, see ibid., 141, cat. 25; 157–60, cats. 38–40. For Rosselli’s and his workshop’s production in the field of illumination, see ibid., 34–35 and color plates II, IVa–b, 112–14, cats. 4–7 and 11–13. Among them, on the title page (fol. 1r, bas-de-page) of a Ptolemy manuscript (BML Plut. 30.3.), dated between 1466 and 1468, the putto holding the coat of arms were painted, in my opinion, by the same master who illuminated the Verona Livy. Angela Dillon Bussi attempted to attribute the illumination in the fourth Decade of the Verona Livy to Cosimo’s brother, Francesco Rosselli, who is a well-known figure from a later period (1478–80) of the Corvina Library’s history. She recognized the influence of the Buda workshop in the vivid colors of the title page, disregarding, however, the date of the manuscript, which is much earlier than the activity of the Buda workshop. See Dillon Bussi, “La miniatura per Mattia Corvino,” 109. (Dillon Bussi actually referred to the “terza decade,” which is obviously a lapse. What she describes as the “vivacità cromatica del miniatore rosselliano” can only be true of the third volume, and not the third Decade.)

24 Garzelli, “Le immagini,” vol. 2, 340, fig. 593. The so-called “Maestro delle Deche di Alfonso d’Aragona” was named after a lavishly decorated series of Livy’s work, commissioned by Alfonso I. (V.) of Aragon, King of Naples and produced in the workshop of Bisticci in the mid-1450s (1454–55), but eventually it has remained in Florence (Florence, BNCF, B.R. 34, 35, 36.), see Garzelli, “Le immagini,” vol. 1, 162–64; vol. 2, 340, fig. 592; Giovanna Lazzi in Vedere i Classici, 386–91, cats. 100–2. The documents related to the commission were published and interpreted by Hartt and Corti, “New Documents,” 160 and 162–63, docs. 11/1–6, 12, and 12/11. (The authors wrongly connected the documents with another set of Livy manuscripts which was preserved in the stock of the Aragonese Library.) For further information on the commission and the payment, see Caglioti, “Fifteenth-Century Reliefs,” 94, note 18 (January–April 1455).

25 Beltrami, “Manoscritti corviniani,” 269–71.

26 For a comparison of the production of the two illuminators in the 1470s and the attribution of their manuscripts once belonging to the Corvina Library, especially the one originating from the Francesco Sassetti’s library and attributed to Mariano del Buono, see Dillon Bussi, “La miniatura per Mattia Corvino,” 106–10.

27 The best example is the title page of a manuscript containing the treatises by Aelianus and Onosander (BAV, Urb. Lat. 881). It was copied partly by Sinibaldus (a scribe who also worked on the manuscripts with the crown-and-lily coat of arms), partly by Hubertus, see De la Mare, “New research,” 538, cat. 34A. On the style of illumination in the earliest manuscripts of Federico da Montefeltro’s Urbino library, produced in the late 1460s and early 1470s in the workshop of Bisticci and decorated with white vine-stem decoration, see Labriola, “I miniatori fiorentini,” 53–55. On the manuscripts produced for Federico da Montefeltro in the workshop of Bisticci, see De la Mare, “New research,” 572–73.

28 Budapest, UL, Cod. lat. 1., see Tünde Wehli in Mátyás király, 28–30, cat. 17, cf. De la Mare, “New research,” 544, cat. 78/2. The scribe (called “Scribe of Budapest University Lat. 1” after this very manuscript) was Bisticci’s most frequently employed scribe according to Albinia de la Mare’s research. Thus, he participated in Bisticci’s two largest projects, the production of manuscripts for the library of the Badia Fiesolana and Federico da Montefeltro, see De la Mare, “New research,” 544, cats. 78/3–4 (Fiesole), 10–11 (Urbino). Another manuscript also copied by this scribe contains the same note of production as the Budapest codex, see De la Mare, “New research,” 544, cat. 78/7.

29 The text of the note: “Vespasianus librarius florentinus / fieri fecit florentie.” Manuscripts produced in the workshop of Bisticci often contain a similar note, see De la Mare, “New research,” 565–67, App. III/I, cats. 1–16. It is important to remark that we cannot deduce from the presence or absence of such notes in the manuscripts certainly coming from the Bisticci’s workshop whether they were commissioned by someone or produced for the open market.

30 On the scribes, see De la Mare, “New research,” 432 and 537–38, cat. 68 (Sinibaldus), 459–60 and 504–5, cat. 32 (Hubertus), 463, 572 and 552–53, cat. 103. (“Scribe of Venezia, Bibl. Marciana lat. Z.58”). The other scribes who demonstrably worked on the manuscripts belonging to the group were also employed by Bisticci, Petrus de Traiecto, a scribe originating from Utrecht (Cat. 10), copied at least ten codices for the library of Federico da Montefeltro in the first half of the 1470s. De la Mare, “New research,” 462–63 and 532–33, cat. 63; De la Mare, “Vespasiano da Bisticci e i copisti,” 85.

31 Caroti and Zamponi, Lo scrittoio, 12–13; Zaccaria, “Della Fonte, Bartolomeo;” Daneloni, Bartholomaei Fontii Epistolarum Libri, 248. (Alessandro Daneloni’s commentary on Ep. I. 12, addressed to Garázda.)

32 De la Mare, “New research,” 446 and 488, cat. 7/28: BAV, Urb. Lat. 203. The manuscript with a simple white vine-stem decoration was produced in Bisticci’s workshop in the late 1460s for Federico da Montefeltro and contains the Commentary on Plato’s Timaeus by Calcidius.

33 On the relationship between Garázda and Fonzio, see Daneloni, “Sui rapporti,” with previous bibliography; for a summary of previous literature on Péter Garázda and his biography completed with new data, see C. Tóth, “Garázda Péter,” cf. C. Tóth, Az esztergomi székeskáptalan, 97. Thanks to research by Norbert C. Tóth, we have to completely reconsider our view of Garázda’s career after 1472. According to the new data, Garázda, who had belonged to the circle of Janus and was a relative of him, did not fall into disgrace after the Vitéz-conspiracy. On the contrary, in the following fifteen or more years, he received one ecclesiastical benefice after the other, though he never attained the episcopal rank.

34 Fraknói, Mátyás király levelei, 241–42, Nr. 177/1 (December 23, 1469). On the lions, see Ritoók-Szalay, “Az öreg Leó”; Pócs, A Didymus-corvina, 250–51.

35 Fonzio’s letters to Garázda: Daneloni, Bartholomaei Fontii Epistolarum Libri, 21–25, Ep. I. 12–15.

36 Munich, BStB, Clm 15738. Macrobius Ambrosius Theodosius: Saturnaliorum libri VII, Commentarium in Somnium Scipionis. Colophon on fol. 293v: “Barptolemaeus fontius excripsit florentiae.” The manuscript was discovered and first described by Vilmos Fraknói, who also identified its original owner and scribe, see Fraknói, “Újabb adatok,” 3–4, cf. Caroti and Zamponi, Lo scrittoio di Bartolomeo Fonzio, 83–84, cat. 38; De la Mare, “New research,” 488, cat. 7/21; Hoffmann, Régi magyar bibliofilek, 105–6; Csapodi-Gárdonyi, Die Bibliothek des Johannes Vitéz, 118, cat. 67; Ferenc Földesi in Star in the Raven’s Shadow, 212, cat. 43. To my knowledge, the pen-and-ink illustrations have so far been ignored by scholars. The figure identified by a legend as “Microcosmus” on fol. 156v is close to the known drawings by Fonzio in the following manuscript: Oxford, Bodleian Library, Ms. Lat. Misc. d. 85 (Codex Ashmolensis), see Saxl, “Classical Inscriptions.” On the attribution of the latter as well as of further manuscripts illustrated by Fonzio (London, BL, Ms. Add. 15819. and BAV, Urb. Lat. 1358), see Garzelli, “Le immagini,” vol. 1, 90–92 and vol. 2, 343, 348–51, figs. 597, 603–7.

37 Giorgio Antonio Vespucci and Fonzio also participated in the copying of the Cicero manuscript decorated with the combined coat of arms of the Vespucci family and Garázda (Munich, BStB, Clm 15734). The heraldic motifs referring to the Vespucci family were first recognized by De la Mare, but her observation has escaped further attention, except for Alessandro Daneloni, see De la Mare, “New research,” 533, cat. 106/11. (“Scribe of former Yates Thompson Petrarch,” Giorgio Antonio and Nastagio Vespucci, Bartolomeo Fonzio); Daneloni, “Sui rapport,” 307. On the manuscript, see also Caroti and Zamponi, Lo scrittoio di Bartolomeo Fonzio, 129; Ferenc Földesi in Star in the Raven’s Shadow, 210, cat. 42. For Vitéz’s Livy manuscript (Decas IV, Munich, BStB, Clm 15733), see Edina Zsupán in Star in the Raven’s Shadow, 174–77, cat. 33; De la Mare, “New research,” 531, cat. 62/37 (scribe: Piero Strozzi) and 488, cat. 7 (annotations by Bartolomeo Fonzio).

38 Garázda’s Lactantius manuscript: Vienna, ÖNB, Cod. 717. Hermann, Die Handschriften, 66–67, cat. 19. The codex contains the works by Lactantius in the same order (fols. 1r–254v), followed by a few lines from the Ovid’s Metamorphoses and concluded by the Carmen de Pascha by Venantius Fortunatus (fols. 254v–256r). The manuscript was first presented in Hungarian literature by Edith Hoffmann, who also identified the coat of arms of Garázda. Several years later, Erzsébet Soltész, who probably did not know about Hoffmann’s earlier publication, “rediscovered” the codex. Sándor V. Kovács called attention to Hoffmann’s publication, but he wrongly stated that the codex contains the complete Metamorphoses and Fasti, see Hoffmann, “Garázda Péter,” 79; Soltész, “Garázda Péter,” 120; V. Kovács, “Garázda Péter Lactantius-kódexe,” cf. V. Kovács “Garázda Péter,” 52; Hoffmann, Régi magyar bibliofilek, 257. For its scribe, see De la Mare, “New research,” 545, cat. 82/6. The Justin manuscript of Garázda: Prague, Národní knihovna České republiky, Cod. VIII. H. 72. The manuscript and the autograph possessor’s note on the back pastedown was first mentioned in the column called “vegyes közlemények” (miscellaneous news) of Magyar Könyvszemle. A year later, Jenő Ábel incorporated the data into his study on Péter Garázda, see “Prágai codexek fényképei,” 268 and Ábel, “Garázda Péter,” 99; cf. Hoffmann, Régi magyar bibliofilek, 106. This is the only one among the manuscripts of Garázda, the title page of which is adorned with floral ornamentation instead of white vine-stem decoration, so it must have been produced in the early 1470s. The place of the coat of arms, however, remained blank.

39 De la Mare, “New research,” 445 and 526–29, cats. 60/13, 15, 18, 22, 26, 29, 31, 32, 33. Klára Csapodi, recognizing that colophons signed by Cennini appear in many manuscripts that ended up in the Corvina Library, attempted to present him as the scribe of King Matthias Corvinus, and she attributed the script of several other Corvina manuscripts to him. These attributions were later rejected by De la Mare. Klára Csapodi, “Les manuscrits;” De la Mare, “New research,” 529 (“Rejected attributions”).

40 The autograph paper manuscript on the basis of which the modern critical edition of the text was prepared: BAV, Vat. Lat. 7705 (colophon, fol. 124v: “Anno 1469 mense Iulii Florentie”), see Kristeller, Supplementum Ficinianum, vol. 1, CXXIII–CXXIV; Marcel, Marsile Ficin, 12–48; Devereux, “Textual History,” 173–74. Sebastiano Gentile’s research has considerably modified our view on the creation of the Commentarium in Convivium: he discovered that in the introduction of an early manuscript version of the work (Florence, BML, Strozzi 98 [olim 629, olim 363.]), the list of the people who participated in the symposium held on Plato’s birthday, on November 7, 1467 was modified, as was the venue of the event: some of the words were scraped out and replaced with other names. Originally, Lorenzo de’ Medici did not attend the gathering, and the convivium did not take place in the Villa Medici at Careggi, but in the palace of Francesco Bandini in Florence, see Gentile, “Per la storia,” especially 14–16; Marsilio Ficino e il ritorno di Platone, 60–61, cat. 46.

41 Vienna, ÖNB, Cod. 2472. The dedicatory letter (fol. 1r–v) dated August 5, 1469 by Ficino, in which he mentions Péter Garázda, too (“…vir doctus et utriusque nostrum familiaris…”), was published by Jenő Ábel from the Viennese manuscript, see Abel, Analecta, 203–4. (Cod. 2472 is the only manuscript source for the dedicatory letter.) The text was also published by Kristeller, Supplementum Ficinianum, vol. 1, 87–88; Marcel, Marsile Ficin, 265–66 (App. II); Rees, “Marsilio Ficino,” 131, note 9. The text of the Commentarium was most probably copied by Franciscus de Ugolinis presbyter de Colle Vallis Else (Francesco Ugolini di Colle Val d’Elsa), see De la Mare, “New research,” 495–96, cat. 22/7, while the handwriting of the dedication that is written on a parchment leaf inserted before the quire containing the incipit, and some of the corrections in the margins are attributed to Ficino himself. On the place of the present copy in the textual history of the Commentarium, see Huszti, “La prima redazione”; Kristeller, Supplementum Ficinianum, vol. 1, L–LI (Vi 1) and CXXIII–CXXV; Marcel, Marsile Ficin, 36–37; Devereux, “Textual History,” especially 178–79; Gentile, “Per la storia,” 9. The identification of Nagylucsei’s coat of arms on the frontispiece was published by Pál Gulyás after a note by Gyula Schönherr on the photocopy preserved in the Hungarian National Museum in Budapest, see Gulyás, “Nagylucsei Orbán.” A few years later, Edith Hoffmann, obviously unaware of Gulyás’s short notice, published the Nagylucsei provenance of the manuscript as her own discovery, see Hoffmann, “Nagylucsei Orbán könyvtárának maradványai,” 168, but later she has corrected herself, see Hoffmann, Régi magyar bibliofilek, 104, and note 247. As Hoffmann already noted (and I checked her observation by studying the original manuscript), there is no trace of a previous coat of arms under Nagylucsei’s: nothing was overpainted or scraped out. Thus, the middle of the bas-de-page had been left blank, see Hoffmann, “Nagylucsei Orbán könyvtárának maradványai,” 168; Hoffmann, Régi magyar bibliofilek, 104. On the manuscript, see also Csontosi, “A bécsi Udvari Könyvtár,” 182; Hermann, Die Handschriften, 56, cat. 51; Hoffmann, Régi magyar bibliofilek, 256; Csapodi, “Janus Pannonius,” 193–94; Ernst Gamillscheg in Gamillscheg, Mersich, and Mazal, Matthias Corvinus, 75–76, cat. 36; Mikó, “Nagylucsei Orbán Psalteriuma,” 134; Rees, “Buda as a Center,” 480. and note 19.

42 Nagylucsei’s well-known grant of arms is dated February 2, 1480 (NAH, DL 105029), see Schönherr, “Nagylucsei Orbán;” Fejérpataky, Magyar czímeres emlékek, 63–65; Géza Érszegi, Tünde Wehli, in Matthias Corvinus the King, 279–80, cat. 6.7; György Rácz in A Hunyadiak címereslevelei, 190–1, cat. XXXI. It is less known, however, that Orbán Nagylucsei and his brothers had already received a grant of arms with a similar, but not identical design of the coat of arms, see Daróczy, “Dóczyak és Nagylucseiek;” Radocsay, “Gotische Wappenbilder,” 358; Radocsay “Gotische Wappenbilder II,” 63; Balogh, A művészet Mátyás király udvarában, 320; most recently György Rácz in A Hunyadiak címereslevelei, 134–41, cat. XXI. This document was in the possession of Géza Majláth before 1945, but it was then lost. The grant of arms was issued in Buda on May 3, 1472, and according to its text published by Daróczy, it differed from the later coat of arms. On the earlier version, the tinctures of the field (parti per bend) were reversed: the upper half was azure, a lion passant argent, with a scorpion beneath its belly, while the lower half was gules, a star or. To my knowledge, this difference has not been noticed before. The scorpion, which is not directly beneath the lion but is in the lower half of the field, appears on the tombs of several members of the family in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, e.g. on the red marble tomb of Zsuzsanna Nagylucsei Dóczy in the parish church of Késmárk (Kežmarok, Slovakia) and on the epitaph of Zsigmond Nagylucsei Dóczy in the parish church of Garammindszent (Vieska, Slovakia, formerly in the Museum of Aranyosmarót [Zlaté Moravce, Slovakia]), on the latter, see Ipolyi, Magyar műemlékek, 89. unnumbered note.

43 Klára Csapodi-Gárdonyi has already suggested that there could have been another coat of arms in the manuscript before Nagylucsei’s (see Csapodi-Gárdonyi, Die Bibliothek, 127. cat. 80.: “Wappen: Orbán Nagylucsei, vorher Vitéz-Wappen [?]”), but based on the cited literature and their interpretation, she did not mean a previous coat of arms underneath Nagylucsei’s. As for the secondary literature to which she referred, in Wilhelm Weinberger’s 1929 study there is no mention of the manuscript (see Weinberger, “Erhaltene Handschriften,”), while in the catalogue of the manuscripts related to Hungary in the Royal Library of Vienna, published in 1884 by János Csontosi, he did not say, contrary to what Klára Csapodi-Gárdonyi states, that the manuscript once belonged to Vitéz. (According to Klára Csapodi, Csontosi confused the coats of arms of Nagylucsei and Vitéz.) Actually, Csontosi only described the content of the manuscript in detail. He did not speak of the coat of arms on the frontispiece at all. He did not even mention that there is any trace of ownership there. Regarding the provenance, all he stated, obviously wrongly, is that the codex originates from the library of János Zsámboki (Johannes Sambucus), see Csontosi, “A bécsi Udvari Könyvtár,” 166: “[Sambucus-codexe]” (“codex of Sambucus”). Interestingly, Edith Hoffmann not only ignored the previous coat of arms that is easily visible even to the naked eye, but she wrote exactly the opposite: “In the case of this work, apart from the misinterpreted coat of arms, nothing justifies the assumption that the manuscript had a previous owner before Nagylucsei.” See Hoffmann, Régi magyar bibliofilek, 130. (According to Hoffmann, Csontosi’s idea of the Sambucus provenance was inspired by his misinterpretation of Nagylucsei’s coat of arms as Janus’s.)

44 It is worth noting that in the colophon, according to the formula of dating, the scribe finished his work during the papacy of Paul II (1464–71). This remark, although not without precedent in Florentine manuscripts, may suggest that the codex was commissioned by a prelate.

45 For his ecclesiastical benefices, see Köblös, Az egyházi középréteg, 305–6. cat. 72, but the author does not mention his tenure as the provost of Pécs cathedral chapter; C. Tóth et al., Magyarország világi archonológiája, 40. (bishop of Győr: July 22, 1481–November 25, 1486), 35. (bishop of Eger: October 27, 1486–October 9, 1491). For his prebend of Pécs, see Fedeles, Die personelle Zusammensetzung, 394–95. cat. 269.

46 Another interesting relic of humanistic book culture in Pécs in this period is a codex written in humanist book script by Miklós Besenyői, cantor of Pécs cathedral chapter, in 1469: Florence, Biblioteca Riccardiana, Cod. 438. The text of the colophon (fol. 58v): “Scriptus per me Nicolaum Stephani Angeli de Naghbesene cantorem et canonicum in ecclesia Quinqueecclesiensis, anno Domini Millesimo CCCCLXmo nono,” see I manoscritti datati 1997. cat. 25; De Robertis, “Aspetti dell’esperienza grafica,” 521–22. For further information on Miklós Besenyői, cantor of Pécs, see Fedeles, Die personelle Zusammensetzung, 322. cat. 45.

47 Boda, “Handó György könyvtáráról.”

48 Mátyus, “Una lettera dimenticata,” 98.

49 Alfred Reumont and Jenő Ábel considered the two Györgys identical, and when writing Handó’s biography, they confused him with information related to Kosztolányi. Both studies aimed to contextualize, primarily with the help of biographic data, what Bisticci wrote about Handó, see Reumont, “Dei tre prelati ungheresi,” 310–14. and Ábel, “I. György kalocsai érsek.” This confusion was finally clarified by Vilmos Fraknói on the basis of documentary evidence, see Fraknói, “Mátyás király magyar diplomatái. I,” and Fraknói, “Mátyás király magyar diplomatái. II.”

50 His date of birth can only be deduced from the date of his university studies in Vienna. Although for the present, no documentary evidence supports the supposition, he might have been related to Domokos Kálmáncsehi, provost of Fehérvár (1474–1495), who originated from the same locality and commissioned several luxury manuscripts around 1480. The fact that Kálmáncsehi acquired Handó’s house in Buda after his death, sometime between 1482 and 1484, may also suggest family ties between them, see Végh, Buda város középkori helyrajza, 238. cat. 3.5.8. (Árpád Mikó had already called attention to this, see Pannonia Regia 1994. 416. cat. IX–5.) Handó’s house was situated in the former Olasz (Italian, now Országház) street, at the northwest corner of the palace of the Ministry of Finance (built in the early twentieth century), to the south of today’s Fortuna köz. The plot figures as no. 163 on the map of Buda drawn by Joseph Haüy in 1687. Handó’s house had been wrongly identified with the restored gothic house of today’s Országház street 9, see Czagány, “Műemlékhelyreállításunk elveinek alakulása,” 37–38. and note 5. cf. Czagány, “Az Országház utca 9,” 130. note 2.

51 For his studies in Vienna, see Schrauf, Magyarországi tanulók, 98 (“Georgius Gerhardi de Chehy”), see more recently Tüskés, Magyarországi tanulók, 166. cat. 3026. For his studies in Ferrara, see Veress, Olasz egyetemeken járt magyarországi tanulók, 358–59; Haraszti Szabó and Kelényi, Magyarországi diákok, 306. cat. 829. For his studies, see also Fedeles, “Pécsi kanonokok,” 57. and note 48., with further bibliography. Bisticci mentions his studies in Padova and that he obtained a doctoral degree in Florence, but there is no documentary evidence in support of these claims.

52 Fedeles, Die personelle Zusammensetzung, 360–62. cat. 136.

53 Fraknói, Mátyás király levelei, 189–92. Nr. 127–31. According to Fraknói, the addressee of one of the documents issued in Buda on March 17, 1467 was Cardinal Juan de Carvajal, which seems likely, but there is nothing in the text he published that would confirm his assumption; Fraknói, “Mátyás király magyar diplomatái. II,” 104.

54 Handó had already served as vice chancellor alongside Vitéz in 1466–7, see C. Tóth et al., Magyarország világi archonológiája, 68; treasurer: April 20, 1476–August 29, 1478; see Ibid. 30.; principal and privy chancellor: August 10, 1478–March 21, 1480, Ibid. 69. In this period, it was quite common that, in contrast with the election of the archbishop of Esztergom, the person who became archbishop of Kalocsa had not been a bishop before. Precedents for this were the appointment of István Várdai (archbishop: 1456–70) and Gábor Matucsinai (1471–78), and this was the case with the successor to Handó, Péter Váradi (1480–1501), as well. Várdai and Váradi, like Handó, only reached the rank of provost (they both headed the cathedral chapter of Transylvania). Matucsinai was elevated to archbishop from an even lower rank: he had been cantor of the chapter of Bács and rector of Buda. By contrast, among the archbishops of Esztergom, Dénes Szécsi (1440–65), János Vitéz of Zredna (1465–72), Johann Beckensloer (1472–76/80), Tamás Bakócz (1497–1521), György Szatmári (1522–24) and László Szalkai (1524–26) were all bishops before being appointed primate of the Hungarian Church. Exceptions were exclusively the foreigners who obtained the dignity thanks to their dynastic connections: Cardinal John of Aragon (1480/84–85) and Ippolito d’Este (1486–97).

55 Here, Bisticci was only wrong about one thing: he called Handó bishop and not archbishop of Kalocsa. He surely did not mix up or forget his clients. He left out Matthias from his Vite not because, as is often supposed, he resented the king for the tragic fate of two of his clients, Vitéz and Janus, who were kind to him, but simply because Matthias was not his client. (Bisticci retired from book trade shortly before 1480.)

56 Handó travelled to Naples in the first months of 1469, see Fraknói, “Mátyás király magyar diplomatái. II,” 109.

57 Mátyus, “Una lettera dimenticata,” 120.

58 For a presentation and short interpretation of the document (Florence, ASFi, Notarile Antecosimiano, 5029, fol. 39r–v), see Daneloni, “Sui rapport,” 306. For the critical edition of the document, see Daneloni, “Egy levéltári dokumentum.”

59 The other source about Garázda’s benefice of cantor in the cathedral chapter of Pécs is dated 1478, see Fedeles, Die personelle Zusammensetzung, 347; C. Tóth, “Garázda Péter,” 5–6. and 11–12. According to C. Tóth, it was not primarily Handó, but Janus, the bishop, who helped Garázda acquire benefices in Pécs, as he had the right to appoint canons. From our point of view, however, it is not the question of jurisdiction that matters, but the observation that the context in which the humanist manuscripts were produced cannot be separated from the personal links between the owners, also reflected in their offices. For Garázda’s relatives and family ties, see most recently Pálosfalvi, “Vitézek és Garázdák,” 9–16.

60 Koller, Historia episcopatus, 411–13. (Rome, January 25, 1479). Pope Sixtus IV justified the exemption with the Turkish incursions, due to which the incomes of the archbishopric of Kalocsa and Bács fell (“et ab ipsis Turchis ipsarum Ecclesiarum possessiones pluries destructae et ville combuste fuerunt”). Therefore, in order to lead the diocese properly, Handó was allowed to keep the income of the prebend of Pécs if it did not exceed 170 golden florins a year. See also Czaich, Regeszták, 237–38.

61 C. Tóth, “Garázda Péter,” 6.

62 For this chronology, see Fedeles, “Személyi összefonódások,” 135.

63 Some of the codices listed in the Catalogue, whose Corvina-provenance cannot be proven at the moment, have been preserved in manuscript collections since the sixteenth–eighteenth centuries, where we can also find codices certainly originating from the Corvina Library (Besançon, formerly Holkham Hall, Modena: Cats. 2, 9, 10, 19.) It is the task of future provenance research to clarify if they are related in some way.

64 Budapest, NSZL, Cod. Lat. 369, see Mikó, “Nagylucsei Orbán Psalteriuma”; Árpád Mikó in Matthias Corvinus the King, 488–90, cat. 11.22.

65 On the charters: Nehring, “Quellen,” 248–49, cats. VIII. 1–8. The three charters belong to a group of documents consisting of nine original charters. Chronologically, the three charters form the second subgroup: Warsaw, AGAD, ZDP, 5580, 5582, 5583 (=NAH, DF 292995, 292996, 292997), February 21, 1474, Szepesófalu (Spišská Stará Ves, Slovakia). Among them, no. 5582 was written in humanistic book script. The other documents of this group: AGAD, ZDP, 5579 (=NAH, DF 292994), January 12, 1474, Eperjes (Prešov, Slovakia), “ad mandatum domini regis in consilio,” with the pendent seal of Matthias Corvinus; AGAD, ZDP, 5584 (=NAH, DF 292998), February 27, 1474, Bártfa (Bardejov, Slovakia), Matthias Corvinus ratifies the peace treaty, with his pendent seal; AGAD, ZDP, 5585 (=NAH, DF 292999), February 28, 1474, Nowe Miasto Korczyn (today: Nowy Korczyn, Poland), Casimir IV, king of Poland ratifies the peace treaty, with his pendent seal; AGAD, ZDP, 5586 (=DF 293000), April 24, 1474, Buda, the magnates of the country corroborate the peace treaty, charter with 25 pendent seals. For the context of the peace treaty of Szepesófalu and a Hungarian translation of the text (AGAD, ZDP, 5582 = NAH, DF 292996), see Köblös and Süttő, Szende, Magyar békeszerződések, 198–205, cat. 47 (translated by Katalin Szende). The original charter was described in the Hungarian edition as lost or missing despite the fact that Carl Nehring had already published its current location and shelf mark in 1976 (see above). For the edition of the texts of the charters, see Dogiel, Codex Diplomaticus, 69–75, cats. 26–28. (AGAD, ZDP, 5582, 5584); Lewicki, Codex Epistolaris, 184–89, cats. 160–62. (AGAD, ZDP, 5583, 5580). At the period when Maciej Dogiels’s book was published (1758) the charters were kept in the Wawel castle of Cracow, among the documents of the Archive of the Royal Chancellery (Archivum Cancellarii Regni), see Ibid., b2v-cr. This material had already been transferred to Moscow when Lewicki published the texts of the other charters.

66 The intitulation of the charter: “Nos Gabriel Alben(sis) Transsilvane, Osualdus Zagrabien(sis) eccl(aes)siarum ep(iscop)i, Emericus de Zapolya Comes perpetuus Scepusien(sis), Johannes Pangracij de Dengeleg al(ia)s wayuoda Transsy(lva)nus, generalis capitaneus exercituum regaliu(m), Georgius Quinqu(e)eccl(aes)ien(sis) prothonotarius ap(osto)licus et Gaspar sancti Martini de Scepusio eccl(aes)iarum prepositi.” Based on this, the charter was issued by Gabriele Rangoni, bishop of Transylvania (1472–76, see C. Tóth et al., Magyarország világi archonológiája, 37, cardinal from 1477); Osvát (Túz) of Szentlászló, bishop of Zagreb (1466–99, see C. Tóth et al., Magyarország világi archonológiája, 56); Imre Szapolyai, count of Szepes (i.e. comes perpetuus); János Pongrác of Dengeleg, former voivode of Transylvania (1462–65; 1467–72; 1475–76, see C. Tóth et al., Magyarország világi archonológiája, 85–86), general of the royal army; György Handó, provost of Pécs and apostolic (i.e. papal) protonotary; Gáspár Bak of Berend, provost of the Saint Martin collegiate church of Szepes (1464–93, see C. Tóth et al., Magyarország világi archonológiája, 63).

67 Steinmann, Die Handschriften, passim.

68 The typewritten catalogue of the Universitätsbibliothek of Basel contains a detailed description of the manuscript and the expert opinion of Albinia de la Mare, which she sent via mail.

69 On the scribe who was active in Rome, see: Caldelli, Copisti a Roma, 187. (BAV, Vat. Lat. 1868, dated colophon: October 21, 1468.) The text of the colophon in the Basel manuscript was published by Monfasani, George of Trebizond, 346 (Appendix 4.)

70 See note 18.

71 Castan, Catalogue Général, 524.

72 On the scribes, see De la Mare, “New research,” 519, cat. 53/1; 528–29, cat. 60; 488, cat. 7.

73 Hermann, Die Handschriften, cat. 21; Csapodi and Csapodi-Gárdonyi, Bibliotheca Corviniana, 40, cat. 38; Dániel Pócs, in A Corvina könyvtár budai műhelye, cat. H5.

74 In the Hungarian literature, the manuscript always appeared under the authorship of “Chalcidius Altividus” or “Chalcidius,” see Fógel, “A Corvina-könyvtár katalógusa,” 63, cat. 39; Berkovits, Illuminated Manuscripts, 120, cat. 30; Csapodi, Corvinian Library, 178–79. cat. 164. As in the Hungarian literature, the author of the De immortalitate animae was passed down as Calcidius, it was only one more step to describe the manuscript as containing a different work, the commentaries on Plato’s Timaeus, which indeed was written by Calcidius, see Csapodi and Csapodi-Gárdonyi, Bibliotheca Corviniana, 40, cat. 38. Marsilio Ficino owned and annotated a copy of Calcidius’ translation and commentary, see Hankins, Plato, vol. 2, 474.

75 Florence, BML, Strozzi 72, see Ullman, The Humanism of Coluccio Salutati, 168–69, cat. 52; Ullman and Stadter, The Public Library of Renaissance Florence, 201, Nr. 673; Lucentini, Liber Alcidi, xx, cat. 1; Marsilio Ficino e il ritorno di Platone, 5–7, cat. 5; Marsilio Ficino e il ritorno di Ermete Trismegisto, 83–85, cat. 19; Sebastiano Gentile in Coluccio Salutati, 279–80, cat. 82. On the date and site of the creation of the text (Sicily, second half of the thirteenth century) and its sources, see the introduction by Paolo Lucentini to the critical edition: Lucentini, Liber Alcidi, especially lxxxix–cix, cf. Garin, “Una fonte ermetica.”

