Volume 11 Issue 4 CONTENTS


Egy határfolyó környezettörténete: Háború és vízgazdálkodás a kora újkori Rába-völgyben [Environmental history of a boundary river: War and water management in the early modern Rába Valley]. By András Vadas. Budapest: Bölcsészettudományi Kutatóközpont, Történettudományi Intézet, 2021. 332 pp.
DOI 10.38145/2022.4.936

As Gábor Ágoston, professor at the Georgetown University in Washington and renowned scholar of early modern Hungarian history, observes, “[a]s in other parts of the world, border defense systems along the Ottoman-Hungarian/ Hapsburg frontier often followed major rivers and used river systems, marshlands, mountains and other natural defensive features that geography offered.”1 Ágoston also notes that “[w]ar conditions demanded military work on waterways, such as creating protective marshes. On plain lands, protection was secured by building castles in river estuaries and river bends or by routing water via canals from nearby rivers, streams, or marshes into ditches dug around the castles.”2 The Rába River, or more precisely the parts of this river under discussion, served as a good example of this in the first half of the seventeenth century. András Vadas, assistant professor at the Institute of History at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, intends to clarify the “sketchy picture” (p.45) we have of the river with the help of primary sources. However, he approaches the topic from the point of view not of military events, but of environmental changes (p.11). This widens the focus of the analysis to economic and territorial issues and problems of local risk management.

The strength of the work is its thorough use of the secondary literature and the analytical tools Vadas has chosen to handle his sources. Vadas’ reflections on earlier research include developments in the study of the climate, forests, and waters of the early modern Pannonian Basin, situating his discussion of these issues in the international secondary literature. He does so by adopting an interdisciplinary approach to the topic, including works on history, the natural sciences, and technology. Vadas pays particular attention to the debates in the scholarship and evaluates them, for example, by drawing attention to the shortcomings in the handling of sources in the existing literature on Hungarian climate history, such as the work of Andrea Kiss3 (pp.28–33). He also reevaluates earlier, controversial assessments of uses of timber in the Ottoman wars (pp.37–39). Vadas draws for the most part on private correspondence. The fact that many of these letters have survived in the archives of the Batthyány manor in the region under study is fortunate, as these sources offer Vadas a unique glimpse into the environmental history of the Western part of the Kingdom of Hungary. The spatial and temporal limits of the research were thus practically determined by the location of the family estates (primarily in Vas County) and the death in 1659 of Ádám Batthyány, the landlord who played a decisive role in the area because of the size and of his estates and the detailed documentation of their operation (pp.13–21).

Vadas has been working on the topic for more than a decade, so the chapters following the introductory section (chapters 1–3) are based on his previously published articles.4 Chapter 4 deals with surveys of the river in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, comparing them with the maps of the period. The description of the alteration of the course of the river with felled trees and temporary dikes and palisades, sometimes for protection and sometimes for economic purposes, is also of ethnographic interest (pp.82–86). Chapter 5 describes the environmental and historical links between the floods and the mills, using the examples of Körmend and some nearby villages (such as Molnaszecsőd and Csákány) with mills belonging to the Batthyány estate. The importance of Körmend is due to its strategic location, the bridge over the Rába River, and its castle. The discussion of the mills is supplemented by a discussion of their relevance in the context of European historiography (pp.124–31). Vadas’ analysis of the sources shows that, though it would have made sense, flood protection did not impact the nature of farming. The manor always rebuilt the mills in the same places after flood damage (pp.188–90). The benefits of flood protection, as discussed in Chapter 6, were probably greater for the manor than the costs of the repairs and reconstruction. Vadas also incorporates the latest literature on floods and forests based on research from the natural sciences.5 The section about droughts (pp.204–7), which has not been published before, shows even more clearly the military importance of water flows, which is, as the study demonstrates, more significant than their economic importance.

Vadas shows that the area under study was indeed a war environment, where water management and border control were both taken into consideration. Military and management considerations were mutually reinforcing in drought years, when maintaining minimum water levels was important both from an economic perspective (it was important to keep the mills running) and a defense perspective, but when these considerations came into conflict, for example during times of flooding, contemporaries generally prioritized military defense, which was the more pressing concern. The book concludes with the question of whether floods were unforeseen disasters or a conscious risk taken by contemporaries as part of a strategy of adaptation to their environment, including, for example, the rebuilding of flooded mills in the same place from time to time (pp.211–12). This raises an important question of environmental history: are the social responses of the past the same as the responses of the present, and can we draw relevant conclusions concerning the future based on these responses? Though the question obviously arises, Vadas’ conclusion does not address it. Rather, in a measured way, it reflects on the subject of the study, concluding with the following lines: “I hope that this case study has demonstrated the relevance of the environmental history of early modern wars to the study of the war environments of the premodern age” (pp.213–14).

The book is supplemented by a collection of primary sources and a repertory of regests, and it also has important additional materials, especially maps which illustrate and clarify issues raised in the main text. Vadas’ work is significant in the sense that it demonstrates how an environmental historian can contextualize his findings in the larger body of secondary literature, not only within Hungarian historiography but also within the most recent international and interdisciplinary discourse. This is a strength lacking in many works on Hungarian environmental history. A revised English edition for an international scholarly audience would be most welcome. From a methodological point of view, the analysis elegantly demonstrates the usefulness of private correspondence as a source of environmental history, and it would also offer, in good English translation, an important contribution to the environmental history of the region. Finally, it would be useful as a handbook for others seeking to pursue similar research.

Márton Simonkay
MTA−ELTE−SZTE History of Globalization Research Group
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Aufklärung habsburgisch: Staatsbildung, Wissenskultur und Geschichtspolitik in Zentraleuropa 1750–1850. By Franz Leander Fillafer. Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2020. 628 pp.
DOI 10.38145/2022.4.940

The name of Franz Leander Fillafer, a prolific young Austrian historian, has a familiar ring among historians of Central European Enlightened thought thanks to his numerous thought-provoking studies on the topic. These works include his state-of-the-art overviews of current research problems concerning Habsburg Central Europe. These studies, which transcend both the German-oriented, Vienna-centered Austrian historiography and the national historiographies of the region, take the complexity of the so-called Enlightened thought into consideration. One might think, for instance, of his seminal 2013 article “Die Aufklärung in der Habsburgermonarchie und ihr Erbe: Ein Forschungsüberblick” or “Whose Enlightenment?” published four years later (and was originally written as a commentary to the special issue of the Austrian History Yearbook, The Enlightenment in Central Europe: Structures, Spaces, Translations). If one considers his works from a Hungarian viewpoint, however, Fillafer’s profound and resourceful contributions to the field are scarcely known in Hungary, perhaps only by a narrower circle of historians with an international outlook, even though he often uses recent Hungarian secondary literature to support his wider Habsburg Central European and even global perspective of history-writing.

Fillafer has been working as a research fellow at the Institute for Cultural Studies and History of Theater of the Austrian Academy of Sciences since 2018. Though Aufklärung habsburgisch is his first monograph, he edited several volumes in German and English on modern historiography, Josephinism, and the global history of positivism. Fillafer is currently working on a project dedicated to the history of the peculiar (plural and polycentric) culture of knowledge of the Habsburg Monarchy as a space of thought and praxis between 1760 and 1860. The present book is partly based on his unpublished doctoral thesis (Escaping the Enlightenment: Liberal Thought and the Legacies of the Eighteenth Century, 1780–1848), which he defended at the University of Konstanz in 2012.

The book refutes the established and popular historical image of the Habsburg Monarchy as a bastion against the Enlightenment and revolution and treats the Enlightenment in the Habsburg Monarchy as a long-term historical event and source of creative power. In order to do this, the volume’s focus is clearly detached from the accepted Western European patterns of interpretation, particularly from the narrative of a radical, secular, and democratic Enlightenment. In each chapter, Fillafer challenges some established historical narratives, breaking down the entrenched and stubbornly lasting old patterns of history writing in the field, and by refuting them, Fillafer manages to show the complexity of Enlightened thought. As he claims, during the period of the Enlightenment, the Habsburg Monarchy was not a bulwark of the old regime (as has so often been argued in the secondary literature), and the Enlightenment did not culminate in revolution. Rather, the book explores how the production and use of knowledge, and the state-building process were connected to each other in the unusually long period between 1750 and 1850 in the Habsburg Monarchy. By doing so, Fillafer reinterprets not only the meaning of the Enlightenment in the region, but also the inner constitution of the Monarchy, and he clearly shows that the Enlightenment could be successful without any radical ideas and that it proved more vivid in its Habsburg variants than has been supposed.

The book is divided into nine main chapters, with an additional introductory chapter and a conclusion which gives an overall summary of the topic. Seven chapters are dedicated to various fields related the Enlightenment: patriotism, the relationship between Roman Catholicism and the Enlightenment, the relationships between Church and state, knowledge and scholarship, the economy, jurisprudence and legal praxis, and, finally, the influence of the Enlightenment and reactions to the revolution. The last chapter, based on the analytical parts, tries to answer the question, “What was the Enlightenment?”

The first chapter, entitled “From the love of the country to the springtime of the peoples 1770–1848,” deals with the history of the various offers of collective identity patterns for the multiethnic empire. Fillafer emphasizes the shift of patriotic loyalty from regnum to patria, during which process the patriotic ideas of Enlightened thinkers entered the attempts of collective identity-building next to the old references, e.g., the love of the country, dynastic loyalty, Catholicism, and the territorial and linguistic-based variants of patriotism. Fillafer points out that state and language-based patriotism did not interfere with the older patterns. Rather, they enriched them. This story is told through the efforts of two main figures, the jurist Joseph von Sonnenfels and the Tirolese-born historian, Joseph von Hormayr, whose names are watermarking epochs in the development of imperial collective identity patterns. Sonnenfels elaborated an Enlightened program of common patriotism for the Monarchy which, however, led, after it was transferred to the provinces, to the strengthening of collective identities of the provincial elites against the central government. During the era of the Napoleonic Wars, Hormayr developed a definition of the nation that included a mixture of ethnolinguistically based definitions and also loyalty to the Habsburg dynasty. The “provincial” or “country patriotism” (Landespatriotismus) and the “imperial loyalty” (gesamtstaatlichen Loyalität) coexisted harmonically for a long time. Nevertheless, during the Pre-March Period, this relationship began to be looser, and common history disintegrated into national histories by constituting the idea of a normative past based on the “ancient liberty” (Urfreiheit) of a particular nation. In the Post-Napoleonic era, the liberals of certain provinces fought under the aegis of the common idea of the “friend of the peoples” (Völkerfreundschaft) against the absolutistic government. This situation changed with the revolutions of 1848, when the image of the enemy turned into the inner enemies of the nation and the neighboring nations.

The subsequent chapters deal with the phenomenon of the “Catholic Enlightenment” and its transition. This term rings a familiar bell in the Hungarian academic discourse, as inquiries have been made in this direction recently. The second chapter discusses the relationship between the “Baroque” and the Enlightenment, reflecting on the narratives through which the representatives of the Enlightenment detached themselves from the earlier period. The book emphasizes that this transition took place differently from the narratives that interpreted the process as a dialectic of the repressive counterreformation and the triumph of the Enlightenment. Fillafer also challenges the long-prevailing narratives on Josephinism when he focuses on the era of Maria Theresa and emphasizes the differences between the Theresian and the Josephinist manners of reform. As for the relationship between the Catholic Church and the state, he shows that this alliance was rather an ideal than reality. During the years of the French Revolution, the Church conceived the ideal image of the Theresian era, in the center of which stood the virtues of piety and dynastic loyalty, while neglecting the efforts by which Maria Theresa subordinated the Church to the state. Fillafer also calls attention to Joseph’s reform efforts that did not represent a new model of Church policy. Rather, they could be interpreted as the successor to a preceding political paradigm that was directed towards the attempts at regaining the historic provincial princely rights. Fillafer points out that, after the revolutionary period, Catholicism self-provincialized itself, meaning that the Catholic Church accepted negative heterostereotypes of provincialism as positive autostereotypes. Fillafer convincingly demonstrates that during the period of restoration, the Enlightenment remained vivid both in practice and intellectually.

The fourth chapter, titled “Knowledge-cultures of Vormärz,” reappraises the anti-idealist, anti-speculative, and objectivist Austrian ways of scientific and philosophical thinking in the first half of the nineteenth century, which were developed in the spirit of the conservative Enlightenment. In doing so, it challenges the established narratives by showing the many even controversial ways in which the philosophical legacy of the Enlightenment remained vivid in erudite circles. It shows, on the one hand, the variants of neglected Austrian idealism, that is, the reception of Kant, including its Catholic version, and, on the other hand, the reception of the work of Bernard Bolzano, a Bohemian Catholic priest, mathematician, philosopher, and representative of philosophical realism who continued the earlier scholastic tradition of Leibniz and Wolff. This chapter also sheds light on the process during which the legacy of Bolzano was appropriated and reinterpreted by the advocates of Johann Friedrich Herbart. Another tendency of the Austrian philosophical anti-idealism was marked by the prevalence of “positive knowledge” in general, an attitude demonstrated by the historical-critical Bible-hermeneutics and the liberal nature of research in the era. From this viewpoint, positive knowledge served anti-revolutionary ends and proved useful to the state because it strengthened the status quo, though it also became a predecessor to liberal positivism in the long run.

The fifth chapter (“From mercantile regime to internal market: The Monarchy as economic space”) deals with economic issues and analyzes the socio-economic transformation parallel to the change of political economy. It zooms in on the transformation of the legacy of Sonnenfels’s mercantilism during the Pre-March Period. During this process, the doctrines of Sonnenfels were filtered, selected, reinterpreted, and turned into tools for the liberalization of the Monarchy’s economy. Due to the efforts of liberalization, the old agrarian property system had changed, though it remained limited to the hereditary lands in the period, which economically integrated the Austrian and the Bohemian provinces. However, on the peripheries of the empire, the power of the landlords was restored after the Josephinist experiments. For a Hungarian historian, one of the most interesting parts of the book is a subchapter found in this chapter which deals with the economic and constitutional politics of the Kingdom of Hungary from Joseph II to 1848. In the Pre-March Period, Hungary, with its separate economy and agrarian system, appeared as a conservative model and a counterpart to the Austrian and Bohemian tendencies.

The sixth chapter (The praxis of natural law and the genesis of the empire: Codification, rule of law, history of science) deals with constitutional and legal issues and stresses the significance of natural law, which was taught at universities and academies in both public and private law in the pre-March period. As Fillafer points out, references to natural law formed a political language rather than a strict doctrine, which could be used for different purposes. In the Habsburg Monarchy, which obviously was a heterogeneous composite state, from the mid-eighteenth century, the language of natural law served as a superior norm, which enabled the binding of provincial private law. It also made them mutually translatable. Furthermore, in the field of public law, based on the tenets of Karl Anton Martini, natural law provided a founding narrative for the state rooted in the idea of the social contract. As for the provincial estates, they also related to and used the idea of the contract in different ways during the period. While the noble estates before and around 1790 argued about the idea of political representation in a contractualist manner, later, they derived their corporative rights from their landed property. Parallel to this, regional patriotic historical narratives were also developed which proved the existence of a provincial social contract instead of an abstract one, supporting the existence of the Monarchy as a whole. As Fillafer emphasizes, natural law made it possible to extend rights from below and promote the transformation of the Monarchy into a parliamentary system.

The last chapter “The heritage of Enlightenment and the preclusion of revolution (Revolutionsabwehr): Images of the self and the enemy of the restoration” demonstrates the self-image of the restoration, which manifested itself in the struggle to prevent the revolution during the 1790s. The advocates of Joseph II tried to defend the Enlightenment, treating it as the best tool to guarantee the security of the state and of religion. Nevertheless, after 1800, during the Napoleonic Wars, a new group of intellectuals emerged, the so-called Romantics. Tension grew between these two groups, and this tension eventually proved decisive in the debates over the character of the restoration. After 1848, while the Austro-German liberals declared continuity with the era of Joseph II and saw the Pre-March Period as a period of repression, conservatives, similarly to Bohemian and Hungarian liberals, saw continuity between Josephinism and the pre-March period. They shared a common view of history and opposed neo-absolutism.

From a general methodological viewpoint, two main characteristics of Fillafer’s approach to history writing could be distinguished. First, his interest in the history of knowledge is directed towards the horizons of the history of philosophy and historiography. Second, his works are marked by a very high level of methodological and epistemological reflection (even by German academic standards). These features of Fillafer’s approach are perhaps challenging for scholars who have been trained in and work in less reflective, less theory-oriented academic milieus. The length of his book (627 pages in total), Fillafer’s high expectations concerning his reader’s knowledge of the field, and the unconventional structure and narrative style of the book make it even more difficult at times to follow the narrative.

The complexity of the topic (a complexity the roots of which lie mostly in the multiethnic, composite character of the Habsburg Monarchy) demands rigorous use of a wide array of sources, and Fillafer has done impressive work from this perspective. He draws on a vast body of secondary literature and primary literature of various genres, and he does not limit himself to sources in German and Latin. On the contrary, he also uses works written in Croatian, Czech, and Hungarian. Fillafer also conducted research in various archives in the region, including the Austrian and Czech state and provincial archives and even Hungarian collections, if to a lesser extent. These efforts make his work exceptional in the field, and he boldly and persuasively challenges the German- and Austrian-centered narratives on individual topics. The focus of this book, however, is bound to be limited, and thus the depth of the narratives is at times uneven, as Fillafer’s main interest still lies with the Czech-Austrian core region, which in some cases developed in ways which differed strikingly from the processes underway on the peripheries, including the Kingdom of Hungary (see the fifth chapter). All things considered, this impressive and myth-busting project sheds new light not only on the more or less apparent and hidden currents of the legacy of the Enlightenment in the Habsburg Lands, but in accordance with the changing and even contested production and use of this knowledge, it also presents a convincing, overarching, and complex narrative on the state-building process over the course of a hundred-year period.

Ágoston Nagy
University of Public Service, Budapest
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More Than Mere Spectacle: Coronations and Inaugurations in the Habsburg Monarchy during the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. Edited by Klaas Van Gelder. New York–Oxford: Austrian and Habsburg Studies, Berghahn, 2021. 326 pp.
DOI 10.38145/2022.4.946

Royal rituals still fascinate the wider public in the twenty-first century, as amply illustrated by recent BBC statistics according to which around 28 million people in the UK watched the broadcast of Queen Elisabeth II’s funeral on September 19, 2022. For some, the event may have been little more than a show involving royals and celebrities. However, apparently many were deeply touched by the death of their monarch and felt that they must follow the funeral ritual online, at least, so that they could virtually participate in a ceremony which was somehow related to the very essence of their political and national identity.

