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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.)