76 BAV, Urb. lat. 1188: produced for Federico da Montefeltro, duke of Urbino, after 1474, see Lucentini, Liber Alcidi, xxxi–xxxiii, cat. 3. Florence, BML Plut. 84. 24.: produced for Piero di Lorenzo de’ Medici around 1490 and illuminated by Attavante. The codex contains both the commentaries on Plato’s Timaeus by Calcidius and the De immortalitate animae, see Lucentini, Liber Alcidi, xxv–xxx, cat. 2; Marsilio Ficino e il ritorno di Platone, 7–8, cat. 6. Pesaro, Biblioteca Oliveriana, Cod. 606.: the text of the manuscript is a late fifteenth-century copy from the Medici codex, see Lucentini, Liber Alcidi, xxxiii–xxxv, cat. 4.

77 Florence, Biblioteca Riccardiana, 709, fol. 128r–131v, see Sebastiano Gentile in Marsilio Ficino e il ritorno di Platone, 15–17, cat. 13; Lucentini, Liber Alcidi, xxxix–xli; Sebastiano Gentile, in Marsilio Ficino e il ritorno di Ermete Trismegisto, 95–98, cat. 25. Ficino quoted a passage from the Liber Alcidi in his short treatise De virtutibus moralibus written in 1457. The autograph copy in the Riccardiana manuscript is dated to the middle of the 1450s.

78 Bartoniek, “A Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum”; Csapodi and Csapodi-Gárdonyi, Bibliotheca Corviniana, 42, cat. 50; Ferenc Földesi in Star in the Raven’s Shadow, 163, cat. 30; Dániel Pócs in Mattia Corvino, 108–9, cat. 23; Zsupán, “Bessarion,” 115–17; Dániel Pócs, in A Corvina könyvtár budai műhelye, cat. H6. On the philological and codicological problems of the manuscript, see most recently Ekler, “Findings” and Ekler, “Further Data.”

79 Caldelli, Copisti a Roma, 127. cat. 3.

80 See note 16.

81 Csapodi, Corvinian Library, 112–13, cat. 3. Previously considered (wrongly) as once belonging to the Corvina Library. On the codex, see most recently Ada Labriola in Beyond Words, 257–58, cat. 211.

82 History of Bookbinding, 87, cat. 195.

83 On the scribe, see De la Mare, “New research,” 505, cat. 32/20.

84 To my knowledge, the manuscript was first mentioned in a short, anonymous article about the most important manuscripts of the Apponyi Library, which were still in Vienna at that time: “Nebst mehreren Prachtausgaben und einigen Manuscripten z. B. den Taktiker Aelianus und Onosander, den Ptolomäus, alle 3 in lateinischer Übersetzung auf Pergament, mit Figuren, …,” see “Die Bibliothek des Herrn Grafen von Apponyi,” 1. For later mentions of the manuscript, see Zsihovics, “Apponyi-könyvtár,” col. 580–81; Deák, “A Magyar Történelmi Társulat,” 708.

85 On the 1876 exhibition: Henszlmann and Bubics, A magyarországi árvíkárosultak, 48: “Magyarországra vonatkozó kitünő könyvek, Gr. Apponyi Sándor t.” [Excellent books related to Hungary, property of Count Sándor Apponyi]. (In fact, there were items from both Apponyi libraries.) The manuscript does not figure as a separate item in the descriptive catalogue of the exhibition, but it is mentioned in an expert bibliophile report, see Emich, “Írott és nyomtatott könyvek,” 271. On the 1882 exhibition in the Palace of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, see Könyvkiállítási emlék, 169–70, cat. 5. Jenő Ábel, who gave an account of this exhibition, also mentioned this manuscript, which at the time was in the possession of Rudolf Apponyi, see Ábel, “Die Landes-Bücherausstellung,” 667, unnumbered note.

86 Catalogue of the Choice Portion, 2, cat. 9. “From the Library of King Matthias Corvini.” (sic!)

87 Hoffmann, Review of La Bibliothèque, 139. “Once there was a manuscript with the same coat of arms in the Apponyi Library.”

88 “Magyar könyvtár külföldön,” 5–6.

89 New York, New York Public Library, Ms. MA 97. The lavishly illuminated, in folio parchment manuscript had already belonged to the Nurenberg library of Hieronymus Wilhelm Ebner von Eschenbach (1673–1752) in 1737, when Gottfried Christoph Raidel published a detailed description of the codex and an endraved illustration representing the bas-de-page of the manuscript’s illuminated title page, see Raidel, Commentatio, 26–33. For the auction of the Ebner library, see Ranner, Catalogus, 44. cat. 381.

90 Lacaita, Catalogue, 329. On the flyleaf: “Given me by my friend William Bristow, Esq., anno 1740. Burlington.” I owe my gratitude to James Towe, the librarian of the Chatsworth collection, for providing me with accurate information about the codicological features of the manuscript. Shelf marks of the library’s manuscripts are not public.

91 De la Mare, “New research,” 456, note 276. De la Mare does not mention Fonzio’s emendations in this case, but Paul Oskar Kristeller does, see Kristeller, Iter Italicum, vol. 4, 13.

92 Hajnóczi, “Bonfini Averulinus-fordítása.”

93 Hajnóczi, “Vitruvius De Architectura.”

94 Csapodi and Csapodi-Gárdonyi, Bibliotheca Corviniana, 58, cat. 146 and 400–1, plate CLVIII (front cover). The entire manuscript is now available online: http://digi.vatlib.it/view/MSS_Barb. lat.168

95 Ruysschaert, “De la bibliothèque.”

96 Csapodi and Csapodi-Gárdonyi, Bibliotheca Corviniana, 48, cat. 83.

97 De la Mare, “New research,” 537, cat. 68/11.

98 Mikó, “Imago historiae,” 37–39.

99 Fava and Salmi, I manoscritti, 71, cat. 137bis; for a detailed description, see Paola Di Pietro Lombardi in Censimento dei manoscritti delle biblioteche italiane: https://manus.iccu.sbn.it/opac_SchedaScheda.php?ID=166331. (Last updated: May 19, 2010, last retrieved: September 26, 2019.)

100 De la Mare, “New research,” 537, cat. 68/16.

101 Fava and Salmi, I manoscritti, 70–71, cat. 137 and plate XXVI, fig. 2; for a detailed description, see Paola Di Pietro Lombardi in Censimento dei manoscritti delle biblioteche italiane: https://manus.iccu.sbn.it/opac_SchedaScheda.php?ID=166333. (Last updated: May 19, 2010, last retrieved: September 26, 2019.)

102 De la Mare, “New research,” 533, cat. 63/4.

103 Hoffmann, Review of La Biblioteca, 177. Edith Hoffmann’s observation was left unnoticed by later scholars of the subject, though she made an important remark regarding the possible provenance of the manuscript. She suggested that this codex might have been purchased by Alfonso II d’Este, duke of Ferrara, together with those codices originating from the Corvina Library that are still preserved at the Biblioteca Estense in Modena.

104 Pächt and Alexander, Illuminated Manuscripts, 30, cat. 313 and plate XXVIII, fig. 313.

105 De la Mare, “New research,” 488, cat. 7/22.

106 Pächt and Alexander, Illuminated Manuscripts, 86, cat. 852.

107 De la Mare, “New research,” 456, note 276.

108 Lauer, Bibliothèque National, 562–63.

109 De la Mare, “New research,” 456, note 276, and 488, cat. 7.

110 Csapodi and Csapodi-Gárdonyi, Bibliotheca Corviniana, 61, cat. 163 and 454–55, plate CLXXXV; Spagnolo, I manoscritti, 220; Claudia Adami in Nel segno del corvo, 201–2, cat. 24, cf. note 24.

111 De la Mare, “New research,” 505, cat. 32/40. On the alleged emendations by Vitéz, see Csapodi-Gárdonyi, Die Bibliothek, 114–15. cat. 60. and fig. 45. To my request, Edina Zsupán thoroughly examined the microfilms of the Livy manuscripts in Verona and Rome.

112 Csapodi and Csapodi-Gárdonyi, Bibliotheca Corviniana, 61, cat. 164 and 456–57, plate CLXXXVI; Spagnolo, I manoscritti, 220; Claudia Adami in Nel segno del corvo, 202–4, cat. 25.

113 De la Mare, “New research,” 505, cat. 32/41; Csapodi-Gárdonyi, Die Bibliothek des Johannes Vitéz, 115, cat. 61 and fig. 46.

114 On the attribution, see Beltrami, “Manoscritti corviniani,” 266; Claudia Adami in Nel segno del corvo, 203, cat. 25, cf. note 23.

115 Nagylucsei’s coat of arms was first identified by Pál Gulyás, see Gulyás, “Nagylucsei Orbán” and note 41 above, cf. Hoffmann, “Nagylucsei Orbán könyvtárának maradványai,” 167–68; Hoffmann, Régi magyar bibliofilek, 130; Hermann, Die Handschriften, 31–33, cat. 25; Unterkircher, Die datierten Handschriften, 18; Mikó, “Nagylucsei Orbán Psalteriuma,” 134.

116 On the scribe, see De la Mare, “New research,” 528, cat. 48/29.

117 Hermann, Die Handschriften, 57–58, cat. 52; Brigitte Mersich in Gamillscheg, Mersich, and Mazal, Matthias Corvinus, 63–64, cat. 24 and fig. 10; Milena Ricci in Nel segno del corvo, 291, cat. 58.

118 De la Mare, “New research,” 496, cat. 23/5.

119 Hermann, Die Handschriften, 27–28, cat. 20; Hankins, Plato, vol. 2, 735, cat. 379; Csapodi and Csapodi-Gárdonyi, Bibliotheca Corviniana, 60, cat. 192; Ernst Gamillscheg in Gamillscheg, Mersich, and Mazal, Matthias Corvinus, 75. cat. 35 and fig. 8.

120 De la Mare, “New research,” 552, cat. 103/13.

121 Berti, “Editoria e originali,” 109–12. Berti is wrong when he attributes the enlargement of the group of manuscripts containing the crown-and-lily coat of arms with eight more codices to Gabriele Mori Beltrami (Berti, “Editoria e originali,” 109, note 39). Albinia de la Mare had already determined that the eight codices belong to this group, but unfortunately, this was not indicated by Beltrami in her study, see De la Mare, “New research,” passim. The identification of the collator (who might have been Bartolomeo Fonzio) needs further research.

122 Hassall, “A Notable Private Collection,” fig. IV and V.; The Wormsley Library, 290–91, cat.

123 De la Mare, “New research,” 542, cat. 75/7.

124 De la Mare, “New research,” 553, cat. 103/14 and 488, cat. 7; Catalogue 144, cat. 96; Kristeller, Iter Italicum, vol. 5, 285. Contrary to most of Marston’s manuscripts, it did not end up in the collection of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, but, together with other manuscripts, he sold it in 1962 to Laurence Witten. The latter auctioned off a part of these manuscripts on December 10, 1962 at Sotheby’s, but this volume was not among the lots, see Shailor, Catalogue, XIX and XXI.

125 De la Mare, “New research,” 553, cat. 103/14; 488, cat. 7.


Figure 1. Liber Alcidi (Altividi) De immortalitate animae.
Budapest, National Széchényi Library, Cod. Lat. 418, fol. 1r


Figure 2. Basilius Bessarion: De ea parte Evangelii ubi scribitur “Si eum volo manere, quid ad te?”; Epistola ad graecos; De sacramento Eucharistiae.
Budapest, National Széchényi Library, Cod. Lat. 438, fol. 3r


Figure 3. Plato: Opera
Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Cod. 2384, fol. 1r



Figure 4. Horace, Juvenal and Persius: Carmina. London, The British Library, Lansdowne Ms. 836, fol. 3r


Figure 5. Plato: Opera
Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Cod. 2384, fol. 1r, detail: bas-de-page


Figure 6. Titus Livius: De secundo bello punico (Ab Urbe condita, Decas III).

Verona, Biblioteca Capitolare, Cod. CXXXVI, fols. 2v–3r. © Biblioteca Capitolare, Verona


Figure 7. Titus Livius: De bello macedonico (Ab Urbe condita, Decas IV).

Verona, Biblioteca Capitolare, Cod. CXXXVII, fols. 2v–3r. © Biblioteca Capitolare, Verona

Figure 8. Catullus, Tibullus, and Propertius: Carmina

Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Cod. 224, fol. 1r



Figure 10. Florentine blind tooled leather bindings. Budapest, National Széchényi Library, Cod. Lat. 418


Figure 11. Herodotus: Historiarum libri IX

The Wormsley Library (formerly: Holkham Hall, Ms. 440)

Figure 12. Aristotle: Opera. Oxford, Bodleian Library, Canon. Class. 289, fol. 1r

© Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford


Figure 13. Aristotle: Metaphysica

Oxford, Bodleian Library, Canon. Class. 292, fol. 1r. © Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford (Photo: Eszter Nagy)

Figure 15. Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita: Opera.

Modena, Biblioteca Estense Universitaria, Cod. Lat. 386 (=α.H.3.12), fols. 2v–3r

© Su concessione del Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali e per il Turismo – Gallerie Estensi, Biblioteca Estense Universitaria


Figure 14. Aelianus Tacticus: De instruendis aciebus; Onosander: De optimo imperatore.

Cambridge (Mass.), Harvard University, Houghton Library, Ms. Richardson 16, fols. 1v–2r

© Houghton Library, Harvard University


Figure 16. L. Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius: Opera.

Modena, Biblioteca Estense Universitaria, Cod. Lat. 384 (=α.M.8.18), fols. 2v–3r

© Su concessione del Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali e per il Turismo – Gallerie Estensi, Biblioteca Estense Universitaria


Figure 17. M. Junianus Justinus: Historiarum Philippicarum Trogi Pompei epitoma

Besançon, Bibliothèque Municipale, Cod. Lat. 832, fols. 1v-2r


Figure 18. Details of Figs. 17. and 7.


Figure 19. Details of Figs. 6, 15 and 12, 16.


Figure 20. Theophrastus: Historia plantarum

Budapest, ELTE University Library, Cod. Lat. 1, fols. 6v–7r


Figure 21. Marsilio Ficino: Commentarium in Convivium Platonis de amore

Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Cod. 2472, fol. 2r

Figure 22. Pseudo-Plinius: De viris illustribus; C. Plinius Secundus: Epistolarum libri

Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Cod. 48, fol. 1r


Figure 23. Pseudo-Plinius: De viris illustribus; C. Plinius Secundus: Epistolarum libri
Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Cod. 48, fol. 1r, detail: bas-de-page


Figure 24. Charter with six pendent seals (The peace treaty of Szepesófalu [Spišská Stará Ves, Slovakia], February 21, 1474).

Warsaw, Archiwum Główne Akt Dawnych, Zbiór dokumentów pergaminowych, 5582


“Many laughed at the thought of this illustrious young man reading books:” About Miklós Báthory’s Library and His Cicero-Codex

Dávid Molnár
Eötvös Loránd University
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This paper pursues an anecdote of Galeotto Marzio about the erudite Miklós Báthory, bishop of Vác, who read Cicero’s Tusculan disputation while he was waiting with other noblemen for the royal diet in Rákosmező, and the mocking attitude of the Hungarian political elite toward any intellectual endeavor. The traces lead to the National Széchényi Library in Budapest which has in its holdings a manuscript of Cicero under Cod. lat. 150. This book might have been in the hands of Báthory at Rákosmező. The purpose of this paper is to confirm the scarcely known plans of Miklós Báthory, bishop of Vác, to found a Platonic school on the basis of what little remains of his library and, mainly, the notes of his Cicero codex. This information perfectly harmonizes with his well-known aspirations to found a Platonic school in Buda and later his gymnasium in Vác, which seems to have been permeated with a kind of Platonist spirituality. After a summary of the life of Miklós Báthory, the paper offers an outline of the remains of his once rich library and then finally an examination of the history of the Cicero codex and its marginalia.

Keywords: Galeotto Marzio, Miklós Báthory’s library, Cicero codex, Platonic school

Only a few historical monuments have become a tangible reality, an anecdote transformed into object. The National Széchényi Library’s Cicero-codex under Cod. lat. 150 is an embodiment of one such moment. Galeotto Marzio’s famous anecdote about Miklós Báthory and the prefiguration of Hungarian fallow land (“magyar ugar”) is frequently quoted from his book On the excellent, wise, facetious sayings and deeds of King Matthias:1

The Council of the Lords had gathered in Buda one time, but they could not yet go to the king. Among them was the Bishop of Vác, the nobleman Nicholas Báthori. Vác is twenty miles from Buda, but Buda can be reached from Vác on the river. This Bishop Nicholas was gifted with a most virtuous, generous, and honorable soul and body. He had been educated in Humanistic studies in Italy. Always increasing his knowledge with care and diligence, he did not avoid any labor, any vigilance, or impediment to acquire knowledge. Soon, his literary knowledge was esteemed with great admiration even by the most learned and clever philosophers. While the lords’ congregation was gathering, he did not want to waste his time with otiosity or babblings, so there was a book with him—if I remember well—Cicero’s work entitled Tusculan disputations. Many laughed at the thought of this illustrious young man reading books, which was unusual there, because for the Hungarians, it was a novelty to see a bishop reading in a place where they had been accustomed to discourse and conversation.

The purpose of this paper is to confirm the little-known plans of Miklós Báthory, bishop of Vác, to found a Platonic school on the basis of what little remains of his library and, mainly, the notes of his Cicero-codex (Cod. lat. 150). First, I summarize the life of Miklós Báthory. I then offer an outline of the remains of his once rich library. I then examine his Cicero-codex, which is now in the holdings of the National Széchényi Library.

The Life of Humanist Miklós Báthory

Miklós Báthory was born into the high-ranking, noble and powerful Báthory family from the branch of Ecsed on April 10, 1445.2 His father, István Báthory, became judge royal in 1435 and was killed in the Battle of Varna in 1444. Miklós’s illiterate brother, the military commander István Báthory, later was also judge royal from 1471 until his death and voivode of Transylvania from 1479 to 1493.3 According to Bonfini, the family might have been given its name after the ancient Pannonian king (or rather chieftain), Bato of the Breuci.4 Although no document has been found to prove it, Nicholas is said to have studied under Galeotto Marzio between 1464 and 1469 in Bologna and, later, under Marsilio Ficino, the father of the resurgent Platonism, in Florence.5 Báthory was already receiving church benefices in 1465, and he was elected Bishop of Szerém/Srijemska/Sremska before the autumn of 1468. Miklós was the royal chancellor February 1471 and August 1471. He was elected Bishop of Vác in 1474, an office which he held until his death.6 According to his contemporaries, he greatly appreciated philosophy, Humanist literary works and fine arts, and being highly educated in Latin and Greek.7 Furthermore, Renaissance architectural monuments are attached to his name in the bishop’s palace of Vác and Nógrád castle.8 Sources also suggest that he often held musical symposiums in his palace.9 Finally, he was honored as a patron of Humanism and a founder of schools. Surviving letters show that he attempted to found a sort of “Platonic school” and tried several times to tempt Marsilio Ficino (or one of his pupils) to teach in Buda in the 1480s, but his efforts failed.10 Following the death of King Matthias, he sided with Vladislaus II against Matthias’s son John Corvinus. In Vác, Báthory succeeded in establishing a school, a gymnasium publicum, which operated between 1497 and 1503. We know the name of its two Italian teachers: one of them was Francesco Pescennio Negro and the other was a certain Barnardino Utinense, who taught in omni artium facultate (“in every Arts faculty”).11 The last information on Báthory is from February 23, 1506. He probably died that year.12

The Remains of Báthory’s Library

Fortunately, although his Humanist writings and his library have been lost, some of Báthory’s books can be positively identified. This is a very poor reconstruction of his once rich library, the librarian of which, according to a recent hypothesis, might have been Francesco Bandini, the Florentine ambassador to Buda.13 In total, four or maybe five of his books can be identified:

1. A codex of Cicero’s Tusculanae disputationes. (See below in more detail).

2. The Österreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna has in its holdings a manuscript (Cod. 872) which was produced in the third quarter of the fifteenth century and can be related to Miklós Báthory. It contains Hilary of Poitiers’s (Hilarius Pictaviensis) work against the Arians with the title De synodis contra omnes haereses (On the synod against all heresies), but the title page of the manuscript has been torn out. In the 1920s, Edit Hoffmann had already noticed an almost imperceptible figure on the verso of the clean flyleaf. It is the inversed trace of the original coat-of-arms which was once painted on the title page. The outline of this is very vague, but one can discern the shape of an elongated triangle. Hoffmann was sure that this triangle is one of the three wolf’s or dragon’s teeth from Báthory’s coat-of-arms. However, some decades later, Soltész did mention only György Szatmári, Bishop of Pécs, in relation to the manuscript, but not Miklós Báthory. And finally some years ago, Marianne Rozsondai, referring to Soltész’s article, refuted the possibility that the Bishop of Vác had possessed the codex. In 1932, without any significant evidence in support of his contention, Julius Herrmann suggested that the first possessor of the manuscript was the poet Janus Pannonius, Bishop of Pécs. However, originally the manuscript of Hilarius was most likely in Báthory’s library before it was put in the possession of Szatmári some time after the death of Báthory in 1506. According to the note on the inner side of the cover, Szatmári gave the codex to Johannes Gremper, a friend and secretary of Johannes Cuspinianus, in Kassa/Košice in 1518 (“Is liber datus est mihi a Georgio Quinqueecclesiensi episcopo in urbe sua Castoine [sic! probably Cassovia?] anno 1518”). The next possessor was Cuspinianus after 1519, then Johannes Faber, Bishop of Vienna, after 1529 (both acquired several Corvinas from Buda).14

3. Báthory’s next known book is an incunabulum which is kept now in the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Ráth F 1493): Iamblichus’s De mysteriis Aegyptiorum cum aliis aliorum Neoplatonicorum tractatibus (On the mysteries of Egyptians), which was published by Aldus Manutius in Venice in 1497. The book consists of another 13, mostly Platonist works translated or written by Marsilio Ficino and numerous notes in the margins: Ficino’s De voluptate, an excerpt of Proclus’s Commentaria in Alcibiadem Platonis primum: De anima et daemone and De sacrificio et magia, Alcinous’s De doctrina Platonis, Speusippus’s De Platonis definitionibus, Porphyry’s De occasionibus and De abstinentia, Synesius’s De somniis, Michael Psellos’s De daemonibus, Priscian of Lydia’s Theophrastum de intellectu et phantasia, Xenocrates’s De morte, and Pythagoras’s Aurea verba and Symbola. Rozsondai was the first to call attention to the fact that the notes in this book are identical with several notes found in the aforementioned Cicero-codex. One of the notes ([a5v]) is especially interesting because it may indicate another possible book from Báthory’s library: “hoc idem Plotinus sentit” (“Plotinus thinks the same”). Under this note, there is the same image of a manicule as in the Cicero manuscript. Supposedly, they are from Báthory’s hand. Furthermore, the note clearly refers to the beginning of Plotinus’s Enneads (from 1.1.1 until 1.1.6).15

Referring to Plotinus in the Iamblichus volume

4. However, we know with all certainty of a fourth book from his library: Marsilio Ficino’s Commentaria in Platonem, which was published in Florence in 1496. Now his copy is kept in Keble College, Oxford (Hatchett Jackson 85). This edition consists of Ficino’s commentaries on Plato’s works, but it omits his translation of the dialogues. There are no notes in this Oxford copy, but there are two telltale clues in the book. The first is the blind-stamped leather binding, which is from the same workshop of Buda as his aforementioned copy of Iamblichus. The second is a letter by Battista Guarino to the “Bishop of Vác Báthory” dated February 20, 1499 (which might mean February 1500), which is stuck in the inner side of the front cover. Thus, it was obviously in the possession of Miklós Báthory at some point.16

Possible Books of His Library

Based on the aforementioned note referring to Plotinus, Báthory might have read the Enneads, which he may have read in the 1492 Florentine first edition translated by Ficino. He may have had or at least have read one of the earlier manuscripts of it. According to Ficino’s letter to King Matthias dated February 1489 (or according to the Florentine calendar, February 1490), the Platonist master sent his translation of Plotinus, including his half-finished commentaries, to Buda, supposedly to the Corvinian Library. It is more than probable that Báthory knew, copied, or acquired this manuscript after the death of the king. Whatever the case, this copy of Plotinus has been lost now.

What other books might Báthory have had? There is a manuscript of Leon Battista Alberti’s De re aedificatoria (On the art of building) in the Biblioteca Estense in Modena (Cod. Lat. 419) which was once part of the Corvinian collection in Buda. Although King Matthias’s coat-of-arms is painted on the first page, Báthory’s coat-of-arms also appears on f. 209v. However, the bishop’s mitre is again missing, so it had to be in Báthory’s possession before 1468, and eventually he gave it as a present to the king. This conclusion drawn in the secondary literature according to which this codex was prepared between 1485 and 1490.17 This manuscript may have been in the possession of another, later Báthory.

It can be safely assumed that the works dedicated to Miklós Báthory were in his possession. The most important of these is Ficino’s short treatise, the title of which was originally Secunda clavis Platonicae sapientiae (Second Key of Platonic Wisdom). In the form of a letter, this work must have arrived in Hungary in the summer of 1479. Later, it was placed in Ficino’s book of letters, which was published in Venice in 1495. It is almost certain that Báthory bought this 1495 edition, because Ficino’s two other letters to Báthory are also included in the volume. In addition, this short work seems like a schoolbook which briefly summarizes the basic concepts of Platonic ontology.18 Because Báthory had Ficino’s commentaries on Plato, he also must have had the 1484 or 1491 edition of Plato’s Opera omnia, translated by Ficino. Instead of going himself, Ficino wanted to send his cousin Sebastiano Salvini (the Florentine master called him his alterego) to teach Platonic philosophy in Buda. Salvini also dedicated his two works to the Bishop of Vác: De sacramento and Rabbi Samuel Iudaeus contra Iudaeorum proterviam inanemque in dies spem.19 The poet Angelus Callimachus Siculus wrote a panegyrical elegy to Báthory, who rewarded him with gold.20 After all, he must have had biblical and liturgical works as well.

The following is a summary of the known and supposed works from Báthory’s library:






Cicero, Tusculanae disputationes

manuscript, Florence, ca. 1450–1468

Budapest, National Széchényi Library, Cod. Lat. 150


Hilarius Pictaviensis, De synodis contra omnes haereses

manuscript, Florence, ca. 1450–1475

Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Cod. 872


Marsilio Ficino, Commentaria in Platonem

Florence: Lorenzo di Alopa, 1496

Oxford, Keble College, Hatchett Jackson 85


Iamblichus, De mysteriis Aegyptiorum: cum aliis aliorum Neoplatonicorum tractatibus, tr. by Ficinus.

a Ficino, De voluptate

b Proclus, Commentaria in Alcibiadem Platonis primum: De anima et daemone (excerpt)

c Proclus, De sacrificio et magia

d Alcinous, De doctrina Platonis

e Speusippus, De Platonis definitionibus

f Porphyry, De occasionibus

g Porphyry, De abstinentia

h Synesius, De somniis

i Michael Psellos, De daemonibus

j Priscian of Lydia, Theophrastum de intellectu et phantasia

k Xenocrates, De morte

l Pythagoras, Aurea verba

m Pythagoras, Symbola

Venice: Aldus Manutius, 1497

Budapest, Library of Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Ráth F 1493


? Leon Battista Alberti, De re aedificatoria

manuscript, Florence (Buda?), 1485–1490

Modena, Biblioteca Estense, Cod. Lat. 419


Sebastiano Salvini, Rabbi Samuel Iudaeus Contra Iudaeorum proterviam inanemque in dies spem

manuscript, after October 1477



Sebastiano Salvini, De sacramento

manuscript, October 1477



Angelus Callimachus Siculus’s poem (inc. Ordiar unde prius, claudent ubi carmina finem?)

manuscript, ca. 1483



Plato, opera omnia, tr. by Ficinus

Florence: Lorenzo de Alopa or Laurentius Venetus, 1484–1485



Plotinus, Opera, tr. by Ficinus

Florence: Antonio di Bartolommeo Miscomini, 1492



Epistole Marsilii Ficini Florentini

Venice: Matteo Capcasa, 1495



The National Széchényi Library’s Tusculan Disputations (Cod. Lat. 150)

The most interesting volume is the aforementioned manuscript of Cicero, which is the most richly illuminated as well. Galeotto Marzio writes that “if he remembers well,” the codex was in Báthory’s hands while he was waiting with other noblemen for the royal diet in Rákosmező. By that time, he was already serving as Bishop of Vác, so this event must have taken place after April 1474. This famous reading could have been in April 1475, because the king had called together the diet on April 24.

According to Csaba Csapodi,21 the codex was written in Florence in the second half of the fifteenth century, so it had to have been copied between 1450 and April of 1475. However, the period of Báthory’s acquisition can be further narrowed down to between 1464 and autumn of 1468 due to the time of his studies in Bologna and Florence and his appointment as bishop, when he might have easily acquired the manuscript in Italy. This assumption is strengthened by the first edition of the “Tusculan Disputations,” which was printed in Rome in April 1469 (GW 6888). Báthory might have encountered this work of Cicero in Italy, and as the known volumes of Báthory’s collection prove, he did not look down on printed books. He might have wanted to acquire the “Tusculan Disputations,” but he could not have known that it would be printed in 1469, so he might have bought the supposedly more expensive manuscript known today as Cod. lat. 150 during his studies in Italy, before the autumn of 1468. This accuracy of this dating is also strengthened by the depiction of Báthory’s coat-of-arms in the manuscript: it does not contain his bishop’s mitre. Sources give no indication of what might have happened to the book after Báthory’s death. The next trace is an inscription at the beginning of the codex: Patrum Trinitariorum Conventus B.[eatae] V.[irginis] M.[ariae] Cellensis Anno 1776, or “the Blessed Virgin Mary’s convent of the Trinitarian fathers in Kiscell in 1776.” The convent was part of the Vienna Province. Perhaps the manuscript was kept in a Jesuit library, and after the suppression of the Jesuit Order in 1773, perhaps it was placed in the Trinitarian convent. In a rescript of March 17, 1783, Joseph II dissolved the convent of Kiscell and its library to establish a military barrack. By March 1784 at the latest, the codex was no longer in the order’s house. Although a catalogue listing 800 books has survived, which was written by a committee of library liquidation, there is no trace of the Cicero manuscript on the list.22 An interesting part of the story is that a certain “pater Sebastian” (also known as Mátyás Paule), an inhabitant of the convent who also served as household chaplain to the widow of the aristocrat Miklós Zichy, smuggled the most valuable manuscripts out of the convent’s library. It is thus likely that the manuscript of Cicero was placed in the widow’s home library. This can be confirmed by the fact that, according to her home bookkeeping, she had her manuscripts rebound between the end of 1783 and August 1784 (record of extraordinary expanse between January 11 and August 1784: 22 forints, 72 kreutzers).23 In January 1796, a lot of books were placed in the University Library of ELTE as part of the Zichy bequest, but this manuscript is not on the booklist.24 The next trace is the possessor’s seal of the historian and the head of the Museum Library, István Horvát. It seems that he somehow acquired this precious manuscript in spite of the fact that it was part of the Zichy family’s bequest. After his death, the codex was placed in the National Library (today the National Széchényi Library) on April 29, 1852.25

The folios were mixed up from the verso of 30 supposedly during the process of rebinding or restoration (most likely before it was added to the National Library), when the folios were provided with printed folio numbers in the upper righthand corner. The correct order of the folio numbers is as follows: 30v (Tusc. disp. 1.94.12) + 41r–90v (Tusc. disp. 1.94.12–3.60) + 31r–40v (Tusc. disp. 3.60.5–4.8.6) + 91r–150v (Tusc. disp. 4.8.6–5.121.4). Here, the manuscript is interrupted and missing the last two sentences (until the Tusc. disp. 5.121.10) on the missing page.



The Cod. lat. 150 was written in Florence


Báthory might have bought the codex

April 1475

Báthory was reading in Rákosmező


Trinitarian convent in Kiscell (Óbuda)


The codex was no longer in the friary

April 29, 1852

National Library

July 1954



Notes in the Cod. Lat. 150

As far as I have been able to determine, the notes in the Cicero-codex come from four hands. One of them could be Báthory’s. Unfortunately, we do not have any official charter or letter with Báthory’s manu propria. But comparing the notes of the Iamblichus edition owned by Báthory to the Cicero codex, it can be safely stated that the marginal annotations from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were written by the same hand. The notes are all the more interesting because of their character: they resemble a compilation of the Stoic thoughts about fortune’s spin and apathy, or school notes taken for a later composition.