The interest shown in the queen’s funeral confirms the continuing relevance of the research done by scholars who investigate the meanings, impact, and functions of political ceremonies throughout the centuries. The volume More Than Mere Spectacle, edited by Klaas Van Gelder, assistant professor of early modern history at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, seeks to examine these issues in the context of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Habsburg Monarchy, with a focus on coronations and inaugurations. The thesis of the book is succinctly summarized by the title, namely, that in the period in question, Habsburg inauguration ceremonies had relevant constitutional and political meanings and functions which need to be taken seriously.

For a long time, historians, trapped in the grand narrative of modernity, had a penchant for arguing that, with the advent of the Enlightenment, political ceremonies like coronations gradually lost their meanings and became empty shells of tradition. Consequently, they were keen to disregard them as anachronistic follies that were next to trivial compared to standard political history, which they saw as the “real thing.” In the 1970s and 1980s, however, drawing inspiration from cultural and social anthropology, historians began to take the study of rituals, popular or elite, more seriously and started investigating the different functions of these rituals. In the early 2000s, such endeavors drew new inspiration in Central Europe (and beyond) from the works of Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger. In the context of the Holy Roman Empire, Stollberg-Rilinger argues that rituals such as coronations and associated ceremonies were essential parts of doing politics in the early modern period, as they made the constitutional order of the polity visible. The ten chapters of the present volume (plus the introduction by the editor and the afterword by Helen Watanabe-O’Kelly) were also written in this spirit. Some of them are based on international conference papers presented in 2015 (Rotterdam) and 2016 (Ghent) by their authors, who have scholarly backgrounds in history, art history, and legal history.

In the introduction, in which Van Gelder provides a comprehensive overview of the main questions, he asserts that “historians seem to have largely neglected most of the lands of the sprawling Habsburg Monarchy” (p.2) when it came to making long-term analyses of coronations and inauguration ceremonies. The word “neglect” could be the subject of debate in the year of the book’s publication (2021), given the upsurge in the numbers of research projects and publications dealing with coronations and inaugurations, at least in the case of specific Habsburg rulers. It probably applies more to nineteenth-century ceremonies than the eighteenth-century ones, and to some Habsburg lands more than others. Van Gelder is certainly right, however, that this volume, with its focus on two centuries and its large geographical outreach (which covers a considerable part of the Habsburg Monarchy), offers a more comprehensive view of the subject than many other works, which often tend to restrict their scope to “national” contexts.

The studies in the volume essentially try to answer the questions of what Habsburg inauguration ceremonies meant and what they did in the mentioned period. In other words, the authors examine these ceremonies respectively as symbolic forms of communication and as political acts. Therefore, the analyses are characterized by a mixture of interpretative and functionalist-minded approaches aiming to better understand the relationship between politics and ceremonies in the Habsburg realm.

The chapter by Petr Maťa compares the Habsburg inauguration practices to those of other European monarchies. Maťa’s comparative study shows that the Habsburg rulers in the period between 1526 and 1800 needed to perform far more inaugurations than many other monarchs. This stemmed from the composite nature of their realm, which put a constitutional obligation on them to complete the transfer of power and obtain constitutional legitimation by performing inaugurations and coronations. Maťa’s excellent analysis demonstrates that inaugural rites in the eighteenth-century Habsburg Monarchy do not point towards a clear tendency of decrease. Rather, they show “a peculiar mix of continuity, interruption, and resumption” (p.50). Under the term “inaugural rites,” he brings together “both coronations and acts of hereditary homage” based on their core attribute, namely that they stood for “the authorization and legitimation of a new sovereign to exercise full princely jurisdiction over a particular political unit” (p.30). In the afterword, however, Helen Watanabe-O’Kelly remarks that coronations had a more sacred character due to the act of anointment, which gave an irrevocable divine mandate to the newly crowned king.

In her study on imperial coronations in the Holy Roman Empire, Harriet Rudolph contends that, despite the disdainful view of the old ceremony expressed by some contemporary critics, even the last two coronations in 1790 and 1792 were not without relevance. She argues that the imperial coronations at the end of the century became the celebrations of the German nation. Similarly, William D. Godsey’s study on four inaugurations in the Austrian, Italian, and Hungarian parts of the Monarchy between 1790 and 1848 convincingly shows that not just monarchical governance, but also inauguration ceremonies were adapted to the needs of the era following the French Revolution and assumed the character of patriotic celebrations. Rudolph offers the crucial insight that the “semantic openness of the coronation ritual” (p.82) allowed it to acquire new meanings. This point captures a central aspect of the inaugurations studied in the volume, namely that, in spite of the fact that these ceremonies were heavily formalized events, shifts in meanings and emphasis could occur, and even changes in small details could have political relevance. Thus, the volume is not merely a collection of analyses of actual ceremonies. Rather, the emphasis is often placed on the surrounding political debates or symbolisms which were communicated through different media. The authors use these debates to further a more nuanced grasp of the various meanings and messages which the inaugurations conveyed.

Fanni Hende interprets the 1712 and 1790 coronation rituals in Hungary as expressions of compromise at times of changing power relations between the ruler and the estates. She investigates how these power relations became apparent in the ceremony and associated events. Werner Telesko, examining coronation medals minted to commemorate Maria Theresa’s 1741 coronation in Hungary, holds that their message sought to express “dynastic and sovereign continuity” (p.132). The chapter by Petra Vokáčová discusses the belated 1723 coronation ceremony of Charles VI in Prague. Summarizing the findings of an interdisciplinary project, she argues that Charles’ Bohemian coronation “was a vehicle for broadcasting important political messages” (p.144) about the stability of the Habsburg dynasty at a time when Charles was still waiting for a male successor, while the Wettins and Wittelsbachs first signaled their wish to become the inheritors for the Habsburg dominion.

When the emphasis is placed on the functions of inauguration ceremonies, one sees that they affirmed negotiations between ruler and the estates. Analogously, they can be compared to a stamp on an official document, which validates what has been agreed on. One can observe this in the case of the annexation of Galicia, when, as Miloš Řezník shows, the transfer of sovereignty also required the crafting of an homage-paying ceremony in which new allegiances were made between the subjects and the new ruler. Klaas Van Gelder draws attention to the fact that ceremonies were used not just to create loyalties between the ruler and the estates, but also to annul them, as happened to Joseph II in Ghent when he was dethroned in a ceremony designed after the style of inaugurations. In the Austrian Netherlands, the estates had a strong bargaining position before the inaugurations, as Thomas Cambrelin demonstrates through the example of the Duchy of Brabant, where they could potentially block the ceremony if an agreement was not reached, as in the case of Maria Theresa’s inauguration. Judit Beke-Martos highlights in her analysis of Francis Joseph’s 1867 coronation ceremony in Hungary that, in the absence of a written constitution, this coronation validated the restoration of the constitutional order and the points of the Compromise.

What, perhaps, could have strengthened this volume is a more general examination of the social meaning and cultural functions of rituals. While some of the contributions, such as the chapters by Godsey and Rudolph, offer pertinent insights into the anthropological dimension of inauguration ceremonies, a more thorough examination of this theme across the volume would have made for a welcome addition. Relating the research results and observations to anthropological theory and debates would have helped substantiate the peculiarity of the findings and would have critically differentiated their context-specific features from those general characteristics of ceremonies which seem to mark the relationship between politics and rituals beyond the Habsburg context. Nevertheless, this book provides a rich overview of the varied functions and meanings of Habsburg inaugurations and coronation ceremonies and offers insights into the ways in which the Habsburg dynasty exercised its rule over many different lands. It will make useful reading both to those interested in Habsburg history and those who seek to understand the interplay between politics and symbolic representation in the period. Paraphrasing the famous dictum of the Prussian General Carl von Clausewitz (1780–1831), one could say that “ceremony is the continuation of policy with other means.” The authors of this volume certainly convince the reader that this is indeed the case.

Benedek M. Varga
Research Centre for the Humanities
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“Nekünk nincsenek gyarmataink és hódítási szándékaink”: Magyar részvétel a Monarchia gyarmatosítási törekvéseiben a Balkánon, 1867–1914 [“We have neither colonies nor intentions of conquest”: Hungarian participation in the Monarchy’s colonial ambitions in the Balkans, 1867–1914]. By Krisztián Csaplár-Degovics. Budapest: Bölcsészettudományi Kutatóközpont Történettudományi Intézet, 2022. 452 pp.
DOI 10.38145/2022.4.950

To treat the Habsburg Monarchy as a colonial power raises several problems. One might first point out that the Monarchy had practically no overseas colonies, which is an essential condition for most historians to consider a state a colonial power. Then, however, one also has to consider that the notion of “colony” did play a significant role in the Monarchy’s political discourse, as well as in the “myths of national victimhood” of several of its successor states. Consequently, one might face the problem that Reinhart Koselleck has pointed out: representing historical processes based on the counter concepts that contemporaries created for their political effectiveness could make these dichotomies definitive. Given the problematic and complex nature of the subject, there is a need for a thorough historical analysis that is methodologically elaborated, an analysis the author of which can grasp the vast international literature, understands the main stakes of the debates surrounding the subject, and, with the wisdom of meticulous empirical research, takes a clear stand concerning the main questions and dilemmas. This is what the new book by Krisztián Csaplár-Degovics offers.

The central theme of the book is Hungary’s participation in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy’s colonizing adventure in the Balkans. Csaplár-Degovics examines his subject from a variety of perspectives, such as political, cultural, and economic history. He also takes into consideration methodological questions that the most significant Habsburg historians have urged, such as the need to approach his subject from a transnational point of view and treat the Hungarian Kingdom not in the habitual nation state framework, but as a potential empire. It is also commendable that the comparison with other colonial powers and the different methodological tools of the (post)colonial literature are never forced on the material, but only serve as reference points in the analysis.

The book opens with a sound presentation of the most important international and Hungarian works on the Habsburg colonial question. Csaplár-Degovics carefully ponders the different “empire” and “colony” definitions in the most current literature, arguing that both notions have legitimacy in Habsburg research, which is not at all evident, as scholars question not only the colonial aspect but also whether the Habsburg Monarchy can be considered an empire. A large portion of the book is devoted to Benjamin Kállay, common minister of finance of the dualist state (1882–1903) and, as such, governor of occupied Bosnia. Kállay was the person most closely and frequently associated with the occupation of Bosnia-Herzegovina. He was the first Hungarian translator of the works of John Stuart Mill, and he initially condemned colonialism, having lived through the Habsburg “civilizing mission” in the 1850s, though he later used the same ideology to legitimate the ambitions of Austria-Hungary in the foreign press, while in Hungary, he alluded to the country’s alleged imperial past. Kállay managed a carefully crafted propaganda machine for which he used not only the press, but also professional historiography and scientific literature. One of the highpoints of Csaplár-Degovics’s book is the part in which he analyses the popular author Mór Jókai’s “colonial novel.” He offers an exemplary “thick description” analysis, carefully mapping all metaphors alluding to Kállay and the Bosnian colonial case. The chapter in which Csaplár-Degovics ponders the question of which colonial practices served as examples for Austria-Hungary is similarly remarkable. He shows that, although some German influences can be detected, the Russian example of the colonization of Turkestan was a more important parallel. Csaplár-Degovics demonstrates the similarities and differences between the two iconic personalities behind these colonization processes, Kállay and Konstantin Kaufmann. He also shows that the Russian example, the country’s unresolved dilemma of whether to become a multi-ethnic empire or a nation state, had a serious impact on Kállay’s vision of Hungary’s future, according to which the country ought to follow the path of western development, though it should not stay a nation state, but rather should develop into an empire.

In his discussion of the reception of Kállay’s ideas in Hungary, Csaplár-Degovics uses the concept of “scandal of empire” developed by Nicholas B. Dirks. In the Hungarian context, the scandal consisted of Kállay’s alleged “despotic” and “anti-constitutional” rule in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which the opposition compared to the Austrian absolutism of the 1850s. One might wonder however, why a very important assumption, according to which recently discovered archival sources prove that such claims were in fact well founded, ended up in the footnotes.

The following long section of the book deals with the concepts of “colony” and “colonization” that were used by Hungarian politicians in the House of Representatives. This chapter is a weak point in the otherwise excellent book. The very positioning of this part is questionable: one might wonder why such a basic and important question is dealt with in the middle of the book instead of at the beginning. One might also wonder why the inquiry is limited to the members of the House of Representatives. While Csaplár-Degovics succeeds, as mentioned above, in presenting the prevailing interpretations of notions of colony and empire in the secondary literature, he devotes far less attention to the contemporary perceptions of these notions, though he himself mentions (but only mentions) that Kállay and foreign minister Alois Lexa von Aehrenthal had completely different understandings of the notion of colony. Though it may seem an unrealistic demand to place on an already voluminous work, I would still argue that the question would have merited a systematic analysis with the methodological tools of conceptual history.

The analysis shows that, in the vast majority of cases, members of the House used the notion of colony as a rhetorical element to describe the country’s past and contemporary relations to Austria, though their knowledge of real colonial practices was limited. They were also reluctant to call Bosnia-Herzegovina a colony, which in Csaplár-Degovics’s view can be explained by the liberal self-image of Hungarian politicians, which meant a conviction that a state should never rule another state and every nation has a right for constitutionality.

While the presentation of the Bosnian colonization is centered around Kállay, the Monarchy’s Albanian policies were centered around Ferenc Nopcsa, the internationally renowned paleontologist and Albania expert, of whom Csaplár-Degovics presents a long-needed, exhaustive portrait. In the epilogue, he discusses the Hungarian plans for Serbia during World War I, which according to the Hungarian visions was to be a settler-type colony.

Csaplár-Degovics’s conclusions (fortunately) are not at all prudent. He firmly and unambiguously expresses his views on the most important questions. He concludes that Austria-Hungary did have a colonizing agenda that, far from being only cultural, had serious political and economic interests behind it. Though it was not an overseas territory, Bosnia-Herzegovina fulfilled all the criteria of a colony. Furthermore, it posed serious challenges to the construct of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, as the creators of the Ausgleich did not foresee the acquisition of new land, which in the end forced the Monarchy to imagine itself and function as a common empire.

My critical remarks notwithstanding, I consider Csaplár-Degovics’s new book a long awaited, admirable achievement which not only gives a compelling account of Hungary’s participation in the Monarchy’s Balkan projects but also raises some very interesting questions which can enrich the debate on the late Habsburg Monarchy. A translation of the book (or a sensibly abridged version of it) is certainly desirable so that it can take its rightful place in Habsburg historiography.

Imre Tarafás
Eötvös Loránd University
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Emotions and Everyday Nationalism in Modern European History. Edited by Andreas Stynen, Maarten Van Ginderachter, and Xosé M. Núñez Seixas. London–New York: Routledge, 2020. 214 pp.
DOI 10.38145/2022.4.954

The burgeoning scholarship on the history of emotions and experiences has only recently begun to address nationalism and nationalism studies. Surprising as it may sound, nationalism being a patently “emotional” experience, the underlying reason may have been linked to the difficulty of addressing individual agency in nationalism. The field of the history of emotions has developed collective concepts such as “emotional regimes” and “emotional communities.” However, the main goal has been to understand the agency, “emotional liberty.” within these regimes and the myriad ways in which people have managed their emotional repertoire in various communities, whereas nationalism has presented (or been presented as) a collective set of emotions or a broader framework of emotions. Many scholars of emotions have perhaps found it difficult to see the position of individual, ordinary citizens in the “making of the nation.” Moreover, nationalism studies have mainly concentrated on structures, ideologies, and constructed myths beneath the nationalistic discourse, thus offering little help to the historian of emotions. Feeling the nation has been the product of instrumental nationalism or a subjective experience à la Benedict Anderson resembling a form of false consciousness, not a lived experience.

The edited volume Emotions and Everyday Nationalism in Modern European History is one of the first scholarly publications to tackle the connections between everyday feelings and nationalism with a clear focus on the agency of the nationals. In the introduction, Andreas Stynen, Maarten Van Ginderachter, and Xosé M. Núñez Seixas acknowledge the contributions of well-known nationalism scholars such as Anthony D. Smith and Michael Billig to our understandings of the roles of emotions and the everyday in nationalism. However, they criticize these scholars for having failed to see how everyday emotions and experiences have historically shaped nationalism and nationalistic sentiment. Billig’s concept of banal nationalism comes close to everyday nationalism in seeing the reproduction of the nation in the media, sports, and paraphernalia. Yet this approach does not see how individuals construct their relationships to these symbols and narratives, which are arguably constituent parts of the so-called nation. This is what the volume sets out to scrutinize: the relationship between ordinary people and the nation.

Chronologically and thematically, the topics of the nine chapters range from the ego-documents of the Age of Revolutions and the Napoleonic Wars to the collected reminiscences of Polish settlers in the newly acquired western provinces of Poland after World War II. As usual in the case of an edited volume, the chapters vary in incisiveness, but the editors have managed to form a coherent body of historical scholarship. The various sources on which the chapters draw reflect the aim of the book, which is to address agency in everyday nationalism.

Many of the chapters concern borders, both geographical, political, and emotional. The nation becomes visible and finds embodiment in times of crises. Ville Kivimäki writes about the poetry written by the rank-and-file and NCOs in Finland in World War II. He calls these servicemen the “artisans” of the nation. These artisans attached personal meaning to the nationalistic phraseology in their verses before the disillusionment which came at the end of the war. To become disillusioned, one needs first to have clung to an illusion or trusted a narrative that has since been shown to be false. Thomas Franck considers how Italian legionaries in occupied Fiume experienced their visceral emotions themselves testifying to the glory of Greater Italy.

Josephine Hoegaerts analyses the emotional socialization of children with the intention of transforming them into Belgians in the late nineteenth century by reading the reports the school children wrote after their educational trips around the country. School years are part of the transitional phases on the frontier between childhood on the one hand and adulthood and adult emotional communities on the other. Nationalism is taught to children, and these children are perhaps eager (if also pressured) to adopt national values, participate in the glorification of their so-called fatherland (or so-called motherland), and sing patriotic songs. Yet one may well ask whether there is such a thing as active children’s nationalism.

The chapters in the book show that emotions make the nation. They are not mere reactions but often cognitive responses and important components of the process of experiencing or “living” the nation. Another edited volume published by the Academy of Finland Centre for Excellence in the History of Experiences at Tampere University titled Lived Nation as the History of Experiences and Emotions in Finland, 1800–2000 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021) continues the analysis of emotions in connection with nationalism.

