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Erika Szívós

Bonds Tried by Hard Times: Jews and Christians on Klauzál tér, Budapest, 1938–1945*


This essay examines local society in Belső-Erzsébetváros, the inner 7th district of Budapest, before the Second World War, and in particular the changes in residential composition brought about by wartime events. Today, Belső-Erzsébetváros is increasingly frequently branded “the old Jewish district” of Budapest. One main goal of the article is to offer a critical reassessment of this historical image, in part by considering the complexity of the inter-ethnic, inter-confessional and interpersonal relations among local residents in the interwar period. The author analyzes the residential mix of denominationally Jewish and Christian individuals in one particular area of the inner 7th district, namely Klauzál Square, on the eve of the Second World War, and the essay offers possible explanations for the high degree of inter-confessional cohabitation. The analysis is based on the census records of 1941, as well as oral history interviews. The second half of the article concentrates on the way in which the social fabric of the neighborhood was frayed by political and historical circumstances between 1941 and 1945. By late 1945, pre-war patterns had been upset in many ways, and, as post-war sources suggest, the residential composition of local society began to undergo profound and irreversible changes.

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Roland Perényi

Urban Places, Criminal Spaces: Police and Crime in Fin de Siècle Budapest


This essay examines the processes by which police oversight came to emerge in Budapest at the turn of the century and expanded to cover ever larger sections of the city. It also considers aspects of public safety from the perspective of the relationship between the capital and the urban communities on its periphery. The patterns of the expansion of police authorities in the urban space suggest that, rather than exercise control over social groups (workers, the poor) perceived as potentially dangerous by representatives of power, the police were called upon to protect private property, and in particular to exercise authority in parts of the city in which members of the elite and middle class lived. In contrast, in the outlying parts of the city one has the impression at first glance that the police increased its presence first and foremost in areas in which members of the working class lived. Closer scrutiny, however, reveals that the expansion of the authority of the municipal police to the outlying parts of the city served not to further the “compelled acculturation” of workers, but rather as a means of removing “undesirable” elements (criminals, vagrants, and beggars who traveled between the inner districts and the outskirts) from the capital.

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Árpád Tóth

Social Strategies of the Lutheran Burghers of Pressburg, 1750–1850


This essay is intended to further an understanding of the early stage in the rise of the bourgeoisie in Hungary through a thorough examination of the Pressburg (in Hungarian Pozsony and today Bratislava) Lutheran parish, which was arguably one of the most urbanized and broad-minded communities in terms of social ambitions of the period. After an overview of the historiography of the burghers in the late phase of estate societies, the author describes the demographical and social settings in which the burghers were both able and compelled to make decisions concerning the futures of their children. In the second part the essay analyzes three families that proved especially talented in their endeavor to adapt to the changing circumstances with a diverse family strategy that included the attainment of the status of nobility, family links to the estate elite, academic schooling, emigration to more promising cities, and the creation of super-urban family networks.

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Gábor Czoch

The Transformation of Urban Space in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century in Hungary and in the City of Kassa


The two most important changes in the urban spaces of the walled cities of Hungary in the period between the end of the eighteenth century and the middle of the nineteenth were the growth of the outer cities and the demolition of the city walls. This essay examines the consequences of these changes from the perspective of the social and political consequences of the shifts that took place in the concept of the city and the borders of the urban space, considering a specific case on the one hand, the city of Kassa (or Košice), and national tendencies on the other. The physical growth of the city and the gradual urbanization of the outer cities not only led to changes in the prevailing understanding of the “city” (which earlier had been identified as the area within the city walls), but made increasingly inevitable the creation, in a space that had been fragmented by the various privileges enjoyed by some of its inhabitants, of a legally unified city, as well as the incorporation of the outer cities, which had varying statuses, into the jurisdiction of the municipality. This, however, conflicted with the prevailing system of noble privileges, and the situation went unresolved until 1848, when the revolution made possible the transformation of the political structure of the entire country.

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István H. Németh

Venerable Senators or Municipal Bureaucrats? The Beginnings of the Transformation of the Estate of Burghers at the Turn of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries


This essay offers a socio-historical analysis of the urban elite of the city of Sopron in Western Hungary as a paradigmatic example of the changes that were implemented in municipal administration at the end of the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth centuries to meet the demands of the centralized state. It examines the process whereby the centralized state began to assert its influence in municipal affairs in the interests of reestablishing and strengthening the cities as sources of tax revenue and furthering the reinstatement of Catholicism. Alongside the confessional shifts that took place, the distinctive social characteristics of the leading urban elite also changed: because of the small number of educated Catholics among the burgesses, an increasing number of state officials and educated servants who earlier had been in the service of owners of large estates rose to prominent positions in municipal administration. Because of the expectations of the state regarding professional qualifications and the dependence on the central offices, the roles of the municipal officials were increasingly intertwined with the affairs of public administration. They came to be the precursors to the so-called “honorácior” stratum, a social class of intellectuals and civil servants who played a prominent role in the growth of a new bureaucracy in the nineteenth century.

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Béla Vilmos Mihalik

Sacred Urban Spaces in Seventeenth-Century Upper Hungary


This essay examines the changes that took place in the functions of sacred spaces towards the end of the seventeenth century, at the time of the upheavals of the Counter-Reformation in Upper Hungary. After having come under the control of the Catholic Church, the Protestant churches underwent a symbolic transformation characteristic of Catholic practice and belief. This transformation included changes to the furnishings and the inner spaces of the churches. At the time of the uprising led by Imre Thököly and Protestant refugees, along with the Catholic vicarage, these buildings, which were expressions of confessional belonging, became the primary targets of ritual violence. Through similar transformations and renovations, churches which since the Reformation had performed secular functions regained their status as religious buildings. In both cases, the participation of the community in Catholic rituals, such as re-consecration, mass, and procession, played a decisive role, since these rituals strengthened and helped to institutionalize (from the perspective of Catholic rites) the sacral function of the building.

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Ágnes Flóra

Symbols, Virtues, Representation. The Early Modern Town Hall of Kolozsvár as a Medium of Display for Municipal Government


A town hall, the most important public asset of the urban community, was at the same time the house of the community, the site of gatherings, and the symbol of town autonomy and privileges in the early modern period. As part of the humanist rediscovery of the antique tradition, a new wave of town hall constructions and renovations began in the second half of the sixteenth century in Transylvania. This essay seeks to determine how the new morality accompanying the Reformation influenced municipal leadership, and how the municipal elite projected its own image in the exterior and interior spaces of the town hall. This kind of civic ostentation, or, as the Protestant preacher Gáspár Heltai put it, “exhibitionism,” may also be ascribed to the emergence and development of early modern civic awareness.

“…the town is like a great house, and a house is like a little town…”
(Leon Battista Alberti: De re aedificatoria. Libr. I. 9.)