Four kinds of notes can be discerned in the Cicero codex which were written in black and red ink:


1) One type of nota bene entries: 14 black (ff. 28r, 31r, 33r, 52v, 53r, 81r, 82v, 83v, 99v, 100v, 119v, 125v, 127v, 128r), 6 red (ff. 31r, 35r, 94v, 134v, 139r, 146r).


2) Minimum three types of index fingers: 12 black (ff. 12r, 40r, 41r, 51v, 53v, 59v, 65v, 67r, 80v, 105v, 130v), 29 red (ff. 30r, 33v, 34v, 35r, 38r, 42v, 45v, 46r, 61v, 67r, 67v, 69v, 72v, 74v, 81r, 82v, 94v, 110r, 114r, 126v, 127r, 131v, 134v, 143v, 144v, 145r, 146r, 147v).


3) Minimum two types of simple nota bene entries: 11 black (30r, 30v, 50r, 51v, 53v, 54v, 59r, 68r, 81r, 91r, 121r), ca. 112 red.


4) Texts: a) the note only repeats the sentence or name(s) in the margin; b) the note details, improves, or adds something to the text.


Báthory’s Iamblichus edition contains the same 50 nota bene entries, 72 drawn index fingers, and many of the third type of “simple nota bene.” This means that the two volumes were in the same person’s possession at some time. Báthory’s coat-of-arms proves that the Cicero-codex was in his possession, and the fact that the Iamblichus edition contains the same notes suggests that this book was also in his library. This assumption is strengthened by the places and types of the notes which may refer to his Platonic school foundation plans. I return to this in the last part of the paper.

Index fingers in Cod. Lat. 150 Index fingers in Ráth F 1493


Each nota bene entry points to the topic of the Stoic’s apatheia and capricious fortune in Cicero’s text, according to which we must prepare ourselves for misfortunes in order to suffer them calmly.

28r (Tusc. disp. 1.86.15–1.87.2): The example of fortuna Metelli. Although everyone hopes to have Metellus’s good fortune, in fact death liberates us all from pain and adversity.


52v–53r (Tusc. disp. 2.10.3–2.11.8): About the fear of dying and the metaphor of cultivated fields. Although there are too many false philosophers who lead disgraceful lives, true philosophy is a remedy which, by curing the soul, can drive away fears.

81r (Tusc. disp. 3.30.10–3.30.20): The nota draws attention to the interpretation of an example of Anaxagoras and a citation by a pseudo-Euripides: “Therefore, it does not admit of doubt that everything which is thought evil is more grievous if it comes unexpectedly. And so, though this is not the one cause of the greatest distress, yet as foresight and anticipation have considerable effect in lessening pain, a human being should ponder all the vicissitudes that fall to man’s lot. And do not doubt that here is found the ideal of that wisdom which excels and is divine, namely in the thorough study and comprehension of human vicissitudes, in being astonished at nothing when it happens, and in thinking, before the event is come, that there is nothing which may not come to pass.”26


82v (Tusc. disp. 3.34.7–3.34.19): Same as above: everyone should be prepared for everything. “For the man who reflects upon nature, upon the diversity of life and the weakness of humanity, is not saddened by reflecting upon these things, but in doing so he fulfils most completely the function of wisdom. For he gains doubly, in that by considering the vicissitudes of human life he has the enjoyment of the peculiar duty of philosophy, and in adversity he finds a threefold relief to aid his restoration; first because he has long since reflected on the possibility of mishap, and this is far the best method of lessening and weakening all vexation; secondly because he understands that the lot of man must be endured in the spirit of man; lastly because he sees that there is no evil but guilt, but that there is no guilt when the issue is one against which a man can give no guarantee.”27


83v (Tusc. disp. 3.36.11–3.37.11): Reflections and critique of Epicurus’s notion of “The Good” from the viewpoint of Pythagoras, Plato, and Socrates. Virtue is self-sufficient for happiness and living a good life.

31r (Tusc. disp. 3.60.6–3.62.4): Cicero refers to Chrysippus on the enduring of human destiny and the reduction of grief.

33r (Tusc. disp. 3.68.3–3.69.1): Cicero quotes Euripides and compares grief to wisdom. Although there is no evil worse than the lack of wisdom, “there is no adapting the belief that it is right and regular and a matter of duty to feel distressed at not being wise.”28

35r (Tusc. disp. 3.73.20–3.74.4): It is proper to Folly that it observes the faults of others and forgets its own. “Since it is agreed that distress is removed by long continuance, the chief proof is the fact that it is not the mere lapse of time that produces this effect, but continued reflection.”29

99v (Tusc. disp. 4.37.6–4.38.5): “Therefore the man, whoever he is, whose soul is tranquillized by restraint and consistency and who is at peace with himself, so that he neither pines away in distress, nor is broken down by fear, nor consumed with a thirst of longing in pursuit of some ambition, nor maudlin in the exuberance of meaningless eagerness - he is the wise man of whom we are in quest, he is the happy man who can think no human occurrence insupportable to the point of dispiriting him, or unduly delightful to the point of rousing him to ecstasy. For what can seem of moment in human occurrences to a man who keeps all eternity before his eyes and knows the vastness of the universe? Nay, what either in human ambitions or in the short span of our brief life can seem of moment to the wise man whose soul is ever on the watch to prevent the occurrence of anything unforeseen, anything unexpected, anything whatever that is strange? Further he also directs so searching a glance in all directions with the constant aim of finding an assured retreat for a life free from vexation and worry, that, whatever reverse fortune may inflict, he shoulders his burden tranquilly: and he who shall do this will not only be free from distress but from all other disorders as well.”30


119v (Tusc. disp. 5.15.14–5.16.10): One who is afraid of death, pain, poverty, ignominy, infamy, debility, blindness, and slavery is unhappy. And one who is inflamed and maddened by rabid desires and unsatisfiable yearnings is also utterly miserable.

125v (Tusc. disp. 5.36.2–5.36.14): Cicero quotes a part of Plato’s Menexenus as a sacred and august fountain about the happy life which entirely depends on virtue.

127v (Tusc. disp. 5.42.11–5.43.9): About contempt for death through the example of the Spartans. The wise man is always happy because he is untinged with the two perturbations of the soul: grief and fear from imagined evils and inordinate joy and passionate desire.

128r (Tusc. disp. 5.45.1–5.45.7): That man who has everything (health, strength, beauty, wealth, honor etc.) he can, but is dishonest, intemperate, cowardly, and dull can be called miserable, too. What good are these things if their owner can be the most miserable man?

139r (Tusc. disp. 5.81.3–5.82.1): The wise man does nothing against his own will, nothing of which he can repent.

146r (Tusc. disp. 5.105.7–5.105.14): As the final word of the owner of the notes: “What vexation therefore they escape who have no dealings with whatever with the people! For what is more delightful than leisure devoted to literature? That literature I mean which gives us the knowledge of the infinite greatness of nature and, in this actual world of ours, of the sky, the lands, the seas.”31

Text Entries in the Cod. Lat. 150

Most of the text entries only put stress on the given text location which was important to the reader for some reasons. The following are some examples:


On f. 24r (Tusc. disp. 1.74.8), an interlinear note above the part of the text where Cicero mentions Cato and Socrates, who joyfully passed from the dark life into the light in their deaths: corporis quod est carcer animi. There is another interpretative note in the margin: Tota philosophia est commentatio mortis (philosophy is a preparation for death).

On f. 25v (Tusc. disp. 1.79.5), referring to the Stoic-Platonic Panaetius and the text according to which Plato is Homer of the philosophers (“Plato Homerus philosophorum” is written in the margin with red ink), the note shows the possessor’s interest in the flaming Averroist disputes over the immortality of the souls at the turn of fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The note “Opponitur contra immortalitatem animae” draws attention to Panaetius’s arguments against the immortality of the soul. It is important to note that the reader, supposedly the same reader (probably Báthory himself), also pointed out this philosophical problem in the margin in Alcinous’s work in the Iamblichus edition ([S8v]): “Demonstratio de immortalitate animi.”

On f. 46v (Tusc. disp. 1.110–111), a citation from Juvenile’s tenth satire (10.97: sed quae praeclara et prospera tanti, ut rebus laetis par sit mensura malorum?) on the example of Diagoras of Rhodes, for which the text offers the following explanation: “Indeed he will even be ready to die in the midst of prosperity; for no accumulation of successes can afford so much delight as their diminution will cause annoyance.”

On f. 63v (Tusc. disp. 2.45.7), the “Et tu cautus Cicero noluisti terminare quousque honestum pro amico transgredi liceret” sentence can be found in the margin, which ironically comments on Cicero’s critical reflection on Epicurus’s thoughts about any intense pains which can be borne for the sake of honesty.

On f. 111r (Tusc. disp. 4.71), a citation from Ovid’s Ars amatoria (1.281–282: Parcior in nobis nec tam furiosa libido: legitimum finem flamma virilis habet [The desire in us is more moderate and not so furious: the virile flame has its legal limits]) on Cicero’s words about homosexuality: “Again, not to speak of the love of women, to which nature has granted wider tolerance, who has either any doubt of the meaning of the poets in the tale of the rape of Ganymede, or fails to understand the purport of Laius language and his desire in Euripides’ play?”32

On f. 146r (5.104), another quotation from Juvenile’s tenth satire (10.5–6), which is written in the margin by the part of the text about the condemnation of the tastes of the masses: Quid tam dextro pede concipis ut te conatus non paeniteat votique peracti?


Letter shapes

Word Definitions and Greek Notes in the Cod. Lat. 150

On f. 4r (Tusc. disp. 1.10):

Above the question “traiectio Acherontis?” the word “traiectio” is rewritten as “transuectio” and explained in the margin on the righthand side of the page: “transuectio si esset referetur ad caron: transmissio autem et transitio semper refert ad fluuium et traiectio ut hic patere reperitur.” The next question is a citation of a verse from an unidentified tragedy: “mento summam aquam attingens enectus siti Tantalus?” The word enectus is defined at the bottom of 4r: “Eneco enecas enecatum cum in supino inde enecatus semper illum significat vt inquit priscianus cesariensis qui maiori violencia vt puta ferro aut fune fuerit interfectus enectum uero dicimus aut siti aut veneno aut frigore confectum. et sic apud bene loquentes obseruatur.”

The Greek notes were written by at least two hands. The original, most likely Italian scribe did not know the Greek alphabet and omitted spaces for the Greek words. Later, some of the readers tried to correct this deficiency and added the Greek words in some places in the text. Generally speaking, these not very skilled hands sometimes transcribed the Latin letter “Y” with the Greek “υ” and sometimes with the Greek “ι.” In most cases, the readers only specified the Latin words with their Greek definitions or meanings. For example, on f. 93v–95v (Tusc. disp. 4.16–26), some Stoic concepts were defined with their original Greek version in the margin (pigritia as ὄκνοσ [sic!], terror as ἔκπληξι[ς], molestia as ἀνϋα [sic!]). There are no Greek notes in the Iamblichus edition at all.


To sum up, Miklós Báthory was a highly educated humanist and cultural patron who tried to found an academy-like school in Buda which would have been very progressive for its time and which would have channeled the Platonist movement to Hungary through the central figures of the Florentine intellectual circle. His efforts were unsuccessful, but later, he founded a so-called “gymnasium” in Vác. Unfortunately, we know almost nothing about either of them. Now, the only palpable proof of his intellectual efforts is his surviving books listed above and Galeotto Marzio’s anecdote about the suspicious and mocking attitude of the Hungarian political elite toward any intellectual endeavor.

Based on the same notes in the Iamblichus edition and the Cicero codex, we can conclude that the two books were owned by the same man for a while time in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Because Báthory’s coat-of-arms is painted on the f. 1r of Cod. Lat. 150, it can safely be assumed that at least some of the notes may have come from Báthory’s hand.

Although there are no Greek notes in the Iamblichus volume, the Latin notes originate from one person. Therefore, the nota bene entries and drawn index fingers also were written by this hand, which also wrote at least some of the nota bene entries in the Cicero codex.

What little remains of Báthory’s library perfectly harmonizes with his aspirations to found a Platonic school in Buda and later his gymnasium in Vác, which might also have been infiltrated by a kind of Platonist spirituality. Because of the scarcity of information, this remains a bold hypothesis. Nevertheless, why would he have given up his plans for a Platonist school after the death of King Matthias? Maybe it is just a coincidence, but at least three of the four books which we know where part of his library and his surviving notes offer support for this theory, and they suggest a noticeable pattern. Ficino might have intended his Iamblichus edition to be a schoolbook which included his twelve translations or rather excerpts of lesser known Platonist and some short Pythagorean works: for example Speusippus’s De Platonis definitionibus or Proclus’s commentary on Plato’s Alcibiades or the short Pythagorean work entitled Symbola. Most of the notes are in Alcinous’s Middle Platonist schoolbook on the basic Platonist concepts: De doctrina Platonis (Plato’s doctrine). Báthory’s 1496 Commentaria in Platonem by Ficino speaks for itself, because it is a commentary on Plato’s complete works. Perhaps the odd one out is the second manuscript, that is Hilary’s theological work against the Arian heresy. However, Hilary is not just an exception but also a borderline case. He was a Neoplatonist thinker who left his philosophical tradition for Christianity. Consequently, in this sense, he, as an ex-Platonist, may have been interesting to Báthory. Finally, the notes in the Cicero codex also suggest the owner’s intention to collect a practical Stoic-Platonic florilegium which might have been used as a philosophical schoolbook.


Analecta nova ad historiam renascentium in Hungaria litterarum spectantia Edited by Jenő Ábel, and István Hegedüs. Budapest: Hornyánszky, 1903.

Berlász Jenő. “Horvát István könyvtárának megszerzése a Nemzeti Könyvtár számára” [Acquisition of István Horvát’s library for the National Library]. Az Országos Széchényi Könyvtár évkönyve, 7 (1963–1964): 251–64.

Bonfinis, Antonius de. Rerum Ungaricarum decades. Edited by József Fógel, Béla Iványi, and László Juhász. Leipzig: Teubner, 1936–1976.

Cicero. Tusculan disputations. Translated by J. E. King. London: Heinemann, 1966.

C. Tóth Norbert. “Ki kicsoda az ecsedi Bátori családban? A Bátori család ecsedi ágának tagjai (1377–1541)” [Who’s who in the Bátori family of Ecsed? The members of the Bátori family of Ecsed (1377–1541)]. Szabolcs-Szatmár-Beregi Szemle 44 (2009): 5–47.

Csapodi Csaba, and Klára Csapodiné Gárdonyi. Bibliotheca Hungarica: kódexek és nyomtatott könyvek Magyarországon 1526 előtt. Vol. 1. Budapest: MTAK, 1988.

Della Torre, Arnaldo. Storia dell’accademia platonica di Firenze. Florence: G. Carnesecchi e figli, 1902.

Ficinus, Marsilius. Opera omnia. Basel: Ex officina Henric Petrina, 1576.

Hermann, Julius Hermann. Die Handschriften und Inkunabeln der italienischen Renaissance. Vol. 3, Mittelitalien: Toskana, Umbrien, Rom. Leipzig: Hiersemann, 1932.

Hoffmann Edit. Régi magyar bibliofilek [Old Hungarian bibliophiles]. Reprinted by Tünde Wehli. Budapest: MTA Művtört. Kut. Int., 1992.

Huszti József. Platonista törekvések Mátyás király udvarában. Pécs: Dunántúl, 1925.

Kiss Farkas Gábor. “Franciscus Pescennius Niger Báthory Miklós váci püspök udvarában és a Scholasticum Orosianae iuventutis dramma” [Franciscus Pescennius Niger in the court of M. B. and his Scholasticum Orosianae Iuventutis Dramma]. Magyar Könyvszemle 129 (2013): 265–81.

Klaniczay Tibor. “Platonista akadémia Budán?” [A Platonic academy in Buda?]. In Tibor Klaniczay, A magyarországi akadémiai mozgalom előtörténete, 43–49. Budapest: Balassi, 1993.

Klaniczay Tibor. “La corte di Mattia Corvino e il pensiero academico.” In Mathias Corvinus and the Humanism in Central Europe, edited by József Jankovics, and Tibor Klaniczay, 165–74. Budapest: Balassi, 1994.

Kubinyi András. “Báthory Miklós és családja politikai szereplése” [The political role of Miklós Báthory and his family]. In Báthory Miklós váci püspök (1474–1506) emlékezete, edited by Alice Horváth, 13–30. Vác: Váci Egyházmegyei Gyűjtemény, 2007.

Martius Narniensis, Galeottus. De egregie, sapienter, iocose dictis ac factis regis Mathiae: ad ducem Iohannem eius filium liber, edited by László Juhász. Leipzig: Teubner, 1934.

Mercati, Giovanni. “Francesco Pescennio Negro Veneto protonotario Apostolico.” In Giovanni Mercati. Ultimi contributi alla storia degli umanisti. Vol. 2, 24–128. Vatican: Bibloteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1939.

Mikó Árpád. “Báthory Miklós püspök és a reneszánsz művészet emlékei Vácott” [The bishop M. B. and the remnants of Renaissance art in Vác]. In Báthory Miklós váci püspök (1474–1506) emlékezete, edited by Alice Horváth, 117–30. Vác: Váci Egyházmegyei Gyűjtemény, 2007.

Molnár Dávid. “Báthory Miklós váci püspök filozófiai műveltségének lehetséges nyomai egy Ficino fordításában megjelent 1497-es Iamblikhosz-kiadásban” [Possible traces of the philosophical literacy of bishop Miklós Báthory in a copy of an Iamblichus edition from 1497]. In Stephanus noster: Tanulmányok Bartók István 60. születésnapjára, edited by József Jankovics et al., 41–55. Budapest: Reciti, 2015.

Pajorin Klára. “Mátyás király és Marsilio Ficino magyar hívei az 1472. évi összeesküvés után” [Followers of King Mathias, and Marsilio Ficino after the conspiracy in 1472]. In Arcana tabularii: Tanulmányok Solymosi László tiszteletére, edited by Attila Bárány, Gábor Dreska, Kornél Szovák, 593–606. Budapest, Debrecen: Debreceni Egyetem, 2014.

Pálvölgyi Endre. “Főúri és klerikális összefogás II. József könyvtári intézkedései ellen:Zichy Miklósné könyvhagyatéka és a kiscelli trinitárius kolostor könyvtára” [Aristocratic and clerical cooperation against Joseph II’s provisions of the libraries: The book bequest of the wife of Miklós Zichy and the library of the Trinitarian convent in Kiscell]. Tanulmányok Budapest múltjából 14 (1961): 343–62.

Pietro Lombardi, Paola di. “Mátyás emblémái” [Matthias’s emblems]. In A holló jegyében: Fejezetek a corvinák történetéből. Edited by István Monok, 157–76. Budapest: Corvina Kiadó, OSZK, 2004.

Ransanus, Petrus. Epithoma rerum hungararum: Id est annalium omnium temporum liber primus et sexagesimus. Edited by Péter Kulcsár. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1977.

Rhodes, Dennis E. “Battista Guarini and a book at Oxford.” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 37 (1974): 349–53.

Ritoókné Szalay Ágnes. “Báthory Miklós váci püspök (1474–1506) epitáfiuma” [The bishop of Vác (1474–1506), Miklós Báthory’s epitaph]. In Báthory Miklós váci püspök (1474–1506) emlékezete, edited by Alice Horváth, 157–67. Vác: Váci Egyházmegyei Gyűjtemény, 2007.

Rozsondai Marianne. “A Hungarian Renaissance binding in Oxford and its counterpart in Budapest.” The Book Collector 40 (1991): 371–81.

Rozsondai Marianne. “Báthory Miklós váci püspök könyvtárának feltételezhető darabjai” [Presumable copies of Miklós Báthory’s library]. In Báthory Miklós váci püspök (1474–1506) emlékezete, edited by Alice Horváth, 131–45. Vác: Váci Egyházmegyei Gyűjtemény, 2007.

Soltész Zoltánné. “Garázda Péter, Nagylucsei Orbán és Szatmári György ismeretlen könyvei” [Péter Garázda’s, Orbán Nagylucsei’s and György Szatmári’s unknown books]. Művészettörténeti Értesítő 7 (1958): 120–23.

Zsupán Edina. “A corvina könyvtár ‘első címerfestője’: stílushűség és imitáció. A Philostratus- és a Ransanus-corvina provenienciájához” [The “first emblazoner” of the corvina library: stylistic authenticity and imitation. New approach to the provenance of the Philostratus corvina and the Ransanus corvina]. Művészettörténeti Értesítő 66 (2017): 273–302.

1 According to Marzio, Báthory was the one who encouraged him to write this book about King Matthias. Martius Narniensis, De egregie (cap. 31), 34: “Et, ut ad rem nostram revertamur, Budae cum cogeretur principum concilium et nondum ad regem aditus pateret, inter eos erat Nicholaus Bathur, genere nobilis, dignitate episcopus Vaciensis. Est enim Vacia vigesimo a Buda miliario; sed Budam a Vacia secundo flumine devenitur. Hic igitur Nicholaus episcopus virtute et animi generositate dignitateque corporis cumulatus maxime erat: studiis namque humanitatis in Italia eruditus, cura et diligentia doctrinam adaugens, nihil laboris, nihil vigiliarum, nihil impedii subterfugiens quod ad doctrinam conveniret, brevi effecit ut doctissimis acutissimisque philosophis eius doctrina et et litteratura summa cum admiratione probaretur. Qui, dum congregatio principum cogeretur, ne otio et garrulitati locum praeberet, habuit secum librum, si recte memini, Ciceronis cui Tusculanarum quaestionum est titulus. Irridentibus multis huius egregii iuvenis librorum lectionem, ibi inusitatam (novum quippe videbatur Hungaris episcopum lectitare, in eo praesertim loco ubi sermo et confabulatio esse consueverat).”

2 C. Tóth, “Ki kicsoda,” 19.

3 Kubinyi, “Báthory Miklós,” 13–15, 22.

4 Bonfinis, Rerum (dec. 1, lib. 1), 9, 30.

5 Martius Narniensis, De egregie (cap. 31), 34.

6 Kubinyi, “Báthory Miklós,” 18–19; C. Tóth, “Ki kicsoda,” 19–21.

7 Ransanus, Epithoma, 81; Ritoókné Szalay, “Báthory Miklós,” 160.

8 Mikó, “Báthory Miklós.”

9 Ritoókné Szalay, “Báthory Miklós,” 162–64; Pajorin, “Mátyás király,” 604–5.

10 Ficinus, Opera, 782, 857, 884; Della Torre, Storia dell’accademia, 100–2; Huszti, Platonista törekvések; Klaniczay, “Platonista akadémia”; Klaniczay, “La corte di Mattia Corvino,” 166–69.

11 Mercati, “Francesco Pescennio Negro,” 71–72; Kiss, “Franciscus Pescennius Niger,” 272–73.

12 C. Tóth, “Ki kicsoda,” 19.

13 Rozsondai, “Báthory Miklós,” 131.

14 Hoffmann, Régi magyar, 109–10; Soltész, “Garázda Péter,” 122–23; Hermann, Die Handschriften, 24–25.

15 Rozsondai, “Báthory Miklós,” 136–37. Detailed analysis: Molnár, “Báthory Miklós.”

16 Rhodes, “Battista Guarini;” Rozsondai, “A Hungarian Renaissance.”

17 Zsupán, “Stílushűség és imitáció;” Pietro Lombardi, “Mátyás emblémái,” 168–69, 173.

18 Molnár, “Báthory Miklós,” 41–43.

19 Analecta nova, 442; Rozsondai, “Báthory Miklós,” 132.

20 Huszti, Platonista törekvések, 88; Ransanus, Epithoma, 81.

21 Csapodi, Csapodiné Gárdonyi, Bibliotheca Hungarica, 243.

22 The catalogue is dated March 5, 1784 and kept today in the University Library of ELTE (Department of Manuscripts, J 100/3): Catalogus librorum Bibliothecae PP. Trinitariorum aboliti Conventus Vetero Budensis. The chairmans of the committee responsible for the census of the books were Imre Laczkovics, vicecomes of Pest County and Imre Majthényi, the prefect of the estate of the Chamber of Óbuda.

23 Pálvölgyi, “Főúri és klerikális összefogás,” 353–55.

24 University Library of ELTE, Department of Manuscripts, J 47/1: Catalogus librorum, quos excellentissima ac illustrissima Domina Comitis. Nicolai Ziczy de Vasonkő vidua, nata Comitissa Berényi de Karáncs Berény Budae defuncta die 2 Januarii 1796. Regiae Scientiarum Universitati Hungaricae testamento legavit.

25 Berlász, “Horvát István könyvtárának,” 254–61.

26 Cicero, Tusculan, 263. “Ergo id quidem non dubium, quin omnia, quae mala putentur, sint improvisa graviora. Itaque quamquam non haec una res efficit maximam aegritudinem, tamen, quoniam multum potest provisio animi et praeparatio ad minuendum dolorem, sint semper omnia homini humana meditata. Et nimirum haec est illa praestans et divina sapientia et perceptas penitus et pertractatas res humanas habere, nihil admirari cum acciderit, nihil, ante quam evenerit, non evenire posse arbitrari.”

27 Cicero, Tusculan, 267–69. “Neque enim qui rerum naturam, qui vitae varietatem, qui imbecillitatem generis humani cogitat, maeret, cum haec cogitat, sed tum vel maxime sapientiae fungitur munere. Utrumque enim consequitur, ut et considerandis rebus humanis proprio philosophiae fruatur officio et adversis casibus triplici consolatione sanetur: primum quod posse accidere diu cogitavit, quae cogitatio una maxime molestias omnes extenuat et diluit; deinde quod humana humane ferenda intellegit; postremo quod videt malum nullum esse nisi culpam, culpam autem nullam esse, cum id, quod ab homine non potuerit praestari, evenerit.”

28 Cicero, Tusculan, 307. “Quid ita? quia huic generi malorum non adfingitur illa opinio, rectum esse et aequum et ad officium pertinere aegre ferre, quod sapiens non sis…”

29 Cicero, Tusculan, 313. “Sed nimirum hoc maximum est experimentum, cum constet aegritudinem vetustate tolli, hanc vim non esse in die positam, sed in cogitatione diuturna.”

30 Cicero, Tusculan, 367–69. “Ergo, hic, quisquis est qui moderatione et constantia quietus animo est sibique ipse placatus, ut nec tabescat molestiis nec frangatur timore nec sitienter quid expetens ardeat desiderio nec alacritate futili gestiens deliquescat, is est sapiens quem quaerimus, is est beatus, cui nihil humanarum rerum aut intolerabile ad demittendum animum aut nimis laetabile ad ecferendum videri potest. Quid enim videatur ei magnum in rebus humanis, cui aeternitas omnis totiusque mundi nota sit magnitudo? Nam quid aut in studiis humanis aut in tam exigua brevitate vitae magnum sapienti videri potest, qui semper animo sic excubat, ut ei nihil inprovisum accidere possit, nihil inopinatum, nihil omnino novum? Atque idem ita acrem in omnis partis aciem intendit, ut semper videat sedem sibi ac locum sine molestia atque angore vivendi, ut, quemcumque casum fortuna invexerit, hunc apte et quiete ferat. Quod qui faciet, non aegritudine solum vacabit, sed etiam perturbationibus reliquis omnibus.”

31 Cicero, Tusculan, 531. “Quantis igitur molestiis vacant qui nihil omnino cum populo contrahunt! Quid est enim dulcius otio litterato? iis dico litteris, quibus infinitatem rerum atque naturae et in hoc ipso mundo caelum, terras, maria cognoscimus.”

32 Cicero, Tusculan, 409. “Atque, ut muliebris amores omittam, quibus maiorem licentiam natura concessit, quis aut de Ganymedi raptu dubitat, quid poetae velint aut non intelligit, quid apud Euripidem et loquatur et cupiat Laius?”

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The reversed trace of the faded coat-of-arms refined in the Hilarius Pictaviensis-codex with HDR effect and layered by Báthory’s coat-of-arms from his Cicero-codex

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Nota bene entries in Cod. Lat. 150 and Ráth F 1493

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The Work Ethic in Humanist Biographies: The Case of Willem Canter

Gábor Almási
Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Neo-Latin Studies
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This article is a case study of the work ethic as represented in biographies of humanists. It draws first and foremost on Melchior Adam’s anthology of biographies of learned “German” men of 1615–1620. The analysis of some of the longer biographies reveals that Adam was more dependent on his sources than previous research supposed. Moreover, the stress on the education and diligence of the individuals in several of the biographies follows not from Adam’s interests, but rather from the logic of humanist biographies, a primary function of which was to legitimate social rise, redefine social values according to meritocratic principles, and promote the Renaissance ideology of virtue. The vita of William Canter, which I analyze in considerable detail, illustrates how early modern biographies tended to construct the self on the basis of ancient and more recent clichés and to present ideal types. The work ethic represented by Canter’s scholarly persona reveals that hard work in the Renaissance was intrinsically linked to disciplined time-management.

Keywords: Canter, Adam, the work ethic, Renaissance, biography

The memory of the great Dutch humanist Willem Canter (Gulielmus Canterus) (1542–1575) has been preserved primarily in his numerous philological publications, which were the products of a short but assiduous life. Canter authored innumerable editions and translations, primarily of works by Greek authors, including for instance translations of all the dramas of Euripides, Sophocles, and Aeschylus into Latin. His attitude to text edition and the use of critical apparatus was exemplary in terms of sixteenth-century scholarship. In fact, Canter not only published several first-rate Greek poets and prose writers, relying on as many manuscripts as the Republic of Letters could provide him, but was also the author of a practical handbook on the ars corrigendi of Greek texts, which was a great deal more useful than either of the other two that appeared in the sixteenth century.1 It was a practical guide which offered a wealth of examples of the ways in which Greek texts, from single letters to whole words, were usually corrupted by scribes. Since most of his letters were lost, everything we know of his life comes from a single source, Melchior Adam’s biographical anthology from 1615. Adam’s detailed biography presents Canter as a scholar-monk who shunned human company, parties, and women and who dedicated most of his time to philological studies. This article will focus on this particular biography and will attempt to understand its relation to Adam’s biographical anthology, explain its constructed nature, and fit it into the humanist biographical tradition as an illustration of the importance of the work ethic to the humanist ethos.

Melchior Adam’s Biographies of Learned Men

Melchior Adam (1575–1622) was not simply an archetypal figure of German Späthumanismus. He was one of its crowning figures. Most importantly, Adam is known because of his huge anthology of the biographies of 546 German intellectuals living in the long sixteenth century (c. 1480–1620). His lives preserved the memory of a cultural epoch (Renaissance humanism) which in the 1610s was rapidly waning.2 In certain ways, it was a pioneering work in the biographical tradition and a substantial contribution to posterity’s image of late flourishing of classical learning within a thriving Republic of Letters in Central Europe. Yet it was not only a monument to the Republic of Letters and a strong expression of its virtue and communal spirit, but also a study on the uses of culture and learning in general. In Adam’s own words, his goal was to promulgate the glory of great men, provide examples of virtue and learning, and extoll his fatherland.3 He divided his work into five volumes according to the academic faculties: the vitae of “philosophers” (i.e. humanists) appeared first in 1615 and was followed by volumes on physicians, theologians, and jurists-politicians in 1620.4 While most of the biographies are only a few pages long, in a number of cases we have lengthy and nuanced reconstructions rich with vivid detail, which add real value to Adam’s work.5

Overall, Adam’s collective bibliographies represented a new direction in history writing, even if he drew on certain classical and Renaissance precedents.6 He opened the dedication of the volume on theologians with the claim that histories on the lives of individuals offer as much entertainment and knowledge of the past as do universal, ecclesiastical, or political histories. He recognized that the art of biography writing went back to Old Testament times and indeed that the Gospels themselves fell into the category of biography.7 The several Christian forerunners mentioned in the preface include Isidore of Seville and Gennadius of Massilia, followed by Philo, Plutarch, Diogenes Laërtius, and other minor Greek authors. Curiously, Latin writers, most importantly Suetonius, and Renaissance forerunners, are missing. Adam’s attention shifts instead from Greek authors to learned rulers, mentioning, for example, Matthias Corvinus just before Cyrus. Adam uses this rather sketchy and superficial historical overview of the genre of the biography only to make the claim that he has been following a long tradition. He started collecting documents concerning the lives of some German men, a job he felt he had to do as a duty to the “common fatherland,” simply by drawing on the example of authors from antiquity.8 Yet his heroes are not the usual viri illustri, distinguished by wealth, success, or political-military achievements. At most, they vaguely resemble the “philosophers” described by Diogenes Laërtius, but they are neither necessarily famous nor successful: “a few years ago, I started collecting here and there some men born in our Germany commended either by their great learning or their merits in the Church of God or in the Christian Republic, joining them together in a single corpus [of lives].”9

Although we have no comprehensive study of the methods on which Adam based his selection, his irenic stance has justly been underlined.10 One of the factors which was certainly highly important for him was the supra-confessional character of his selection. When picking the men to be included (there is only a single woman), he allegedly considered only their “proven virtues” and “orthodox religion.”11 In other words, through his selection of men of different religious groups, Adam was offering a new definition of orthodoxy which was certainly anti-papal and gravitated towards Philippism, but which was not reduced to any confessional group. Overall, he promoted an Erasmian via media, believing principally in good morals and learning as the true foundations of religious life. Equally important, however, was another, more secular message of Adam’s Vitae, which concerned the significance of virtue and erudition; his main criteria of glory (i.e. inclusion) were the individuals’ education, learning, and virtuous life. In this sense, his viri illustri constituted a peculiar, meritocratic society of learned men, in which one found one’s place not because of descent, authority, or on the battlefield deeds, but solely due to one’s own efforts and labors, which were done in the interest of the common good, i.e. the growth of learning and general welfare. This was true even of the volume of “politicians” and “jurists,” who were typically people with some legal education, some of whom had had careers in politics.