All in all, the volume on the emotions and everyday nationalism demonstrates that the history of emotions approach to nationalism does not see nationalism as an elite enterprise or a grassroots phenomenon, but rather as an active relationship between the elites and ordinary citizens and between various strata of society and the experiential concept of the nation. These relationships are fractured, sometimes elated, suspicious, and full of love, hate, and indifference, but the emotions to which they give rise form the historical setting for becoming and being “national.”

Tuomas Tepora
Tampere University, Finland
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Beyond Camps and Forced Labour: Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference (The Holocaust and its Contexts). Edited by Suzanne Bardgett, Christine Schmidt, and Dan Stone. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020. 324 pp.
DOI 10.38145/2022.4.957

Among academic publications on the history of the Holocaust, there are always a few the significance of which seems beyond question immediately after they have been published. Beyond Camps and Forced Labour: Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference is definitely one of these important volumes. The editors collected outstanding studies from the conference papers presented at the sixth “Beyond Camps and Forced Labour” conference, which was the latest in a series of conferences under this name held at the Wiener Holocaust Library (WL) and Bierbeck College, University of London in January 2018.

In the Introduction the editors – Suzanne Bardgett of the Imperial War Museum, Christine Schmidt of WL and Professor Dan Stone of the Royal Holloway, University of London – give a great overview about the history of the conferences’ past. The first Beyond Camps and Forced Labour conference took place in 2003, organized by the late David Cesarani, one of the leading scholars of academic Holocaust research worldwide. This conference has been held every three years in London (UK) and has welcomed new research on a variety of themes on the Shoah since then.

In recent years, the lasting effects of the Holocaust, including its economic, psychological, and societal consequences, have been of increasing interest among historians. Thus, the book is not a “Holocaust book” in a narrow sense, because it highlights current research findings primarily concerning the aftermath of the Holocaust and the scholarship on the Holocaust. While it includes studies concerning “classical” topics (such as camp life and refugee politics), these writings do not make up the preponderance of the volume. In the case of the contributions and materials which do not belong to this group, one finds excellent texts, primarily analyses which use new methods or approach their subject from new perspectives. The studies draw on thousands of previously unknown archival materials, but also a huge amount of ego-documents. Stephanie Hesz-Wood, for instance, offers spatial analyses concerning the Drancy internment camp from architectural and memorial perspectives. Other works focus on groups of victims and refugees during the war that have been largely overlooked in the scholarship, such as Evelyn Price’s investigation of the Quaker resistance fighters in Nazi Germany. Patricia Kollander draws attention to important details concerning a neglected topic: the fates of some 30,000 Jewish emigres who fled Austria and Germany for the US (certain groups of whom were taken to Camp Ritche in Maryland during the war).

The studies focus on the victims and survivors on the whole. Many of them attempt to consider the events from the perspectives of the victims, and some analyze various historical sources created by persecuted groups or individuals. As Ruth Leiserowitz asks in her study about one of the key questions in her research on Jewish citizens of the Soviet Union, “[w]hat problems confronted them and what strategies did they develop in order to overcome [the effects of the Holocaust]?” Leiserowitz also considers the possibilities these people had “for expressing their lives ‘as Jews’” (p.186). Some contributors examine the life situations of people in displaced persons’ (DP) camps. Although the secondary literature on these postwar camps and the Jewish refugees has grown considerably in recent years, it has nonetheless continued largely to disregard the fates of survivors and refugees from marginalized geographical territories, such as the southern peripheries of the continent and East and Central Europe.

In contrast to this trend, this volume shows significant interest in peripheral issues. Ildikó Barna offers a comprehensive analysis of sources concerning Hungarian Jewish survivors who escaped Hungary between 1945 and 1949 and fled to Italian DP camps in Apulia. Her work is a groundbreaking investigation in the field of DP research. She analyzes personal records found in the Bad Arolsen Archives and uses these sources to shed light on the political motivations behind emigration (and flight) from communist Hungary. Other studies tend to examine survivors’ experiences on the basis of narrative documents written or created by the survivors themselves. Yael Siman and Nancy Nicholls use first-person video testimonies to examine the social integration of Jewish immigrants to Chile and Mexico or their transition to other countries. They use the term feeling “home” as their main principle of integration into these countries. Eliana Hadjisavass examines the rescues and circumstances of refugees who were brought from the liberated concentration camps to Cyprus by the American Joint Distribution Committee between 1946 and 1949. The internment camps on the island played a key role in Jewish (mostly Zionist) emigration to Palestine, but the various activities of the Joint Distribution Committee and the impact of its decisions on Jewish internees have been overlooked for the most part until now.

Another characteristic of the editorial selection is that it features children’s voices, as is true of Hadjisavass’s paper, for instance. Kathrin Haurand’s epic study presents the history of Jewish children who were given refugee status in Teheran, Persia during the war and later resettled in Mandatory Palestine. Paul Weindling investigates Josef Mengele’s experiments in Auschwitz on twins who for the most part were children. His study gives an exceptional overview of the topic based on fundamental archival research, and he revises the number of the Jews forced to take part in Mengele’s experiments. Weindling identifies 558 Jewish twins and dwarves by name or number, as well as 24 Sinti and Roma twins, providing an overall number of 582. Another important contribution to the volume is a discussion by Kateřina Králová which explores narrative sources written by a Greek Jewish survivor named Ester Franko. Franko’s parents were killed in the Holocaust, but she hid in an orphanage, survived the catastrophe, and grew up in a foster family. Králová examines her Jewish-Greek identity by considering her bonds to memories of her birth family, her relationship with her foster parents, and Jewishness in postwar Greece, drawing primarily on narrative texts containing family stories and ego-documents.

As noted in the introduction, the volume consists of only sixteen studies in edited form from the 125 papers presented at the sixth conference. Alas, this is one of its weak points. The editors do not offer an adequate discussion of their editorial principles, nor do they explain the criteria on which they based their decisions to select the studies they did. Readers are left to venture guesses about the selection processes.

Bardgett, Schmidt, and Stone emphasize the great variety and the broad methodological and conceptual range of the findings in the secondary literature on the aftermath of the Holocaust, and this variety and depth have unquestionably been increasing in recent years. This makes it impossible to represent the wide array of different kinds of research presented at the conference. One can hope merely to offer a somewhat arbitrary sample of them. As noted in the introduction, “[t]he research presented in this volume highlights new approaches and findings based on sources that have been thus far under-utilised, on groups of historical actors that have been on the periphery within existing English-language historiography, as well as geographies that have, until now, undergone less scrutiny” (p.4). It is also worth emphasizing the significance of the research on the wide variety of the actors, with special regard to previously underrepresented areas, such as Eastern or Southeastern Europe. I must pause, however, to highlight one of the problems with the selections made by the editors. The 14 studies were written by 17 authors, but 12 of these authors came from the so-called West. More than half of the contributors (Gilly Carr, Eliana Hadjisavass, Stephanie Hesz-Wood, Evelyn Price, Paul Weindling, Lauren Willmott and the editors) are employed at universities and research institutes in the UK, which is even more surprising and suggests a degree of partiality. The rest of the authors from the West are from Israel (Dalia Ofer, Sarah Rosen), the USA (Patricia Kollander), France (Kathrin Haurand), and Austria (Philipp Mettauer, Maximilien Becker). Only five of the contributors are from one of the former communist countries of Central Europe or some non-Western part of the globe: Kateřina Králová (Czech Republic), Ruth Leiserowitz (Poland), Nancy Nicholls (Chile), Yael Siman (Mexico) and Ildikó Barna (Hungary). This clearly indicates that the editors used an arguably questionable selection process, considering the global trends and the increasing number of (post)-Holocaust research initiatives, especially in Central Europe. The poor representation of the Central European, Asian, and Latin American Holocaust scholarship is a general problem in the field, and it is undoubtedly the result of many factors (the small number of extensive academic networks, inadequate support from state institutions in these regions, etc.). Had the editors’ selection process been more democratic and open to scholars from peripheral countries, the massive number of conference papers would have provided a basis more than adequate for the volume.

My critical remarks notwithstanding, the volume is a long-awaited collection of superb studies on the history of the Holocaust. With its important research findings and the new focuses on underrepresented groups and individuals, the volume furthers a more nuanced understanding of the fate of the Jews during and after the Holocaust. One can only hope that, when a collection of studies is compiled from the papers presented at the next conference, the editorial team (which will consist of the same people) will consider more research from the marginalized territories of current Holocaust scholarship.

András Szécsényi
Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security
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1* Supported by the MTA−SZTE−ELTE History of Globalization Research Group (project number: 0322107).

Gábor Ágoston, “Where Environmental and Frontier Studies Meet: Rivers, Forests, Marshes and Forts along the Ottoman−Hapsburg Frontier in Hungary,” In The Frontiers of the Ottoman World, edited by Andrew C. S. Peacock, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 57−79, doi:10.5871/bacad/9780197264423.003.0003 66−67.

2 Ágoston, “Where Environmental and Frontier Studies Meet,” 76.

3 Andrea Kiss, “Historical Climatology in Hungary: Role of Documentary Evidence in the Study of Past Climates and Hydrometeorological Extremes,” Időjárás 113, no. 4 (2009): 315−39, 317−20.

4 András Vadas, Körmend és a vizek: Egy település és környezete a kora újkorban [Körmend and the rivers: A settlement and its environment in the early modern period] (Budapest: Eötvös Loránd University, Doctoral School of History, 2013); András Vadas, “A Rába-mente környezeti viszonyai a 16. század közepén egy 1543–44-es folyófelmérés tükrében” [The environmental conditions of the Rába in the mid-16th century reflected in a river survey, 1543–44], Soproni Szemle 69, no. 1 (2015): 16−40.

5 Žiga Zwitter, Okoljska zgodovina srednjega in zgodnjega novega veka na stiku Alp, Panonske kotline, Sinarskega gorstva in Sredozemlja (Ljubljana: Univerza v Ljubljani Filozofska fakluteta, 2015); Günther Blöschl et al., ”Current European Flood-Rich Period Exceptional Compared with last 500 Years,” Nature 583 (2020): 560−66. doi:10.1038/s41586-020-2478-3

Volume 11 Issue 2 CONTENTS


Neighbours of Passage: A Microhistory of Migrants in a Paris Tenement, 1882–1932. By Fabrice Langrognet. London–New York: Routledge, 2022. 216 pp.
DOI 10.38145/2022.2.477

Fabrice Langrognet is authority to reckon with. He who holds a PhD from Cambridge, serves as a research scholar at several renowned institutions, and has had a career in the French government. His focus ­even during his volunteer work at a French NGO was migration and asylum law. His research deals primarily with the everyday lives of working-class migrants in the Paris area, and his most recent book, Neighbours of Passage, published as a part of Routledge’s Microhistories Series and edited by Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon and István M. Szijártó, builds on this work. In this sociocultural microhistory of migrants living in a few buildings in the heart of Plaine-Saint-Denis, Langrognet offers glimpses of the struggles and identities of the inhabitants of this neighborhood as well as an overview of the world in which they live and interact with one another. Langrognet addresses the questions he raises at a level of complexity that is rarely achieved by historians of migration. While the subject of this book is very much French, the discussion goes beyond France. Langrognet’s inquiry merits the attention of scholars of Central Europe as well, as he showcases fresh methodologies and shows the full potential of a microhistorical approach and also speaks about the current, often politicized topic of migration.

In his introduction, Langrognet lays down the fundaments of this work. He uses a microhistorical approach in the hope of showing more intersectionality, nuance, and complexity than an average migration historian concentrating exclusively on the macro level. He also makes explicit his aspiration to correct grave errors found in the works by migration historians by righting such wrongs as presupposing the existence of bounded ethnic units, presuming national societies at both ends of the migration process, and lastly, concentrating on the macro levels of migration. Langrognet’s methods are a mix of digital research drawing on judicial and police records, the press, records of municipal archives, and census records and the use of oral history. Based on this wide array of sources, he aims to answer at least two major questions of migration history: how and why did people migrate and how did the dynamics of sociocultural differences change over time as people moved? To summarize, as any good microhistorical work aims to do so, Langrognet seeks to question hegemonic beliefs and mainstream narratives.

In the first chapter, titled “Setting the scene,” Langrognet acquaints his reader with the backdrop of his inquiry, calling attention to the different identification processes of the inhabitants. We get to know the surroundings and the specific tenements, down to the individual characteristics of the different buildings and the gradual decay of the tenement, which is due to many different factors. Using several different sources, Langrognet even offers metaphorical glimpses of the interiors of the tenement. 

The second chapter concentrates on the social factors. In this chapter, Langrognet explains the major demographic features of the area, the change in health conditions in the timeframe under discussion, and the origins of the inhabitants of the area. He then offers some discussion of the most common occupations of the tenants and the average incomes. Thanks to diligent micro-research, he includes work performed by women, which is often missed or ignored by historians who rely too heavily on official censuses. Langrognet tries to reconstruct the division of labor between men and women based on photographs, though he presents his numerical findings as facts without mentioning the dubious reliability of such photographs as sources. He may have accounted for these methodological problems, but he offers no explanation of this for his reader.

Our individual protagonists return in the third chapter. Langrognet goes through the different motivations for migration. This is where microhistory absolutely shines. We see the individuals in this chapter, the methods they used to relocate, the length of their travels, and so on. Langrognet sometimes identifies the individuals by name and sometimes provides only their addresses, but he is careful not to deprive them of agency. They are portrayed as real actors and not used simply as illustrations. Langrognet uses this approach in the fourth chapter too, which shows the networks that brought new migrants into the community and explores different aspects of chain migration. Unfortunately, this subject is hijacked by a disproportionate focus on the role of child trafficking. As engaging and meticulous as these subchapters are, child trafficking is almost presented as the main form of chain migration at the expense of other important aspects, which brings an otherwise splendid first part of the book to a lackluster close.

The second section of the book opens with a lively image of a wedding, which provides an excellent introduction to an interesting experiment. Langrognet aims to reconstruct the real scope of intergroup connections, especially marriages, without necessarily putting a distorted emphasis on ethnicity. In order to do this, he uses the distances between people’s towns of birth as a metric. He points out that national identification was not the main factor for southern Italian migrants in marriage, for whom regional affinities were more important, whereas Spaniards preferred national ties. He neglects to mention that the very different national histories of the two source countries could easily explain this difference. He also examines aspects of people’s cultural identities, such as jobs, beliefs, and spoken languages, which clearly reveal a great deal about the lives and social networks of the inhabitants of the tenement.

Life in the mixed world of the tenements was not free of conflict. The sixth chapter is dedicated to these confrontations. Drawing on police reports, judicial sources, and newspaper articles Langrognet shows that, at least to the extent that these sources reveal, interethnic conflicts were very rare in the tenement. Conflicts were much more common within closely-knit groups that were ethnically relatively homogenous. Langrognet also provides an in-depth analysis of an extraordinarily violent conflict that caught the attention of many journalists at the time. His approach is exceptional: he uses his sources to describe the motivations of the participants in the fights convincingly and to show that, while one might have assumed that ethnicity was the reason for the violence, this was not in fact the case.

Langrognet then showcases instances in which states and individuals negotiated problems of nationality. Though nationality was a clear-cut subject on paper, in practice, things were more complicated. When compiling census data in connection with military service or welfare benefits, state institutions did not rely on the simplistic images this kind of data tended to suggest. Langrognet again draws on accounts concerning the lives of people who lived in these communities, but this time, these figures serve as little more than illustrations. His conclusion is well supported, but this chapter remains underwhelming, as Langrognet makes no genuine effort to use the tools of microhistory to show intersectionality in all its complexity.

The last chapter is dedicated to the period of the Great War, which redrew the borders of people’s understandings of nationality and put new limitations on their mobility. Langrognet examines the changing experiences of the residents of the tenements amidst a war, including changes in work opportunities and conditions, the transition from the front to the home country, and new waves of immigration from new sources. Though chronologically this is not the end of the timeframe of this book, this editorial decision makes sense, as Langrognet can show this shift as the end of an era in this closing chapter.

The conclusion of the book begins with a glance towards the future of the tenement, up to the present day. The author then laments the methodological problems faced by the oral historian due to difficulties of recalling individual experiences and the unreliability of personal memory. Lastly, he confidently summarizes how he wishes, with this book, to inspire other scholars to mix microhistorical accounts and quantitative statistics-based research.

This monograph is not perfect. In some instances, it does not live up to its own expectations concerning the approach of microhistory, for instance when it fails to show the real agency of its actors. But this does not mean that Neighbours of Passage is not a great work. For the most part, Langrognet delivers what he promises in his introduction. He uses a wide array of sources very competently, and his arguments are always clear. As one would expect from a former speechwriter for the president of the French Republic, his style is eloquent. Langrognet has a way of painting vivid images, his reasoning is immersive, and the whole book is engaging. It will be intriguing and informative for anyone interested in microhistory, novel methods, and the always relevant questions surrounding migration.

Kristóf Kovács
Eötvös Loránd University

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Words in Space and Time: Historical Atlas of Language Politics in Modern Central Europe. By Tomasz Kamusella. Budapest–Vienna–New York: Central European University, 2021. 250 pp.1
DOI 10.38145/2022.2.481

Tomasz Kamusella is a scholar from Poland whose main fields of research have been language politics, nationalism, and ethnicity, topics he has studied from an interdisciplinary perspective. The idea of his recent book Words in Space and Time: Historical Atlas of Language Politics in Modern Central Europe (hereinafter referred to as Historical Atlas) came in the mid-2000s as he was finishing his seminal monograph The Politics of Language and Nationalism in Modern Central Europe (Palgrave, 2009). Hence, this interdisciplinary, encyclopedic atlas represents a synthesis of his previous work with the difference that cartography is now given a central place. Inspired by Paul Robert Magocsi’s renowned Historical Atlas of (East) Central Europe (1992/2019), Kamusella, working in close cooperation with professional cartographer Robert Chmielewski, elaborated a series of annotated maps as spatial expressions “for the formation of political processes that would have been difficult to express in words alone” (p.ix).