The principal questions addressed in the earlier scholarship concerned Adam’s credibility and methods. How reliable are his biographies as historical sources? How did he work?12 In attempting to offer an answer to these questions, Robert Seidel contrasted Adam’s professed aim to stay close to his sources and provide a balanced assessment based on multiple historical documents with his apparently uncritical and incoherent working method. Although Adam presented himself as a simple compiler and affirmed that “nothing is mine here and nothing is meant to be mine, except for collecting, ordering, and some stylistic polishing,” he also acknowledged the problem of the scarcity and reliability of his sources and their general tendency, as a response to the expectation of his times, to eulogize.13 To be sure, he worked diligently on his magnum opus, and he attempted to collect and read all relevant sources available to him, which were many in number, since he had access to the Bibliotheca Palatina.14 Still, he obviously did not always live up to his own scholarly expectations, and he often relied on a single source, copying it uncritically.15 Moreover, it appears that he was neither able nor wanted to work against the panegyric traditions of his age. After all, his major goal was not historical truthfulness but moral instruction. Consequently, several of his intellectual heroes were meant to be ideal types and paragons of different virtues and scholarly careers.

Adam’s Method and Ideals

Adam’s apparently fuzzy methodology warrants much caution. To what degree can we use his biographies as sources on the lives of Renaissance learned men? To what extent should we attribute the values and visions expressed in them to Adam himself? In trying to provide a more precise answer to these questions than anything found in the earlier secondary literature, I offer analyses of passages from a few of the longer biographies.

Our general knowledge of Adam’s life is probably more splotchy and vague than the general picture provided by an average biography in his Vitae. We do not even know his exact date of birth (traditionally dated to 1575).16 Adam came from a town in Silesia, Grodków (Grotkau, close to Wrocław/Breslau), and he studied for eight years in the grammar school of the neighboring town of Brzeg (Brieg), where he obtained the patronage of a local nobleman, which suggests that his parents could not support his continued study. He enrolled in the university in Heidelberg in 1598, and he received his M.A. two years later and then also studied some theology. Remaining in Heidelberg for the rest of his life, Adam found employment as a teacher in the city gymnasium, and from 1613 until his death in 1622, he held the office of rector. Writing biographies, thus, was his late-night hobby, not his job. He clearly had to work hard in order to write 546 bio-bibliographies in roughly five years while also attending to his teaching duties; in fact, in diligence, Adam approached even the greatest of his heroes. One hundred years later, his own biographer and critic Johann Gottlieb Krause offered the following recollection:


although the constitution of his body was weaker and his health was highly infirm throughout his life, he nevertheless never slept more than five or six hours, and he could spend whole nights or the breaks for eating sitting [at his desk] and copying texts useful to his work.17

Adam’s interest in education and pedagogy seems to find expression in many of the biographies, which often put particular stress on the family backgrounds and education of the individuals on whom they focus. Moreover, many of his viri illustri worked, as he did, as teachers and pedagogues (at least for part of their lives). Yet, the question remains of the extent to which Adam used the biographies to express his own ideas about education.

In one of the longer lives included into the volume of “philosophers” on the humanist and theologian Johannes Rivius (1500–1553), the text dedicates a colorful description to the pedagogical methods of Rivius’s teacher, Tilemannus Mylius, who practiced as a private teacher in Rivius’s hometown, Attendorn. We find in Mylius, who is totally unknown to modern research, an extremely dedicated teacher who espoused the most advanced humanistic concepts about education, which would put even present-day teachers to the test. Rivius’s master divided the day into periods for study, relaxation, gymnastics, and play, leaving no time for unruly behavior. He accommodated himself to childish playfulness in order not to make teaching annoying because of pedagogical rigor or the manners of an old man. He opened up his little garden for spiritual delights, and he turned the burden of learning into a charm. Leaving behind his personae as a theologian and an old man, he became a child again through playful learning.18 No surprise that Rivius, who later also became a teacher in Annaberg, had similarly advanced pedagogical methods. He used modern books and a differentiated approach to his pupils. He taught the basics of Latin grammar in the vernacular, and he devoted particular attention to students who were struggling, not rigidly specifying the number of months or years needed for the study of a particular author, but adapting to the needs of the students, according to their talents and age.19

Unfortunately, this knowledge of Rivius’s alleged enthusiastic interest in modern pedagogy comes not from Adam, but from another humanist educator, Georgius Fabricius (1516–71), who was Adam’s only source. Adam acknowledges Fabricius’s authorship only at the very end of the text, which is an exact copy of Fabricius’s work.20 Unlike Heinrich Pantaleon, who included only a short summary of Fabricius’s biography in his Prosopographiae heroum atque illustrium virorum, Adam loved his source so much that he quoted it word by word in its entirety.21

Another lengthy biography in the same volume is on one of the greatest educators of the century, the Silesian Valentin Trozendorf (1490–1556).22 Trozendorf, Adam emphasizes, came from a family of peasants, and his father was a superstitious man who frequented the local monks, who discovered Valentin’s talents. Despite paternal resentment, Valentin could thus leave his original environment and later study Latin and Greek with the greatest masters. Before moving to the University of Wittenberg, he was a teacher at the grammar school of Gorlice (Görlitz). He was so bright that he stood out among the teachers, to whom he was explaining nothing else but the bible of Renaissance educational thought, Plutarch’s The Education of Children. Eventually, Trozendorf, who was apparently destined to be a teacher, found employment at the gymnasium of Złotoryja (Goldberg), and he famously transformed the school into a flourishing institution. At this point, Adam’s biography turns into a history of Trozendorf’s educational methods, and it explains in detail the famous Goldberg school order which he invented. His school was modelled on the Roman republic, and it used both seniority and democracy as organizational principles. Pupils competed with one another. In questions of discipline, they had to listen to their peers, who were their regularly reelected superiors.

Was the reason for including this long digression on Trozendorf’ pedagogy the influence he had in Silesia and, in particular, on Adam’s educational practice? It is difficult to tell. In any case, Adam must have been aware of the significance of Trozendorf in the creation of a strong grammar school tradition in Silesia, which was instrumental in the emergence of a collective identity of Silesian intellectuals.23 Nevertheless, we might suspect that, in Trozendorf’s case, Adam’s biography again was determined by the sources available to him.24

Silesian humanist Joachim Cureus (1532–1573) was a student of Trozendorf. His life is told in the volume on doctors in another uniquely long narrative.25 Here again, we have a long introduction on Cureus’s education with a wealth of details concerning his father’s legendary learning, despite the fact that he became a baker. Concerning the way Cureus, who was already a mature student, eventually became a doctor, we are told that “order” is an essential requirement in life, especially in studies. Cureus managed to acquire medical knowledge so quickly only because of his orderly method of studying. He always fixed clear goals and he restricted himself to precise areas of knowledge.26 Once again, the reader might think these ideas are the fruit of Adam’s teaching experience, but actually they harmonize with what Cureus says in the long preface and introduction to his book on physics.27 However, Cureus’s preface was not Adam’s source; at the most, it was the source used by Johannes Ferinarius (1534–1602), another pedagogue, who published a detailed biography of Cureus in 1601.28 Adam only abridged Ferinarius’s vita, referring to it only at the very end of his text. All he did was to cut out entire paragraphs and add italics to some of the sentences he found especially relevant.

Another exceptionally long biography, this one on the life of the famous poet Helius Eobanus Hessus (1488–1540), was likewise motivated by the existence of a single biographical source, which Adam obviously highly valued: Joachim Camerarius’s Narratio de Helio Eobano Hesso (1553). As the thorough analysis by Klaus-Dieter Beims has recently shown, Adam again relied heavily and uncritically on his main source (which was far too lengthy to be taken over entirely), even if he also used Hessus’s letters (in Camerarius’s edition), adding some further details to the narrative.29

This short investigation into the longer biographies suggests that we should be very careful not to jump to conclusions about Adam’s own ideas or contributions. One gets the impression that Adam published longer biographies when he had access to existing biographies or other longer narratives which he found interesting and useful for his presentations of exemplary cases of lives. The accent on learning, education, and diligence was not necessarily an aspect of Adam’s pedagogical career and interests but a natural attribute of the genre. After all, Adam’s intention, presumably, was to memorialize people who stood out with their learning and intelligence.

It is ultimately this stress on education and diligence which appears to be one of the important distinguishing features of Renaissance biographies of learned men. This seems to be particularly true to Adam’s work: whether his heroes came from poor, modest, or “honestly” prosperous families, their advancement in life was due entirely to their efforts, their education and learning, and their investment in studies, which sometimes enjoyed the support of their parents and patrons and sometimes did not. The question of how some learned men used their talents and rose above their peers to live lives of learning, cultivation, and rational thought seems to be the central issue behind Adam’s monumental enterprise. The stress on the modest origins of many of the heroes and their talents and diligence fit the Renaissance ideology of virtue and the optimistic message about education turning potentially everyone into the architect of his own fortune.30 In fact, for Adam, poor family origins were no cause for embarrassment. Where, for example, Camerarius asserted that Eobanus Hessus had been “born of parents who were not particularly wealthy but were famous above all else for their honesty, integrity and modesty,” Adam simply states that, “although he had poor parents; they made sure to provide their sons a liberal education.”31 Likewise (just to mention another example), Adam asserts that both of Conrad Gesner’s parents were poor, but were nevertheless known for their honesty and integrity. He adds later that Gesner “was not ashamed to learn the names of plants from peasants, or even frequently from petty women […]. Peasants often have experience in all kinds of things, handed down from generation to generation.”32 Like many of his heroes, Adam came from a low social position, but thanks to his learning, he ascended. He came from a tiny town in Silesia and finished his life as a family man and rector of the Heidelberg city school.33

The Biography of Willem Canter (1542–1575)

The person who shines out with his diligence even among the diligent is the Dutch humanist Willem Canter. Once again, Adam provides an exceptionally long biography (the second longest in his work), full of juicy anecdotal details which render it especially vivid.34 We may rightly suspect again that Adam had access to a particular source, written by a person who knew Canter and undertook more profound research, informing the reader even about the exact hour of his birth and death. In fact, this person was Suffridus Petrus (1527–97), historian of Friesland, to whom Adam refers as his source at the very end of the text.35 Adam took over Canter’s life from Petrus’s De scriptoribus Frisiae (1593), adding nothing to it, but cutting certain pages and paragraphs entirely (concerning mostly family and local history), which hardly changed the message of the original, but which did make it more focused.36 Petrus knew Canter personally, and he admired him, but he was not one of his close contacts. He probably had some biographical sources on which he relied, but he also apparently based his work on the accounts of other eyewitnesses and on his own research.37

In Adam’s edition, Canter’s biography starts with an anecdote concerning the first year of his life which confirms Canter’s predisposition to learning, making it obvious to everyone from the very beginning. Allegedly, he took great delight in books while still in the arms of his nurse, and when he burst into tears, the only way to console him was to allow him to touch and turn the pages of books.38 His father, who was a schoolmaster, did everything to “cultivate this fertile ground” and not let Willem be spoiled by “womanly indulgence” by postponing his education until the age of seven, as commoners did.39 Although this suggests that Canter was educated by women at home, Adam confirms that the father started actively occupying himself with the child while he was still in the cradle, providing him learning and discipline: doctrinam disciplinamque. Eventually, he sent his son to the Utrecht public school just before Canter turned six (precisely after Easter in 1548), which was not a particularly early age for schooling in the sixteenth century and does not really confirm the notion of the father’s preoccupation with womanly corruption. At the Utrecht gymnasium, where Canter was taught by Georgius Macropedius, one of the best pedagogues and playwrights of the age, he progressed rapidly, and by the age of twelve he had learned Latin and Greek. His parents sent him to the University of Louvain, where he was tutored and looked after by another outstanding scholar, Cornelius Valerius, and where he lived in the house of a jurist for four years and then shortly in the Collegium Trilingue, learning here the basics of philological emendations.40 In both places, Canter had excellent peers, whose work animated mutual rivalry, while rivalry served as a motivation for study. This was all due to the special teaching method of Valerius, whose lectures, had they been printed, could be usefully read anywhere, although they could not be fully appreciated if one were unable to listen to his energetic and powerful voice. Valerius recognized Canter’s talents and industry, and he realized that he would never regret praising him publicly and privately. Canter was still 16 when, in 1559, he traveled to study in Paris, where he remained until August 1562. France was followed by a tour in Germany and Italy, though Canter traveled not as a tourist, but rather in order to collect ancient Greek manuscripts. Canter, we are told, also lived in Basel, where he published his first works. He then settled and lived in Leuven for eight years.

It is convenient to interrupt our presentation of Canter’s life at this point and call attention to the first signs of the constructed nature of Petrus’s biography. On the one hand, the anecdote about the baby consoled by books does not appear to be Petrus’s invention. Otherwise, he would not have called attention to the tradition of this topos in the literature of antiquity. Like in hagiographies, in which infant saints were often recognized as having a religious calling, humanist biographies often pointed out some early signs of a life of learning to come. Although these anecdotes served to enhance the credibility of the narrative, they were in fact topical. On the other hand, some details concerning Canter’s education appear to fall back on Erasmus’s De pueris instituendis. In this famous book, Erasmus actually points out the “Frisian Canter family” as a unique example of good education in the family, which naturally did not go unnoticed by the Frisian nationalist Petrus, who was very interested in questions of education.41 He alluded to this in the first pages of his biography, which Adam omitted as they concerned the history of the Canter family.42 It was probably this Erasmian reference to the advanced educational methods of the Canter family that justified Petrus’s borrowing from the De pueris instituendis. His claim that baby Willem was only consoled by books could easily go back to an anecdote of a little boy mentioned by Erasmus.43 Petrus’s affirmation that, at an early stage, Willem was taken out of an environment in which women were prominent and was looked after personally by his father is very much in line with what Erasmus advises prospective parents to do in his book. Likewise, the accent on the beneficial role of rivalry and the role of emulation in Canter’s education also appears to reflect Erasmus’s educational advice.

The presentation of Willem Canter’s education and study tours (which remain a draft only) is followed by a caesura in the biography, indicated by Canter’s eventual decisions to settle in Leuven. Some years, spent probably mostly in Basel, are silently passed over, and we are told that the further (or the last) eight years of Canter’s life took place in Leuven.44 The major part of the biography is dedicated to these uneventful years. It gives a lengthy account of Adam’s everyday life and daily routine of disciplined work and it is expressive of an unconcealed admiration for Canter’s ascetic and asexual mind. As we learn, upon his return to Leuven, Canter decided to live in rooms rented from honest landlords. Petrus was apparently embarrassed by this choice of lifestyle, so he underlines that Canter lived independently from his hosts, and he rented both a room and the servants. This was convenient, he argues, as Canter had all the advantages of the maids’ services but had no responsibility over human resources. The servants’ duties included doing Canter’s daily shopping. Once a week, they received a list of the food he wanted each day, and they had to give an account of each individual expense weekly. This way, Canter prescribed for himself a diet that was entirely in harmony with both his constitution and his studies. It was neither lowly nor luxurious; it only served to keep him in good health. “He wanted to eat in order to live, and not as many people do, to live in order to eat.”45

Canter woke up in the morning at 7 o’clock (this was relatively late, as scholars usually woke up between 4 and 5 a.m.46), as he claimed that early morning study was not for him. He worked until half past ten, when he would stop for an hour, go for a walk in the garden, or, if the weather was bad, somewhere else, contemplating the reading he had done and building an appetite for lunch.47 Meanwhile, the servants set the table. After lunch, he either continued with a light walk or had a chat with likeminded men. He then finally lay down on a settee in his study and slept for an hour. Refreshed, he went back to his studies and usually used the afternoon for writing48 until the sun set in the winter or until seven o’clock in the summer. He then took another walk, but in order to avoid wasting time, he used these late afternoon walks to tend to his affairs. Back at home, he worked until midnight, using “the remaining, or less useful hours” (horas supervacuas et minus utiles), as he “used to call” them:


He generally used these hours for extraordinary things. If there were something to investigate, compare, discuss, annotate in order to resolve the tasks of the following day; if he had to do something unexpectedly in addition to his daily tasks, for instance respond to letters he had received or satisfy friends who had asked some favor, or something similar, whatever it was, he assigned them all the same to these hours. When he finished these tasks, he made an account of the day for himself, and once he had diligently calculated [what he had done], he went to bed, saying long prayers and commending himself to almighty God. Of each of his activities he kept a strict account with an hourglass to the point that he set the precise amount of time [to be spent on them], to let not even nature itself put him under pressure in other ways than he himself prescribed.49

At this point, we are finally able to define one of the sources on which Petrus drew. A few pages later, he even names it, referring to Canter’s preface in an edition and translation of Stobaeus’s Physics. Canter remembers that the emendation of the corrupt Greek manuscript, which even lacked punctuation marks, demanded much more labor than its translation into Latin, which he performed in a few months, during the “the remaining, or less useful hours” (horis aliquot supervacuis ac minus utilibus), in altogether not more than 136 hours, if he were asked to give a precise account, si res ad calculum vocetur.50

Apparently, disciplining the mind and disciplining the body were two sides of the same coin. Having specified Canter’s disciplined use of time, Petrus goes on to give further detail on his diet. Canter, we are told, had only one proper meal a day. If he were hungry in the evening, which was rarely the case, he dipped some bread into wine. When people wondered about this strange habit, he responded that it was the result of deliberate and gradual experimentation, and one meal was just what his body needed, as “nature is satisfied with little.”51 This asceticism also implied that Canter could not accept invitations and never invited guests in order not to be bothered in his eating habits. Furthermore, he also fasted twice a year for health reasons. No wonder that Canter, as someone who was so frugal with time, was not very social and could rarely find time for friends.52 Like his father and grandfather, he had very few of them. He also completely avoided women and was embarrassed by obscenities.

The Construction of an Ideal Type: Canter, the Paragon of Hard Work

As we have seen, Canter is described by Petrus on the basis of the few facts Petrus actually knew about his life as a secular hermit and a paragon of the philosophical life. His biography was that of an ideal humanist, an extremely hardworking, learned, and civilized person who was raised and who lived in accordance with Erasmian principles. The animal that lives in every human being was in Canter completely under control: he was fully rational and disciplined. Soon before dying, he decided to move from Leuven to the north of Holland, but his decision was not prompted by emotional considerations. He simply wanted to reduce his expenses by living in a cheaper place and making greater profits off of his estates by being closer to them.53 Although his daily routine was apparently still influenced by the practices characteristic of the Christian monk, his life was that of an urban intellectual, a new version of the monk, who was singularly responsible for all his deeds to no one else but God. We are told that he was dedicated purely to self-imposed study, independently of any worldly or ecclesiastical obligations and expectations. With the excuse that his voice was weak, Canter never took up teaching at Leuven, in part because he believed he made better use of his time by writing than by teaching. He despised ecclesiastical offices, as he believed that the people who held such benefices should also work for their money and perform some religious service (altari servire).54 He quietly lived off of his patrimony, and as he was as parsimonious with money as he was with time, he was even able to set aside savings.

That Canter’s life represented an ideal type was recognized also by a late book, Nathaniel Wanley’s The Wonders of the Little World: Or, A General History of Man by (1673). Canter is remembered in Chapter 42 (“Of such Persons as were of Skill in the Tongues”) in the following way: “One says of him: ‘If any would desire a specimen of a studious person, and one who had wholly devoted himself to the advancement of learning, he may find it exactly expressed in the person of Gulielmus Canterus’.”55 The author of these words was in fact Suffridus Petrus, who began his biography with this sentence, which Adam curiously omitted, along with the rest of the first pages.

Canter was then consciously described as the archetype of the “studious person,” and he was also received as such. Another example comes from a two-distich poem by the librarian and historian of the Spanish Netherlands, Aubertus Miraeus (Aubert Le Mire), canon of the Antwerp cathedral. The poem accompanied a woodcut portrait of Canter by Philips Galle and was printed in Miraeus’s Illustrium Galliae Belgicae scriptorum icones et elogi (1604),56 a biographic and poetic album illustrated by portraits.57 Miraeus’s poem affixed to Canter’s image starts with the question: “Clepsydra quid signat,” or, “what does a clepsydra (water clock) signal?” Miraeus responded, “You used this instrument to measure [the length of] your studies, You, other Pliny,” referring to the story of Canter’s keeping a strict account of his activities with an hourglass.

It is obvious that Miraeus worked with Petrus’s biography.58 In fact, his book (which was not always sold with the portraits) also contained a short biography on Canter, which was more or less an extract from Petrus’s vita.59 Having detailed Canter’s studies and study tour, Miraeus introduces the part on Canter’s daily routine in the following manner:


When he returned through Germany to Leuven, he gave himself over entirely to studies so immoderately that people believed he was hastening his death. His day was divided among certain activities in a way that he studied one thing in the morning and another in the afternoon hours. Pliny the Younger writes and boasts of his Pliny [the Elder] in a similar way; however, you would call him [Pliny] idle and lazy when compared with this assiduous and indefatigable mind.60


Miraeus goes on to explain that Canter determined the amount of days and hours to be spent on each of his tasks. You would not believe it, he adds, had he not written about it himself in the preface to Stobaeus’s Physics.

Miraeus’s reading of Canter’s biography is a useful guide for further analysis. First, we notice the crucial function of the reference to Canter’s preface to the edition of Stobaeus. Without that testimony, Miraeus claimed, one would not believe the biographer. But did Petrus construct the entire myth of an extremely time-conscious and disciplined person based on this single source? We may well ask this question in part because Petrus, as we have seen, used the very words Canter had used in the Stobaeus-preface. Miraeus must also have become suspicious about the constructed nature of Canter’s image, which was probably confirmed by his association about Pliny the Younger’s famous letter on Pliny the Elder. Had Petrus not quoted the Stobaeus-preface, Miraeus might have stated that his entire story went back to Pliny.

In fact, Pliny’s epistle 3.5 written on Uncle Pliny must have been a well-known source of the image of an extremely time-conscious scholar;61 the key person in popularizing this letter was again Erasmus.62 In this epistle, the story of Pliny’s daily routine and frenzied time-management is directly linked to the question of how Pliny managed to be so extremely productive (in addition to having public offices and working as the emperor’s councilor). In a similar manner, Canter’s image as a uniquely hardworking scholar is constructed in relation to his exceptional philological expertise and extreme productivity, considering especially his early death (the biographer emphasizes that he had not yet turned 33 when he died).63 Unlike Canter, Pliny the Older was an early bird: his “day starts long before the crack of dawn, up in full darkness and lamplight from fall through winter, seasonally adjusted back to the dead of night; then [before daybreak] out to call on his ‘friend’ the emperor (another night creature), and other obligations, before returning home.”64 After lunch, Pliny would do book work, “featuring notes and lemmata.” This was followed by sunbathing, which he spent reading and taking notes, then a cold bath, the only moment of relaxation, since for the rest of bath time, while he was being rubbed down and toweled dry, he was again listening to or dictating a book. Then came dinner, spent with work, and more work until he retired before dark in summertime or one hour after sunset in the winter, “as though some law dictated it” (tamquam aliqua lege cogente). In brief, Canter was as much a “Time Scrooge”65 as Pliny the Elder. This is highlighted, as in Canter’s bibliography, by anecdotal details:


I remember one of his friends pulled up the reader when he’d mispronounced something and had it repeated: my uncle said to him, “You did understand?” When he nodded, “So why pull him up? We’ve lost ten verses plus through your interrupting.” […] I recall myself being reprimanded by him—why walk?: “You had the chance,” he said, “to waste not these hours.” You see, he reckoned all time “wasted” that was not invested in study.66

“We can measure the madness very precisely” through these anecdotes, comments Henderson, their translator. It is not difficult to think of Canter again, who used even his recreational walk to tend to business and who measured all his scholarly activities with the hourglass, not even letting “nature itself put him under pressure in other ways than he himself prescribed.” In other words, he also used the toilet in a regular, disciplined way.67

Clearly, like Pliny, Canter was a workaholic. Both worked too much. Miraeus, as we have said, must have had the same impression: “he gave himself over entirely to studies so immoderately that people believed he was hastening his death,” he commented, a remark which does not harmonize with the description of Canter’s time-management which followed these words. Apparently, despite all the efforts of the biographer to counter the plausible claim about Canter’s self-destructive work, we are not entirely convinced. In fact, Petrus’s very insistence on the healthiness of Canter’s regimen may raise further suspicion. When Canter, we are told, needed once to defend his diet in front of his friends, his healthy appearance lent credibility to his words: He was fit, or as Petrus put it, “his limbs were energetic,” his face was not pale like that of the scholar, but rather had a natural color. Not long before his death, he allegedly also told some friends that he had not been sick for nine years. However, the description of his early death (after many months of fever) prompts one to throw into question this notion of his general good health and suggests that perhaps, in the end, he worked himself to death. One of his few surviving letters, written less than four years before his death, also confirms that he had serious health issues. He complains in the letter that he abused his body with too much work, which he could no longer bear, and he therefore needed to be more health-conscious.68

If Petrus had wanted to add color to the narrative of Canter’s daily routine, it would not have been very difficult to look for more recent examples. One has good reason to assume Ficino’s De triplici vitae and Bullinger’s Studiorum ratio were among his sources.69 Ficino suggested that the scholar get up one or two hours before sunrise and start the day with some delicate massage of the body and then spend half an hour at least getting clean. The scholar should then sit down to study, but he should interrupt his work roughly every hour (for example, by combing his hair 40 times). Concentration needs interruptions, otherwise it is tiring and unhealthy. Lunch should be at noon, but one could also postpone it to as late as 2 o’clock. While morning study should be spent inventing or composing new things, the “rest of the hours” are for reading “old things” (the classics).70 Addressing his book mainly to future members of the clergy, Bullinger advises they start the day not with massage but with prayer.71 Also, Bullinger recommends waking up early in the morning (at 3 or 4 o’clock) and leaving oneself enough time to get up. One should, however, avoid waking up too early and then wasting the early afternoon snoozing. At 8 o’clock, the scholar or the churchman should take a break by straightening up and doing some necessary domestic work, and he should also take a short walk so as to have a good appetite for lunch. Wise men agree that studying after lunch is unhealthy, in particular for one’s vision, so in practice, Bullinger suggests the double break observed in Canter’s case.72 The period of digestion should be spent taking a walk in the city or engaging in some other form of bodily exercise. At 1 o’clock, the scholar can finally return to his studies and spend time with easier reads, like works of history or poetry, unlike in the morning, which should be dedicated to theology or philosophy. These are also the hours suitable for doing some writing. At 4 o’clock, it is time to get up again, do domestic work, and rekindle one’s appetite. After dinner, one should do some light reading (like Gellius, Quintilian, or Cicero), but not more than one hour, as night work causes sleeplessness and has other unwanted effects.73 Like Ficino, Bullinger also continues with advice on diet, thus serving as a model for Canter’s biographer in this respect too.

The rhetorical strategies used to construct an image of Canter as a Herculean laborer may be frequently observed in other sixteenth-century biographies. In the biography of Christophorus Longolius (Christophe de Longueil) (1490–1522), who like Canter died early (at the age of 32), the story of self-controlled hard work is less central and elaborate, but it follows similar patterns. Longolius read so much and developed such refined views in so few years and so unusually early that it seemed hardly credible to people who knew nothing about his way of life, which was typified by total self-control (temperantia summa). While others dedicated much of their time to pleasures, especially in those times, he would not waste a minute on indulgences. He would eat and drink sparingly, and he consumed only diluted wine, preferring chiefly cold food had doctors not advised him against it. He was parsimonious also with sleep, sleeping six hours at the most.74

In the same volume of philosophers, we read much the same about the life of the Greek scholar Martin Crusius (1526–1607). Crusius was also moderate both in general and in his diet, imitating nature, which is satisfied with little. Yet, intellectual work did no harm to his physical constitution; Crusius was as strong as was Longolius or Canter, but unlike Canter, he was also social. He was amusing and courteous company during work dinners, but he remained the most moderate on these occasions. As for his work regimen (studiorum ratio), both in winter and summer Crusius studied from 5 a.m. until lunch and carried on right after lunch until dinner. After dinner he continued “reading and writing letters and books” until 10 p.m. His attraction to letters was an early thing, as was true in Canter’s case. His mother allegedly noted that he wrote characters in the dust before he was even able to walk.75

In the biography of Guillaume Budé (1468–1540), a master of Longolius, written by Louis Le Roys in the year of Budé’s death, we learn that Budé worked three hours even on the day of his wedding. His only pleasure was working on the writings of ancient authors, and he never shunned relevant labor or quit work on a book in the middle. According to an anecdote, the president of the Parisian council lived in his neighborhood, but he never bumped into him in the streets and he never saw him at public feasts, when neighbors usually gathered at the entrances to their houses. He never even saw him during afternoon walks or among the men who were simply watching passersby, since Budé did not allow himself any time away from work, not even a short day off. He played neither with dice or with the ball, as most people did during holidays, but worked. After waking up in the morning, he started studying and did not stop until lunch. Before sitting down to eat, he exercised by taking a short walk. After lunch, he spent about two hours talking to people, and he then continued his studies until his late and moderate dinner, which he consumed not for pleasure but rather merely to satisfy his natural hunger.76


As James Weiss and Karl Enenkel have wisely stated, biographies and autobiographies are “selectively composed artifacts” which “construct and constitute people.”77 The life of Canter was one such artifact, one image of a figure who embodied disciplined hard work. In the work ethic it aimed to transmit, the accent was on both diligence and discipline. The ideal was not immoderate labor fueled by irrational passions, but work done by a disciplined rational mind. Canter’s example showed the very limits of a man’s mental productivity, to which learned men could still aspire. He did the maximum of work one could still normally perform without damaging one’s physical and mental balance.

The work ethic promoted by the biographies of learned men was a Renaissance invention influenced by both ancient (Stoic) and medieval (ascetic) models. In the hands of Renaissance men, it essentially became a secular, urban ethic of particular lay groups. From the sixteenth and especially the seventeenth century on, Calvinism (and other denominations to a lesser degree) gave further sanction to it. Among Renaissance merchants and learned men, its primary function was to legitimate social rise, forming an integral part of the ethic of virtue, which was the ruling ideology of fifteenth-century and sixteenth-century political elites.78 In the case of Canter, disciplined hard work was the symbol of selfless sacrifice made by a learned man in the interest of the advancement of learning and the furthering of a better (less passionate, more rational and civilized) society.


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1 Guglielmus Canterus, “De ratione emendandi Graecos auctores syntagma,” attached as an appendix to the third edition of his “Novae lectiones”: Canterus, Novarum lectionum. See Almási and Kiss, “In search of Sambucus,” 114–15.

2 I am referring to Erich Trunz’s research, for instance his “Der deutsche Späthumanismus.” Trunz inspired several others, see Fleischer, Späthumanismus in Schlesien, and Fleischer’s The Harvest of Humanism, which contains the first modern article about Adam by Weiss, “The Harvest of German Humanism.” On Adam’s Vitae, see also Seidel, “Melchior Adams Vitae,” idem, “Die Paracelsus-Biographie,” idem, “Melchior Adam”; Werle, “Melchior Adams Gelehrtenbiographien”; Beims, “Von den Grenzen einer frühneuzeitlichen Biographie.” I would like to thank Robert Seidel for sending me his articles on Adam.

3 Adam, Vitae Germanorum philosophorum, ):( 3r. Although Germany has always been considered his fatherland, on the next page Adam names Silesia as his dulcissima patria.

4 The lives were mostly organized chronologically according to the date of the deaths of the individuals. The volumes appeared contemporaneously in Heidelberg and Frankfurt. Note that in 1618, a volume on non-German theologians was also published. Adam, Vitae Germanorum philosophorum; idem, Decades duae; idem, Vitae Germanorum medicorum; idem, Vitae Germanorum iureconsultorum et politicorum; idem, Vitae Germanorum Theologorum. See their digital edition on https://www2.uni-mannheim.de/mateo/camenaref/adam.html#werk (accessed on September 9, 2019).

5 See note 34.

6 On the latter, see most importantly Weiss, Humanist Biography, and Enenkel, Die Erfindung des Menschen.

7 Cf. with Weber Votaw, “The Gospels and Contemporary Biographies”; Dihle, Studien zur griechischen Biographie; idem, “The Gospels and Greek Biography”; Keener, Christobiography, which also provides an overview of the genre of the in antiquity.

8 In reality, Adam was probably more influenced by his immediate forerunners, like the Icones by Nicolaus Reusner or Johannes Sambucus (who both published collective portrait albums accompanied by poems), Conrad Gesner’s Bibliotheca universalis, and Heinrich Pantaleon’s three-volume Prosopographiae heroum atque illustrium virorum totius Germaniae (1565–1566), as pointed out by Seidel, “Melchior Adams Vitae,” 186–88. The most immediate influence, however, could have been Aubertus Miraeus’s Elogia Belgica, see notes 55–57.

9 Adam, Vitae Germanorum Theologorum, ):( 4r.

10 Most importantly by Weiss, “The Harvest.”

11 Adam, Vitae Germanorum Theologorum, ):( 4r.

12 See Seidel, “Melchior Adams Vitae; Werle, “Melchior Adams Gelehrtenbiographien”; and Beims, “Von den Grenzen.”

13 Ibid., 193, and Adam, Vitae Germanorum Theologorum, ):( 7r.

14 See also Adam, Vitae Germanorum philosophorum, ):( 2v–4v.

15 Seidel, “Melchior Adams Vitae,” 191–201.

16 See Flood, Poets Laureate, 20.

17 “Ob er gleich von schwacher Leibes-Constitution und die gantze Lebens-Zeit über sehr kränklich gewesen, so hat er doch niemals über 5. oder 6. Stunden geschlaffen, auch wohl die gantze Nacht durch, oder die Tisch-Zeit über gesessen und dasjenige abgeschrieben, was zu seinem Vorhaben gedienet.” Unless otherwise noted, all translations are mine. Krause, “Von Melchioris Adami Vitis Eruditorum,” 88.

18 Adam, Vitae Germanorum philosophorum, 149.

19 Ibid., 152.

20 It appeared in the front of Rivius’s Opera theologica omnia: Rivius, De vera et salutari Ecclesiae doctrina.

21 Pantaleon’s book appeared just a year after Fabricius’s biography with the same publisher, Oporinus.

22 Adam, Vitae Germanorum philosophorum, 167–76. On Trozendorf, see Bauch, Valentin Trozendorf; Lubos, Valentin Trozendorf; Absmeier, Das schlesische Schulwesen, 100–29.

23 See Absmeier, Das schlesische Schulwesen.

24 I have not been able to identify Adam’s sources. The funeral oration by Adam Cureus on Valentin Trozendorf, once held in the University Library of Wrocław, was unfortunately among the documents which perished during World War II because of bombings.

25 Adam, Vitae Germanorum medicorum, 197–216.

26 Ibid., 201, 203.

27 Cureus, Physica sive de sensibus et sensibilibus.

28 Ferinarius, Narratio historica.

29 Beims, “Von den Grenzen einer frühneuzeitlichen Biographie.”

30 Cf. with Beims, idem; Almási, “Educating the Christian prince.”

31 Camerarius, Narratio de Helio Eobano Hesso, 8; Adam, Vitae Germanorum philosophorum, 105. Poverty, however is a key motive also in Camerarius’s text. See Beims, “Von den Grenzen einer frühneuzeitlichen Biographie,” 389, 423.

32 Adam, Vitae Germanorum medicorum, 153.

33 A surviving poem testifies to his wedding, see Flood, Poets Laureate, 20.

34 This biography is 17 pages long. Cf. with the longer lives of “philosophers” and “doctors”: Conrad Gesner had 26, Justus Lipsius 16, Johannes Crato 16, Kaspar Peucer 15, Martin Crusius 14, Johannes Rivius 13, Philip Melanchthon 13, Eobanus Hessus 13, Joachim Camerarius Jr. 13, Nicodemus Frischlin 12, Christophorus Longolius 12, Leonhard Fuchs 11, Jakob Schegk 11, Joachim Cureus 10, Paracelsus 10, Johannes Vischer 10, Valentin Trotzendorf 9, Wolfgang Meurer 9, Joachim Camerarius Sr. 8 pages.

35 Petrus, De scriptoribus Frisiae, 111–54. In the second edition (Franequerae: Jacobus Horreus, 1599), it is on pp. 189–260.

36 Adam cut the first few pages, which give a genealogy of the Canter family, mentioning also Erasmus’s reference to this famous family. (This part also serves to justify why Petrus inserted Canter’s biography in his edition on Frisian authors. Although he was born in Utrecht, the family also had Frisian branches. Coming from Leeuwarden, the grandfather had settled in Groningen, but Canter continued to have family possessions in Leeuwarden.) Adam then cut a mistaken reference to the library of Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, of which Canter had once talked to Petrus, although he could not recall exactly what (p. 121). Next, a paragraph is cut on the dilemma of where to live in Leuven after his return (p. 122). Adam cut some parenthetical praise of Canter on p. 133. Pages 140–8 are cut entirely, as they do not fit. In relation to Canter’s aim to move back to Frisia, this is where Petrus engages in local history, presenting the city of Leeuwarden and his hopes concerning Canter’s arrival (which he hoped to boost in academic life in the city) and the potential foundation of a university. Cutting parts of pp. 150–1 (mentioned in the main text), Adam finally shortens Canter’s bibliography (attached to the biography) in an unfortunate manner. Here we also have another reference to the relationship between Canter and Petrus, who in Leuven received Canter’s notes, which were meant to be a contribution to Josias Simler’s Bibliotheca.

37 At the end of his biography, he lists the names of those who wrote funerary elegies on the death of Canter. He claims he would have preferred to add them to the bibliography, had he had the means to publish it independently. But since he had not had the means, he inserted Canter’s life in his book on Frisian authors. This might also suggest that the manuscript elegies had been accompanied by a biography, which Petrus elaborated.

38 Adam, Vitae Germanorum philosophorum, 272. The author mentions Pindar, Plato, Vergil, and even Saint Athanasius of Alexandria as authors who themselves mentioned similar cases of a child showing early signs of great talent. Athanasius was one of the authors studied by Canter in his Variae lectiones.

39 Ibid., 272.

40 Since Canter studied for roughly four years in Leuven, it seems difficult to fit his short stay in the prestigious Collegium Trilingue here. This was probably invented because of the prestige of the institute and Canter’s later expertise in ancient languages. On the other hand, in a letter written by Cornelius Valerius after Canter’s death to Hugo Blotius, we are told that once he lived together with Canter, sharing even the same bedroom. This could have taken place after Canter’s return to Leuven, but probably it was during his years of study. “Cum litterae tuae mihi redderetur, iam agebat animam vir utriusque linguae doctissimus atque optimus artibus ornatissimus, olim mihi carissimus discipulus domestica atque adeo, si ita loqui liceat, cubiculari consuetudine coniunctissimus Gulielmus Canterus, ac triduo fere post de hac vita ad superos migravit cuius excessus mihi tristissimus accidit.” Dated May 27, 1575, Leuven. Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Cod. Vindob. 9737z14–8 II f. 68. (This means that Valerius, who received Blotius’s letter on May 13, dates the death of Canter to May 16, although it happened on May 18.)

41 See his emended and annotated edition and translation of Plutarch’s The Education of Children (Plutarchus, Opusculum de Educandis Liberis), published in Basel, where Canter would soon also appear.

42 Petrus, De scriptoribus Frisiae, 112; Erasmus, “De pueris instituendis,” 52.

43 Erasmus, “De pueris instituendis,” 67.

44 There are two surviving letters by Canter dated from Frankfurt, where Canter went because of the book fairs: to Marc-Antoine Muret from the autumn fair of 1564 (Muretus, Epistolae, 78–79); to Joachim Camerarius from the autumn fair of 1567 (Freytag, Virorum doctorum epistolae, 71–73).

45 Adam, Vitae Germanorum philosophorum, 276. Cf. with Bullinger, Studiorum ratio, 1:18, where the original sentence (“esse oportet ut vivas non vivere ut edas”) is quoted, which goes back to Auctor ad Herennium 4.28.39. But see also Quintilian, Inst. orat. 9.3.85 and Gellius 19.2.7, who ascribes the maxim to Socrates.

46 See Engammare, On Time, Punctuality, and Discipline, passim, and the very informative notes on the daily routines of scholars by Peter Stotz in Bullinger, Studiorum ratio, 2:54–61.

47 See how Socrates got an appetite for lunch by walking, narrated in Athenaeus of Naucratis, Deipnosophists, 4.46. Compare with Bullinger’s advice (where Socrates is similarly mentioned) in Bullinger, Studiorum ratio, 1:18.

48 This we learn only later on, see Adam, Vitae Germanorum philosophorum, 280.

49 “His enim nihil ordinarium agere consueverat: sed si quid vel ad postridiani pensi absolutionem investigandum, conferendum, discutiendum, adnotandum esset, vel si quid extra diurnum pensum de improviso obiectum fuisset, puta si litteris acceptis respondendum, si petitionibus amicorum gratificandum, si quid huius generis aliud agendum esset, id quicquid esset, in has horas simul coniciebat, quo absoluto exacti diei rationes a se ipse reposcebat, iisque diligenter ad calculum revocatis fusisque precibus lectum petens, Deo optimo maximo se commendabat. Omnes autem actiones suas tam stricte ad clepsammidium reuocaverat, adeoque certis ac statutis temporum intertvallis alligarat, ut ne ipsa quidem natura aliis, quam sibi destinatis necessitatem suam flagitaret.” Adam, Vitae Germanorum philosophorum, 276.

50 Adam, Vitae Germanorum philosophorum, 282. Canter received the manuscript of this book from the library of the Hungarian humanist Johannes Sambucus. Cf. Almási and Kiss, Humanistes du bassin des Carpates, 199.

51 Adam, Vitae Germanorum philosophorum, 277. See for this stereotype, for example, the colloquy between a soldier and a Carthusian by Erasmus, All the Familiar Colloquies, 174.

52 Adam, Vitae Germanorum philosophorum, 278.

53 This part seems to argue against Petrus’s authorship.

54 Adam, Vitae Germanorum philosophorum, 278.

55 Wanley refers to an unnamed source here. I am quoting from the London edition of 1806 (vol. 2), p. 370.

56 The woodcut can be found in the holdings of the Rijksmuseum or the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (available online in both places). The 1609 edition, which I used, does not contain Canter’s portrait. Miraeus, Elogia Belgica.

57 This was another collective anthology, which, unlike most of its sixteenth-century predecessors, was organized according to a new national agenda. A decade later, Canter, appropriated by the Frisian Petrus, is claimed back by the Belgian Miraeus, only to be included among Adam’s Germans one decade later.

58 Henry Hallam, a nineteenth-century author of a history of early modern literature, dedicated a page to Canter’s philology, observing that “the life of Canter in Melchior Adam is one of the best his collection contains; it seems to be copied from one by Miraeus.” Hallam, Introduction to the Literature of Europe, 19. Adam did not copy Miraeus here, but his book might have been one of the publications that prompted him to write his own work on Germans. Adam knew and used Miraeus (for example, his biography of Cornelius Valerius was based on him), but certainly neither agreed with Miraeus’s new “national” or with his Catholic perspective (Miraeus mixed religious, ecclesiastical, and professional criteria when grouping his learned men).

59 Miraeus, Elogia Belgica, 127–28.

60 “Post Lovanium per Germaniam reversus, tam immodice studiis totum se tradidit, ut mortem porperasse credatur. In certas operas diem ita partiebatur, ut alia ante meridiem, promeridianis horis alia studia tractaret. Simile de Plinio suo scribit et iactat alter Plinius; atqui ignavum et desidem illum dixeris, si cum hoc assiduo atque indefesso ingenio compares.” Ibid., 127.

61 See Henderson, “Knowing Someone through their Books”; Enenkel, “Vita als Instrument,” 55–56.

62 See Engammare, On Time, Punctuality, and Discipline, 82.

63 Another well-known classical source of disciplined time-management, as Karl Enenkel has pointed out, was Suetonius’s life of Augustus, but Pliny’s image certainly had a stronger influence on the fashioning of the image of the busy scholar. See ibid., 55; Enenkel, Die Erfindung des Menschen, 348–49.

64 I am quoting Henderson’s paraphrase, “Knowing Someone,” 266–67.

65 John Henderson’s words on Pliny, ibid., 263, translating “tanta erat parsimonia temporis.” Cf. with “parcissimus dispensator temporis” in Canter’s biography. Adam, Vitae Germanorum philosophorum, 278.

66 “memini quendam ex amicis, cum lector quaedam perperam pronuntiasset, revocasse et repeti coegisse; huic avunculum meum dixisse ‘intellexeras nempe?’ cum ille adnuisset, ‘cur ergo revocabas? decem amplius versus hac tua interpellatione perdidimus’ […] repeto me correptum ab eo, cur ambularem, ‘poteras’ inquit ‘has horas non perdere.’ nam perire omne tempus arbitrabatur, quod studiis non impenderetur.” Quoted by Henderson, ibid., 261, trans. by Henderson, ibid., 263.

67 A further analogy between Pliny’s letter and Canter’s biography is the way in which Pliny the Younger extrapolated his story from a few lines of Pliny the Elder’s preface to his Natural History. See again Henderson, idem, 274–77.

68 “Verumtamen, quod recte me monent literae tuae, valetudini meae deinceps consulere cogar, quandoquidem tantam studiorum contentionem, quanta sum per annos aliquot usus, non amplius haec fert aetas, tametsi non grandis (ut quae tricesimum annum nondum attigerit) multis tamen laboribus valde iam affecta.” Letter to the physician Crato von Krafftheim of 24 August 1571. Biblioteka Uniwersytecka we Wrocławiu, R 246, no. 414.

69 See Engammare, On Time, Punctuality, and Discipline, 84–89.

70 Ficino, Sulla vita (book 1, chapter 8), 114–16.

71 Bullinger also suggests the text of the prayer for those who cannot invent one for themselves. One should ask God for wisdom, intellect, and memory (among other things) in order to understand God’s law, fear only God, and acquire real learning, with which one may be of use to God and the state. Bullinger, Studiorum ratio, 1:10.

72 Erasmus also recommends beginning to work early in the day and taking walks (though he got up late because of sleeping problems) in his “Diluculum” and “De ratione studii epistola protreptica,” in Erasmus, Collected Works, 40:916–24 and 25:192–94. See the excellent notes of Peter Stotz in Bullinger, Studiorum ratio, 2:58–59.

73 Neither Erasmus (“De ratione studii epistola protreptica,” ibid., 193) nor Ficino (Sulla vita, 115) suggests working at night. However, in the Ciceronianus, where in the person of Nosoponus Erasmus ridicules the scholar who overacts his scholarly persona, it is recommended to write “in the dead of the night.” Erasmus, Collected Works, 28:351. See Algazi, “Scholars in Households,” 30.

74 Yet, the biographer made sure not to exaggerate about Longolius’s scholarly image. He stressed that he remained interested in public matters and did not neglect bodily exercises either, playing a little with a ball every day before dinner. Adam, Vitae Germanorum philosophorum, 50–51.

75 Ibid., 492–93.

76 Regius, G. Budaei viri Clarissimi vita, 15–16. Also see Enenkel, “Vita als Instrument,” 53.

77 Weiss, “Friendship and rhetoric,” 48; Enenkel, Erfindung des Menschen, 37. Both are quoted by Beims, “Von den Grenzen einer frühneuzeitlichen Biographie,” 349–51.

78 See Hankins, Virtue Politics.

pdfVolume 8 Issue 1 CONTENTS

Migration and Urbanization in Industrializing Bulgaria 1910–1946

Penka Peykovska
Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Institute for Historical Studies
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Urbanization is among the most important demographic phenomena of the modern age. Today, half of the world’s population lives in cities, and by 2050 this share is expected to reach 70 percent. Urbanization theorists see this as a consequence of three mutually impacting processes: natural growth (population growth as a result of birth rates exceeding mortality rates), migration (mainly from the villages to cities), and reclassification (the administrative mechanism for giving urban status to former villages or urban settlements) – whose relative contribution to the urbanization process varies depending on the environment.

The processes of urbanization and internal migration in Bulgaria in 1910–1946 have not often been made the subject of rigorous study, perhaps because the scale of urbanization at the time was small and the pace slow compared to the period after World War II. At the same time, however, the first half of this period was characterized by intensive waves of refugees and immigrants (Bulgarians, Russians, and Armenians). Having in mind the lack of attention which this question has been given in the secondary literature, in this paper I examine the urbanization processes in Bulgaria at the time and the role of migration to and within the country in these processes. In particular, I monitor the significance of gender, nationality/“nationalité ethnique” in urbanization in Bulgaria and the roles of smaller and larger cities and the capital, Sofia. I rely heavily on the five censuses carried out between 1910 and 1946, which drew a distinction between local-born and non-indigenous populations, including people who had been born abroad. In other words, the data contain information on native-born people (i.e. born in the locality where they were enumerated or, as one might say “locals”), people who were enumerated in a locality different from their birthplace within the country (i.e. internal migrants, in-migrants), and people who were foreign-born (i.e. external migrants, immigrants).

Concerning the role of migration to and within the country in the urbanization process in Bulgaria, my quantitative analysis shows that urbanization in Bulgaria was influenced by migration (mainly internal migration), partly by the waves of refugees and immigrants during the war and in the interwar period, which accelerated the growth of cities. At the same time, the urbanization of small towns was due primarily to immigration. The trend towards urbanization (albeit at a slow pace) in Bulgaria was a result of the migration of the predominantly ethnic Bulgarian population from villages to cities, but the contribution of Armenian and Russian refugees was also notable.



Keywords: internal and external migration, immigration, in-migration, Bulgaria, urbanization, towns, cities, ethnicity, sex, 1910–1946

Urbanization is among the most important demographic phenomena underway today, when half of the world’s population lives in cities1 and the rapid growth of urban agglomerations which are already huge is being blamed for a number of negative phenomena (high levels of unemployment, infrastructural tensions, and environmental degradation, for instance).2 The study of urbanization as a historical process is increasingly pressing, since this process has implications for the present day, given the need to find successful mechanisms with which to address its negative effects.

Urbanization theorists see urbanization as a consequence of migration together and in interaction with natural population growth (which occurs as a result of birth rates exceeding mortality rates) and a process of reclassification (the administrative mechanism for giving urban status to former villages or surrounding settlements), the relative contribution to urbanization of which depends on the economic and social background.3 Migration within the country from rural to urban areas directly contributes to urbanization by causing a decline in rural populations and growth in urban ones. Furthermore, some cities attract significant numbers of immigrants from abroad, which also leads to an increase in the urban population.4 A transition to urban lifestyles and settlement patterns is also a consequence of economic modernization, industrialization, and changes in the demographic makeup of the population.

In the period under examination here, Bulgaria experienced relatively rapid demographic growth in spite of the Balkan Wars, First World War, and the accompanying loss of life. This growth was due not simply to a common trend in postwar population growth, but also to the immense inflow of refugees and immigrants5 generated by armed conflicts beginning in the second decade of the twentieth century, namely the Balkan Wars and World War I, not to mention the 1917 revolution and civil war in Russia, the Aster Revolution in Hungary, the Greek-Turkish war of 1919–1922, and subsequent events. By 1925, some 200,000 people had come into Bulgaria as immigrants. Most were of Bulgarian ethnic origin, but there were also 20,000 Russians and 15,000 Armenians among them. The population increased also because of higher birth rates in Bulgaria following the first demographic transition.6 The country was rural, and four fifths of its population were peasants. The majority of landowners had relatively small holdings. Bulgaria had an agriculture-centered development strategy, which, however, did not exclude industrialization. Economic modernization happened in agriculture and livestock breeding, which accounted for half of the GDP. The country crossed the threshold of industrialization in the late 1930s.7 Between 1926 and 1934, there were 97 rural towns (most of which were small) with populations under 10,000 (Table 2). Sofia saw the highest growth rate. Other rapidly-developing cities included Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas, and Ruse. The proportion of the urban population rose by 5.6 percent between 1910 and 1946. So, concerning the interrelated processes of internal migration, urbanization, and industrialization, there was some development, but it was rather slow, which explains why this development has been seen by some researchers more as stagnation than as any kind of progress.

In this essay, I examine the role of migration in Bulgaria’s urbanization during the period preceding accelerated industrialization. At that time, the importance of internal migration and immigration in the numerical growth of urban populations in Bulgaria increased – although immigration including refugees was significantly smaller than in-migration, and it continued more intensively only until 1926 (Table 3). (Here we would like to give a terminological clarification: unlike in our era when the “refugee” and the “immigrant” are separate categories,8 in the examined period refugees were usually considered immigrants.) There was a total of 217,328 in-migrants within the country in 1910 and 354,187 in 1926 (figures which greatly exceeded the number of immigrants into the country). So, there were 59,706 immigrants in 1910 and 166,761 in 1926 (their relative share in towns/cities was larger than in the villages). More than one third of the in-migrants and about half of the immigrants were predominantly directed to the big towns and cities, i.e. settlements with populations over 10,000. According to the data, in 1910, 89 percent of the immigrants (53,067 people) and 77 percent of the in-migrants (167,437 people) were encouraged to go to urban settlements, and in 1926, their figures were 80 percent (129,214 people) of immigrants and 77.5 percent (282,079 people) of in-migrants. Until 1926, the general trend was towards increases in the number of immigrants and in-migrants targeting the towns/cities.


Table 1. Number of towns/cities in Bulgaria according to the classification used in the population censuses, 1910–1946

Towns/cities with population






Up to 10,000 people






Above 10,000 people






Above 20,000 people






Above 50,000 people






Above 100,000 people












Earlier Findings, Data Sources, and Methods

Scholars have shown little interest in urbanization in Bulgaria and its interaction with (internal and external) migration processes during the period under examination. This may be the case in part because, at this initial stage (which started with the founding of the Third Bulgarian State in 1878 and ended in the late 1940s), the relative share of the urban population was growing slowly and the urban way of life was spreading slowly.9 Faster-paced, dynamic urbanization took place in the second half of the twentieth century. It accelerated under centrally planned economic development, as a result of which urban populations grew sharply. At the end of the 1960s, urban settlements accounted for more than fifty percent of the population, which was increasingly concentrated in the administrative centers.10

Some researchers on migratory and urbanization processes in Bulgaria have claimed that after 1880 (up to 1934, for example) there was a “progressive urbanization trend.” They have tended to support their theses with indicators such as the steadily increasing number and the growing relative share of the urban population.11 Other authors have contended that migration growth (i.e. the difference between the in-migrants and out-migrants, calculated on the basis of population censuses, which are, however, rather “rough” measurements) should be understood as an indicator of urbanization processes in Bulgaria.12 They have found that migration growth is always to the benefit of towns and cities. It leads to rises in the urban population and drops in rural populations.13 In the case of Bulgaria, the phenomenon was reflected by the 1905 census, after the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising (1903) and, then, in the first half of the 1920s.


Table 2. Migration growth of urban population in Bulgaria, in ‰14


For the urban

For the rural






















Some scholars have supposed that the urbanization process was “decreasing” in the interwar period, and they explain this with the impact of territorial changes resulting from the Balkan Wars and World War I on the settlement system and the urban-rural population ratio.15 According to the Treaty of Bucharest and the Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine, eight towns16 were separated from Bulgaria (from Southern Dobrudja and the Western Outskirts) and transferred to Romania and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and another 1717 were added to the country through the newly acquired lands. However, urbanization was declining, because among the latter mentioned settlements, most were less economically developed towns, and their minority Turkish and Muslim populations were prone to emigration.18

Since the development of urbanization in Bulgaria between 1910 and 1946 has only rarely been made the subject of study and at the same time this period (and especially its first half) was characterized by intensive refugee and immigrant inflows of Bulgarians, Russians, and Armenians and the emigration of the local Greeks and Turks (under the bilateral agreements with Greece and Turkey for population exchange), I have devoted this inquiry to the role of migration in the urbanization process. The quantitative analysis, on the basis of which I have examined the interaction between migration and urbanization phenomena and processes, is itself based on data concerning the urban (and rural) populations in the Bulgarian censuses done in 1910, 1920, 1926, 1934, and 1946. We have turned to this type of source because of the lack of other statistics for the period in question. At that time, only a few countries were collecting statistics which provide an adequate basis for a thorough assessment of urbanization. For this reason indirect methods have commonly been used to calculate the components of the increase in the pace of urbanization based on census data.19 Often such studies are based on data concerning birthplace, and they apply different research approaches.

In our particular case, we have used the statistical data for the urban (and rural) populations recorded in correlation with the birthplace of the native-born (born in Bulgaria) population (for those born in a settlement other than the place of enumeration, i.e. for the in-migrants) and the foreign-born population (i.e. immigrants). Data for in-migrants provide information about origins within the country (i.e. another district within a given county, another county, or another locality in the country), and data for immigrants reflect origins by countries. This means that the statistical information “covers” the number of in-migrants at a given time point, not counting mortality, and refers only to the first generation of in-migrants (as opposed to the US censuses, for instance, which also collected information concerning geographical family origins for subsequent generations of families). In the case of statistical information concerning people who had been born outside of the country, this information did not in any way address the ways in which immigrants to Bulgaria moved (migrated) within the country after having entered the country. Most immigrants to Bulgaria, however, were very mobile for a time after having entered the country and did not immediately settle down. When trying to establish the contribution of internal migration to urbanization, the most important direction of this migration is from village to town/city. However, from the point of view of the migration and concerning the de facto population, in principle the Bulgarian censuses of 1910, 1920 and 1926 contain information on migration to towns/cities without reference to the settlements of departure (i.e. whether the settlement from which a migrant to a town/city came was a village or another town/city). Thus, this kind of database includes data on inter-town/city migrations too. In this specific case, there were significant patterns of migration from small urban centers to big urban centers. In the Bulgarian censuses there is evidence of population movement from villages to towns/cities only concerning the economically active population and not the total population. Only the 1934 census provides statistical information on migration in the direction of village–town/city. In the 1946 census, a very different methodology was used, which is why this census is practically incomparable with the previous censuses, at least from the perspective of the data they contain concerning the directions of migration.

We have tracked some of the processes for different subperiods (and not for the entire period under examination). This is because we do not have the relevant data due to the different methodologies according to statistical information was aggregated in 1934 and 1946.

We have based our quantitative analysis on some of the more important theoretical frameworks in today’s understanding of urbanization. Our choices of specific indicators were determined by these theoretical frameworks. Nowadays, demographers define urbanization as the growth in the proportion of the population living in urban areas.20 It is worth noting that this is not only a question of proportional growth, because urbanization does not simply mean growth in urban populations. It also comprises growth in the relative share of the urban population. In other words, if urban and rural populations grow at the same pace, this should not be understood as urbanization. Urban population growth is considered to be entirely the result of urbanization if the total population does not change but the relative share of urban population is increasing; then, the degree of urbanization (the degree of population growth in urban areas) is equal to the growth rate of the urban population.21 However, in most urbanizing countries, including Bulgaria, during the period in question, the total population was growing, and it is possible to distinguish the proportion of urban population growth resulting from urbanization from the proportion resulting from overall population growth (the latter is roughly equal to the degree of urbanization plus the rate of total population growth).

Using these definitions, in measuring processes and phenomena, we have proceeded from the standpoint that urbanization is present when the urban population growth rate exceeds the rural population growth, and we have used this indicator as the main one, measured as the percentage of the total urban or rural population, for the population of the small and big towns/cities,22 for the capital, and for the separate ethnic groups in Bulgaria. Our intention was to determine the contribution of the small and big towns/cities and the capital to urbanization in Bulgaria and also to consider differences in the makeup of urbanizing populations from the perspectives of sex and ethnicity. The final part of the text is devoted to the interrelationships among migration, urbanization, and industrialization and to some of the changes in the urban space. In order better to corroborate the trends we have identified, we have also monitored other indicators, such as the volume of migration and the number of in-migrants and immigrants-refugees per 1,000 locals. Of course, we are aware of the general nature of quantitative parameters and the presence of certain micro-processes and background processes which cannot be numerically measured, because urbanization is indeed primarily a result of migration, and it is reasonable to treat it as such. However, urbanization is not just a consequence of migration from village to city, especially if this migration is perceived as long-term or permanent resettlement. Firstly, urbanization is the net result of complex migratory movements between rural and urban areas, including circular migration back and forth. Actually, migration from village to town/city may be a result of people delaying their return or not returning to rural areas as they decide to remain in the city in which they have settled. Secondly, urbanization involves both the net movement of people to and within urban areas, the progressive expansion of urban boundaries, and the creation of new urban centers. As already mentioned, in principle, urbanization can also be accelerated by higher natural population growth in urban areas and particularly high еmigration from rural areas, although these factors are not considered very substantial.

Before undertaking the quantitative analysis, we would like to note that during the period in question, there were no legislative restrictions on population crowding in the cities. Administrative measures to limit migration were first introduced for the capital city of Sofia in 1943.

The Contributions of Migration to Urbanization

We start examining the growth of Bulgaria’s urban population as a percentage compared to the growth of the rural population, which is influenced by migration (mechanical growth) and natural growth (and perhaps reclassification of settlements).23 In the period from 1910 to 1946, the population of the country grew from 4 million to 7 million. Both urban and rural populations grew, but the share of the urban population increased from 19.1 percent in 1910 to 24.7 percent in 1946. This was due both to natural growth and to mechanical movement. The change in the proportions of the urban and rural populations was not as sharp as it was in the second half of the twentieth century, but it was smooth. Over the course of 36 years, the urban population more than doubled (+111.4 percent), while the rural population increased only by about half (+58.6 percent), so although the rural population grew in absolute terms, its relative share declined from 80.9 percent in 1910 to 75.3 percent in 194624 (and this growth in the relative share of the urban population was much greater than that in the years preceding World War I25). The greatest increase in the urban population as a proportion of the total population took place in 1911–1926 (+36 percent), then in 1927–1934 it was +15 percent and in 1935–1946 it was +33 percent.

For the period between 1910 and 1926, statistics indicate a significant difference in population growth in small and big towns/cities, i.e. in the towns/cities with populations up to 10,000 inhabitants on the one hand and over 10,000 inhabitants on the other. Table 3 shows that population growth in the big towns/cities outstripped growth in the small ones, but the determining factor in this process was the enormous growth of the capital city. If Sofia is excluded, population growth in small towns surpassed (albeit not by much) population growth in big towns, and the proportional growth of the urban population in Bulgaria up to 1926 was mainly due to the increase in the population of the capital, which more than doubled.