The Historical Atlas contains 42 chapters, along with a glossary, a bibliography, and an index. Each chapter consists of map(s) and an explanatory text, which is reminiscent of historiographical narratives, as well as reflections on the theoretical concepts on which these texts are based. As he explains in the introduction, Kamusella was born and raised in a multi-ethnic and multilingual region of Upper Silesia (Poland), so he encountered many contradictions between his daily experiences and the narratives to which he was exposed in his formal schooling. This prompted him to re-examine the radical “demographic engineering” which took place in the region. Although Historical Atlas resonates with a historiographical approach, it is in a methodological sense based on concepts from sociolinguistics and nationalism studies, such as Einzelsprache, dialect continuum, and ethnolinguistic nationalism. The choice of a comparative approach, in Kamusella’s view, distances Central Europe (hereinafter referred to as CE) from the self-celebratory monologues disguised as national language histories and reduces any national myopia. By comparing CE with different world regions, he aims to show that CE ethnolinguistic nationalism based on the myth of language as a natural (living) entity and the tripartite ideological concept of (one) “language = nation = state” is not necessarily present in other social and political systems.

The Historical Atlas moves chronologically, starting with CE’s dialect continua, speech communities, writing technology, and the emergence of states from the ninth century onwards. The maps show simultaneously the official and the unofficial borders of different political entities. With the intention of presenting the dynamics of ethno-linguistic communities and their literary languages, Kamusella chose the milestones in history, mainly those that changed the demographic structure of the region.

Maps 1–6 depict the distribution of dialect continua and writing systems from the ninth century until the establishment of Ottoman rule in the region. These maps distinguish dialect continua and writing systems, “as full literacy became the accepted norm actualized through (...) Einzelsprachen in the meaning of ‛written languages’” (p.8; Maps 1–2). In the first half of the eleventh century, migration and socio-political changes altered the ethnolinguistic makeup of the region, i.e., expansion of Finno-Ugric and Turkic ethnic groups to the Danubian Basin and the gradual division of the original Slavic dialect continua into a north and a south Slavic part (Maps 3–4). Maps 5–6 illustrate the main political, social and ethnolinguistic change caused by the establishment of Ottoman rule across Anatolia and the Balkans, while the west of CE was under Habsburg rule.

Maps 7–10 represent the changes that began to take place in 1721, when many long wars finally came to an end, especially the religious ones, as well as the war between the Habsburgs and the Ottomans. As Kamusella explains, “At that time the logic of expulsions or exterminations was (ethno-)religious in its character, not (ethno-)linguistic” (p.34). Lav Šubarić collaborated on map 9, which shows the Latin-language geography of early modern Europe. Map 10 is devoted to the official languages and writing systems in 1721, when the “separation of a ‘holy tongue’ and a secular Einzelsprache also marked the boundary between the politics of early modernity dominated by religion and the modern age of ethnolinguistic nationalisms” (p.49).

Maps 11–17 elaborate the social, political, and ethnolinguistic changes that took place from 1721 until World War I, changes which further invigorated ethno-linguistic nationalism. The atlas’ series depicting violent “demographic engineering,” including the most important incidences of ethnic cleansing, slavery, and genocide, begins with map 11. Map 12 shows that “neither the rise and spread of ethnoreligious and ethnolinguistic nationalism across Central Europe during the nineteenth century, nor the founding of successive nation-states influenced in any substantial manner the pattern of the region’s dialect continua as obtaining since the late Middle Ages” (p.58). Map 14 shows the isomorphism of language, nation, and state in CE by 1910, revealing that most people in the region lived in non-national polities, e.g., Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, the Russian Empire, etc. At the same time, ethnolinguistic nationalism was a growing force. Representations of CE topography in different sources in 1910 were elaborated by Michael Talbot (Ottoman Turkish, Map 15), Agata Reibach (Yiddish, Map 16), and Walter Żelazny (Esperanto, Map 17).

Maps 18–25 focus on the linguistic and socio-political processes from 1908 until the beginning of World War II. Map 18 offers an overview of the quasi- or short-lived polities of the period between 1908 and 1924 with a list of 74 state formations. The processes of ethnic cleansing in CE during the Balkan Wars, World War I, and in the aftermath of the Great War are depicted in map 19. World War I “destroyed or dramatically overhauled all Central Europe’s polities” (p.91) and led to the dissolution of multinational empires, population exchanges, and increased isomorphism of language, nation, and state (Map 20). Map 21 is devoted to non-state minority, regional, and unrecognized languages and written dialects in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Maps 22 and 23 offer representations of linguistic areas (Sprachbünde) in CE. Map 25 shows the growing tendency towards isomorphism of language, nation, and state in CE, while Map 26 shows ethnic cleansing during the 1930s.

Maps 26–31 geographically illustrate and describe instances of ethnic cleansing from the rise of fascism in the 1930s to the end of the Cold War. Map 31 shows the outcome of these violent processes, which were characterized by strong inclinations towards isomorphism of language, nation, and state. Despite the fact that after World War II there was hardly any isomorphic nation-state in Europe and regardless of the political supranational endeavors of the Soviet Bloc and Yugoslavia, ethnolinguistic nationalism was “the sole fully accepted ideology of statehood construction, legitimation, and maintenance across the region” (p.131).

With Map 32 on the Moldavian language and the imposition of Cyrillic and Latin scripts on Moldavian speakers, Kamusella addresses the issue of deviation from the rule of “(one) language-nation-state” in CE. Maps 33–39 bear evidence of, among other things, management of difference in multiethnic regions and universities by the year 2009. Ethnolinguistic homogeneity has been very clearly maintained as the norm of statehood, despite the fact that multiculturalism is allegedly a priority in the agenda of the European Union.

Map 40, which was coauthored by Elena Marushiakova and Vesselin Popov, provides information on native languages and the religion of the Roma communities in CE. Map 41 depicts place names in CE as written in Silesian. It was made in collaboration with Andrzyj (Andreas) Roczniok, one of the first codifiers of the Silesian language.

The last map (42) compares the isomorphism of language, nation, and state in CE on the one hand with the isomorphism of language, nation, and state in East and Southeast Asia on the other, which Kamusella reminds us are the “only two clusters of ethnolinguistic nation-states in the world” (p.176), with the difference that “the former coalesced after 1918, while the latter emerged in the wake of World War Two.”

The Glossary includes short explanations not only of the linguistic terms used in the monograph but also other theoretical, methodological, social, political, cultural, demographic, and legal terms. Historical Atlas is certainly a treasure trove of accumulated linguistic, socio-theoretical, historiographical, and geographical knowledge, and it is hard to believe that one man managed to unite all this knowledge in a synthetic overview with a common methodological and theoretical basis of critical sociolinguistic and nationalism studies. Some of the maps, however, can be faulted for a lack of precision or for showing a clear bias towards the argument that Kamusella is striving to present persuasively. Nevertheless, I regard this impressive academic endeavor as a call for dialogical memory and a thorough critical reexamination of European humanistic studies, which to this day remain largely based on national foundations. It should help scholars and curious readers from Central Europe deconstruct the myths that still shape the main ways of thinking and direct political action in the region. In addition, it offers in-depth insights into the emergence and construction of linguistic, national, and political identities from the ninth century to the present day, (re)interpreted through the unusual prism of ethnolinguistic nationalism.

Marija Mandić
University of Belgrade
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The Rise of National Socialism in the Bavarian Highlands: A Microhistory of Murnau, 1919–1933. By Edith Raim. Routledge, 2022. 244 pp.
DOI 10.38145/2022.2.485

Acclaimed historian Edith Raim, a scholar of Nazi-era Germany and lecturer on contemporary history at the University of Augsburg, has undertaken a micro-historical approach which challenges prevailing understandings of the rise of the NSDAP in Weimar Germany. She calls into question the common perception that rural Catholics resented the rising tide of National Socialism and were less inclined to vote for Hitler and his party. To reveal other factors which may have influenced Germans apart from the urban-rural and Catholic-Protestant divides, she examines the interwar history of the small Bavarian town of Murnau (today Murnau am Staffelsee). This town is particularly interesting because, contrary to what the grand narrative would suggest, rural Catholic Murnau was aligned with the Nazi party from very early on, while neighboring towns were less so.

Raim divides her book into four chronological parts, each of which offers a detailed overview of political, economic, and cultural developments. As the discussion covers a period of more than 15 years, Raim’s account differs from earlier microhistories, which are often centered around specific criminal cases. She is well aware of this detail, and she notes in the Introduction that twentieth-century microhistory is still something of a new genre with its own challenges. The extended timespan and microhistory approach, however, hardly efface the agency of individuals. In fact, this is a pivotal point that Raim makes throughout the book. She aims to put more instances of “everyman” agency into the histories of the twentieth century, which tend to be driven by an impetus towards grand narratives. Raim delivers on this aim, which is arguably the most important and innovative aspiration underlying her narrative. Individual forces, however, come together with those which mobilized a whole community for a cause or rather, in the case of Murnau, against a cause, specifically that of the Weimar Republic.

The first chapter offers an overview of Murnau before the war with a focus on the composition of the population and the power dynamics within the town. The second provides a summary of events from 1918 to 1923. The reader comes to know the entrepreneurial Bavarian town, in which individuals who belonged to the middle and upper classes held near absolute political and social power. World War I had a huge impact on the town’s community, as many male citizens (more than the German average) died on the frontline and injured veterans returned to the town in 1918.

The collapse of the monarchy and the proclamation of the Bavarian Soviet Republic in 1919 exacerbated sentiments of despair and anger. The backlash against new ideas and the social upheaval in the fundamentally traditional highlands were immediate and long-lasting. The völkisch movement, which rested on the pillars of social traditionalism, antisemitism, anti-republicanism, and the Dolchstoß myth, emerged almost immediately, and the NSDAP fed on this sentiment from the outset.

It was crucial in these times that prominent individuals in Murnau, such as leaders of the social clubs and influential figures in the local press, became ardent Nazi supporters themselves. By 1923, when hyperinflation peaked and the Beer Hall Putsch was orchestrated, Murnau was lost to völkisch and specifically National Socialist beliefs. The existence of a decent number of alehouses in the town where people could gather and the inclination of retired or discharged officers to retreat to a conservative milieu gave this movement even more momentum.

The third chapter details how the relative stability in Germany in the mid-1920s did not change anything substantially in Murnau when it came to politics. There were two reasons for this. First, pro-NSDAP community leaders were already entrenched in Murnau, and though they faced a few setbacks, they were nonetheless able to maintain local party influence even after the failed coup attempt. Second, the 1920s did not really “roar” in the highlands. Because of the prevailing sense of economic insecurity, fear of falling incomes and falling social status was nigh universal among members of the Murnau middle class. This gave rise to a campaign against department store chains, for example, where antisemitism again was often used.

Finally, the fourth chapter examines how the NSDAP managed to achieve an absolute majority among the voters of the town. While their direct involvement in local council politics turned out to be a half-success at best, their grip was so strong that Murnau residents preferred antisemitic tropes to the facts they were perfectly able to see with their own eyes. During the Great Depression, a Jewish benefactor fully funded a hospital for the town, creating employment for many destitute workers. He was commemorated on a plaque for his gratuity (which was taken down when the Nazis took over the country), but the whole affair did not affect Murnau voter preferences. It did not help that a pivotal local bank went bankrupt, deepening the economic crisis in the region. Furthermore, the Nazi instigators of a local mass brawl were let go with near impunity by the courts. If anyone in Murnau was still on the fence about the power of the NSDAP and the precariousness of the Republic, this also seemed to offer a clear answer.

I have two minor concerns about Raim’s otherwise excellent book. The first concerns a phenomenon I personally would have liked to have read a bit more about. Based on the story Raim tells, Murnau citizens were fluidly alternating between two collective identities, loyal subjects to an all-German (“Prussian,” nonetheless) ruler on the one hand and rebels against an unjust tyrant on the other, evoking heroes of local peasant rebellions. This switch depended on whether the ruling party in Berlin suited their ideological communal preferences. On the surface, this suggests a very utilitarian and opportunistic approach, which is not something one would expect from a small rural town, even putting pro-Nazi sentiments aside.

My second reservation, however, concerns the conclusion of the book. Raim contends that Murnau offers an example of how Weimar democracy gradually eroded and died, but I would argue that, based on her findings, this is not quite the case. Even if NSDAP candidates did not win an absolute majority in the town before November 1932, Murnau was already a lost cause. Apart from a few fledgling years in the early 1920s, local politics was dominated by the Nazi party or its stand-in formation, the Völkischer Block. Interwar Murnau clearly consistently resented and detested the Republic, and supporters of pro-Weimar parties were in the permanent minority once the local elites put their lot in with the far-right after 1923. Even if one argues that this had happened because the pro-Weimar parties had given up on Murnau, this does not necessarily prove Raim’s point. Democracy was not slowly suffocated on the shores of the Staffelsee. It died in its infancy.

András Patrik Erdős
ELTE Doctoral School of History
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The True Story of the Christmas Truce: British and German Eyewitness Accounts from the First World War. By Anthony Richards. Barnsley: Greenhill Books, 2021. 228. pp.
DOI 10.38145/2022.2.488

The recent monograph by Anthony Richards examines the famous Christmas truce of 1914 between the British and German soldiers on the Western Front. Richards is the head of the Documents and Sound Department at the Imperial War Museums and a best-selling author who has published several popular academic books about the military history of World War I and World War II. His recent monograph aims for a wide audience while also trying to contribute to more focused academic discussion.

Although historians have written a fair amount concerning several aspects of the temporary ceasefire, Anthony Richards’ monograph is important in part simply because of his unique methods of researching and writing. First, he focuses on the voices of individuals by using oral history. Second, he seeks to debunk widespread misconceptions about the Christmas Truce familiar from television and musical adaptations. Third, unlike many earlier works, he uses German sources, including interviews and memoires, to discuss the events of December 1914.

As Richards notes at the beginning of the book, the most important problem is that we have inherited a rather distorted notion of the story of the ceasefire, as most people focus only on the football match played between the enemy troops. This has served as the basis for other distorted or simply inaccurate notions, such as legends which were born in the autumn of 1914 related to the hopes for the end of the war.

The book has eight chapters in addition to the foreword, introduction, and conclusion, and it can be divided thematically into three main parts. The first part offers a general overview which deals with the current knowledge and most important preconceptions about the event. Richards contends that the temporary ceasefires that were held on the Western front on Christmas Eve or in the first days of the new year can be explained by the principle of “live and let live.” As we know, there was an informal agreement between the enemies regarding ceasefires under extraordinary circumstances, such as poor weather conditions or the need to bury dead soldiers. This simply means that soldiers were reluctant to initiate aggression under these circumstances. As a ceasefire was actually held on Christmas of 1914 that was more extensive in space and time, one can understand why this ceasefire has been judged in a special way in the historiography. Contemporary writers and later historians had difficulty fitting it into the narrative of the bloody war. Marxist historians even interpreted it as a proletarian uprising.

In the second section, Richards writes about the conditions and causes which led to the temporary ceasefires. He shows the pre-truces which evolved in November and December thanks to the closeness of the trenches. There is no doubt that the fact that soldiers could give something to the soldiers fighting for the other side also contributed to the ceasefire: as we know, there was a huge social action in the last months of 1914, when a large number of packages from the hinterland were given to soldiers. This created the set of circumstances in which the first steps came from the German troops. Richards notes that the sight of a Christmas tree was important, as were the sounds of Christmas carols, because these sights and sounds could awaken empathy in soldiers on both sides. Namely, the religious side of that time of year had considerable significance, as Christmas meant a sort of moment of relief in a soldier’s life, even for soldiers who were not religious.

Richards also points out that the temporary treaties were scattered across the western front, which means that the event in question (the Christmas truce of 1914) was not part of a larger contiguous peace. Only two-thirds of the English line was affected by the temporary ceasefires, which can be explained by a few factors. At the same time, as truces were formed in an informal way between commanders, one would assume that soldiers themselves took little part in the process, apart from exchanging meals or cigarettes or telling each other jokes. But the fact is that an array of extraordinary events took place during the Christmas truce. For instance, some of the German soldiers had been hairdressers before the war, so they cut the English officers’ hair. Soccer matches were also memorable moments of the ceasefires, though they were merely spontaneous events and not part of some organized choreography.

The third thematic section of the volume contains the last three chapters and deals with the afterlife of the Christmas truce. Richards writes about the reasons for the ceasefire, and he sums up its most significant characteristics. He emphasizes that ceasefires were not a result of spontaneous initiatives. Rather, they were a clear sign and symptom of the human desires which first found expression in the autumn of 1914. He notes that Christmas was significant not only for Christians and thus the Christmas season could touch everyone involved in the events. At the same time, the most important reason behind the ceasefires was the desire among soldiers to improve their living conditions, as they were unable to repair the trenches and bury the dead when under constant artillery fire. As there was no precipitate at Christmas, it an ideal period to deal with these tasks. Some shared culture and shared traditions also facilitated communication: one advantage on the western front was that some German soldiers could speak English, as they had worked as hairdressers in Great Britain before. This enabled the two sides to communicate by shouting from the trenches or even showing notes to enemy soldiers when the opposed trenches were very close. The shared language also made propaganda less effective and, indeed, less common on the western front in 1914. However, as Richards adds, this was the last great ceasefire. In the later years of World War I and throughout World War II, fighting was more aggressive, as military techniques changed and resulted in more casualties.

Róbert Károly Szabó
ELTE Doctoral School of History
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Citizens without Borders: Yugoslavia and Its Migrant Workers in Western Europe. By Brigitte Le Normand. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2021. 286 pp.
DOI 10.38145/2022.2.491

The most recent monograph by historian Brigitte Le Normand, Citizens without Borders: Yugoslavia and Its Migrant Workers in Western Europe, explores the relationship between the Yugoslav state and its migrant workers during the 1960s and 1970s. Like other parts of the European South in the post-World War II era, Yugoslavia witnessed mass migration to the economically booming states of Western Europe, first and foremost to the Federal Republic of Germany. Yugoslavia was unique in being the only state-socialist country that officially permitted migration to the capitalist side of the Iron Curtain, and Le Normand reconstructs key features of this migration with empathy for the protagonists which is matched by her scholarly rigor.

How migrants were perceived and constructed as subjects is the focus of the first two empirical chapters of the monograph. Le Normand then proceeds to unpack the ways in which the Yugoslav authorities at a range of levels, from the federal and republican right down to the municipal, sought to build and maintain relationships with Yugoslavs abroad and how migrants responded to these efforts. This represents the bulk of the study, seven of the ten chapters. The Yugoslav authorities intervened to shape migrants’ understandings of home and to advocate on their behalf, in part to ensure that the understanding of these migrants as “our workers temporarily employed aboard” retained some of its plausibility and thus kept these individuals within the fold of the imagined community of Yugoslavia.

Le Normand draws on sources from historical archives in Croatia and Serbia as well as Yugoslav scholarly publications, print media, and films from the 1960s and 1970s. The exclusive focus on Yugoslav sources (as opposed to, say, historical archives in Germany and Austria) is a well-considered choice justified by her argument that the Yugoslav authorities had similar worries and hopes for Yugoslav migrants, regardless of which Western European state they were located in. Approaching a large phenomenon like Yugoslav migration to Western Europe, which involved millions of people by the 1980s, necessarily involves a degree of selectivity. Le Normand’s approach has been to focus on the Serbo-Croatian speaking, Yugoslav-side of a broader transnational web of actors as she documents the Yugoslav state’s cultural, informational, and educational programming across Western Europe during the 1960s and 1970s.

The introduction provides a succinct historiography of Yugoslav labor migration in Europe, noting that it was hardly a novel phenomenon, as patterns of seasonal and long-term migration had existed previously, often on a mass scale. Le Normand draws on Yugoslav social scientists who produced much research on migration as it was happening (e.g., Ivo Baučić), as well as outsiders who began to weigh in on the evolution of Yugoslav labor migration policy and the extent to which it would facilitate development or not (Carl Ulrich Schierup). Yugoslav disintegration and war shifted the attention of researchers to different kinds of migrants, namely refugees and people who were becoming part of a growing diaspora. Over the course of the past two decades, however, researchers have returned to the topic of labor migration with the critical distance that comes with hindsight. Le Normand sets the stage here for an exploration of elements of mass migration in postwar Yugoslavia, problematizing the ways in which knowledge about migrants was produced, measured, and (re)framed by the Yugoslav state and assessing how migrants were governed and administered transnationally. She very quickly deconstructs knowledge production achieved by drawing on the work of social scientists (i.e., experts with claims to objectivity), and cultural knowledge expressed through film (with film being informed by both expert knowledge and stereotypes, cultural tropes, anxieties, and the creative impetus of individual filmmakers) is presented as a productive way to gain insight into how labor migrants were perceived by Yugoslav society. Chapter Three provides a deeply insightful overview of migrants on film, with the common thread being that the phenomenon of migration and individual migrants are portrayed as problematic or somehow deviant. What remains to be addressed, however, is the reception of such films by their audiences. How were these film narratives interpreted by Yugoslavs at home and abroad?

Chapter Four examines the phenomenon of the Zagreb-based radio show “To Our Citizens of the World” and the creation of an affective community and central node connecting migrants and their families and friends, as well as state institutions. The agency of migrants comes to the fore here with the claim made by program director Cino Handl that migrants were a particularly challenging and sophisticated audience. Following this, Le Normand turns the focus to the Croatian periphery of Imotski, a major center for labor migration. This chapter (the fifth) provides a microstudy of the Croatian Spring, which politicized the issue of labor migration during what was probably the most serious crisis of Tito’s Yugoslavia until the 1980s. In Chapter Six, the focus is expanded to Western Europe, as Le Normand examines how the Yugoslav state turned to associational life to address ideological contradictions in its labor migration policy and to counter the influence of émigré groups that were hostile to newly arrived migrants. Such associations can be considered “nodes in a transnational web of governance” (p.138), going beyond the notion of an imagined community (such as radio and print media) to offer concrete sites for an embodied experience of home and community making.

Voice is again given to migrants in Chapter Seven through an analysis of responses to surveys conducted by the Zagreb-based Institute for Migration and Nationality. The timeframe, 1970–1971, ensures that the socioeconomic and political issues of concern coalescing around the Croatian Spring remained prominent and migrants “talked back” about how to best “fix” Yugoslavia. The final two empirical chapters focus on education. Chapter Eight reconstructs the attempts to build a transnational education system for the second-generation Yugoslavs in Western Europe by drawing on the experience of other southern European countries and taking into account the need to cohere with the policies of host states. Chapter Nine then extends this discussion to include perspectives on the women and men who facilitated this education. Yugoslav teachers in Western European states demonstrated considerable agency despite being constrained by the states which were hosting them and the states which had sent them. It also considers the themes of importance for migrants, above all love for the homeland (with the homeland being quite often diffuse or not fully defined).

Homeland, in its “nested” form, i.e., extending outwards from the family and the local community all the way to the republic and the federation, is again invoked in the conclusion, in which Le Normand maps out suggestions for other fruitful avenues for future research, including perspectives from outside the Serbo-Croatian core which this study focuses on and a more thorough exploration of the dynamics of migration and return migration in the 1980s during the mounting tensions of the post-Tito era. Le Normand has provided an extremely comprehensive and readable account of the multifaceted phenomenon of Yugoslav labor migration. The study covers a lot of ground; in fact, each individual chapter could be extended into a much longer standalone study. The most innovative feature is the way in which the author deftly moves between the various levels of analysis to offer empirically varied perspectives of the Yugoslav state (from the municipal level to the federal level) and the individual migrants. The book is likely to be of interest not only to scholars of Yugoslavia but also to readers with an interest in migration history more generally. It is surely one of the most authoritative accounts of Yugoslav labor migration, and it will feature prominently in further research and teaching on this subject.

Rory Archer
University of Graz
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Victim of History: Cardinal Mindszenty, a biography. By Margit Balogh. Washington DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2022. 934 pp.
DOI 10.38145/2022.2.495

Margit Balogh’s biography of Cardinal Mindszenty is providing a balanced and detailed (934 pages) narrative of his life based on an extraordinarily wide scope of primary documents from numerous archives in various parts of the world. Her biography is a translation of parts of the two-volume Hungarian monograph (more than 1,300 pages) that was published in 2015 in Budapest (Research Centre for the Humanities).

This monograph tells in nine long chapters and numerous sub-chapters (about 100) the various stages of Mindszenty’s life. Chapter One begins with his childhood in a small village, followed by Chapter Two, which covers the 25 years he spent working as a teacher and priest in Zalaegerszeg. Chapter Three covers his tenure as bishop of Veszprém during the last years of World War II, when he was imprisoned by the right-wing Arrow Cross Movement, allied to Nazi Germany. Chapters Four and five recount his appointment to serve as Archbishop of Esztergom and Primate of the Catholic Church of Hungary and his first conflicts with the postwar government, the Communist Party, and the Soviet occupation army, when he became the leader of the anti-Communist opposition. Chapter Six deals in detail with his arrest, torture, and the staging of the show trial against him, followed by Chapter Seven, which covers the six years of imprisonment until he was liberated during the Revolution of 1956. The eighth tells of his 15-year stay as a “guest” of the US Legation (Embassy since 1967), where he had found refuge in 1956, and the complicated negotiations between the Vatican, the Hungarian Communist government, and the US concerning his departure. The final chapter narrates the last five years of Mindszenty’s life in exile (Vienna) and his conflict with Pope Paul VI, which ended in his removal from the chair as archbishop in 1973. The book ends with brief conclusions.

The detailed narrative provided by this extraordinary biography of Mindszenty (born József Pehm) offers many fascinating insights into Hungarian history. For this review, I would like to select only a few of the less well-known parts of Mindszenty’s life, since research has focused almost exclusively on the few years during which he served as primate of Hungary, between 1945 and his arrest in 1949, as well as his role in 1956.

In Balogh’s account, we learn about Mindszenty’s adventures in western Hungary, where he was prominent as a socially and politically active priest in the Horthy period, which spanned two and a half decades of his adult life. Mindszenty is presented as an engaged parish pastor who organized Catholics for his cause, had a new church built, and opened schools and caritative institutions. He was a very skilled organizer who did not shy away from confrontation, almost reminiscent of the famous fictional Italian character Don Camillo, the antipode of the Communist mayor, Peppone. Mindszenty founded a press (Zrinyi Printing and Book-Selling Co.) and a newspaper in 1920–21 (Zalamegyei Újság) in order to spread the messages of his legitimist and irredentist tendencies and his criticisms of the Horthy regime (pp.39–40). In the mid-1920s, he actively supported a legitimist candidate of the opposition (p.70–75). In 1938, he celebrated the First Vienna Award and gave his open support to the Imrédy government before getting slowly alarmed about growing German influence in Hungary and the anti-clerical tendencies of Nazism (pp.86–89). During World War II, Pehm became Mindszenty, probably in protest against rising German influence (the name Pehm is etymologically rooted in the German word “Böhme” or bohemian), and he was appointed to serve as bishop of Veszprém. In this function, Mindszenty reacted to the beginning of the Holocaust in his dioceses. On June 7, 1944, the Zalamegyei Újság published a speech by Mindszenty in which he stated that the church has been “antisemitic,” but that she would defend all those who were baptized, because the church “cannot abandon natural law” and “without proven crime and legal judgement, the life of no-one can be taken away.” (p.118). But after almost all the Jews in the area had been deported to Auschwitz, Mindszenty admitted in a letter, “we could have done more and been more forceful” (p.120). A few months later, he was arrested by the Arrow Cross because he refused to take an oath and protested against the senseless prolongation of the war. This arrest was most probably one of the reasons why he was later selected to serve as archbishop of Esztergom and primate of Hungary, since it demonstrated to Pope Pius XII that Mindszenty would not shy away from personal sacrifice in a difficult time. Such was probably the “strong personality” the Pope was looking for in a country that had been occupied by a hostile, anti-Catholic army.

Other not so well-known episodes of Mindszenty’s life include the fifteen long years he spent in the legation (which only became an embassy in 1966) of the United States between his flight on November 4, 1956 and the day he left for Rome on September 28, 1971. Balogh reflects, as in other parts of the book, about the radically changed political, social, and cultural context in which the cardinal found himself and his ideas. Now, in a time of détente and negotiation between the United States, West Germany, and the Communist governments of the Soviet Union and its Central and Eastern European allies, his strict anti-Communism seemed to be anachronistic. This was when Pope Paul VI, who had trouble understanding Mindszenty and his stubborn character, called him “a victim of history.”

This book is extremely significant not only for readers interested in twentieth-century Hungarian history, but also for those interested, more generally, in the history of the Cold War, as well as the diplomatic and church history of the twentieth century. No comparable biography of Cardinal Mindszenty exists in English. The scholarship and the analysis of his personality and the historical context are very sound, and the text is based on thorough, exemplary analysis. The documentation is comprehensive and of outstanding quality. This is now the standard biography of Cardinal Mindszenty. None of the numerous, mostly hagiographic or superficially critical books about his life can compare to the scholarly quality of this impressive study. Margit Balogh has written a profound and readable biography of one of the most fascinating figures of the twentieth century.

Árpád von Klimó
The Catholic University of America
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The Women’s International Democratic Federation, the Global South and the Cold War: Defending the Rights of Women of the Whole World? By Yulia Gradskova. Abingdon: Routledge, 2021. 212 pp.
DOI 10.38145/2022.2.498

In her article published in 2010, historian Francisca de Haan made an important historiographical intervention, arguing that the work of the “leftist feminist” organizations is left unknown in Western historiography due to still prevalent Cold War legacies.2 To demonstrate her point, she referred to the Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF), an international leftist organization dedicated to peace, women’s rights, anti-colonialism, and anti-racism. After this, scholarship on the work of the WIDF began to flourish, gradually providing the WIDF with its rightful place in the historiography of women’s history. This position is now assertively confirmed through Yulia Gradskova’s new book The Women’s International Democratic Federation, the Global South, and the Cold War.

Yulia Gradskova explores the work and development of the Women’s International Democratic Federation in the period between 1955- and 1985. She focuses on the work for, and with. women from the countries of the Global South-Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Working within the frameworks of transnational history and postcolonial feminist studies, Gradskova critically reviews the internal and external dynamics of the WIDF, exploring the discussions, conflicts, and broad network of collaboration that shaped this organization.

Relying on the interplay between micro and macro history, Gradskova examines both development of the WIDF, and personal accounts of this development. She draws her arguments from a variety of primary sources, most of which are held in the State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF). Following Chiara Bonfiglioli’s classification, Gradskova describes sources as external—materials aimed at external readers, and internal, materials circulated among the members of the organization. To challenge the selective nature of the external sources—public speeches, periodical publications, and bulletins), Gradskova offers a close reading of the sources, often going against the grain. This is well illustrated through her analysis of the changing discourse of the organization amidst the changes emerging from the post-1945 political, economic, and social developments in the international order. The internal documents, such as protocols and minutes of congresses and meetings, and correspondence among the members, deepen her analysis, offering revealing insights into the inner life of the WIDF.

Divided into nine well-structured thematic chapters, this monograph navigates readers through the most dynamic period in the history of the WIDF. Chapter One serves a twofold purpose: it outlines the history of the WIDF, situating it in the historiography of the transnational women’s movements. Building on de Haan’s conclusion concerning the absence of the history of the WIDF in the historiography of women’s movements, Gradskova further notes that, interestingly, the history of the WIDF was also neglected in the historiography of women’s movements written in state-socialist countries. Nonetheless, she highlights a noticeable growth in scholarship related to the WIDF, with new perspectives offered by authors such as Katherine McGregor, Pieper Mooney, and Kristen Ghodsee—to name a few. Lastly, Gradskova argues that the roles of the women from the Global South are only just starting to be explored, and a special issue of the International Review of Social History dedicated to Women’s Rights and Global Socialism (and including three articles on the work of the WIDF, one by Gradskova), proves her point.

In the second and third chapters, Gradskova takes her readers through the early development of the WIDF, its ideology, and its activities. She addresses two enduring assumptions (phrased as accusatory questions) concerning the WIDF: was WIDF a Soviet pawn used for foreign policy goals, and was WIDF a purely communist organization? Analyzing internal documents exchanged between the Committee of Soviet Women (CSW) and its representatives at the WIDF, Gradskova skillfully provides an answer to the first assumption, showing that even though the Soviet Center did try to influence the work and development of the WIDF, playing an important role for the organization, the WIDF still operated under its own steam. This was made possible through the work of individual members of the WIDF, who forthrightly challenged WIDF’s methods and tactics. Gradskova also persuasively addresses the second assumption: using numerous examples, she shows that the WIDF was not a homogenous communist organization but an organization consisting of activists of different political affiliations, whose activism and ideas shaped the organization’s trajectory.

While the book has a very clear structure, Chapters Three and five create a comprehensive whole, interrupted, unfortunately, by Chapter Four. While Chapter Four discusses the ideology of the WIDF, built on the idea of struggle for peace and protection of mothers and children, Chapter Five argues that WIDF based its view on women’s rights on the state-socialist and, especially, the Soviet model. As Gradskova demonstrates, the Soviet model of emancipation was most often propagated through the images of the representatives of the Soviet Central Asian Republic, which functioned as tools with which to legitimize the success of the state-socialist program for women and to attract women activists from the Global South. This goal was also achieved through organized visits of the representatives of the Global South to the Soviet Union. This led to the establishment of a broad, transnational network of contacts and friendships among the activists which, it could be argued, were among the most important achievements of the WIDF.

Chapters Four and Six are intrinsically connected. The former discusses how the problems of women from the Global South were discussed within the WIDF, and the latter focuses on the role women of the Global South played in the organization. Chapter Six deserves special consideration, as it stands out as one of the most exhilarating chapters of the book. First, it demonstrates how WIDF, as a transnational organization, reacted to the strikingly changing world during the years of independence struggles and decolonization. Second, it serves as proof of the importance of the agency of individual activists for the development of the organization. Using numerous examples, Gradskova describes how women from the Global South called for structural and organizational changes that would make the WIDF more inclusive, less white, and more prepared to struggle with the problems encountered by women from newly independent countries.

The agency of individual activists is a topic further explored in Chapter Seven, in which, through the lens of microhistory, Gradskova analyses biographies of prominent WIDF activists: Fanny Edelman, Fatima Ahmed Ibrahim, Salwa Zayadeen, and Funmilayo Ransome Kuti. By approaching the subject from this perspective, Gradskova allows her readers to see how individual activists experienced and contributed to the conversations on women’s rights amidst political and social transformations of the postwar world. The following chapter extends this discussion to the human rights era of the 1970s and 1980s, showing how the rise of the radical feminist movement in the West influenced the expansion of the activities of the WIDF towards the Global South. The last chapter offers a summary of Gradskova’s conclusions concerning the history and heritage of the WIDF.

Overall, what distinguishes Yulia Gradskova’s book is her ability to tell a nuanced history of an organization, showing that WIDF was not a monolithic organization existing in a vacuum but a transnational organization shaped by the changing political, economic, social, and even geographical landscapes of the postwar world, and the activist practices of its members. Although aimed at an audience with previous knowledge of the topic, this book represents a long-awaited examination of transnational left women’s activism. It thus constitutes a substantial contribution to the historiography of women’s history. Finally, given the wealth of information it contains, the variety of thought-provoking perspectives from which it approaches its subject, and its interdisciplinary character, this book will serve as an excellent resource in educational environments and will spark new discussions and debates on this important topic.

Minja Bujakovic
European University Institute
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1 This review results from the projects Probing the Boundaries of the (Trans)National: Imperial Legacies, Transnational Literary Networks and Multilingualism in East Central Europe financed by the Research Council of Norway (Grant number 275981), and was realized with the support of the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia, according to the Agreement on the realization and financing of scientific research. 

2 De Haan, Francisca, “Continuing Cold War Paradigms in Western Historiography of Transnational Women’s Organisations: The case of the Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF),” Women’s History Review, 19, no. 4 (2010): 547–73. doi: 09612025.2010.502399

Volume 11 Issue 1 CONTENTS


Az 1196–1235 közötti magyar történelem nyugati elbeszélő forrásainak kritikája [A critical study of the Western narrative sources of Hungarian history from 1196 until 1235]. By Tamás Körmendi. Budapest: MTA Bölcsészettudományi Kutatóközpont Történettudományi Intézet, 2019. 229 pp.
DOI 10.38145/2022.1.235

For over eight decades, scholars of medieval Hungary have had at their disposal the three volumes of the alphabetical repertory (or rather chrestomathy) by Ferenc Albin Gombos, which offers a corpus (albeit one far from complete) of the sources on Hungarian history between the Conquest of the Carpathian basin by the Magyars at the end of the ninth century and the extinction of the Árpád dynasty in 1301 (Catalogus fontium historiae Hungaricae aevo ducum et regum ex stirpe Arpad descendentium ab anno Christi DCCC usque ad annum MCCCI). Although the Catalogus fontium has been an essential tool for scholars since it was published in 1937–1938, no attempt had been made, until the doctoral thesis by Tamás Körmendi defended at Eötvös Loránd University in 2008, to accomplish a critical handbook examining the European chronicles, gesta, and annals collected by Gombos and containing information about Hungary in the Árpád era. The present volume is a revised version of Körmendi’s dissertation, which discusses the Western narrative sources of a shorter time period covered by the successive reigns of Emeric (1196–1204), Ladislaus III (1204–1205), and Andrew II (1205–1235). Körmendi, an associate professor, vice-head of the Institute of History, and head of the Department of Auxiliary Sciences of History at Eötvös Loránd University (Budapest), has also devoted attention, in his earlier writings, to the Latin language of the Greater Legend of Saint Stephen, the establishment of Hungarian rule in Croatia, and the history of coats of arms in medieval Hungary. The work, which is Körmendi’s first monograph, offers a philological and historical analysis of the narrative sources on Hungarian history between 1196 and 1235.