Table 3. Growth of the population in absolute terms in small and big towns, Sofia, and villages, 1910–192626


Growth in


Growth in

Population in








Small towns








Big towns/cities, including Sofia








Big towns/cities, without Sofia
























We seek in our inquiry to determine the extent to which urbanization was influenced by migration in general (meaning both within the country and across its borders) and, within this, the extent to which it was influenced by in-migration on the one hand and immigration and emigration on the other. We establish the relative share of the increase in the number of in-migrants and immigrants in the towns/cities in relation to the increase in the urban population (for the territory of the country in the respective census year) based on the abovementioned birthplace data. Here, in the context of what has already been said about the specifics of this kind of statistical information on migration to towns/cities, we would like to point out again that migration to urban areas includes not only migrants coming from villages but also migrants coming from other towns/cities.27 Inter-town/city migration, and in particular migration from small towns/cities to big towns/cities, was not terribly large and did not affect major trends. In 1911–1926, total urban increase as a share of migration was 81 percent, and in 1927–1934 it was 61 percent. Generally speaking, during the period in question, urbanization in Bulgaria was mainly due to migration, and mainly to internal migration, representing 56 percent of the total migration growth in 1911–1926, despite the intense refugee inflows of Bulgarians, Russians, and Armenians as a consequence of the wars, and almost entirely to internal migration in 1927–1934, when external migration was declining (Table 2).

The 1934 census data, which took into account migration from villages to towns/cities, confirms this conclusion. We have analyzed a variety of data concerning in-migrants who moved from villages to towns/cities and concerning immigrants and refugees who came from foreign countries and settled in towns/cities in Bulgaria, because the mobility of immigrants within Bulgaria is not quantitatively known. There were almost twice as many in-migrants who moved from villages to towns/cities as there were immigrants to Bulgaria who settled in towns/cities. They constituted 64 percent of the people who settled in towns/cities (Table 1).

The rise in the number of in-migrants to towns/cities and the rise in the number of refugees and immigrants to towns/cities (per 1000 local people28) correspond to the abovementioned trends. In 1911–1934, the number of in-migrants who moved from villages to towns/cities was steadily growing, more than doubling and reaching almost half a million. Their number per 1,000 locals was gradually increasing too, in the first half of the 1920s much more significantly (reaching 402 in-migrants per 1,000 locals in 1934). This proportional increase was particularly significant in the first half of the 1920s. By 1934, in-migrants constituted almost one-third of the local population in the towns/cities of Bulgaria.29 The number of refugees and immigrants was one third or one fourth that of in-migrants to urban communities. The number of immigrants was twice to three times smaller than that of the internal migrants, and it was growing to the mid-1920s as a result of refugee flows. These refugee flows stopped, however, and in 1934 the proportion of foreigners from the population became lower (233 foreign-born per 1,000 locals) (Table 5).


Table 4. Number of in-migrants and immigrants/refugees among urban and rural de facto population, 1910–193430




Local population*



population of Bulgaria


















































* Population born in the locality where it was enumerated during the census.


Table 5. Intensity of in-migrants and immigrants/refugees to the locals* among urban and rural de facto population, in ‰, 1910–193431






























* Population born in the locality where it was enumerated during the census.

The Contributions of Sexes

During the period in question, a common gender characteristic of migration to towns/cities was that the majority of migrants were men,32 as opposed to the period after World War II, when predominantly women set off for urban areas.33 However, if one examines the data concerning numerical growth of migrants to towns/cities in 1911–1934, it becomes evident that this phenomenon concerned both sexes, but it was higher for women: +91 percent for male in-migrants and +138 percent for female ones, and +131 percent for male immigrants and +228 percent for female ones, bearing in mind that at the same time the number of in-migrants was twice or three times the number of immigrants. In this case, the historical and cultural background played an important role in determining the extent to which women had opportunities to migrate independently of men. The Bulgarian model of economic development at the time, however, also influenced the sex composition of the in-migration flow. Preferring to employ men, the urban occupation structures seem to be the main factor in setting limits for female migration to towns/cities. As we shall see, later the large number of (unmarried) women migrating towards the towns/cities was linked to employment opportunities, especially in the sector of “domestic service.”

The final result was a numerical preponderance of men in the cities in the mid-1920s, where, unlike in the villages, there was the usual demographic phenomenon of women outnumbering men because of longer life expectancies. (Here, however, I would like to note that before the wars, compared to the other countries, Bulgaria was distinguished by predominantly male populations in both cities and villages, and by the mid-1930s, the two sexes had gradually come to constitute roughly half of the population each, Table 6). In order to identify the source of male preponderance in towns/cities, we have used as an indicator the number of females per 1,000 males in the variations of the native-born and foreign-born urban populations. Within the native-born populations, we see the usual situation: women outnumbered men. But in the case of migrants, we find precisely the opposite. At first glance, the related data show a preponderance of men, and men were particularly numerous among refugees and immigrants having in mind that among Bulgarians there was more balance, because they lived predominantly as families. This was also true for the third-largest but still a dozen times smaller refugee stream of Armenians. The Russians, second in number but also dozens of times fewer, (being soldiers) were distinguished as a male refugee and immigrant flow. But this contribution of external migrants to urbanization is only seeming, since they were in principle half as many as in-migrants. So, in this case, the men who predominated in the in-migration flow to the cities were the determinants (Table 6).


Table 6. Number of females per 1000 males among urban and rural population in Bulgaria, 1910–193434






Refugees and immigrants


From the refugees and immigrants
































* Population born in the locality where it was counted during the census.

The Contributions of the Ethnicities

The migration towards towns/cities among the native-born population of Bulgarian ethnicity was decisive for the process of urbanization, although the relative share of the urban population within its variation was very low, because being numerically dominant, it had an ascending trend (Table 7). However, we were curious to consider the contributions to urbanization of other ethnic groups recorded in the statistics. In understanding the analysis that follows, it should be taken into consideration that behind the high rates of growth there was a small number of migrants.

By volume, the resettlements in towns/cities prevailed among the indigenous, comparatively small ethnic groups, such as Armenians and Jews, with a tendency to increase between 1910 and 1926. However, they had come into being and existed as urban diasporas. In 1910, 96 percent of local Jews and 88 percent of local Armenians lived in towns/cities. This phenomenon is related to their occupations. Over half (54 percent) of the economically active Armenians were employed in industry (mostly in clothing and footwear production), and over half (52 percent) of the economically active Jews were traders (dealing with sales of clothing and footwear, food and beverages, foreign exchange, commissions and exports). Another 36 percent of the latter worked in industry (in the production of either clothing and footwear or beverage). Among the Armenians and Jews, the main direction of in-migration was from small to big towns/cities. They were concentrated in the big towns and cities, where their resettlements (compared to the local Jewish and Armenian population) were distinguished by their high number per 1000 locals, and therefore this movement did not contribute to urbanization understood as the movement of in-migrants from villages to towns/cities. In 1911–1926, among Armenians, quantitatively small in-migration can be observed in the opposite, town/city-to-village direction. The very high number of resettled people per 1000 locals within the Armenian rural population shows that their rural diaspora was at that time a relatively new phenomenon. A similar process can also be observed among the Jews in 1926. Hence, although among the local Armenians and Jews the relative share of resettlements to the towns/cities increased (among the Jews +46 percent and among the Armenians +41 percent) compared to their migration to villages, not they, but the Armenian refugee wave from the first half of the 1920s constituted the most significant contribution to urbanization in Bulgaria with their urban resettlements’ impressive growth of +246 percent.

Table 8 shows that among the different ethnic groups it was the rural population that predominated within the set of native-born people, except for the Jews, Armenians and Greeks. According to the 1926 census data for the foreign-born (i.e. the new refugees and immigrants), the Armenians, Bulgarians, Jews, and Russians were mainly targeting towns/cities with an upward trend. The Greek diaspora showed an interesting demographic trend for the period 1911–1926. Among the native-born Greeks, the urban population increased by more than 20 percent, and among the foreign-born Greeks, it decreased by five percent (although it was predominant there) (Table 7); the reason for this was their nearly total exodus35 as a result of the Greek-Bulgarian Convention on Voluntary Population Exchange of 27 November 1919. In 1910, about 91 percent of the total urban Greek diaspora lived in the towns of Kavakli (Topolovgrad), Stanimaka (Asenovgrad), Varna, Sozopol, Burgas, Anhialo (Pomorie), Mesemvria (Nesebar), and Plovdiv. It is obvious that after the wars, the local Greek population was increasingly concentrated in the towns/cities, and the displacements themselves took place first among immigrants. In their place, Bulgarian refugees were resettled. The native-born ethnic Turks were distinguished by a small urban diaspora, whereas foreign-born Turks concentrated in cities; in both variations there was a downward trend in migration of ethnic Turks to towns/cities; the drop was perceptibly lower among immigrants. Displacements which intensified during the wars and continued afterwards contributed to this, but they were not the only factor. The Turkish population started leaving towns/cities and resettling in villages, as evidenced by the rise in their numbers as a percentage of the populations in villages (Table 7 and 8). In the case of the Romanians and Tartars, there was a decrease in the urban population (in terms of number and relative share) compared to 1910 for both the native-born and foreign-born, but this was largely due to the cessation of Southern Dobrudja to Romania. Among the minority diasporas in Bulgaria, only the Russians turned from a rural community into urban one. This took place because of the tendency among new Russian refugees and immigrants to settle almost exclusively in the towns/cities. This caused an extraordinary increase in their urban population of +2009 percent (Table 7). Hoping to return to their home country soon, they did not accept Bulgarian citizenship, and so by law they had no right to receive agricultural land (this explains their low share in rural areas), unlike refugees of Bulgarian ethnic origin.


Table 7. Relative share of the urban population in Bulgaria among the different ethnic groups in correlation with native- and foreign-born (i.e. for the old and the new diasporas), de facto population, 1910, 192636

“nationality/natoinalité ethnique”




















































Table 8. Increase/decrease in the number of in-migrants and immigrants/refugees among the urban and rural population of different ethnic groups in Bulgaria 1910–1926, in %37

“nationality/natoinalité ethnique”










































– 90












The Contribution of the Small and Big Towns/Cities

Before considering the question referred to in the subtitle, we will try to explain the changes in the data concerning the native-born population, which may seem obvious at first glance. These changes are important because they influenced the formation of the indicator of migrants’ number per 1,000 locals, and since the analysis of the origin of these changes is a sign of whether it is a source of out-migration or emigration, and because of the dynamics of the urbanization itself. In the period from 1910 to 1926, the number of native-born population in Bulgaria decreased sharply in both small and big towns/cities (excluding Sofia). In small towns/cities, it decreased almost twice as much as it did in big ones (it doubled only in Sofia). It is interesting to see how much this phenomenon was due to migrations. We have tracked it at the settlement level and we have found out that in 1926 in 18 of the 26 big towns and cities the native-born population grew, and in some cases it grew considerably (in Burgas it doubled and in Plovdiv it grew by one third). In the remaining 8 big towns,38 it decreased from several hundred to not more than 1,500. In the case of big towns/cities, three-quarters of the reduction was a result of the secession of the three major towns in Southern Dobrudja after the Balkan wars (Silistra, Tutrakan, and Dobrich). The remaining loss was mainly due to the displacement of the Greeks from Burgas, Varna, Plovdiv, and Stanimaka and to a very small extent, due to mortality and other displacements. In the case of small towns, the decline of the native-born population by half was due to the secession of the five cities with the Treaty of Neuilly (Balchik, Kavarna, Bosilegrad, Tsaribrod, and Strumitsa). It also partly diminished because of the expulsion of the Greeks.39 This loss was not compensated by the 17 towns in the newly acquired territories and the reclassification (i.e. new settlements which were declared towns), probably owing to the in-migration and out-migration from the small to big towns/cities.

The loss of local urban population as a result of the secession of cities (both small and large) and as a result of the territorial losses from the wars was not only simply compensated in the period between 1926 and 1934 by still high birth rates due to intense external and internal migration (the latter of which was significantly larger), but as early as 1934 the pre-war number of the native-born population had been exceeded. That is why we can conclude that the secession of the towns/cities as a result of the wars lost by Bulgaria really had a negative impact on the urbanization of the country, and if that had not happened, the urbanization process would have been much stronger. However, it can not be denied that it was intense and intensifying and quantitatively managed to overcome the loss of the native-born urban population in less than ten years. In this sense, we cannot speak about its stagnation or lagging behind. It simply evolved in the context of changed territorial conditions.

The census statistics make it possible to identify the urbanization centers in Bulgaria, which coincide with the destination points of migration flows. Towns/cities differ in their socio-economic characteristics, so they have different attractive opportunities. In order to estimate them, we consider the cities in the two groups according to the number of their inhabitants (small and big). We have separated the capital of Sofia, which was (and still is) the administrative and cultural center of the country, from the group of other towns/cities, as its growth was unprecedented and incomparable with that of other cities. The data on settlements by groups of towns/cities show that the big towns/cities (except the capital of Sofia) had the greatest influx of in-migrants, refugees and immigrants by absolute number and by the indicator showing total number of in-migrants and immigrants-refugees per 1000 locals. This value in 1910 was twice as high as in the case of the small towns. Despite that between 1910 and 1926 the small towns had a much larger growth of migratory influx (both in number and percentage) than the big ones (a tendency which reversed between 1926 and 1934), but they were far behind in terms of migratory flows to the capital. (Таble 9) The latter surpassed the influx to both small and big towns/cities not only in their absolute numbers but in their intensity as well: in 1910, in the big towns/cities (except Sofia) the total number of migrants and (in-migrants and immigrants) per 1000 locals was twice as high. Sofia marked the greatest growth. There, the number of migrants was almost twice as much as that of the locals. In 1926, the local population declined in both small and big towns on account of a sharp rise in the number of migrants (almost six times within the external ones and 1.5 times within the internal ones) (Таble 9). Small towns strengthened their position of attractiveness, and they caught up with their lagging behind and the number of migrants per 1000 local people almost reached the level of big towns, although the volume of migration to them was smaller. The capital was once again distinct in scale from the other major cities. Migrants in the direction of Sofia were twice as numerous as local residents.

To quantify the role of immigration and in-migration in the urbanization of small and big towns/cities and the capital, we use an indicator that expresses the relative share of the increase in the number of immigrants/refugees and in-migrants in small and big towns/cities and Sofia compared to population growth in them. For the small towns, +44.5% belong to immigrants and +32% to in-migrants; for the big towns/cities +33% and +50% respectively, and for Sofia +21% and +51%. Or, in general, until 1926 Sofia and the big towns were growing predominantly by in-migrants, while small towns were increasing in size because of immigrants (Table 3 and 10).

Now we are going to track the most significant role of migration in the urbanization of separate towns/cities. In 1910, among the cities in Bulgaria, the biggest attraction centers for migration (internal and external), apart from the capital of Sofia, was the administrative center of the Burgas County, to which Bulgarian refugees were directed. (At that time, it was the largest such center in the county, with a population density below the average, and there were quite large reserves of state and municipal land funds.) So, in these two cities (Sofia and Burgas), 63 percent of the population consisted of in-migrants and immigrants/refugees. This figure was followed by Varna with 49 percent, Ruse with 45 percent, Plovdiv with 42 percent, and Shumen 30 percent. In 1926 the main centers of attraction for migration were the same cities but in a different sequence, and after the large refugee waves of Bulgarians from Thrace, Macedonia, Dobrudja and the Western Outskirts as well as Russians and Armenians, the number and the relative share of the settlers grew. Sofia gave its first place to Burgas, where the majority of the population was migrant (refugees, immigrants, in-migrants from other parts of the country) 87 percent, and ranked second with 68 percent, followed by Plovdiv 56 percent, Varna 55 percent, Ruse 52 percent, Haskovo 47 percent, Sliven 28 percent, Shumen 26 percent. Subsequently, in the second half of the 1920s, the immigration flow decreased considerably, stopping the refugee waves; so, Burgas (65 percent) relinquished to Sofia (68.5 percent) the leading position in the attraction of migrants. The abovementioned towns/cities (not taking into consideration the capital) were traditional industrial and commercial centers, with Ruse, Varna, and Burgas having the greatest ports on the Danube River and the Black Sea, respectively, and Plovdiv enjoying investment of German, French, and Belgian capital and a prospering food industry, Sliven being a center for the textile industry, and Haskovo developing tobacco production and trade; yet a few of them lost population through the expulsion of local Greeks (Burgas, Varna, Plovdiv), which was compensated by in-migrants and immigrants/refugees of Bulgarian ethnicity.

If we distinguish the urban attractiveness centers in relation to the extent of their attraction for the internal and external migration flows, we find that Sofia attracted an increasing percentage of the in-migration flow to towns/cities and the whole immigration flow (1926: 29 percent and 10 percent, respectively, in 1934: 33 percent and 13 percent, respectively). The capital city was followed by Plovdiv, which similarly showed an increase in its relative share in the internal migration to cities (1926: 8 percent and 3 percent, respectively, in 1934: 10 percent and 2 percent, respectively). Then, by a relative share of five to ten per cent compared to the in-migration to towns/cities, come Varna and Ruse in 1910 and 1934 and Shumen and Varna in 1926. Another several towns/cities developed as centers of attraction for refugees and immigrats (based on the indicator of immigrants’ relative share in the given city compared to all immigrants in the towns/cities in Bulgaria), with values clearly distinguishable from those of other towns/cities; they were Sofia (1926: 25 percent, 1934: 27.5 percent), followed by Plovdiv (1926: 12 percent, 1934: 19 percent), Varna (1934: 11 percent); refugees accepted into Svilengrad (1926: 6 percent), Burgas (1926: 5.4 percent, 1934: 5 percent), Haskovo (1926: 4 percent); but in the following years, the number of immigrants there was decreasing significantly due to displacement within the country.

In fact, the data shows that the main attraction center for migration was the capital, and the other four major Bulgarian cities of Plovdiv, Varna, Ruse, and Burgas lagged behind it, and only very seldom did migratory flows stand out in the urbanization of small towns. This is understandable considering that the aforementioned cities best suited the standard of living in Bulgaria at the time. Sofia was the most developed city in Bulgaria. It had electricity and good supplies of water. In the 1920s, the Rila water main was built, the construction of sewerage was started, and after the wars, the capital transformed from a predominantly consumer center and a city of clerks and officers into a commercial and industrial center with a large working class. The lack of settlements with truly urban profiles and with high standards of living, including better incomes and living facilities, contributed to Sofia’s becoming the most dynamically developing city in Bulgaria. In the second half of the 1930s, the Batova-Varna water pipeline was built, which supplied water to the sea capital. The new ports of Varna and Burgas, put into operation in the very beginning of the twentieth century, contributed to their urban revival.


Table 9. Total number of migrants (in-migrants and immigrants/refuges) and locals* and the number of migrants per 1,000 locals in small and big towns/cities, and in Sofia, 1910–193440


Towns with up to 10.000 inhabitants

Towns/cities with and above 10.000 inhabitants,

without Sofia































+/– in numbers










+/– %




















+/– in numbers










+/– %










* Population born in the locality where it was enumerated in the census.

Table 10. Number of immigrants and in-migrants together in the small and big towns/cities, and in Sofia, de facto population, 1910–192641


Immigrants in


Towns with up to 10.000 inhabitants

Towns/cities with and above 10.000 inhabitants, without Sofia


Towns with up to 10.000 inhabitants

Towns/cities with and above 10.000 inhabitants, without Sofia
















+ / – in figures







To What Extent Was Urbanization Through Migration Related to the Modernization of Towns/Cities and to Industrialization?

Unfortunately, the Bulgarian censuses do not contain information about the inter-professional in-migrants’ mobility to towns/cities. In order to answer this question, we have used the data that we have on the sectoral structure of the economically active population within in-migrants coming from villages to towns/cities, but only for the population of Bulgarian ethnic origin. This type of statistics on refugees and immigrants of Bulgarian (Table 11) and other ethnic origin (Tables 12, 13) was not published in correlation with villages and towns/cities, and that is why the data are incomparable. We have only used them as a guideline.

The coefficient of economic activity among the in-migrants of Bulgarian ethnic origin (who predetermine the whole structure) in the village-to-town/city direction was higher (1920: 61.7 percent, 1926: 60.2 percent) than the average for the country (54 percent), which indicates that most of them were labor migrants moving in search of a livelihood. The coefficient of economic activity among foreign-born refugees and immigrants was even higher (63.8 percent for 1926). In the professional structure of economically active women who had moved from village to town (Table 12) the sector of “domestic servants” dominated (over 40 percent). The urbanization process means not only village–to–town migration, but also perception of the urban way of life as well. Part of the urban lifestyle of the upper stratum in this period included the hiring of domestic servants. Even a regular servant exchange was organized in Sofia. Girls from all over the country, led by parents and dragomans, came to Sveti Kral Square (St. Kral), today’s St. Nedelja Square (St. Holy Sunday) every St. George’s Day and St. Dimitar’s Day in order to seek employment. It is noteworthy that former maidservants were preferred by bachelors as wives, especially among the peasantry, because they were literate and well-informed.42 The data in Table 11 show that women hardly left home and farm work, and they very slowly entered the professional work. Female laborers were more likely to be employed in professional work. 18 percent of them were occupied in industry, and only 4 percent in public services and the liberal professions. Those occupied in industry (38 percent) predominated among the male village-to-town in-migrants; again, among them in second place was the sector of “public services and the liberal professions” (31 percent).

However, based on the available data, it can be summarized that in the first half of the 1920s, among in-migrants (both men and women), the number and relative share of those occupied in the industrial sector was growing markedly; in addition, the number of workers in the industrial sector was growing much more rapidly than the number of workers in the agricultural sector. The male in-migrants of Bulgarian ethnicity went predominantly into industry, as did male refugees and immigrants of non-Bulgarian ethnicity, as indirectly can be assumed on the basis of Tables 12 and 13.


Table 12. Professional structure of the economically active village-to-town in-migrants of Bulgarian ethnicity, de facto population, by sex, in figures and %, 1920–192643

















In figures


In figures

Agriculture and live stockbreeding, hunting and fishing













Industry incl. mining, crafts and communications


























Public services and liberal professions













Domestic servants








































Table 13. Professional structure of the economically active urban immigrants and refugees of non-Bulgarian ethnicity, de facto population, by sex, in figures and %, 192644









In figures

Agriculture and live stockbreeding, hunting and fishing







Industry incl. mining, crafts and communications














Public services and liberal professions







Domestic servants






















Table 14. Professional structure of the economically active refugees and immigrants of Bulgarian ethnicity, de facto population, by sex, in figures and %, 192645









In figures

Agriculture and live stockbreeding, hunting and fishing







Industry incl. mining, crafts and communications














Public services and liberal professions







Domestic servants





















Urbanization is also reflected in the creation of new structures in the organization of urban space. In fact, its main sign was the change in the economic structures of the urban space. By the Mid-twentieth century, a general characteristic of the Bulgarian towns/cities, including the big ones and the capital, was their rural appearance, resulting from the presence of large sectors with a high agricultural character. In order to establish the changes, we have compared the occupational structure of the economically active population of Bulgarian ethnicity in the towns/cities (locals and inter-town/city migrants, according to the correlation of “born in towns/cities and counted as residents in the census” of Bulgarian ethnicity) with the occupational structure of the village-to-town/city in-migrants of Bulgarian ethnicity (Table 10) during the first half of the twentieth century. In the occupational structure of the economically active Bulgarian-born population which was counted as urban residents in 1920 and 1926, a slight decrease from 30.7 percent to 29.8 percent is visible in the relative share of those employed in agriculture as well as a rise from 35.4 percent to 36.2 percent among those employed in industry. Economically active in-migrants of Bulgarian ethnicity headed from the villages to the towns/cities to work mainly in the industry, where their share increased considerably (from 24.7 percent to 32.8 percent) in the first half of the 1920s. (Table 12) Among them, for this relatively short period, the relative share of the people occupied in agriculture and livestock breeding decreased from 19.5 percent to 18.6 percent. Thus, by comparing the changes in the professional structure of the two variations of the predominant economically active population of Bulgarian ethnicity, we have found that the decline in the importance of the agricultural sector was minimal and had the same values (–0.9 percent) for both variations. Within the structure of the village-to-town in-migrants, the share of industrial sector increased by 8 percent. This means that the locals and the new residents were giving up just as little of their agricultural occupations in order to engage in some kind of urban one. And the “strengthening” of industrial production in the urban economy was definitely due to in-migration and was the result of a shift among the new citizens to industrial activities.


We can summarize the results of the quantitative analysis of the birthplaces of Bulgaria’s population from the perspective of the role of internal and external migration (i.e. in-migration and immigration) in the processes of urbanization as follows:

Urbanization in Bulgaria in the period in question was mainly due to migration and in particular to in-migration, although it was undoubtedly closely related to the refugee wave and immigration during the war and in the interwar period, which strengthened the expansion of the towns and cities. The drying-up of the refugee inflow did not lead to a decline in the urbanization process. On the contrary, there was intensified internal migration towards the towns and cities and specifically in the direction from village to town/city. This was a characteristic phenomenon for other countries as well. Similar phenomena were observed in the United States in the first decades of the twentieth century, but in relation to the strengthening of restrictions on immigration.

In the first half of the 1920s, many people (predominantly men) left the villages and began to engage in non-agricultural activities in the towns and cities. But an initial process of feminization of in-migration towards the towns/cities as well as of the industrial labor force was evident too.

There was a relationship between emigration, on the one hand, and internal migration and immigration on the other, which is well illustrated by the replacement of the displaced Greek population with Bulgarian refugees and in-migrants.

The decisive role of in-migration in the urbanization process in Bulgaria was determined by in-migration to the big towns and cities (including Sofia). This was because the urbanization of big towns/cities (understood as urban population growth) quantitatively exceeded the urbanization of small ones, and it was largely determined by inter-urban migration from small to big towns.

At the same time, the urbanization of small Bulgarian towns was primarily driven by immigration.

The trend of ascending development (albeit at a slow pace) of the urbanization process in Bulgaria was mainly due to in-migration from village to town/city of the predominantly Bulgarian ethnic population, but the contribution of Armenian and Russian refugees was also quantitatively visible.

The main destinations for immigrants, with values clearly distinguishable from those of other towns/cities, was Sofia. It attracted an increasing percentage of the in-migrant flow towards the towns and of the whole set of internal migrants. Sofia was followed by the second largest city in Bulgaria, Plovdiv, but the numbers in the case of Plovdiv were much smaller.

The urbanization of the capital Sofia, which was growing to the size of a super city (certainly with regard to the living and working conditions in Bulgaria), stood out from the perspective of its scale, even against the background of the so-called big towns and cities.



Printed sources

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Общи резултати от преброяването на населението в Царство България на 31.12.1920 г. Кн. ІІІ. Статистика на професиите. София, 1926.

Общи резултати от преброяването на населението в Царство България на 31.12.1920 г. Кн. І. План и организация на преброяването. София, 1927.

Общи резултати от преброяването на населението в Царство България на 31.12.1926 г. Кн. І. План и организация на преброяването. София, 1931.

Общи резултати от преброяването на населението в Царство България на 31.12.1926 г. Кн. ІІІ. Статистика на професиите. София, 1932.

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Тотев, Анастас. “Населението на България, 1880–1980: Демографско-исторически очерк” [The population of Bulgaria, 1880–1980: a historical demographic sketch]. Год. на СУ, ЮФ, no. 2 (1968): 26–32.

Цеков, Николай. “Селската селищна мрежа като фактор в развитието на човешкия потенциал на българското село” [Rural village network as factor for development of the human potential of the Bulgarian village]. Население, nos. 1–2 (2011): 77–92.

Щерионов, Щ. “Демографският преход по българските земи – специфики и начални граници” [The demographic transition in the Bulgarian lands – specifics and initial time limits]. In Българското възрожденско общество - проблеми, борби и постижения. Сборник с изследвания в чест на 75-годишнината на доц. д-р Огняна Маждракова-Чавдарова, 248–58. София, 2012.

1 According to data for 2011. See: UN, 2014b. Accessed on March 2, 2018. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/psp.2036/full

2 Bencivenga and Smith, “Unemployment, Migration and Growth,” 582–608; Bilsborrow, “Migration, Population Change and the Rural Environment,” 69–94; Kavzoglu, “Determination of Environmental Degradation,” 429–438.

3 White, International Handbook, 474–75.

4 Найденова, 3–15.

5 In this essay, I use the term “immigrant” to refer to people who came, as immigrants, to the country from abroad. Similarly, the term “emigrant” refers to people who left the country. I use the term “in-migrant” to refer to people who migrated from one settlement to another within the country.

6 Груев, Демографски тенденции, 369–70.

7 Kopsidis, “Was Gerschenkron wright?” 9, 17; Lampe and Jackson, Balkan Economic History, 576–77; Ivanov, The Gross Domestic Product of Bulgaria, 105, 107; Teichova, “Industry,” 239.

8 For details see: The 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. See also: Long, “When refugees stopped being migrantsm”, 4–26.

9 Младенов и Димитров, “Урбанизацията в България,” 13; Минков, Миграция на населението, 85; Стефанов, Демография на България, 258–59.

10 Василева, Миграционни процеси в България, 94; Марчева, “Социални измерения на урбанизацията” 127; Марчева, Политиката за стопанска модернизация, 396–97.

11 In 1880 the urban population in the Bulgarian Principality constituted 16.7 percent of the total population of the newly created state; in 1920 – 19.9 percent, and in 1934 – 21.4 percent. See: Василева, Миграционни процеси в България, 110; Георгиев, Освобождението и етнокултурното, 24; Попов, Стопанска България, 13.

12 Тотев, “Населението на България”, 26–32; Стефанов, Демография на България, 218; Даскалов, Българското общество, 143.

13 Стефанов, Демография на България, 218.

14 Тотев, Населението на България, 26–32; Стефанов, Демография на България, 218.

15 Везенков, “Урбанизацията в България,” 56–69.

16 From South Dobrudja – Silistra, Tutrakan, Dobrich, Balchik, Kavarna, and from the Western Outskirts – Bosilegrad, Strumitsa, Tsaribrod (Dimitrovdrad).

17 Ahtopol, Bansko, Gorna Dzhumaja (Blagoevgrad), Nevrokop (Gotse Delchev), Dyovlen (Devin), Daradere (Zlatograd), Ortakyoi (Ivalovgrad), Koshukavak (Krumovgrad), Kardzhali, Malko Tarnovo, Melnik, Mastanli (Momchilgrad), Petrich, Razlog, Mustafa pasha (Svilengrad), Pashmakli (Smolyan) and Vasiliko (Tsarevo).

18 Везенков, “Урбанизацията в България,” 60; Данаилов, Изследвания върху, 164–68.

19 The Components of Urban Growth in Developing Countries. Population Division. Department of Economic and Social Affairs. United Nations Secretariat. ESA/P/WP.169. Sept. 21. United Nations, 2001, 58. Accessed on June 26, 2018. https://population.un.org/wup/Archive/Files/studies/United%20Nations%20(2001)%20-%20The%20Components%20of%20Urban%20Growth%20in%20Developing%20Countries.pdf

20 Poston and Bouvier, Population and Society, 307–11.

21 Tacoli, C. et al., World Migration Report 2015.

22 Until 1926, the censuses used 10,000 inhabitants as the threshold for the distinction between small towns/cities and big towns/cities.

23 This indicator was used by the ethnographer G. Georgiev, in his study of the internal migration and urbanization processes in the years after the formation of the Third Bulgarian State. See: Георгиев, Освобождението и етнокултурното, 23.

24 Тотев, “Населението на България”, 177–79; Цеков, “Селската селищна,” 78.

25 In 1880–1900 for instance (i.e. for a period of 20 years), the urban population in Bulgaria increased by 36.6 percent and the rural one by 31.6 percent. See: Георгиев, Освобождението и етнокултурното, 23.

26 Sources: Общи резултати 1923, 14–17; Общи резултати 1927, 16–23; Общи резултати 1931, 16–23.

27 Clearly, in-migration from one city to another does not affect the national rate of urbanization.

28 Population born in the locality where it was enumerated during the census.

29 At the same time, the proportion of in-migrants among the rural population remained unchangeable until 1920 and only increased afterwards.

30 Sources: Общи резултати 1923, 14–17; Общи резултати 1927, 6–23; Общи резултати 1931, 16–23; Преброяване на населението, 3.

31 Sources: Общи резултати 1923, 14–17; Общи резултати 1927, 16–23; Общи резултати 1931, 16–23; Преброяване на населението 3.

32 Women mainly headed for villages.

33 Василева, Миграционни процеси в България, 110.

34 Sources: Общи резултати 1923, 14–17; Общи резултати 1931, 16–19; Преброяване на населението, 3.

35 Forty thousand were displaced and only ten thousand remained in Bulgaria.

36 Sources: Общи резултати 1923, 14; Общи резултати 1931, 18.

37 Sources: Общи резултати 1923; Общи резултати 1931.

38 Vratsa, Stanimaka (Assenovgrad), Samokov, Kazanlak, Chirpan, Svishtov, Shumen and Turnovo.

39 Among the Greek population in Bulgaria, until the Balkan wars there was relatively low mortality. See Щерионов, “Демографският преход,” 256.