The Hungarian national chronicle (the so-called fourteenth-century chronicle composition) contains little information on the events of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Therefore, in addition to charters, foreign narrative sources prove essential for any understanding of the period. Although studies focusing on political history have, since the publication of the two-volume synthesis on the history of the Árpád era by Gyula Pauler in 1893 (A magyar nemzet története az Árpádházi királyok alatt [History of the Hungarian nation under the kings of the house of Árpád]), been exploiting the passages related to Hungary from the annals, chronicles, and gesta written beyond the borders of the Carpathian Basin, Hungarian scholars have limited knowledge of the texts themselves. Körmendi addresses this shortcoming by examining the narrative sources which contain information concerning the aforementioned four decades of Hungarian history.

In the preface to his volume, Körmendi specifies the criteria according to which the corpus of his analysis is established. His research has a wide geographical scope. By defining Western sources as texts from the lands of Latin Christendom, the book covers histories from Great Britain to Poland and from the Italian Peninsula to the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea. It does not deal with the historiographical tradition of the Kingdom of Hungary; however, the Historia Salonita by the Dalmatian chronicler Thomas the Archdeacon (of Split) is part of the corpus. Despite the fact that in the period under examination the Adriatic coast was ruled by the kings of Hungary, Dalmatian historiography proves independent from the Hungarian tradition. The monograph discusses only medieval narrative sources in the classical sense of the term. Therefore, the humanist literature of the Renaissance era is not taken into consideration: this explains the absence of the chronicle of Krakow’s canon Jan Długosz and the Annales Boiorum of the Bavarian historiograph Johannes Aventinus from the source material treated in the book. Using these criteria, Körmendi aims exhaustively to collect the narrative sources containing any information relevant to Hungary and Hungarians between 1196 and 1235. He compiles his sources primarily on the basis of the Catalogus fontium by Gombos, but as he mentions in the introduction, the list of the three-volume repertory can be completed with a few items, such as the lives of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary by Ceasarius of Heisterbach or the French poet Rutebeuf. (Due to its different genre, the extensive hagiographical literature on the Árpád princess is not subject to his analyses, however.) The texts are mostly Latin-language sources, but the corpus also includes a few vernacular chronicles (e. g. the Old French accounts of Geoffrey of Villehardouin and Robert de Clari on the fourth crusade).

The volume consists of four main parts. A chapter giving a chronological overview of the events of Hungarian history appearing in the Western narrative sources is followed by two case studies providing examples of the types of analyses that can be carried out on the basis of the corpus (I shall return to the subject below). The most important and extensive part of the work offers an encyclopedic inventory of the annals and chronicles, which include accounts on the Hungarians of the historical period between 1196 and 1235. This unit classifies sources according to their geographical origin, with the exception of the last three subchapters, which are thematic and are dedicated to the crusaders’ accounts and the histories of the two mendicant orders. As regards the geographical groups, it should be noted that German chronicles are the most numerous among the narrative sources in the corpus. In addition to historiographs of the German provinces, chroniclers from the French, British (Scottish), Iberian, Italian, Dalmatian, Polish or Bohemian territories also provide information related to the Kingdom of Hungary at the end of the twelfth and during the first decades of the thirteenth century. The eleven subchapters, which are often further subdivided into smaller units according to smaller geographical regions (such as Saxony or Flanders), describe, one by one, a total of 150 texts. Within the units, the sources follow each other in the chronological order of their genesis (from firsthand accounts to late Medieval tradition). The entries of the encyclopedic part of the book begin by summarizing, on the basis of the findings in the secondary literature, the most important knowledge on the annals, chronicles, and histories of the corpus. Following this general presentation of the sources, which indicates their author (if known), their historical context, the presumable date of their creation, the period they cover, their manuscript tradition, and their influence, Körmendi carries out, in the second part of the entries, a critical analysis of the chronicle passages related to Hungarian history. He attempts to determine the origins of the information on Hungary and the historical value of the accounts.

Körmendi’s thorough examination of the texts allows him to establish the philological relations within the corpus and the hierarchy of the narrative sources giving accounts of the same events. One can observe that information usually flows between annals and chronicles written within the same geographical area: the monastic annals of Austria are, for instance, closely connected and take passages from one another. At the beginning of each subchapter of the encyclopedic part, Körmendi specifies the information that can be found in the source material of the region and indicates which groups are formed by the philologically related texts. The chronicles mention Hungary especially in cases where there existed, in the period under examination, direct contacts between the territory in question and Hungary. While Thuringian sources seem to be concerned with the figure of Saint Elizabeth (the daughter of King Andrew II and wife of Louis IV, Landgrave of Thuringia), Bohemian chroniclers cite the dynastic marriage between Ottokar I Přemysl, King of Bohemia and Constance of Hungary, daughter of the late Béla III, in 1199. The chronological overview in the first chapter of the book shows clearly that some events of Hungarian history were of great interest to chroniclers from all over Europe. As Körmendi points out, three episodes received particular attention: the siege of Zadar by the crusaders in 1202, the assassination of Queen Gertrude of Merania in 1213, and the crusade conducted by Andrew II in 1217–1218 are well known among the medieval authors in the corpus.

The second and the third chapters of the volume present two (relatively) rich historical traditions in the form of independent case studies. The first focuses on the depiction in the sources of the capture of Prince Andrew (the future Andrew II), who was rebelling against his elder brother Emeric in 1203. The second analysis examines the large number of texts giving accounts of the aforementioned murderous attack against Queen Gertrude, the first wife of King Andrew. The 27 annals and chronicles providing details on the death of the royal consort are classified into five groups according to the type of information they contain. The studies show that the findings of philological investigations can be used to draw historical conclusions. In the first case, Körmendi affirms that the most cited sources on the conflict between Emeric and Andrew (the Historia Salonitana by Thomas the Archdeacon and the annals of Klosterneuburg) lack credibility and then tries to reconstruct the events mainly on the basis of the brief account in the annals of the monastery of Admont in Styria. As regards the tradition concerning the assassination of Gertrude of Merania, it should be noted that Körmendi, who considers the analysis of the narrative sources of the tragic event as a first step to further inquiries, has devoted elsewhere another study to the the circumstances surrounding the murder.1 In the concluding words of his book, Körmendi stresses that his comprehensive analysis of the corpus also allowed him to make some minor corrections concerning the chronology of the history of the Árpád era.

To summarize, Tamás Körmendi’s volume, inspired in part by the work of Wilhelm Wattenbach on the narrative sources of medieval German history (Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen im Mittelalter bus zur Mitte des dreizehnten Jahrhunderts), is a much-needed handbook for experts on Árpád-era Hungary. Körmendi has developed his own method to carry out a thorough analysis of a well-defined group of foreign narrative sources on Hungarian history which can serve as a model for scholars seeking to continue basic research on medieval annals and chronicles mentioning Hungary and the Hungarians. The critical observations Körmendi formulates on the texts offer further nuance to the findings in the previous literature in philology. As the sources examined provide information primarily on the foreign relations of the Kingdom of Hungary, the book will prove an essential tool for anyone interested in the foreign affairs of the kings of the Árpád dynasty between 1196 and 1235.

Judit Csákó
Research Centre for the Humanities
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Medicinische Policey in den habsburgischen Ländern der Sattelzeit: Ein Beitrag zu einer Kulturgeschichte der Verwaltung von Gesundheit und Krankheit. By Lukas Lang. Vienna: LIT Verlag, 2021. pp. 336.
DOI 10.38145/2022.1.240

Lukas Lang’s significant contribution to the field of medical history in the East Central European region, focusing on health care administration in the Habsburg Monarchy in the so-called “saddle period” (Sattelzeit), a period of transition from early modern to “modern” structures between the 1780s and 1820s, is based on his dissertation, which he defended at the University of Graz in 2017. Centered around a core problem of the age, which was rooted in the Enlightenment paradigm of the “pursuit of happiness” and the value of a healthy population viewed as a safeguard of stability and eventually progress, Lang’s volume deals primarily with medizinische Policey (which literally translates as “medical police”), a field strongly related to the comprehensive Polizeywissenschaft or “police science” concerned primarily with the internal order of the community, as well as the mechanisms and configurations of order and the ideals of order in an administrative-historical perspective on health and disease in four chapters, analyzing the different areas and levels of the discourse. Due to the abundance of texts and the diversity of health care regulations in the different regions of the Habsburg Monarchy, Lang wisely chose to limit his focus to the province of Lower Austria and the imperial residence city of Vienna. Instead of offering a general overview of the topic, he opted for an in-depth study of local affairs, revealing the dynamics of health care policy in the region but also successfully embedding the identified problem areas, discourses, and unique approaches to local policy in the transformations accelerated by, for example, the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars.

The introduction focuses on the relevant historiographical traditions, the current state of research, and the potential methodological and conceptual tools with the help of which one can explore the administrative-historical dimension of health care in the Sattelzeit in a dynamic framework, taking not only the theoretical, prescriptive aspect of the examined treatises on medical police into consideration but also the influence of theoretical works on medical policymaking and the successes and setbacks of the process through which such laws were implemented and evolved into “self-evident customs” (p.99). Lang provides a wide tableau of the different approaches to medizinische Policey and medical policymaking in general, beginning with the famous concept introduced by George Rosen, considering the health policy of the German-speaking territories and its theoretical background “narrow, conservative, and particularist in spirit” (p.15), a view challenged substantially by historians of medicine since the 1950s.

Lang also includes Michel Foucault’s conceptual framework, which exerted a strong influence on Germanic historiography until the 1990s, inspiring research revolving around the concepts of biopolitics, governmentality, and medicalization. Lang does not dismiss the latter concept (he uses the term Medikalisierung throughout the volume), but he does “recalibrate” it by considering the practical feasibility of the concept of “medical socialization” introduced by Francisca Loetz and highlighting the dualism between academic medicine and lay medicine, as well as their reciprocal dynamics and negotiation processes, which seem to be particularly suitable for his analysis, along with other methodological concepts focusing on dynamics and negotiations instead of rigid structures and top-to-bottom approaches to administration, among them the cultural techniques of administration (Kulturtechniken der Verwaltung) introduced by Peter Becker and Stefan Haas or the analysis of Ordnungskonfigurationen (configurations of order) introduced in medieval studies by Stefan Weinfurter and Bernd Schneidmüller.

The levels of discourse examined in the volume are shaped by the groups of sources chosen by Lang for his analysis: moving from the sphere of theory to the practical implementation of health regulations, he discusses the most significant contributions to the genre, including Johann Peter Frank’s comprehensive six-volume work on the system of medical police (posthumously amended by three further volumes), along with the treatises by Zacharias Gottlieb von Huszty, Franz von Steininger, Joseph Bernt, and Marquard Joseph von Kotz. The second level of Lang’s analysis deals with health legislation based on Johann Nepomuk Freiherr von Hempel-Kürsinger’s Handbuch der Gesetzkunde im Sanitäts- und Medicinalgebiethe (1830–1832), with a focus on Lower Austrian regulations, containing ca. 3000 ordinances from the period between 1230 and 1821. In the third, empirically-based analytical chapter, Lang delves into unpublished sources from the holdings of the police authorities of the Habsburg Monarchy from the years between 1783 and 1814 kept in the Austrian State Archives. Based on these texts, Lang was not only able to offer a comprehensive view of each individual level, but the sources also enabled him to convey an integral image encompassing the three levels and to fulfil his initial objective of offering a differentiated interpretation of how the different discourses and arenas of medical policymaking and the implementation of different regulations influenced and shaped each other.

After a both historiographically and methodologically convincing introduction, Chapter 2 focuses on the theoretical discourse of medizinische Policey based on the works of the abovementioned authors, whose texts, though theoretical in nature, were by no means disengaged from earlier attempts and discourses on the issues and most important tasks of (medical) police. Drawing on earlier regulations and medical expertise, the authors aimed to create the discursive foundation of normative principles for state health policy and administration and establish the academically trained physician as a medical expert, whose political engagement is vital for achieving the political, economic, and social objective of ensuring a healthy population. Lang in this chapter surveys the historical background and theoretical underpinnings of medizinische Policey ingrained in general police science (Policeywissenschaft) and cameralist economic theory, as well as the goals and structure of the works, the most important problem areas (population discourse, the relationship of the medical profession and state administration, and the correlation of theory and practice), and the significant discursive shift towards the importance of prophylaxis. Lang also discusses the mediality of works on medical police, highlighting that the typographical layout and structure, the “utilitarian” language, the different methods of dissemination, and the introduction of medizinische Policey in medical education at the universities of the Habsburg Monarchy were all imperative in establishing a widely received normative discourse.

Chapter 3 deals with the direct influence of this normative discourse on the legislation: as argued by Lang, this influence was by no means linear, and, as mentioned earlier, there had already been some interplay between theory and norm production, with the authors of medizinische Policey strongly drawing on older police and health regulations. Lang’s exhaustive and elaborate chapter focuses on several problem areas related to medical regulations in the Lower Austrian territory, surveying, for example, the distribution and development of Habsburg sanitary laws, the types of laws and their temporal and regional distribution, the most important subjects (e.g., disease control; the inspection of foodstuffs, hospitals and pharmacies; veterinary science and practices; hazard prevention; treatment practices; health administration; medical education; public hygiene; quackery; burial customs), the administrative organization and its most important bodies and actors. As in the previous chapter on the mediality of treatises on medical police, in this part Lang also focuses on the dissemination (publication, announcement) of legal knowledge, as well as the implementation processes illustrated with case studies, demonstrating how normative knowledge was received and used in society.

Chapter 4 focuses on case studies. It deals with three specific problem areas, pointing at the significance and stakes of thorough medical regulations and the stricter surveillance of society. According to Lang, this part is a “testing ground” for the general ideas presented in the earlier chapters of the volume and aims to show how the different norms, discourses, and legislative practices were set to work in certain cases, involving the conflicts of authorities, social norms and customs, and in some cases, human nature. The problem areas discussed are marriage and sexuality; prostitution and sexually transmitted diseases; and quackery. Lang claims that controlling the marital habits and sexuality of individuals are areas that have strong implications for both morality and for ensuring a strong, healthy, and growing population, while the battle against unlicensed healers and quacks on the diverse medical market in the Habsburg Monarchy at the time was imperative for achieving thorough state control and for enabling academically trained physicians to establish themselves as par excellence medical experts and a determinative force in health administration.

In sum, Lukas Lang’s comprehensive work on the changes, ruptures, and continuities in health administration in the Habsburg Monarchy in the decades between the 1780s and 1820s is a noteworthy contribution to medical history writing in the region, fulfilling a significant lacuna in the secondary literature. Though the text itself would have needed more input from the editors in correcting typos (a notable example is Huszty’s surname, which appears in three different forms) and unedited charts and in smoothening the sometimes overly repetitive and didactic argumentation, the book is still an important read for any historian of medicine, as it provides an important basis for understanding the most important theoretical underpinnings, discourses, and practices through which health administration evolved in the province of Lower Austria, providing an important example for the other regions of the Habsburg Monarchy as well. In the future, an English edition (and not a mere translation of the current German version) would be useful, as it would make the volume more widely accessible.

Janka Kovács
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Szörnyeteg Felső-Magyarországon: Grünwald Béla és a szlovák–magyar kapcsolatok története [A monster in Upper Hungary: Béla Grünwald and the history of Slovak–Hungarian relations]. By József Demmel. Budapest: Ráció, 2021. 283 pp. / Ľudožrút v Hornom Uhorsku: Príbeh Bélu Grünwalda. Bratislava: VEDA, 2020. 288 pp.
DOI 10.38145/2022.1.244

Before this book, József Demmel had written three other monographs about men who, in different ways, maneuvered in between the conflicting Slovak and Hungarian identity projects of the 1860s and 1870s: the Evangelical pastor Gustav Adolf Seberini/Gusztáv Szeberényi, the senior county official József Justh, and the members of the so-called “New School.” This time, he chose a protagonist from the same period whose commitment to a militant, state-sponsored Magyar nationalism was solid and unwavering. Béla Grünwald (not to be confused with the painter of the same name) was both an eminent historian and a theoretician of public administration, but he is known first and foremost for his nationalist pamphlet from 1878, A Felvidék [Upper Hungary]. Demmel’s book concentrates on his earlier career, also drawing on Grünwald’s previously unexplored personal papers.

Demmel first paints a portrait of the elites of Zólyom County, where Grünwald’s career unfolded. The 1840s saw the emergence of two parallel local public spheres, one in Hungarian consisting of nobles and one in Slovak of a priestly-commoner character. The latter was more numerous. More locals read Ľudovít Štúr’s journal Slovenské národné noviny than the organs of the Hungarian press, and the citizens of Zvolen elected Štúr to the 1847 diet. After 1848–49, the tide briefly turned in favor of the Slovak cause. Slovak was introduced into the administration and became the language of instruction in the local Catholic grammar school. By the time Grünwald arrived in the county in 1867 as its freshly elected chief county clerk, the political winds had shifted again, and the local strongman Antal Radvánszky had forced several Slovak cultural institutions to take refuge in neighboring Turóc County.

As Radvánszky’s protégé, Grünwald placed the fight against the Slovak movement at the center of his concerns. He coordinated the Magyarization of the Banská Bystrica gymnasium, fulminated against the Nationalities Act when it was passed in 1868, and later bombarded the government with memoranda demanding a crackdown on the national minority movements. In 1873, he launched the Slovak-language Svornosť with government aid, which he edited and partly wrote in a pro-Magyar spirit. The following year, already as the alispán (top elected official) of Zólyom County, he came to national fame by initiating a government investigation against the then-existing four Slovak grammar schools, an unusual move given that none of them operated in his jurisdiction. Demmel provides a detailed account of the infamous process that led to the closure of the four schools. He emphasizes that, contrary to popular belief, it had little to do with Kálmán Tisza and mostly took place under the watch of Prime Minister István Bittó.

Turning to the dissolution of the Matica slovenská in 1875, Demmel again stresses that it was not Tisza’s plan so much as the result of Grünwald’s intrigues. While the procedure against the Slovak high schools was already underway, Grünwald had started fomenting public outrage against the Matica in the Budapest press. Based on Grünwald’s manuscripts, Demmel identifies him as the author of several denunciatory articles. Through private channels, Grünwald later also gained access to confidential investigation materials and, appealing to a public opinion increasingly riled up against the minorities, he put pressure on the government to suspend the association. Since the Matica operated in Turóc County, the incident allows Demmel to open a parenthesis and describe local political life since the 1840s, which diverged considerably from the trends in Zólyom County.

The book is arguably the least successful as a work of psychohistory. Demmel motivates much of his inquiry by the goal of understanding what turned Grünwald into such a passionate enemy of the Slovak identity project and what secret personal trauma drove him to commit suicide. The array of facts that he digs up in the process are unquestionably suggestive of the political and social milieu, but they don’t answer these questions. To uncover Grünwald’s Slovak roots and present his anti-Slovak fervor as the fanaticism of a convert would be facile, given that only his uncle Anton Majovský/Antal Majovszky seems to have flirted with the Slovak movement for a while in the 1860s. Grünwald’s many love affairs, on the other hand, made him the butt of small-town gossip, involved him in at least one duel, and left him with one illegitimate child. In particular, the Slovakist Viliam Pauliny-Tóth’s anonymously penned mock-heroic lampoon in Národnie noviny in 1873–74 ridiculed his love escapade with a married woman. It sold out instantly in Banská Bystrica, where everyone could identify the characters. Demmel may be right that the popularity of this satire forced him to relocate to Budapest, and it may even have cost him his relationship with his son’s mother. But Demmel goes too far in projecting a causal link between Grünwald’s suicide and Pauliny-Tóth’s politically motivated snipe at him 16 years earlier.

Demmel does not hide the fact that, in his endeavor to uncover Grünwald’s secret trauma, he takes a hint from Mihály Lackó’s brief biography of Grünwald, an early Hungarian representative of the psychobiography genre (Halál Párizsban: Grünwald Béla történész művei és betegségei [1986]). It remains something of an enigma, however, why Demmel feels the need to convince his reader that Grünwald was not an anomaly, the lonely Slovak-bashing “monster” (as he is described in the title), or, more perplexingly, that “his chauvinist nationalism was not rooted in his low character” (p.237). Demmel implies the existence of a scapegoating narrative in Hungarian historiography that blames Grünwald for the oppression of Slovaks. However, he does not specify where he sees this narrative, which lends his reasoning a slight strawman character.

One could note other controversial points. For example, Demmel takes it as proven that the use of Slovak as the language of instruction in the four gymnasia did not disturb the Magyar political elite. But his reference to existing German high schools makes a weak case, because German soon had to retreat from high schools in Hungary (although not in Transylvania). Moreover, he backs up his statement that the four gymnasia functioned as training bases for the Slovak national idea with the following innocuous quote from the headmaster of the gymnasium in the town of Martin: “follow your faithful leaders and be grateful to those who want to lead you towards enlightenment and education” (p.173).

But these are either relatively minor or superficial details, which do not lead the argument into fruitless digressions and are greatly outweighed by the merits of the book; its useful biographical clarifications, a rich portrayal of political life and elite sociability in two counties over the course of three decades, a lucid account of the closure of the Slovak gymnasia, and insights such as the impacts of inter-county rivalry on the Slovak national movement and the creation out of nothing of a Magyar public sphere in Zólyom County. Demmel reconstructs “the extent to which the Hungarian character of the county was just a smokescreen” (p.24). At pains to present a Hungarian image to the outside world, the local liberal nobility of the 1840s began to speak Hungarian in county assemblies and social events, which obviously required serious effort and excluded many monolinguals. As a result, however, they were able to blot out the Slovak world of the country from the view of the wider Hungarian public. They actively sustained such a vision to convince their co-nationals of the county’s loyalty, which also made them keener to silence the Slovak opposition than the central authorities were.

Last but not least, Demmel deserves plaudits for a terminological innovation. He uses the word “magyar” in inverted commas for denizens of contemporary Upper Hungary with a pro-Magyar cultural and political outlook and calls their opponents “Slovak enthusiasts.” While unhyphenated Magyars without Slovak ancestry were indeed few and far between in the Zólyom County of the 1870s, the latter term may sound oddly archaic or even condescending. On second thought, however, its looseness can recommend it as an alternative to the narrow and reductive “nationalist.” Certainly, this binary opposition gives more justice to the politics of identity choices in the given context than a crude contrast between “Magyars” and “Slovaks.”

The book was published in parallel Hungarian and Slovak versions.

Ágoston Berecz
Imre Kertész Kolleg, Jena
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Geography and Nationalist Visions of Interwar Yugoslavia. By Vedran Duančić. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020. 286 pp. 
DOI 10.38145/2022.1.248

The recent book by Vedran Duančić is a work which will be of interest to any reader, whether historian or geographer, who is eager to learn more about the relationship between nationalism, nation states, and politics, and not only for scholars on the Balkans. Duančić’s approach, which straddles the border between the two disciplines, was something of a revelation to me, and the theme itself is of unquestionable relevance. His style is also fresh, engaging, and simple, yet also precise, and his insights are emphatic. The text is logical and coherent, and his approach is centered around problems. He takes the challenges faced at the time and the responses given by the discipline of geography to these challenges as his point of departure. The book is much more than a history of the geography of interwar Yugoslavia, and indeed it is much more than an analysis of the intertwining of science and politics. It is a substantially new contribution because its innovative approach is not Serb-centric. Duančić stresses that, although one could hardly afford to ignore the role of geographer Jovan Cvijić and his wide network of contacts, the book is not intended as another analysis of Cvijić, but rather seeks to reveal to the reader his impact on the domestic scientific and political milieu, his organizational work, and the consequences of his contacts abroad. Cvijić’s contemporaries, including his disciples, his followers, and his ideological opponents (indeed, there is a common intersection of the three categories), are all brought into the discussion and subjected to analysis (Erdeljanović, Filip Lukas, Artur Gavazzi).

The book also excellently situates Balkan geography in a European context, with a look at Central European “state-building” geographers such as the Polish Romer, the Czech Dvorsky, and the Ukrainian Rudnyits’kyi. It offers a clear overview of their connections to Friedrich Ratzel’s anthropogeography and the initiatives which went beyond it: the local confluence of the determinist-possibilist debate and its consequences and implications for the organization of the political state. We are given a picture of the scientific milieu from which the first generation of geographers of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes came. Not surprisingly, Vienna and Berlin were the centers where they were trained, so of course their initial acceptance of Ratzel’s position concerning the development of nations and the superiority of the nation state framework over the supranational empire is understandable, even if they were politically opposed to the states which were home to their alma maters. We learn of the influence of Penck on Cvijić, who moved from Vienna to Berlin after 1906 (they continued to correspond vigorously after World War I, when they were on opposite sides) and of Cvijić on Penck in the latter’s geographic turn, in the course of the elaboration of the “Blood and Soil” ideology after 1920. We also learn of the time Cvijić spent in “exile” in Paris during the war years, which led to the birth of his book La Péninsule Balkanique and also gave him the chance to win the friendship and sympathy of Isaiah Bowman and de Martonne, who played a major role in policymaking in 1920. Duančić also offers an analysis of the contents and conceptual frameworks of the main geographic works. He notes that Cvijić’s arguments were contradictory, and although his voluminous work exerted a considerable impact on readers and politicians, Romer achieved the same thing in Poland in far fewer pages. Thus, in the end, it was not the coherence of the work or the extent to which it testified to its author’s expertise that was decisive, but the simple fact that the Yugoslav (Polish, Czech, Ukrainian, etc.) arguments (regardless of their accuracy or relevance) were precisely what politicians needed in 1918. Thus, a work that numbered only some 50 pages could serve as scholarly background material just as effectively as a work that was 500 pages long.

Thirdly, the political and ethnic character of the nascent Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes itself was riddled with contradictions, which meant that the rival ideologies of Paul Vidal de la Blache’s possibilism and Ratzel’s determinism appeared in the argumentation of both opposing national and etatist (including Greater Serbia versus Yugoslav) and centralist and federalist geographers, with strong political overtones. Sometimes, even the same geographer would change his opinion over time. At the time of the birth of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, there were several possible alternatives: it could have been created as a strongly centralized supra/transnational (Yugoslav) political entity or a decentralized federal-national entity. What in reality emerged was really more a state that rested on a centralist foundation with Greater Serbia leanings (at least according to the Croats in the opposition).

It is worth taking a moment to consider how the political-constitutional problem was grappled with in geography. In 1909, after the annexation, in his first explicitly political (and more ambitious) work, Cvijić rejects the Austrian imperial contention that Austro-Hungary needed Bosnia to ensure the security and economic development of Dalmatia. After 1920, however, he himself argues against Italian claims that Dalmatia was necessary to promote the economic development of isolated Bosnia. In other words, he uses the (imperial) argumentation he had earlier rejected in support of his own political claims. The notion that access to the Adriatic was necessary for the viability of the state (once Thessaloniki had been lost) was again a geopolitical argument and more imperialist in nature. It could even be called a paraphrase of the “Drang nach Salonika” accusation levelled against the Monarchy. (Similarly, the Serbian geopolitical argument for the unification of Serbia and Montenegro as a means of cutting off the Monarchy from the Turkish Empire and putting an end to the former’s constant meddling in the Balkans is also merely a rephrasing of an imperialist idea.) Moreover, this argument led to another geographical—and politicized—problem. The Greater Serbia ideology saw Austro-Hungary’s endeavors in Bosnia as a form of colonization, and it dismissed developments such as the construction of the railways with the contention that Serbia could have done this on its own. However, after 1920, as the new masters of the territory, the politicians who had promulgated this ideology were unable to connect the cities of the Adriatic with the interior. The lack of political and economic unity led to another geographical debate: did it make more sense to unite economically and socially similar territories into a single state or, on the contrary, would it be more practical to unite territories which, precisely because of their differences, complemented one another? This question, obviously, cannot be answered unequivocally from a purely academic point of view (both arguments were made in the peace negotiations), but it was raised in practice in connection with the political structure and territorial extent of the nascent Yugoslav state. Economically and ethnically, Dalmatia was not similar to Bosnia, so the latter argument (which put emphasis on the importance of uniting complementary territories) had to be used, and this in turn raised the question of local self-government and decentralization, which the Serbs rejected. However, the notion that the Serb-Croat-Slovenian nation was a closely linked tribe (a notion that also served as an explanation for the rejection of national-subnational levels of self-government) served to buttress the visions of those who espoused the idea of similarity. Thus, depending on the nature of the state that the emerging Yugoslavia would be, a different system of geographical argument would have to be used. In other words, it is very clear that the structure of the state was not determined by scientific, geographical considerations. Rather, geography merely offered a system of argument as a basis for claims to legitimacy on which the political will behind the structure of the state could build.

The Ratzelian and national Darwinist notion of nation state supremacy was just as problematic. Before 1920, this notion provided a logical ideological background for Serbia’s territorial growth. The young nation state was trying to achieve its ethnically ideal borders against two non-national empires that were seen as evolutionarily obsolete. Yugoslavia could only be understood as a “nation state,” however, if the idea of Serb-Croat-Slovenian unity could gain at least theoretical acceptance. This notion, however, was thrown into question, primarily by the Croatian side, and the new political entity was seen as a Greater Serbian empire. Supranational Yugoslavism, as a possible alternative, could not be coupled with the nation state logic either. In other words, both the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes and Yugoslavia embodied a type of state criticized as obsolete by Serbian geographers (and Ratzel). It is thus not surprising that Yugoslav geographers, whether they identified themselves as Serb, Croat, or Yugoslav geographers (which they did), alternately drew on Ratzel’s nation state determinism and Vidal de la Blache’s possibilism. These two theories offered divergent explanations of (if indeed they could explain) the trajectories of Serbian, Croatian and Slovenian national development (the debate between Lukas and Cvijić’s successors). If one accepts as a point of departure the existence of the “three-one nation” in the historical past, the question is: when did they begin to develop in different directions? Some Croats and some Serbs lived in a geographically similar environment (far from the Dinaric Alps), yet their development took different paths. In contrast, the Croats of Dalmatia and the Croats of Pannonia, though they lived in strikingly different regions, formed one nation, while the Serbs, Muslims, and Croats living in the Bosnian mountains did not. This would suggest that it is not the geography of the land that is the determining factor but rather culture, and this meant that Ratzel and people belonging to his school of thought were wrong. When did the nation’s path of development split? With Byzantium? With the Turks? Or did the natural geography-based dilemma suggest a similar political-ideological background: the Dinaric Alps morphologically tie the country together? Or the Vardar-Morava axis? According to the geography on which visions of Greater Serbia were based, it is the latter, since the two sides of the Dinaric Alps have different climates, lifestyles, etc. But according to those who espoused the notion of a Yugoslav state and also proponents of the race theory (there were also those who believed in a “Dinaric” type of man as the prototypical Yugoslav), the Dinaric mountains and the importance of uniting people of complementary (not identical) cultures and lifestyles were the essential factors. It is clear that the relationships among geography, ethnography, linguistics, and cultural anthropology on these issues needed to be clarified, as did the stances in these various branches of the sciences, and there were serious debates and differences among members of the first generation of geographers (inherited from the empires), who were transforming either to proponents of the national ideal or to supporters of the Yugoslav vision. Some of the new university centers, such as Skopje, were merely part of the long arm of Belgrade. In Ljubljana, first Croatian and then local influence became dominant. Zagreb was seen by Belgrade as a reactionary hotbed, not only politically but also academically. Social geography, especially its Yugoslav dimension, was, on the basis of the curricula analyzed, relegated to the background under the Croatian-Italian Artur Gavazzi, who was educated in the Austrian school and, moreover, published little and traveled little, in contrast with the traditions of the “autochthonous” school. Cvijić himself traveled a great deal, and before 1914, he was engaged primarily in geomorphology (thus, it was not credible to blame Gavazzi for a lack of interest in social geography; rather, he could have been faulted for a lack of “field studies in local history”). At the same time, geomorphology was considered a much more serious science than anthropogeography, and it is hardly surprising that the latter was chosen by many people and was also in demand by the state.

The book sheds light on such problems, while examining one by one the struggles of the leaders of the Yugoslav/Grand Serbia center and the national university centers, as well as their attitudes to the changes which came in the wake of Cvijić’s death and the introduction of the royal dictatorship (which were a caesura from the perspective of the history of science). The book will also be of interest to readers who are not geographers, because it provides an impressive array of information on the history of ideas and mentality, the history of relations, and the interweaving of politics and science in the period, and it also discusses and interprets the main events and the roles of academic work in the process of state and nation building in Yugoslavia (a process rich with contradictions), not in a descriptive manner but rather by placing this all in context (with aptly chosen quotations). The fact that the author is a representative of a new generation who was not raised in the Belgrade geographic tradition and thus dares to be critical of the dominant narratives, bringing into focus and putting in a favorable light peripheral (or rather damned to the periphery) local-national narratives (while presenting not only the Croatian trend, but also others through their relation to it), obviously plays a major role in this assessment. Thus, the Croat-Serb opposition, all too familiar among historians, manifested itself not only among contemporary historians, but also in the natural sciences.

Gábor Demeter
Research Centre for the Humanities
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Bécs művészeti élete Ferenc József korában, ahogy Hevesi Lajos látta [Viennese art world in the era of Franz Joseph – seen by Lajos Hevesi]. By Ilona Sármány-Parsons. Budapest: Balassi Kiadó, 2019. 472 pp.
DOI 10.38145/2022.1.254

This is a rather rewarding topic: turn-of-the-century Vienna has an exceptionally good press. The world of Wittgenstein, Freud, and Schönberg is appealing to almost any reader. A book about Vienna and its art at the turn of the century is, one would think, an obvious choice. It is quite surprising, therefore, that the key player in this 450-page-long story, the art critic Lajos Hevesi, is largely unknown and his vast and scattered oeuvre is academically uncharted.

As Sármány-Parsons’ book makes very clear, Hevesi is a colorful and compelling character. Born as Lajos Lőwy and known in the German-language context as Ludwig Hevesi, this Hungarian journalist and influential art critic with a Jewish family background was born in provincial Heves in the Hungarian Kingdom, in 1843 and was educated in the Piarist grammar school in Pest. He studied medicine and classical philology first in Pest, but in 1862 he began to pursue studies at the University of Vienna. There, he also attended lectures on aesthetics and the arts. Given his talent for languages (he was fluent in German, French, English, and Italian, in addition to his native Hungarian), he earned his living for some time by translation, which brought him close to journalism, which became a life-long love affair for him. Writing for Hungarian and German language journals alike, he continuously played with his authorial identity. In politics, he was a supporter of the circle of Deák and Andrássy, following basically a classical national-liberal program. After the Settlement of 1867, although he had the opportunity to publish in Pester Lloyd, an influential German-language journal centered in Budapest, he decided to stay in Vienna, and he managed to turn himself into a Viennese journalist, art-lover, and man of letters, publishing in the influential Fremden-Blatt. Remaining unmarried, he sacrificed his whole life on the altar of art criticism and belles-lettres.

As an art critic, he was the personification of the new-style professional critic of the fine arts and theater. He joined the club at the right moment: very soon he made himself known as a dominant voice in Viennese art life for decades. As such, he was not only a witness to but also one of the first defenders of the Secessionist movement, which made Viennese art famous all over Europe. It also caused loud social and political scandals and brought in vast amounts of wealth for some of the fortunate artists in the group and for the most skillful art dealers. As a spokesman of the movement, Hevesi did not make a fortune, although he made a decent living with his regular feuilletons. But his engaging writings brought him success, and he was able to shape discussions on the art world in Vienna. He wrote a great deal, he saw everything worth seeing in the town, and he had very good personal contacts in the art world in Austria, Hungary, and abroad. He also travelled around Europe, working as a writer and publishing short stories and novels alongside his critical writings. His book-length writings on art include a work summing up nineteenth-century Austrian fine art and another on the Secessionist movement. After having had a successful career, he committed suicide in 1910, just before the outbreak of World War I, in the last minute of the Belle Époque.