40 Sources: Общи резултати 1923, 14–17; Общи резултати 1927, 16–23; Общи резултати 1931, 16–23; Преброяване на населението 3.

41 Sources: Общи резултати 1923, 14–17; Общи резултати 1927, 16–23; Общи резултати 1931, 16–23.

42 Даскалов, Българското общество, 153–54.

43 Sources: Общи резултати 1926, 4–5; Общи резултати 1932, 4–7.

44 Ibid.

45 Source: Общи резултати 1932, 4–7.



pdfVolume 8 Issue 1 CONTENTS

Rural Society at the Time of the Cholera Outbreak: Household and Social Structure, Taxation and the Cholera Outbreak in Endrőd (1834–1836)

Gábor Koloh
Hungarian Agricultural Museum
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Endrőd is a village in Békés County along the Körös River. A census taken by the local church administration presents the composition of 663 household from 1835. From the perspective of household structure studies, this source is unique in length, age, and complexity. Furthermore, cholera destroyed the settlement the year before and after the census was taken. The census and parish registers offer sources on which one can study the impact of the epidemic on households. The tax register from 1834/1835 allows for the classification of family heads into tax categories, so we can extend the test to the relationship between financial background and mortality rate. This multivariate analysis uses the sources and methods used in epidemic history, social history, and historical demography.

Keywords: cholera, historical demography, tax registers 1834/35, mortality and welfare, spatial patterns

While browsing the archives of the parish of Endrőd, I came across a parish family book (“register of souls”) dated 1835, the first page of which (after the cover decorated with floral patterns) bore the title Az Endrődi Hivek Összeirása 1835ik Esztendötöl Kezdve G[öndöcs] J[ózsef káplán] (“Register of the Believers of Endrőd as of 1835 A.D. [Chaplain] J[ózsef] G[öndöcs].”

Endrőd today forms part of the town of Gyomaendrőd in southeastern Hungary on the banks of the Körös River. According to András Vályi’s description, it is a “Hungarian village in Békés County, the lord of the manor is Baron Harucher, the inhabitants are Catholic, situated near Gyoma and Ötsöd, belonging to the estate of Gyula, its arable lands are mostly good, meadows similarly, pasture is suitable for cattle of several herds, though some parts of its arable lands are flooded and some parts are nitrous, few woods and reeds, mill is negligible, marketplace is second-class due to its distance.”1 It would require a separate analysis to determine what Vályi meant precisely by “Hungarian village.” In fact, Johann Georg Harruckern, council member of the Hofkammer (the Exchequer of the Habsburg Empire), who received the settlement as part of the estate of Gyula, settled Hungarians and Slavs here in the 1720s and 1730s, mainly from the north of the Kingdom of Hungary, but following the initial period, during the work of parish priest Sámuel Pálfy (1772–1780), celebration of the mass in Slavic languages stopped,2 and as Elek Fényes put it in the mid-nineteenth century, “Slovaks also came, but they have now become entirely monolingual Hungarian.”3 In Fényes’s description, the arable lands are not only “mostly good,” but “they have such fertile, black clay soil mixed with sand that its winter wheat produces 15 seeds and its spring wheat produces 20.”4 Almost all (according to Fényes, 98 percent) of the inhabitants were Roman Catholic. The lord of the manor in the period under examination was baron Flórián Drechsel’s wife, Countess Karolina Stockhammer of the naturalized Stockhammer family.5 Regarding its geographical location, the village is a blank spot for analyses from the perspective of household structure, historical demography, or a deeper social history; only local ethnographic research has produced some serious results.6

The scholarship on household structure is “confusingly rich,”7 so I can present here only a very brief overview. In his book Property, Production, and Family in Neckarhausen 1700–1870, which was published in 1990, David Warren Sabean outlined the following evolution of household structure research: he named Frédéric Le Play and Wilhelm Riehl as the prominent representatives of the first generation of researchers in the field.8 Although the closely related Hungarian literature considers Le Play a sociologist, Sabean emphasizes the ethnographic character (Volskunde) of the research and conclusions of the first generation, where Le Play and Riehl saw the original patriarchal structure of the family9 as a continuous and functional whole with a head and dependent members.10 Le Play defined the stem family (famille-souche, when a married child remains in the parents’ household) and Riehl the enclosed household estate11 (das ganze Haus) as transformations of this patriarchal structure. According to Le Play’s concept, the parent couple lived together with one of their children and his or her family, while the others left the household.12 Sabean regards Karl Bücher as a member of the second generation of researchers. According to Bücher, the basis of the functioning of a household is production and consumption, producing for its own needs, and the family members do not participate in the production of goods. Like Bücher, Alekxander Chayanov, in his analysis of Russian peasant society, also saw the key to the functioning of the household in the close interrelationship of production and consumption.13 The third approach was built on these concepts. It originated in the study of historical demography, mainly in the work of Peter Laslett, who by that time had serious doubts as to the reliability of the widely known concept formulated by Le Play.14

Laslett questioned the “statements regarding the average size and structure of pre-industrial families and households and the historical change they allegedly underwent.”15 He objected to the fact that, although it had not become an exclusively accepted concept (research by Marion Levy explicitly refuted this hypothesis), it still was a recurrent “stereotype to talk about structures consisting of 30–40 members and three to ten families. When, however, historians analyzed the totality of households of a settlement or estate on the basis of surviving census records, it turned out that in reality, most peasant households were significantly smaller than this.”16 Laslett et al. conducted research covering England and northwestern Europe in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, which revealed a generally higher rate of nuclear families. Deviating results were found in analyses of family structures in the Balkans, where larger, more complex households occurred relatively often.17 The concept of patriarchal (married sons living in the same household with the parents) and stem family cohabitation was thus refuted, facilitating an understanding of the profound economic and social (including demographic) processes taking place in the nineteenth century. At the same time, Laslett’s typology of household structures and John Hajnal’s typology18 (its excessive complexities notwithstanding) also highlighted the relevance of cultural differences and the composition of the community, even if the acceptance of the role of the latter has now been overshadowed.19 The greatest difficulty faced in the research, hence, lies not in the various concepts, hypotheses, and further research prospects, but rather the lack of usable, reliable, and in particular dynamic sources. Although it is true that a dynamic analysis of the evolution of households would and could be more practical for the purpose of understanding the quality of cohabitation and also more meaningful than the mere exploration of regional samples, unfortunately these kinds of analyses can only be done in exceptional cases. Albeit Chaplain Göndöcs also started the parish family book with high hopes in 1835, by 1836 he mostly had recorded only the births up until that time and the information concerning those who had died of cholera (and not even everyone who belonged to this latter group!), and by 1837 only a small number of new or corrected entries had been added, and none were added in 1838. The national census of 1869 is the nearest in time to this period, but its record sheets have not survived from Endrőd (Mezőberény is the only settlement in the county for which the records survived).20

But this is just, so to speak, one of the basic problems regarding the analysis of households. The relevant literature has been discussing the problems of the term “household” for a long time. Gyula Benda used a succinct and witty definition, so it is worth quoting it in its entirety: “The household, i.e. basically a group people living under the same roof and of the same bread, is both an economic and social basic unit before industrialization. In the case of family estates, which were still dominant in the Early Modern period (whether agricultural or artisan in nature), the unit of production (and thus taxation) is also this cohabiting group. The family and the household are also the basal cell of accumulating and transferring wealth—their characteristics are closely related to the systems of inheritance. Finally, it is also a unit of consumption, everyday life is organized in its context.”21 Tamás Faragó, comparing the definition of the household with the definition of the family, wrote that the “household is different from the family both in its concept, content, organization, and system of activities, particularly in the pre-industrial era. Its members are bound by kinship (consanguinity, affinity, or fictive kinship) and by legal relationships (e.g. servants) and functional ties. Its core is usually but not necessarily a family.”22 Understanding and using the term becomes more difficult when it becomes apparent that households have various structures and different sizes even within individual settlements. In such cases, according to Benda, different models are developed which attempt either to present the different variations in their entirety or to present the shades of the various types through in-depth qualitative research, both on the international and domestic levels.23 The interpretation of the function of the households poses another set of problems. More than half a century ago, József Tamásy regarded them as mere economic communities, while Faragó emphasizes that the household group creates the necessary living conditions and ensures the socialization of new members, providing a material and mental “home space.”24 The more recent research of Péter Őri and Levente Pakot highlights the demographic and economic roles of the household, which are easier to grasp in quantitative terms.25

Tamásy highlighted the cohabitation of Croatian extended families in the eighteenth-century Kingdom of Hungary, where the average number of people in one household was over eight, while in Transylvania, Transdanubia, the Great Hungarian Plain, and the northern region of the country not many more than five people lived in the same household (with only minor differences in the different regions).26 Later domestic macroanalyses confirmed the proportion of households with an average of more than five people from the second half of the eighteenth century to the first decades of the nineteenth. Although the nuclear household could still be regarded as the dominant type, “the proportion of complex (extended and multiple-family) households was not insignificant, and at least in some areas, the majority of the population lived in such types of households type in one or another stage of their lives (...).”27 Furthermore, it is important to note that “households with a great number of people and a complex structure occurred primarily among serf peasantry, and only very rarely among landless layers of society.”28 Even though Faragó emphasizes the lack of sources, he did demonstrate the dynamic transformation of the household structure in the period of more than half a century in question. He concludes that in order to avoid the fragmentation of estates, becoming a landless serf (zsellér), or impoverishment, the proportion of complex households increased between 1787 and 1828, but at the same time, the household structures of different villages show various differences on a regional and ethno-cultural level.29 Micro research both confirmed the above conclusions and may have also refined them with restrictions to local circumstances. Such research includes the study conducted by Andorka and Sándor Balázs-Kovács in Sárpilis, where they repeated the above with respect to the size and composition of the households. Faragó broke down his data according to social strata in his examples from Pest county, but his micro findings verify the nationwide conclusions. The study by Magdolna Balázs and László Katus focusing on Central Transdanubia emphasizes the similarity with the Balkan and eastern household structure, while Gyula Benda’s analysis in Keszthely also establishes the dominance of the nuclear family and the more complex structures observed among farmers, serfs and merchants. Thanks to her sources, Ildikó Husz was able to perform an in-depth analysis of the households of Zsámbék in their dynamics, and she confirmed Faragó’s conclusion regarding the temporary increase in households of a more complex composition, similarly to Balázs Heilig’s analysis in Szőlősardó.30

My source, in the absence of any reference to a higher order, is a “church register of souls,” or a status animarum.31 In the source, the households are not distinguished from one another consistently, which also reinforces the foregoing. At the beginning of the family book, the relationships to the head of the household are accurately described, and later the indication of relations perceived as unambiguous (i.e. children) is omitted. In the second half of the book, even the status of alien persons (mainly servants) is often omitted. The heading of the family book is the following: Háznak aszáma, Vezeték és Kereszt Nevek, Sorsa, Kora (Eszt., Holn., Nap), Egy Házi Család Száma, Idegen Vallásúak, Észrevételek, or House Number, Family and Given Names, Fate, Age (Year, Month, Day), Number of People in the Household, Foreign Faith, Comments. As regards people who belonged to a so-called foreign faith, József Göndöcs recorded their number but failed to provide more details. Taking house number 9 as an example, we can first see the name of Mihály Bentsik (Fate: Landowner farmer), followed by his wife and daughters, then a female servant. Without any separation, the records continue with György Vaszkó (Fate: tenant) with his wife, daughter, and siblings. This row is then closed by a horizontal line, the Number of People in the Household is 10, then István Bálint (Fate: in the great vineyard) with his wife and two children. The family number thus increases to 14 people. As far as I know, there were no close family relations between Mihály Bentsik and György Vaszkó, but still, the two family heads were not separated from each other in the family book. In another example, in the case of house number 96, tenant Imre Fülöpp starts the row, followed by his wife, then Mihály Denitska, furrier, tenant, and his wife and daughter. The row is separated by a line from István Farkas (Fate: in the great vineyard), his wife, and son. Then, another line separates them from György Batsa, homeowner farmer, and his family, who should have been in the first place according to the generally applied logic of the family book.

If one compares the values of the earlier censuses and our source, although the number of households would probably have approximated the previous values if I had calculated the number of households along the lines drawn by the chaplain, due to the inconsistencies indicated above, it seemed more practical to apply the considerations of Őri and Pakot. While processing and coding the data, I considered one household where even though several family nuclei lived together, it was clear that they were close relatives, and I distinguished them from those in which, though not separated by a line, the tenants, gardeners, servants, and other employees were not relatives, but had a family.32 According to this method, a total of 960 households could be unambiguously distinguished.


Table 2. Average size of households and the number of married men per household, Endrőd, 1835

De facto


Number of married men

Number of households


size of households

Number of married men

per household






Source: Believers of Endrőd 1835. GySzIPL

The average size of households in 1835 does not indicate a cardinal deviation from the value of slightly more than five, which is treated as average in the literature. Therefore, the values of Endrőd correspond to the national average, so they (including the number of married men per household) can be considered representative values.

I used the Laslett–Hammel typology to classify the households in which (as seen from Table 3) 65 percent were nuclear households, which fits well in the series of literature refuting the theory of the dominance of stem families. According to the source, in addition to then 25-year-old homeowner farmer, Mátyás Juhász, who was in the lower category of taxpayers with his tax of 3 forints and 5 kreutzer, three widows lived alone: Mrs. István Palócz aged above seventy, Mrs. Mátyás Roncsek nearing her fortieth year of age (Widow Landowner), and Mrs. Mátyás Tímár (aged 22) spent their year of mourning in the period of the family book (October/November 1835).33 Those living in households with no family included János Lábos, the parish priest of Endrőd between 1825 and 1840, the Curator of the Church (caretaker) József Szölösy, and the unmarried manservants working at the slaughterhouse. Lábos’s household included the author of the source, the 28-year-old chaplain József Göndöcs, as well as chaplain János Piringer, the priest’s sister, and two servants. I considered “unclassifiable” the House of the Lord of the Manor, the House of the Village, and the Arany Patkó lodging house, which Göndöcs records as a separate house, even though he also notes that its tenants have been recorded under house no. 2. In the case of another two houses, albeit the Tenants themselves are known, the source only comments on the others that “at this house live a total of ununited Vlachs: 7.” In these cases, the relationships were impossible to explore.

The rate of 19.7 percent of households with multiple families is nearest to the 1808 value of Tiszacsege (18.4 percent), so corresponding to the classification of Faragó with the help of the Laslett–Hammel system, it constituted a temporary group.34 This is worth noting because for Faragó’s group, this temporary nature can be demonstrated in both Calvinist and Roman Catholic settlements, as well as in both Hungarian-speaking and Slovak-speaking settlements, and in this regard, Endrőd has all these attributes. It was predominantly Catholic but with a significant proportion of neighboring Calvinist settlements; it was Hungarian but part of the population was of Slavic origin. The average size of households (obviously) increased with the complexity of the households, and in comparison with the 1869 value, the values of Endrőd (apart from nuclear households) are on average higher by one person.35


Table 4. Breakdown of households according to the gender and age of the household head, Endrőd, 1835


Age groups








no data


( percent)





















No data




















Source: Believers of Endrőd 1835. GySzIPL

If we look at the distribution of household heads according to gender, the dominance of male household heads is apparent. Men aged between 25 and 44 constituted the main body. More than half of all the men belonged to this age group, while this ratio is only 6.4 percent in the case of men above 64. However, only rarely were older men living in the family not the head of the household as well: in all seven such cases, the man (whether he was the household head’s father or other) was 70 years old or older. In the case of women, a greater number in the older age group of 45–64 became household heads upon becoming widows. The age of non-head cohabiting elder women was 65 or higher.


Table 5. Households according to the household head’s gender and the main categories of household structure, Endrőd, 1835


Household type








No data

































Source: Believers of Endrőd 1835. GySzIPL

The correlations between the household types and the household head’s gender are shown by the percentages in table 4. These indicate that higher rates of men are heads of nuclear and multiple-family households, while women have greater proportions in the other variations. The situation of female household heads belonging to the first type has been discussed above. Households with no family show higher values for women only because of the proportions: this is actually one woman, 23-year-old Ágnes Goda, who lived in a household with her siblings. In the case of households with complex families, we can speak about households in which widows lived together with one or more of their married children and the widow did not transfer the household headship to one of her children. This was the case for Mrs. András Cz. Tóth, the widow of a landowner farmer, who paid taxes on nine acres of arable land, 5.5 acres of meadow and 1.5 acres of vineyard and lived together with her two sons, András (25) and István (20) and their wives and children. Accordingly, the conclusions deriving from the values in the table correspond to the findings of the MOSAIC project.36


Table 6. Household structure according to the age groups of male household heads, Endrőd, 1835

Household category

Age groups









1. Solitaries








2. No family








3. Nuclear








4. Extended








5. Multiple








6. Unclassifiable








Total ( percent)
















Source: Believers of Endrőd 1835. GySzIPL

The conclusions suggested by the values contained in table 6 also correspond to national trends. Male household heads under 54 years of age dominate in the case of nuclear households, while men in higher age groups are heads of multiple-family households. Those who became household heads young either became heads upon getting married and leaving the parents’ home or inherited the household after their parents had died. They most often were the heads of nuclear households. Less often, if they were not yet married, they lived alone or maybe with other unmarried persons.”37 Aging men, however, lived together with their married child(ren) and their families in increasing proportions.


Table 7. Household structure according to the age groups of female household heads, Endrőd, 1835

Household category

Age groups









1. Solitaries








2. No family








3. Nuclear








4. Extended








5. Multiple








6. Unclassifiable








Total (percent)
















Source: Believers of Endrőd 1835. GySzIPL


In accordance with the above, the ratio of female household heads was continuously shifting from the nuclear to the complex household structure over time. In the latter cases, typically the widowed mothers were the heads of the households, so they continued to manage the household after their husbands deaths. The dynamics of change according to age groups can be seen in the case of both the male and female household heads. In Endrőd, too, younger household heads typically managed the simple (nuclear) households, while elders managed the complex households. It was less typical but did occur occasionally that the aged household head passed the management of the household on to one of his or her children.

For the analysis of the distribution of household structures according to social (specifically, social, occupational, and ethnic) strata, I followed the category system derived from the source, with minor simplifications. This resulted in a total of nine social strata (groups). I analyzed the Roma separately, although they primarily belonged to the landless serf (zsellér) or farmhand (béres) categories.


Table 8. Household structures according to the social / occupational situation of the household heads, Endrőd, 1835

Household category


landowner farmers


small traders

homeowner landless serfs

landless serfs without own home




no data


1. Solitaries












2. No family












3. Nuclear












4. Extended












5. Multiple












6. Unclassifiable












Total (percent)
























Source: Believers of Endrőd 1835. GySzIPL

The results of Table 8 reflect the findings of previous microanalyses and macroanalyses. Typically farming serfs (or “farmers” to use the term used in the source) lived in this era in multiple-family households in larger proportions, although I should note that their majority in comparison with nuclear households is only relative. For intellectuals, living in households with no family (as seen from the examples above) was characteristic of the lifestyle arising from the nature of their occupations. Local intellectuals were not connected to the local society as regards their family relations. They formed a passing stratum, so to speak: the tenants of the parish house, including the parish priest and the chaplains, were replaced over time, and they typically did not integrate into the local society from the perspective of their family relations. While approximately 36 percent of homeowner landless serfs and Roma lived in more complex households, the ratio was much lower or zero for the others.

The distribution can be refined by performing the above classification also based on the data of the tax census of 1834–1835. Albeit there seemed to be several ways to classify tax censuses, all of them require a more comprehensive processing work encompassing multiple sources, which is currently not possible. Relying on the correlations of production volumes and the amount of taxes paid,38 I evaluated the first nine, then the subsequent one hundred, two hundred and the other taxpayers based on tax values.

By connecting the tax censuses and the household heads, I managed to achieve a two-thirds identification rate. There are some taxpayers in the censuses from Csejt-puszta: administratively, they belonged to Endrőd at this time, but Göndöcs did not record them in his parish family book. The identification was made quite difficult by the fact that in the case of some family names that are very common locally, it was impossible to identify the correct persons without a full analysis of the registers: Hornoks, Tímárs, and Uhrins lived in the settlement in great numbers, and even if the taxpayer was distinguished by an indication of the father’s given name, this was not always adequate to remove all the doubts.


Table 9. Household structures according to the taxation category of the household heads, Endrőd, 1835

Household category

Taxpayer’s serial number (tax amount)




10–99 (40–118)

100–199 (19–40)





400–499 (2–6)

500–539 (0.1–2)


1. Solitaries









2. No family









3. Nuclear









4. Extended









5. Multiple









6. Unclassifiable









Total (percent)


















Source: Believers of Endrőd 1835. GySzIPL; MNL BéML IV. A. 6. 1834–1835.

It should be noted for the interpretation of Table 9 that the taxpayers’ serial number was the same in the case of equal tax amounts, and that is why each group of hundreds could contain more than one hundred taxpayers. However, due to the two-thirds identification rate indicated above, I was not able to include everyone in my analysis. The value of the tax amount was determined by converting the kreutzer to forints and adding it to the forint value. The table indicates that the biggest taxpayers lived in multiple-family households in an outstandingly large proportion (75 percent), but the majority of household heads belonging to the first hundred taxpayer classes also lived and farmed in this form of cohabitation. István Hanyecz paid the most taxes in the tax year of 1834–1835: 237 Forints and 38 kreutzer. He is followed by military officer Imre Mészáros, then Mihály Gubucz. Hanyecz lived together with his wife, two sons, and daughters-in-law, as well as his grandchildren, his sibling, and their family, as well as a 16-year old servant boy. Imre Mészáros lived with his wife, children, and the family of one of his sons, as well as one manservant and one female servant. Mihály Gubucz lived and farmed together with his two sons and their families.

All taxpayers in the first tax class are landowners, while the second class also includes a gardener, Imre Vaszkó, and a homeowner landless serf (zsellér), Imre Farkas. Both lived in nuclear households. The number of landless taxpayers increases in the third class, there is a growing number of homeowner landless serfs and also artisans. So, in fact, the tax census indicates that a direct proportionality can be identified among those living from agriculture between the extent of their farming activity and living in households of complex families.


Table 10. The proportion of households employing external labor according to household structure categories, Endrőd, 1835


Household structure categories








Households employing external

labor ( percent)








N (total households)








Source: Believers of Endrőd 1835. GySzIPL

Households often employed external laborers for a shorter or longer period of time. Upon examining the household categories with families, one sees that the proportion of the households employing external labor increased together with the complexity of the household. These laborers, in most of the cases, were male or female servants. Gáspár Czinger, the town clerk, had two Lutheran housekeepers (though he belonged to a household with no families, while being in the second tax category), while the nobleman and cantor Károly Balla, who lived with his wife, son, and mother, had not only a female servant but also a coachman. The average age of manservants was 17. That of the female servants was 15.


Table 11. Ratio of average household size and households employing external laborers according to the household head’s age, Endrőd, 1835


Household head’s age







External laborer







General size of household







Source: Believers of Endrőd 1835. GySzIPL

Table 11 indicates that as the household head’s age increased, external laborers became increasingly involved in the management of the household. The higher percentages appearing in the older age groups suggest that aging household heads tried to replace the younger members of the family having left the household this way.

Regarding the year 1836, Historia Domus of Endrőd recorded the conditions according to which Kornélia Stockhammer leased her estates in Endrőd to the village, as well as (and especially) the assets the church purchased. It also noted that Mátyás Habdza had a wooden cross erected on the outskirts of Endrőd, for which he established a foundation of 50 Forints.39 Homeowner landless serf Mátyás Habdza died in July 1836, aged 75 according to the registers and 80 according to chaplain Göndöcs. The cause of death was senectus, which could be translated today as old age.40 Whether it was he who had the cross erected as a form of thanksgiving for his long life (particular for the era) or his son Mátyás (if one accepts that middle-aged Mátyás Habdza was the son of the deceased, Göndöcs’s error would be quite a big deviation, almost 10 years!) is impossible to determine based on this information: the Historia Domus did not record the month and the day. Either way, according to contemporary popular belief, erecting a cross could be justified by the fact that cholera, which had ravaged in Endrőd in the summer of 1836, had spared Mátyás Habdza’s household.41

Göndöcs made, among others, the following entries at the end of the book: Approx. 200 died in the Year 1831 A.D. in Cholera, and a little below that: in (Year) 1836 A.D. Again approx. 100 died of Cholera. As I have mentioned, Göndöcs completed the family book with, among others, the names of those died in the 1836 cholera outbreak in the following year. Comparing this with the entries of the death register, 75 people died between July 6 and August 21, 1836. In the parish family book, Göndöcs added cholera as the cause of death subsequently for 60 people. Collating the people’s data found in the register and the family book, Göndöcs indicated that a person died of cholera in 10 cases where this is not indicated in the register, and the register mentions cholera as the cause of death in a further 26 cases where it is not added to the family book. This means that a total of 86 people are known to have died of cholera, of whom 71 could be connected to the household register.


Table 12. Ratio of households with a member who died of cholera according to household structure categories, Endrőd, 1835






Households with a member who died of cholera (percent)





N (total households)





Source: Believers of Endrőd 1835, Register of Deaths of Endrőd, 1835–1836. GySzIPL


Our sample makes it possible to compare the ratio of households with a member who died of cholera and the composition of the households. Cohabitation, which meant frequent contact among multiple people, constituted a higher risk factor for the spread of diseases, as reflected by the values of Table 12. Those who died of cholera in the families were in larger proportions women (54.7 percent) than men (46.3 percent). A significant group of the deceased included those aged 1–3 and 45–65.

In this paper, I conducted a closer examination of a geographical area hitherto unexplored in terms of household structure analyses, namely the settlement of Endrőd in Békés County. It was useful to process the previously dormant parish family book to get a better understanding not only of the geographical space, but also of the period after 1828. I was able to use a complete source which is rather rare from the 1830s, or even the immediately preceding or subsequent decades, which could be used well both in terms of the richness and (with some reservations) the quality of the data. In summary, the results correspond nicely to the findings of earlier macroanalyses and microanalyses, and therefore the main conclusions can be extended to this region. My findings confirm the dominance of nuclear households. However, I was able to point out that due to the relatively higher proportion of complex households, the village has an interim character, so we may have managed to record a state in the ongoing process of the simplification of households. We can regard as a characteristic specific to this settlement that older household heads employed an external person in significantly larger proportions than the younger generations, which can be explained by the departure of the younger members of the family and thus can also be interpreted as a manifestation of disintegration. Furthermore, the analysis according to tax classes refines the uniform belief that typically peasant families lived in multiple-family household structures. The ratio of this type is much higher where the household head paid more taxes. The health risk arising from the cohabitation of multiple people is also worth noting, the real threat of which is reflected by the relevant difference in the number of deaths from cholera in each household structure.

Archival Sources

Békés County Archives of the Hungarian National Archives (MNL BéML)

IV. A. 6.: Békés vármegye adószedőjének iratai [Documents of the Tax Collector of Békés County] 1834–1835. Accesed on September 25, 2018. https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/435710?availability=Family percent20History percent20Library

V. B. 326. d.: Mezőberény nagyközség iratai [Documents of the Village of Mezőberény]. Census doc. 1869.

Archives of the Szent Imre Parish of Gyomaendrőd (GySzIPL)

Endrőd, Register of Deaths. Accessed on September 25, 2018

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0ByjN02LbwH6sb2FNdlg0NWFmdm8? usp=sharing

Believers of Endrőd 1835: Az Endrődi Hivek Összeirása 1835ik Esztendötöl Kezdve G[öndöcs] J[ózsef káplán] (Register of the Believers of Endrőd as of 1835 A.D. [Chaplain] J[ózsef] G[öndöcs]).

Historia Domus: Historia Ecclesiae, et Parochiae Endrődinensis conscriptu Anno 1833.


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Fényes, Elek. Magyarország geographiai szótára, mellyben minden város, falu és puszta, betürendben körülményesen leiratik [The Geographical Dictionary of Hungary That Describes Each Town, Village and Farmland in Alphabetical Order and in Detail]. Published by Elek Fényes. Pest: Vazul Kozma, 1851. Accessed on 25.09. 2018


Vályi, András. Magyarországnak leírása I. [Description of Hungary I] First facsimile edition. Méry Ratio, Šamorín, [1796] 2003.


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1 Vályi, Magyarországnak leírása I, 577.

2 Márkus, Békés vármegye, 282; Pesty, Békés megye Pesty Frigyes helynévgyűjtésében, 40; Karácsonyi, Békésvármegye története II. kötet, 97; Iványi, 200 éves az endrődi Szent Imre templom, 52.

3 Fényes, Magyarország geographiai szótára.

4 Ibid.

5 Historia Domus: Historia Ecclesiae, et Parochiae Endrődinensis conscriptu Anno 1833, GySzIPL, 41; Szilágyi, “Egy 19. század eleji birtokelidegenítés esete,” 771–94; Szilágyi, “Indigenák és helyi társadalom,” 140–47.

6 See the Endrődi füzetek [Endrőd Journals] series published between 1992 and 2014.

7 Őri, and Pakot, “Háztartásszerkezet,” 165.

8 Sabean, Property, production, and family, 89.

9 For more detail, see Andorka, “A család és háztartás nagysága,” 147.

10 Andorka, “A család és háztartás nagysága,” 147; Melegh, “A tizenkilencedik század eleji városi háztartások,” 135.

11 Translated by Gergely Krisztián Horváth; see Horváth, Bécs vonzásában, 35.

12 Sabean, Property, production, and family, 89; Andorka, “A család és háztartás nagysága,” 147. Melegh, “A tizenkilencedik század eleji városi háztartások,” 135–36.

13 Sabean, Property, production, and family, 95.

14 Sabean, Property, production, and family, 99; Bácskai, Család, háztartás, társadalom, 7; Andorka, “A család és háztartás nagysága,” 147–48.

15 Melegh, “A tizenkilencedik század eleji városi háztartások,” 135.

16 Andorka, and Faragó, “Az iparosodás előtti,” 402.

17 Ibid., 402–3.

18 Hajnal, “European Marriage Patterns,” 101–43; Hajnal, “Two Kinds of Preindustrial Household,” 449–94.

19 Fauve-Chamoux, “Strategies of Household Continuity,” 138; Bácskai, “Család, háztartás, társadalom,” 7; Derosas, and Saito, “Introduction,” 1; Oris, and Ochiai, “Family Crisis,” 23; Őri, and Pakot, “Háztartásszerkezet,” 166; Szołtysek, “Rethinking Eastern Europe,” 389–427; Szołtysek, “Spatial Construction,” 11–52.

20 MNL BéML V. B. 326. d.

21 Benda, “A háztartások nagysága,” 109.

22 Faragó, “Nemek, nemzedékek, rokonság, család,” 393–483. 455.

23 Benda, “A háztartások nagysága.”

24 Tamásy, “Az 1784–1787. évi első,” 527; Faragó, “Nemek, nemzedékek, rokonság, család,” 455. Faragó distinguishes these functions from the family by giving the following explanation: “albeit the terms of family and household can coincide, it is an undeniable fact that the two are not always the same. A family is not necessarily characterized by cohabitation, the socialization of new family members and the performance of household functions do not always occur within the family, and the ‘home space’ also often extends beyond the family.” Faragó, “Nemek, nemzedékek, rokonság, család,” 455–56.

25 “In past societies where reproduction of the population was connected primarily to the institution of marriage and where the households (groups of people actually living together and cooperating, whether they were relatives or not) represented the basic unit of work and consumption in addition to demographic reproduction, the marriage customs and the rules of forming a household had a direct impact on population development.” Őri, and Pakot, “Háztartásszerkezet,” 164.

26 Tamásy, “Az 1784–1787. évi első,” 530–31. Regarding the usability of extended family, see: Andorka, and Faragó, “Az iparosodás előtti,” 414.

27 Andorka, and Faragó, “Az iparosodás előtti,” 437.

28 Ibid., 437.

29 Andorka, and Faragó, “Az iparosodás előtti,” 437; Faragó, “Nemek, nemzedékek, rokonság, család,” 460–68; Faragó, “Különböző háztartás-keletkezési,” 36–37.

30 Andorka, and Balázs-Kovács, “A háztartások jellemzőinek,” 229–33; Andorka, and Faragó, “Az iparosodás előtti,” 417–21; Balázs, and Katus, “Közép-dunántúli paraszti,” 166; Benda, “A háztartások nagysága,” 134. Husz, Család és társadalmi reprodukció, 69–74; Heilig, “Paraszti háztartások”, 253–54.

31 Andorka, and Faragó, “Az iparosodás előtti,” 403.

32 Őri, and Pakot, “Háztartásszerkezet,” 171–72.

33 Mátyás Roncsek died in January 1835, István Palócz in February, and Mátyás Tímár in September.

34 Faragó, “Rokonsági viszonyok,” 256.

35 Őri, and Pakot, “Háztartásszerkezet,” 174.

36 “In higher age groups, there was a greater chance to live together with one or more married children, much as there was a higher chance of remaining alone after becoming widowed or living under the same roof with people other than relatives. The phenomenon of women becoming heads of the households was related to special stages of the life cycles of the households. Living alone could be typical both of younger and older household heads, recently widowed household heads with children tended to be younger women (nuclear households), while living together with married children as the heads of the household was more typical of older women (households with extended or multiple families). In conclusion, the household heads’ gender was an important factor of the composition of the household.” Őri, and Pakot, “Háztartásszerkezet,” 176.

37 Ibid.

38 Kövér, A tiszaeszlári dráma, 111–18.

39 Historia Domus: Historia Ecclesiae, et Parochiae Endrődinensis conscriptu Anno 1833. GySzIPL, 41., 59.

40 Endrőd, Register of Deaths, 10 July 1836. GySzIPL

41 On the implications of cholera in Hungary, see: Mádai, “Kolerajárványok,” 2–3. 330–51; Dávid, “Az 1831. évi kolera,” 293–312; Gecsei, Cholera morbus; Boa, “Kolerajárványok a 19. századi,” 193–205; Tamás Faragó conducted an in-depth qualitative analysis for Maramureş County, see: Faragó, “Humanitárius katasztrófák,” 19–78. For its implications regarding Békés County, see Magyary-Kossa, Magyar orvosi emlékek, 114; Dávid, “Az 1831. évi kolera,” 293–312; Mádai, “Hat nagy kolerajárvány,” 68.


Table 1. Number of houses and households in Endrőd (1787–1835)











national census




parish family book















General size of household





Total number of inhabitants





Source: Erdei, Békés megye, 113; Believers of Endrőd 1835. GySzIPL


Table 3. Household structure according to main household categories, average size of households, Endrőd, 1835





size of households





1. Solitaries






2. No family






3. Nuclear






4. Extended






5. Multiple






6. Unclassifiable












Source: Believers of Endrőd 1835. GySzIPL

pdfVolume 8 Issue 1 CONTENTS

A Spatial Analysis of the Socio-economic Structure of Bonyhád Based on the Census of 1869*

Réka Gyimesi and Dániel Kehl
University of Pécs, Faculty of Humanities
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In this study, we examine the social structure of Bonyhád, a multi-ethnical and multi-confessional Transdanubian town in Tolna County. We analyze the individual level data of the census of 1869 and offer a visual rendering of the results on a historical map of the town. The surviving material of this inventory covers the entire population of Bonyhád, providing a detailed picture about 6,036 inhabitants. Records include the names, sex, birth year and place, marital status, occupation and occupational status, literacy, residence, and whether the person in question was present or absent at the time the census was taken. As in Tolna County a cadastral survey was finished in 1866, a contemporary cadastral map is also available. Combined, these sources provide rich information about the spatial structure of the town, because the coordinates are also available using the mapire.eu website, which is overlaid on the OpenStreetMap and the HERE satellite base map. One can use the degrees of longitude and latitude of each household and study the census and the map together in R, a free software environment for statistical computation and graphics.

Bonyhád was the economic center of a small region and had a position of strategic importance in the control of local trade routes. After the end of the period of Ottoman occupation, German settlers arrived and lived alongside the original Hungarian and Serb population. Later, a significant Jewish community settled in the area in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The denominational composition of the population, according to the census of 1869, was 41 percent Roman Catholics, 31 percent Lutherans, 5 percent Calvinist and 23 percent Jewish. The analysis of the census-based information and the visual rendering of the results on the cadastral map explain valuable details about the socio-economic structure of Bonyhád, including the question of segregation, which would be difficult to demonstrate on the basis of qualitative sources, as is typically the case with historical research.

Keywords: socio-economic structure, spatial pattern, R software, segregation, nineteenth c. censuses


Bonyhád acquired central functions in the Völgység, which can be described as an agricultural region in Tolna County. The settlement started to develop dynamically in the eighteenth century due to its role as a “geographical gate.” A trade route led through it, and two bridges made it possible for travelers to cross the valley. According to the secondary literature on the local history of the area, this increasingly urbanized town evolved into an industrial-commercial center, which became a market town in 1782 with the right to hold four fairs per year. In the 1850s, Bonyhád turned into the administrative center of the executive unit, called Völgység (which essentially means valley region).1 In the work of Vera Bácskai and Lajos Nagy on the urban structure of Hungary, Bonyhád was introduced as a settlement with local significance. Its fairs were mainly visited by its own inhabitants, as they did not attract people from a larger range.2 This essay also emphasizes the role of local merchants in arranging trade through Tolna County.3

After the Ottoman Era, the town was inhabited by Calvinist Hungarians and Orthodox Serbs, but a few years later, the settlement was considered uninhabited territory. Large-scale German settlement started in the early eighteenth century. It enjoyed the support of the state and the secular and clerical landowners, who sought to repopulate their lands. As a result of this process, Bonyhád evolved into a town with a Roman Catholic German majority.4 While in 1715, records indicate only seven Hungarian and nine Serb families were counted, in 1728 42 Hungarian and 15 German families were paying taxes, and in 1748, these figures had shifted to 11 Hungarian and 29 German families.5 Until the middle of the following century, the number of inhabitants steadily increased. In 1785, there were 2,999 people living in Bonyhád. By 1828, this number had risen to 4,639, and the census in 1850 indicated 6,524 inhabitants and the one in 1857 indicated 6,371.6

The German settlers were not all Roman Catholic. A large number of Lutherans also arrived. German Calvinists from Hessen settled in Bonyhád as they did in other towns in Tolna County, but they mostly assimilated into the Lutheran majority.7 Hungarians were Roman Catholics and Calvinists. In the eighteenth century, the settlement of Jews in the town began, a process which peaked in the 1780s, when there were more than 400 Jewish inhabitants in Bonyhád.8 As a result of the abovementioned denominational mix, five denominations and four churches were found in Bonyhád in the period in question. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, alongside the Roman Catholics, Calvinists and Lutherans were also building churches in the town, and a synagogue was also constructed.9

Sources and Methods

The analysis was based on the individual sheets of census 1869,10 which contain data concerning people living together in the same households. The fact that this source is even extant is exceptional, as the original individual sheets survived only in the case of a few settlements of present-day Hungary.11 Bonyhád offered a good research opportunity given the survival of these sources, and the population was heterogeneous from the religious and socio-economic perspective.

In our analysis, we examined and combined housing statistics and individual level data of inhabitants from the census material and projected the results on the nineteenth-century map of Bonyhád. In the first place, we concentrate on the denominational and occupational distribution of the population and the connection between these two variables. Our aim in this study is empirically to test some of the well-known relations between religious belonging and occupations (for example Jews were mainly occupied as merchants)12 and to compare results of previous studies to the data regarding Bonyhád. While there was no religious pattern or concentration of inhabitants in Sátoraljaújhely13 besides that of the Jewish population, we can assume that the results will be different in the case of a resettled community.14

According to the census, of the altogether 6036 inhabitants of Bonyhád in 1869, 2,961 were males and 3,075 were females, which means a sex ratio of 1,038 females to 1,000 males. The census registered housing statistics on a separate sheet (location, number of rooms and outbuildings, whether the building served as a place to live only or also as a shop, etc.), as it did in the case of domestic animals. On the middle sheet, the name, sex, year and place of birth, religion, marital status, occupation and occupational status, residence, presence or absence, and literacy of the inhabitants were given. Comments involving factors like e.g. illness, military service, place of absence, etc. were written in the last column. In cases of multiple households sharing the same house, a vertical line separated the Wohnparteien.15

The numbering of the houses was continuous in the settlement, so the figures started from one and increased to the number of the last house of the town, independently of the streets. 1306 Wohnparteien lived in Bonyhád in 763 houses, which means 1.7 households per houses. This figure is higher than the average for Pest County (1.3–1.4).16 The average size of households was 4.6 persons, which correspond to the national average at the time.17

In the course of our investigation, we applied five broader categories of occupations18 in order to increase the efficiency of analysis. We employed the method introduced by Péter Őri and Levente Pakot, who created the following socio-professional groups based on HISCLASS:19 (1) Groups of higher status (non-manual), (2) Craftsmen (artisans and merchants), (3) Farmers (landowners), (4) Groups of lower status (unskilled) and (5) Other.20

We do not endeavor or claim to offer any detailed examination of demographic characteristics like marital customs or the number of children in a family without the use of parish registers. We cannot arrive at reliable conclusions concerning demographic phenomena exclusively on the basis of census data, because census data provide detailed information on the population on a particular date. We know how many people lived in the town on December 31, 1869, but we have no information concerning the total number of children who were born in the family or the number of those who left their homes. Likewise, we do not know how many children were born after this day in the same family. The census material makes possible the analysis of the spatial pattern of the distribution of the household-types using Laslett’s categories.21 Laslett’s method introduced categories based on the relationships among the household-members, not the number of the inhabitants, so the uncertainty caused by the lack of all the life events can be solved by drawing on his work. Using the census data, we also can analyze the spatial distribution of the age-groups, but neither the age-distribution nor the Laslett classification showed characteristic spatial arrangement, so we decided to exclude these aspects in what follows.

We also examined household members who were not blood-related to the family, like servants or apprentices, and we compared them to their employers from the perspective of their religion or place of birth. Although there is a column for residence in the census sheet, in our opinion it’s not suitable to distinguish so-called foreigners from the resident population, because this distinction only refers to the period during which these people lived in the same place, not their origin (place of birth). The numbers of these columns confirm our assumption. 87 percent of the population belonged to the resident category according to which division, but only 75 percent had been born in Bonyhád.22

In the second half of the nineteenth century cadastral surveys were carried out in the Crownlands of Hungary, beginning in 1856 in the western part of the country and heading eastward. The survey of Tolna county was completed in the mid-1860s.23 Thus, we have a cadastral map from Bonyhád which is contemporary with the census.24 A historical map includes valuable information about the geographical situation of the town, but on the homepage of Mapire digitalized maps are available with coordinates. The webpage combined the historical maps with OpenStreetMap and Google Maps.25

By analyzing the spatial structure based on census data, we aimed to use free and/or open source software solutions that are also capable of performing transformations of raw data and proper statistical analysis. This approach makes this research much more reproducible and could help researchers conduct similar studies in the future.26 Steps followed in creating the maps are to be found at the end of our study in the annex.

Spatial Distribution

Housing statistics

Data from the census enable us to investigate housing circumstances of the inhabitants of Bonyhád. The differences are best shown by the population density (mean number of residents in a room). This value is 2.64 people/room on average in Bonyhád according to the 1869 census. However, there are differences among the houses in this respect, as shown on figure 1.27

As the map shows, most of the houses had a population density around the mean of 2.64, but there are some houses where more than four inhabitants shared one room. In the southern and southeastern parts of the town, we see buildings with low population densities. These bigger houses were owned by the Perczels and other landowning nobles. According to the map, in several cases, there were parks or large gardens on these properties behind the house. Of the 763 houses of the settlement, only 20 were two-story houses. The largest number of rooms was 23 in one house, but there were 20 households sharing the edifice, so number of rooms alone does not mean that the inhabitants were wealthy. That is why we decided to put the population density on the map, and based on the result, we can conclude that Bonyhád was more an agricultural settlement than urban.

Spatial distribution of denomination

Based on census data, Bonyhád had 2,463 Roman Catholic (40.8 percent), 1,890 Lutheran (31.3 percent), 1,359 Jewish (22.5 percent), 317 Calvinist (5.3 percent), and seven Orthodox (0.1 percent) inhabitants in 1869. In the literature, we find statements about the spatial patterns which agree in part with these figures. One source indicates that Hungarians settled down in the southern part of the town, while Germans chose the northern part.28 Others call the eastern line of houses the “Hungarian Bonyhád,” while the western line of houses was referred to as “German Bonyhád.”29 These two approaches were synthesized by Wilhelm Knabel, according to whom the two landholders of Bonyhád (baron Schilson and Ferenc Kun) split the settlement in 1729. To south and west of the main square, the “German village” developed, with the tavern, butchery, and three mills which belonged to the baron. Ferenc Kun gained the northern and eastern part of the settlement, the so-called “Hungarian village,” with the wine shop and the brewery. The part of the town inhabited primarily by German speakers tended to prefer Roman Catholic settlers, while the Hungarian-speaking community preferred Calvinists. Several Lutherans moved into the Hungarian part of the town from the surrounding settlements.30

This statement is underpinned by the map showing the spatial distribution of denominations. Protestants are found in the northern part of the settlement, and Roman Catholics populated the south. Religion seems to have had a stronger effect on spatial patterns than nationality. Many sources also state that Lutheran and Calvinist settlers did not live in the German village, and both villages had inhabitants belonging to both nationalities.31 The contention that denominational belonging was the most important single factor in determining settlement patterns within the town is also supported by the placement of cemeteries and churches, which reflects the spatial distribution observable on our map. This confirms the sources cited and also shows that the religiously differentiated structure which evolved at the time of resettlement remained stable one century later.

Jews formed their own closed community in the city center between the German and Hungarian villages. Their activities turned Bonyhád into the trading center of the region in this era.32

Spatial distribution of occupation

The census registered the occupation and occupational status of the inhabitants, and on the basis of this, we categorized the inhabitants of the settlement into the abovementioned five groups. These columns are usually left blank in the cases of women and small children, but data were available concerning household heads, older children, and other residents. Thanks to this data, we know the sources of income for 2,155 inhabitants of Bonyhád. Broken down into occupational groups, 99 of these people belonged to a stratum which had a higher status (they performed non-manual labor), 462 were artisans and merchants, 228 were landowners, and 1,302 were members of lower strata (i.e. unskilled laborers). 64 people couldn’t be categorized into the abovementioned classes (e.g. almsmen).

As over half of the inhabitants belonged to the unskilled category, which is in line with the agricultural characteristics of Bonyhád, we decided to create two subcategories. One of them includes unskilled agricultural workers only (e.g. unskilled farm workers, farm servants), while the other consists of unskilled workers who worked together with artisans (e.g. apprentices, journeymen) and other servants and maids.

As can be observed on the map, most of the merchants and artisans lived in the center of the settlement, while the northern and southern parts of the settlement were populated by landowners, especially the Protestant parts. Using our subcategories, we acquire a more detailed picture of the spatial pattern of the unskilled stratum: the distribution of unskilled workers reflects that of the artisans and landowners (agricultural unskilled workers lived outside the center of town, while apprentices and journeymen in the center). The inhabitants who did non-manual labor and therefore belonged to a higher social stratum also tended to live in the middle of the settlement.

The spatial distribution of different occupations is quite different. In some cases, artisans with the same profession lived throughout the settlement (e.g. masons), while most of the merchants were concentrated in the center, as were tailors. Weavers were only found on the periphery. Innkeepers and tavern owners opened shops both in the center and next to commercial routes in the southeastern area.

Occupation and religion

The settlement pattern according to denominational belonging shows similarities to that of occupation shown on the previous maps. We further analyzed this relationship between occupational class and denomination (leaving out Orthodox inhabitants due to their small number, we had information concerning the denominational belonging of 2,150 residents of the town). The resulting cross table shows a significant association between the two variables (p<0.001).

Table 1 shows the distribution of occupational groups within each of the four big denominations. The higher status group comprised 4.5 percent of the total population. This figure is somewhat less among Lutherans and higher in the case of Calvinists and Roman Catholics. The proportion of artisans is clearly highest among inhabitants belonging to the Jewish community (around 40 percent). It is close to 20 percent in the case of Roman Catholics and remains below 15 percent in the case of Protestants. Farmers made up almost 20 percent of the Lutheran and 15 percent of the Calvinist communities, while the ratio is below nine percent for Roman Catholics and under one percent in case of Jewish inhabitants. As we have already seen, the largest group was comprised of unskilled workers. Their proportion of the population remained under 50 percent in the case of Jews, but for people belonging to Christian denominations, it is between 60 and 66 percent. The last (Other) group has a low percentage of unskilled laborers, with minor differences between denominations.


Table 1. Distribution of occupational groups within denominations,
Bonyhád, 1869


Lutheran (percent)

Calvinist (percent)

Roman Catholic (percent)

Jewish (percent)

Total (percent)



















Unskilled laborer


















Nearly 200 different occupations are mentioned in the census data. Most professions had only a few representatives in the settlement. However, there are quite different occupational patterns in the case of the four denominations. We conducted a correspondence analysis which revealed that the main difference was between members of the Jewish community and people who belonged to the three Christian denominations. Most of the professions were avoided by Jews, while some were dominated by them. In some cases, however, the denominational distribution reflects the proportions of the population. Examples of each case are presented in Table 2.


Table 2. Denominational patterns in selected occupations,
Bonyhád, 1869




Roman Catholic



















































The relationship between denominations and occupations in itself is not novel, but the spatial analysis in this case of a resettled eighteenth-century town raises several questions. Sources and the map of the spatial pattern of denominations both underpin that the eighteenth-century separation of religions still strongly affected structure of society in the nineteenth century.

The relationship between Jews living in the settlement center and the concentration of artisans here seems obvious. For a long time, Jews were not allowed to own land.33 It is easy to see why they settled in the dense central parts of the town, where they could be more successful. But is the relationship between Protestants (in this case mainly Lutherans) and the class of farmers also that univocal? One simple explanation might be that the main goal of recruiting German settlers was to find farmers to (re)cultivate abandoned lands. However, sources and contemporary laws show evidence that allowances were given not only for agricultural workers, but also to artisans.34 New settlers arriving to Bonyhád were not only agricultural workers but also artisans. It seems clear that the settlement patterns in the eighteenth century were based on denomination, but the question remains: did this also cause the occupational differences, or did inhabitants adapt to this spatial structure and chose their occupation accordingly? In other words, the direction of the possible causal relationship between denomination and occupation is still unclear and requires further investigation.

Non-relatives – cooperation and separation

According to the census data, the denominations of servants and maids corresponded to the denomination of their employers. We also analyzed the birthplace of this group of non-relatives living together with a family , which was the most mobile stratum of the population of Bonyhád. Regarding the presence/absence columns, 498 people were absent (five people only temporarily), who were listed mainly as children in the households. Their occupations were not given in every case, but otherwise they were servants, maids, apprentices, journeymen, or people serving in the military, which demonstrates the extent of the mobility of these groups.

Table 3 presents the denominational or religious belonging of servants and maids alongside the denominational or religious belonging of their employers.


Table 3. Religion or denomination of servants and their employers, Bonyhád, 1869


Denominational belongings of heads of households (number)

Lutheran (18)

Calvinist (7)

Roman Catholic (44)

Jewish (37)


Servant’s denominational belonging













Roman Catholic


















Born in Bonyhád






Of these 140 servants, 28 were males and 112 were females. Therefore, in all cases the number of females was always higher than the number of males. All of the servants employed by Jewish households were female, including 13 Jewish maids. Jewish servants only served in Jewish households. We can observe a more open pattern among Roman Catholics and Protestants, and not only in the case of servants and maids, but also in the case of the craftsman-apprentice relationship (Table 4). 35


Table 4. Religion of apprentices and their employers, Bonyhád, 1869


Denominational belonging of heads of households (number)

Lutheran (28)

Calvinist (1)

Roman Catholic (42)

Jewish (19)


Apprentice’s denominational belonging













Roman Catholic


















Born in Bonyhád






On average, Roman Catholic heads of household employed the most servants (77 servants for 44 households) and apprentices (80 apprentices for 42 craftsmen). The most frequent number of servants/apprentices was one, but there were some exceptions.36 In Tables 2 and 3, the number of servants and apprentices who were born in Bonyhád is also presented. In all cases, we can see that the proportion of local born employees is quite low. This suggests that mobility was relatively high among members of this group.37


Based on the census of 1869, we examined the socio-economic spatial structure of the agricultural settlement of Bonyhád using the cadastral map from the 1860s as a visualization tool. After a short introduction of housing data in general, the study focused on settlement patters according to denomination and occupation. We verified that resettlement still had a strong influence on the denominational structure of the community in the nineteenth century. We demonstrated a statistically significant relationship between religion and occupation. Further analysis was completed about the denomination of non-relatives and households living together. As a result, we offered statistic evidence in support of contentions found in qualitative secondary literature and earlier studies according to which Jewish society in the town was much more closed than the Christian denominations. They only worked in houses belonging to people of their own religion and they lived in a well-separable place in the town center. Spatial patterns were investigated for every profession and some of them were represented on maps. In some cases, a particular occupation seemed to predominate among the community which belonged to a particular denomination, while other occupations seemed to have been less connected to a given religion or denomination. The study also indicated the complexity of the society under study and concluded that resettlement was an important factor which influenced the socio-economic and denominational structure of the town even a century later.

Our results underpin the strong relationship between denomination and occupation and settlement patterns within the town. However, the direction of the causation needs further investigation, as an important question remains unanswered: did the settlement patterns influence occupation, and if so, to what extent, or did settlers find their homes based on their profession.


Four steps were taken to complete the maps presented later in our paper:

1. based on the historical map, polygons were defined which represent houses, and they were used to connect data concerning inhabitants and their houses to the map;

2. the file containing the historical map was read into R and GPS coordinates were added;

3. polygons were read into R;

4. statistical calculations were made and the final maps were created based on previous results.

The first step was done in Inkscape,38 a free open source vector graphics editor. Inkscape uses the open standard SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), which enables us to create small but scalable graphics. All other steps were performed in R,39 which is a free and open source software environment for statistical computing and graphics.40 The open source status makes it possible for users to contribute their own code to a central repository (CRAN). These contributions are called packages, and the number of packages grows rapidly. There are over 13,000 packages at the moment, and we use some of them for data manipulation and to create maps.

The resolution of the base map is 3080 x 6925 pixels. We read the base map into Inkscape and then used the appropriate tool to draw linear polygons on another layer to represent houses. The so-called Draw Bezier curves and straight lines tool seemed to be the best choice, as it is able to snap nodes to polygons which have already been defined, which means we could easily draw polygons which are perfectly matching and which cover the entire map. One property of all objects in Inkscape is their ID, where we used the house numbers of the census to make it easier to connect polygons to census data later on. Filling the polygons which had already been drawn with a somewhat transparent color makes the manual process even simpler.

Figure 5. Manually creating polygons in Inkscape


As a result, we created a vector graphic map of nineteenth-century Bonyhád which is zoomable, small, and easy to read. There are several format options available to store polygon data. We chose the so-called absolute coordinates (instead of relative coordinates), which are easier to process in R as an XML file. Once we finished drawing all the polygons, we could remove the base map and save the final vector graphic map of the settlement.

In the R environment, there are several plotting packages. We used ggplot241 and its extension for maps called ggmap.42 This latter package is applied to create visual renderings of spatial data on top of static maps from various online sources (Google Maps, OpenStreetMap, Stamen Mapsor CloudMade). The package assumes that one is plotting on a map which comes from the abovementioned online sources. However, we can convert our png file to a ggmap object by adding the bounding box data (lower left und upper right corner GPS coordinates). As a result of several lines of code in R, we now have a high resolution ggmap object which contains a raster and its place in the GPS coordinate system. As this is the basis of all the maps, we saved this into the native R datafile (RDa).

The next step was to read and convert the polygon dataset in R. As already mentioned, the svg file we created in the first step is basically an xml file which contains all polygons in nodes called path. All paths have multiple attributes, but we only need the ones named “d,” which contain the coordinates (in pixels), and the ones named “id,” which contain the house numbers. Reading and converting polygons to the GPS coordinate system enables us to produce different types of maps. On one side, we can draw the polygons with different colors representing various characteristics of the given house (e.g. population density, meaning people/room). On the other side, in several cases we plotted characteristics of the inhabitants of a given house. For instance, we put (equal size) pie charts in the center of the polygon (this approach seemed appropriate as the religion or denominational belonging of the inhabitants of a given building was usually not the same). We drew this type of map using the scatterpie package.43



Archival Sources

Tolna Megyei Levéltár [Tolna County Archives] (TML)

V. 709./c Közigazgatási iratok 1850–1949 [Administrational Documents, 1850–1949]. Bonyhád nagyközség iratai, 1869. évi népesség és háziállatok összeírása [Documents of Bonyhád, Census of 1869 and the Enumeration of Domestic Animals]. 512–513. box


Printed sources

A Magyar Korona Országaiban az 1870. év elején végrehajtott népszámlálás eredményei a hasznos házi állatok kimutatásával együtt [Census 1870 in the Crownlands of Hungary, together with the numbers of farm animals], edited by Országos Magyar Királyi Statistikai Hivatal. Pest: Athenaeum, 1871.

Magyarország történeti statisztikai helységnévtára, 10. Tolna megye [Historico-statistical Gazetteer of Hungary, 10. Tolna County], edited by Andrásné Jeney, and Árpád Tóth. Budapest: MTA – KSH, 1966.

Tolna megye (Georeferált vármegyei kataszteri térképek): 1859–1864 [Tolna County (Georeferenced Cadastral Maps of the Counties): 1859–1864], edited by Sándor Biszak, and Gábor Timár. Budapest: Arcanum, 2010.


Secondary literature

Bácskai, Vera, and Nagy, Lajos. Piackörzetek, piacközpontok és városok Magyarországon 1828-ban [Market regions, market centers, and towns in Hungary in 1828]. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1984.

Balázs Kovács, Sándor et al. Tolna megye kézikönyve [Handbook of Tolna county]. Magyarország Régiói, Dél-Dunántúli Régió [Regions of Hungary, region of South-Transdanubia], edited by Dezső Bunovácz. Budapest: Ceba Kiadó, 2005.

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1 Szőts, A völgységi nemzetiségi-etnikai csoportok együttélése, 196.

2 Bácskai and Nagy, “Piackörzetek,” 49, 222.

3 Ibid., 252.

4 Solymár, “Bonyhád – hajdan Bonyha,” 42.

5 Várady, “Bonyhád a törökkor végétől,” 88.

6 Magyarország történeti statisztikai helységnévtára, 42.

7 Schmidt, Német telepesek bevándorlása, 81.

8 Várady, “Bonyhád a törökkor végétől,” 88.

9 Szita, A lutheránus németség bevándorlása, 7–8. Fényes, Magyarország geographiai szótára; Bonyhád, 238.

10 TML V. 709./c

11 Péter Őri and Levente Pakot introduced the preservation of Hungarian individual-level materials of the census of 1869, see Őri and Pakot, “Háztartásszerkezet.” The following studies analysed these sources on the micro-level: Torna County: Pozsgai, “Családok és háztartások;” Magyaróvár: Horváth, “Város a városban;” Kiskunhalas: Őri, “Kiskunhalas népessége;” Sátoraljaújhely: Demeter and Bagdi, A társadalom differenciáltsága; Mohács: Gyimesi, “Mohácsi háztartás-rekonstrukció.”

12 Katus, Modern Magyarország, 158, 175.

13 Where a similar investigation was carried out for the census sheets of 1869.

14 Demeter and Bagdi, A társadalom differenciáltsága, 17.

15 The problematics of Wohnparteien is inevitable for researchers who are working with census materials. The expression was transferred to the Hungarian vocabulary from the German instructions for the census in 1850. The differentiation of the notions of Wohnpartei and households led to difficulties and differences in interpretation because of varying practices used by the census takers. Detailed explanation of this topic: Őri and Pakot Residence patterns, 14–15; Őri and Pakot, “Háztartásszerkezet,” 169–71. In our analysis, we use the notion of Wohnparteien in the sense of households adjusting to the practices of census takers.

16 Őri, “Család és házasodás,” 75. The difference can be caused by the abovementioned diversity of the practices of census takers, but in all likelihood it shows real disparity.

17 The average size of households in Pest County (1869): 4.65 people (Őri, “Család és házasodás,” 75.). In Mohács (1869): 4.5–4.6 people (Gyimesi, “Mohácsi háztartás-rekonstrukció,” 12.). In Sátoraljaújhely (1869): 4.6 people (Demeter and Bagdi, A társadalom differenciáltsága, 13, 60.). Levente Pakot found higher values in the Székely Land: 5.4 people per households (Pakot, “Családok és háztartások,” 272).

18 Almost two hundred different occupations were identified in this column.

19 Van Leeuwen and Maas, HISCLASS.

20 Őri and Pakot, “Residence patterns,” 17.

21 Laslett, Introduction, 1–89.

22 “filling in the column of ‘citizenship’ notice, according to which everyone who has been settled in the community for a year now and has lived there permanently and has no residence in another village at the time of the census is a resident.” Népszámlálás 1869. 4.

23 Török, “A kataszteri részletes felmérés,” 11.

24 Biszak and Timar, Tolna megye.

26 Demeter and Bagdi did a similar analysis of the spatial patterns of settlement in Sátoraljaújhely. Our study attempts to reflect their aims. Demeter and Bagdi, A társadalom deifferenciáltsága.

27 The same indicator in Sátoraljaújhely in 1869 is 2.9 people/room (1.5 room/family), which means that in Bonyhád less residents were living in one room on average. Demeter and Bagdi, A társadalom differenciáltsága, 19.

28 Kolta, “A közigazgatás változásai Bonyhádon,” 15.

29 Solymár, “A történeti Völgység,” 20.

30 Knabel, Geschichte Bonyháds, 13.

31 Ibid., 14. Settlement according to denomination: Solymár, “A történeti Völgység,” 21. Principle of one village – one religion: Schmidt, Német telepesek, 49.

32 Knabel, Geschichte Bonyháds, 19.

33 Jews only began to be permitted to settle freely, engage in a trade freely, and purchase land in the 1840s. Katus, Modern Magyarország, 107.

34 The laws of Charles III encouraging resettlement with “1723. évi CIII. törvénycikk az ország benépesítéséről” [law of peopling the country] (promising 6 years of tax exemption for every free person). In the same year, another law arranged for the “support for the arrival of various craftsmen to the country” (1723. évi CXVII. törvénycikk), promising 15 years of tax exemption for them. Landlords also wanted to find workers to work on their estates, so in the early eighteenth century, they began to offer three years of tax exempt-status for the arable lands and mills and six years for the vineyards. Szilágyi, “Újratelepülő Tolna,” 35.

35 The isolation among denominational and occupational groups is observed in the case of marital customs. Roman Catholics and people belonging to the Orthodox Church were more closed in this respect than Lutherans and Calvinists. Marriage between Catholics and Jews was not allowed until the end of the nineteenth century. Lippényi et al., “Social status,” 8.

36 The results of analysis of employees partly correspond to the conclusions in case of Sátoraljaújhely (e.g. Jewish servants/maids served in Jewish households), but some issue was different according to the data of Bonyhád. The phenomenon of Calvinists preferring employees from the same denomination was not confirmed by our data, but the reason behind this could be the small number of Calvinists in Bonyhád. Demeter and Bagdi, A társadalom differenciáltsága, 21.

37 The employees emerged from younger age-groups than the average (the mean age of the total population in Bonyhád was 26.75, while in the case of servants it was 25.84 years and in the case of apprentices it was 25.91 years. Most of them were single, which fits the lifecycle-servant part of Hajnal’s theory (Hajnal, “European marriage patterns”). Hajnal thought this was a West European phenomenon, but more research has shown that this statement should perhaps be reconsidered. This topic is discussed in Faragó, “Különböző háztartás-keletkezési rendszerek.”

40 R Development Core Team, 2008.

41 Wickham, ggplot2.

42 Kahle and Wickham, ggmap.

43 Guangchuang, scatterpie.

* Supported by the ÚNKP-18-3-IV-PTE-323 New National Excellence Program of the Ministry of Human Capacities.

Figure 1. Population density (people/room), Bonyhád, 1869


Figure 2. Religion of the population, Bonyhád, 1869


Figure 3. Occupation of the population, Bonyhád, 1869


Figure 4. Spatial distribution of certain artisans, Bonyhád, 1869


Figure 6. Main square of Bonyhád on the final vector graphic map