Ilona Sármány-Parsons, the author of the present volume, is an art historian who was a researcher at the Institute of Art History of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. She has taught at a number of institutions, including Nottingham University, the University of Vienna, and Central European University, and has lived in Vienna since 1984, as did her hero hundred years earlier. Uncharacteristically within Hungarian historiography, she does not adopt a culturally nationalistic perspective, preferring instead to keep an imperial vista. Her aim is to present Hevesi’s views on the art events of the day and the main protagonists of the art scene chronologically and to show the major elements of his frame of mind as an art critic. However, she does not neglect to give a synthetic account of her protagonist’s personal identity. As we learn, Hevesi had a complex, four-layered personal identity, divided as it was between a Jewish, Hungarian, Viennese Austrian, and European self. Hevesi’s Jewishness was the innermost core of this identity, something of which he rarely spoke or wrote, while the external, sociable part of his identity was that of the European man of letters. Yet his Hungarian and Viennese identities were the determining factors of his character, two features which surprisingly seem to dwell side by side quite well in his case.

It is perhaps exactly this unproblematic relationship between Hevesi’s identities and, especially, his Hungarian and Austrian selves that makes him a rather remarkable case of late-nineteenth-century Central European culture. Hevesi was not present in Vienna’s art world as an exotic Hungarian voice. Rather, he had the position of an insider, who identified himself with the presuppositions of the local culture, an achievement in itself remarkable from someone born in the other part of the Dual Monarchy. The book presents in a detailed fashion the creative and original aspects of the main protagonist’s oeuvre in a dynamically growing and transforming art market. This methodology helps Sármány-Parsons avoid repeating often heard stories of well-known oppositions between national sovereignty and the pan-European cultural elite, offering instead a close view of the Austrian cultural witches’ brews. There are two historical lessons, however, that we can learn from this story. The first is that soft power was already a crucial element in middle-to-late nineteenth-century continental politics, as witnessed by the repeated world’s fairs and biennales and the other international fine art exhibitions. Secondly, a cultural cold war took place within Vienna’s art world in the second half of his career, proving that modernity brought with it a sharp, almost antagonistic struggle among interest groups and world views.

If those interested in the political history of the age have to read between the lines to learn from this refined narrative in an indirect way, art historians have a lot to digest directly here. Although the story itself is by its nature teleological, as its finish-line is the explosion of the art market called the Secessionist movement, it does not commit the fatal mistake of reading previous events retrospectively as a sign of what is to come. Instead, it interprets in a balanced manner the major events and turns of roughly three decades of Hevesi’s life as a critic, until he became a full-hearted advocate of the Secessionist artists and, in particular, Gustav Klimt.

Sármány-Parsons usefully offers a scheme of the stylistic transformations of the age, arguing for three major style-defined periods in the last third of the century. The first is the time of Historicism and academic art; the second is the victory of Realism and Naturalism; the third is the specifically style-focused period of Symbolism and Secession. Although both the second and the third phase of this story are usually interpreted as the antechambers of Modernism, Sármány-Parsons is careful to point out that Hevesi had no real chance to confront Modernism, the breakthrough of which happened after his untimely death.

Sármány-Parsons also reflects on the duality of Hevesi’s persona as an art critic. She emphasizes that, until the last phase of his career, his voice was that of a balanced middle-of-the-roader, who was able to see the valuable parts of even those often radical works that were not particularly close to his own personal taste. Yet the fact is that Hevesi not only supported wholeheartedly the case of the Secession, but for some time he became one of its main “Etzesgeber,” or even a key theorist. In the last part of his career, he became more of a reader-friendly enthusiast of art works, apparently giving up much of his earlier distanced, objective-professional tone.

Sármány-Parsons’ detailed, well-documented, and abundantly illustrated volume (thanks for this last merit to Balázs Czeizel’s excellent work as the designer of the book) gives a year-by-year account of this great oeuvre, relying on primary sources and making a major contribution to our understanding of the art history of Austria. Her major hit is to reclaim Hevesi for the canon of late nineteenth-century and turn-of-the-century Viennese art. By the end of this tour-de-force we also learn the names of the favorite painters of the day, included the Vedutist Alt, Makart, the colorist, and finally Klimt, the most original “aesthete” artist of the Secession. Hevesi knew all of them, and he interpreted their outstanding works for the general public with exceptional clarity and clear-sightedness. Furthermore, he was one of the first to establish the custom of real-time art criticism in these eventful final decades of the Golden Age of the Dual Monarchy.

Ferenc Hörcher
University of Public Service, Budapest / Research Centre for the Humanities
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The Soviet Union and Cold War Neutrality and Nonalignment in Europe. Edited by Mark Kramer, Aryo Makko, and Peter Ruggenthaler. Lanham MD: The Harvard Cold War Studies Book Series, Lexington Books, 2021. 627 pp.
DOI 10.38145/2022.1.258

Officials in the United States and several West European countries viewed the neutral states as a first line of defense during much of the Cold War. But what did the neutral states’ relationship with the Soviets look like? This question takes center stage in The Soviet Union and Cold War Neutrality and Nonalignment in Europe. At first glance, this title might seem a bit convoluted. However, the double use of the conjunction indicates a serious approach to the Soviet relationship with Cold War neutrality and its relationship with nonalignment, without risking a conflation of the two. This is part of this book’s key objective: to supplement often West-centric examinations of neutrality with examinations based on a much wider range of sources and viewpoints.

The first part of the book deals with different neutrality policies in Cold War Europe, and its chapters lay bare the discrepancies between theories of neutrality (more often than not based in political configurations that no longer existed) and their practice in this period. The first chapter by Franz Cede busts several myths about Austria’s neutrality, such as the notion that neutrality was imposed upon the country. Cede argues that, while circumstances outside Austria’s borders combined to make neutrality viable, that does not mean that neutrality was Austria’s to accept through no agency of its own or that there were no ideological considerations at play. Olaf Kronvall, in his chapter on Swedish neutrality, shows that Washington regarded Sweden’s way of being neutral as immoral, a conviction that could not be seen as separate from the events of the early 1940s. Thomas Fischer offers a short chapter on Switzerland which, despite its brevity, offers a nuanced grasp of the many different understandings and orientations that coexisted under the label “neutral.” This difference in orientation is further mapped by Mark Kramer in the conclusion of the book, in which Kramer confirms Switzerland was an outlier (p.543). The chapter by Rainio-Niemi on Finland is more globally focused. Importantly, this chapter views 1955 as a breakthrough year that brought new definitions of neutrality. This year recurs in many of the volume’s chapters as a key moment.

The second part of the book deals with Soviet foreign policy towards the neutral states. The first chapter by Alexey Komarov, which examines Swedish neutrality as viewed from Moscow, serves as a counterpoint to the chapter by Kronvall. It is interesting to see that the Swedish position was seen as “free-riding” not just by Washington DC but also by Moscow. It is a pity, however, that the characterization of Sweden as “peace-loving” (p.120) is not further developed. This is very much in line with the political language of the World Peace Council, very much a part of Soviet foreign policy but nevertheless barely present in this book. In chapters like this, a more capacious understanding of (Soviet) foreign policy would have reaped dividends. The potential gains of such a broader definition do appear in the chapter by Peter Ruggenthaler on Soviet policy towards Austria. Ruggenthaler incorporates, for instance, the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow into his discussion. I learned a great deal from this chapter, especially its thoughtful treatment of the difficult position in which Austria found itself in 1956 and 1968. This section is completed by Kimmo Rentola’s chapter on Soviet policy towards Finland during the early stages of the Cold War and a brief chapter by Olga Pavlenko on the run-up to 1989 in Soviet-Swiss relations. In this part of the book, 1955 again emerges as a key moment. Rentola’s chapter covers “das tolle Jahr” (p.138), while Ruggenthaler emphasizes the importance of the military withdrawal of the Soviets from Austria (p.149).

The third part of the book deals with the role of the Soviet Union in the foreign policy of European neutrals. The qualifier “European” neutrals here is especially important, given that this part of the book in particular would have been markedly different, as well as more unwieldy, had the viewpoint been more global. The first chapter by Aryo Makko on Swedish foreign policy mirrors the view from the Soviet perspective and demonstrates that the tensions covered in the earlier parts of the book were both-sided. Next, Kari Möttölä shows that Finnish foreign policy was determined (even more so than Swedish foreign policy) by geographical location, in which Finland’s “Nordicity,” as Möttölä calls it, served as a stabilizing factor. Maximilian Graf continues the discussion with a view of Austria’s Ostpolitik after 1968. Graf returns to the idea of Austrian policy “myths” first taken up by Cede at the beginning of the book. In a coauthored chapter on Swiss foreign policy, Thomas Bürgisser, Sacha Zala, and Thomas Fischer close this part by offering a detailed periodization of the evolving Swiss-Soviet relationship, which manages to show an evolution in Swiss attitudes even while acknowledging that the resulting policy was very much a “yoyo affair.”

The fourth part offers a new set of countries by examining departures from the Eastern Bloc and turns toward neutrality on the part of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Albania. Andrei Edemskii centers his chapter on Yugoslavia on the complicated process of rapprochement in the years immediately after Stalin’s death, culminating in the Belgrade Declaration of 1955 (and thus returning once more to that year as a pivotal global moment). Csaba Békés stays in the mid-1950s by covering the 1956 revolution and specifically the declaration of neutrality in November of that year. Finally, Robert Austin chronicles the evolution of Albania’s isolationist turn in the years between its break with the Soviet Union after Stalin and its break with China in the late 1970s. Nadia Boyadjieva picks up where Edemskii leaves off by examining Yugoslavia’s non-alignment policy in the decades after 1955. This chapter offers a great tie-in with global politics and shows not just the difference between neutrality and non alignment but also the different physical and mental geographies of the two. Tvrtko Jakovina closes this part with a final chapter on the last Cold War era Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Belgrade in 1989 and the breakup of Yugoslavia itself. This chapter offers a thoughtful continuation of the neutrality-nonalignment debate and how it was waged within the NAM generally and within Yugoslavia specifically.

Turning the tables, the fifth part of the book deals with other Western states’ perception of neutral-Soviet relations. Jussi Hahnimäki continues themes raised earlier in the book with a thorough view of the United States’ perception of Scandinavian neutrality. Günter Bischof tackles the perception of Austrian neutrality with a focus on the years after the withdrawal of occupation forces in 1955. Anne Deighton departs from the American perspective by turning to the United Kingdom and its closer physical proximity to the European neutrals. This chapter shows where the United States and the United Kingdom diverged and casts the latter’s policy as far more cautious. Nicolas Badalassi turns the lens on France and highlights the pragmatic awareness in Paris that total neutrality did not exist, that the neutrals were all dealing with historical and locational contingencies, and that, therefore, France would likewise adapt accordingly. Andreas Hilger shows how West German attitudes towards the neutrals were part of a complex high-stakes balancing act. In a second coauthored chapter, Milorad Lazic and Magnus Petersson take on “the flanks” by examining NATO’s relationship with the countries on the margin.

The concluding chapter by Mark Kramer brings together the main themes raised in the book. Crucially, it returns to the question of neutralism versus nonalignment. Kramer places it in a wider global context and acknowledges that nonalignment in Europe and nonalignment elsewhere were very different concepts. This chapter provides crucial context for the rest of the book, so much so that the reader is left wishing it had been offered earlier. This does point to a larger issue: global context cannot come from the conclusion alone. While the book is focused on the European neutrals, the countries covered did not operate in a purely European theater, nor were their foreign relations with the aligned world limited to interstate diplomacy. I am mindful of the fact that this book covers a lot of ground by uncovering the political and historical contingencies hidden behind the term “European neutral.” But the chapters in which the global does appear do help deepen the reader’s appreciation of the larger political landscape in which neutrality was navigated. Notable instances are Kronvall’s inclusion of the Vietnam War and Makko’s inclusion of the Congo Crisis. Crucially, Rainu-Niemi asserts that the 1955 Bandung Conference marked the “globalization of neutralist sentiments,” which went hand in hand with the globalization of the Cold War. Though this statement does elide concepts of neutralism already circulating in the decolonizing world, this chapter is an important one in the volume, as it acknowledges that the Soviet Union viewed nonalignment positively (even if selectively so) as a break away from imperialism. The United States, in the meantime, was slow to grasp the global uses of neutrality and their significance in the intersection of decolonization and Cold War.

In all, however, the book absolutely delivers on its promise to provide a polycentric perspective on neutrality in Cold War Europe. It is going to be the first book to which to point students and scholars who are seeking a comprehensive history of the concept. In that context, I would be remiss not to mention the stellar bibliography of further reading, which lists not just the most important works on the subject, but also takes seriously the different historiographies of neutrality across Europe, and offers a rare collection of key works regardless of the language in which they were published. This book is a very welcome intervention indeed.

Carolien Stolte
Leiden University
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Western Europe’s Democratic Age, 1945–1968. By Martin Conway. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2020. 357 + xii.
DOI 10.38145/2022.1.262

Martin Conway’s most recent book focuses on one simple question: how did democracy become the dominant form of organizing politics and societies in Western Europe following World War II. Conway, who teaches contemporary European history at Oxford’s Balliol College, proffers no simple answers. As he emphatically argues, establishing and consolidating political democracy in postwar Europe was neither a simple nor a smooth process. The fact that representative democracy was sustained in the Western half of Cold War Europe is to be explained by a range of factors and, indeed, a variety of historical accidents. Perhaps the most innovative methodological and original theoretical points of the book is its focus on the contingencies of making democracy. Conway challenges the often smug presumptions about the organic and automatic genesis of democracy in Western Europe (and, by implication, in North America), which rest on an implied faith in an obvious road from Enlightenment ideas towards contemporary democratic societies and politics. Conway argues, instead, that the perilous position of democracy in the postwar period renders the concept more an exception to be explained than a natural process to be taken for granted. By doing so, he unfetters democracy from the clutches of theological thinking and makes it a historical event again.

The five chapters of the book contribute to this historicizing of democracy from several angles: by explaining the genesis of postwar democracy, its stabilization in the 1950s, the dynamics of its Christian Democratic and Socialist alternatives, its broad-ranging social and cultural appeal up until the late 1960s, and the attempts to reinvigorate the meaning and content of democracy in the 1960s. The book is based on an extensive secondary literature on France, Germany, Italy, and the Benelux states. Conway also often adds complementary material from Scandinavia, the UK, and southern Europe. Albeit the comparative angle is not lost, instead of registering national differences, he focuses on what connected these countries. He expressly suggests a broader template for rethinking post-World War II European history and therefore uses national cases to discern general developments valid throughout Western Europe. This is, emphatically, a book about European history and not a comparative history of European politics. Thus, North America and Eastern Europe are also brought into the discussion when they provide eloquent contrasts with which to highlight the specificities of developments in post-World War II Western Europe.

In the first chapter, Conway underscores that the democratization of Western Europe was, in many ways, a consequence of the demise of central governments during the war. The serious lack of infrastructure and communication rendered the organization of food and fuel, first and foremost, the task of local communities. The book argues that these processes of localizing authority opened ways for communities to shape political power effectively. The democratization of Western Europe was also spurred by the forms of making politics that democracy embraced, which were in many ways continuous with prewar precedents. Despite the postwar rhetoric of radical change, such continuities helped attenuate political struggle and antagonism and, thus, encapsulated the widely shared desire to return to normalcy after the war, as Conway claims.

The book is emphatic in its insistence that political democracy in Western Europe was also the product of the Cold War. The ideologies of liberty, property, tradition, and Christianity, which postwar democratic elites advocated, were embedded in a broadly shared anti-communist consensus in Western Europe and North America. Democracy in this context appeared the bulwark of European civilization and nations against the threat of communism. In Western Europe in the 1950s, when many considered communism the dead end of popular participation based on the psychological manipulation of the masses, democracy could be seen a sustainable mode of responsible mass political participation. Nevertheless, as Conway highlights, democracy was not powerful and appealing simply as an antidote to totalitarianism. The democratic state in Western Europe in the 1950s and 1960s promised and also had the ability to give benefits to its citizens. The consolidation of postwar democracies was linked to the establishment of the welfare state: to the extension of social security systems, improvements in schooling, and growing investments in the public sector. Although Conway is not explicit about this, the extension of welfare systems was also part of the Cold War competition. In many ways, increasing maternity benefits or state education investments in Western Europe were responses to similar measures in socialist Eastern Europe. In addition to the material benefits, the institutions of representative democracy offered modes of participation in political decision making in ways completely absent from (and rejected by) the party-states of contemporary Eastern Europe. As Conway underscores, these factors shaped new forms of active citizenship, which helped the peoples of Western Europe perceive the democratic state as their own.

Conway concludes that the consolidation of democracy was linked to the growing power of the state. The democratic welfare state was based on the increasing ability of the institutions of the state to predict and plan processes and, thus, to shape and manage societies. These fresh capacities of the state, claims Conway, not only spurred state intervention into the lives of citizens, they also empowered the people to build pressure on the institutions of the state. The ways in which the elites rendered the wellbeing of citizens the responsibility of the democratic state prompted the citizenries of these states to put new social expectations on the state and opened up novel ways of exerting popular control over the state. Conway presents democracy as a serendipitous biproduct of the confluence of the political agendas of elites and the expectations of the societies they sought to govern.

Conway seems very much aware of the limits of postwar democracy. He points out that Western European democratic governments in the 1950s and 1960s were carefully structured and engineered towards the balance between the political elites and mass participation. As such, postwar democracy was biased in terms of class and gender. The Western European democratic states benefited the middle-classes the most and succeeded in quickly expanding the borders of these groups by offering new types of urban professions and jobs as well as paths of social mobility. At the same time, however, democratic governments also sustained and invigorated class identities and frontiers. Similarly, the enfranchisement of women made the Western European electorate predominantly female for the first time, though male dominance in public politics remained largely unchanged until the 1960s.

The book argues that conflicts and tensions concerning forms of partic­ipation created possibilities for a democratic critique of democracy. Conway makes an important point when he asserts that the growing voices of discontent at the beginning of the 1960s espoused the values of postwar democracy such as individual freedom, social justice, and political participation. Dissent was not a rejection of democracy, but it was an expression of doubt concerning the notion that the existing institutions of vertical political parties and representative government based on these parties were the most adequate means of achieving the goals of democratic societies. The modes of contesting democracy in the 1960s became debates concerning various visions and understandings of democratic practices and rights. These debates increasingly drew from global sources as anticolonial movements in the Global South challenged Western European notions of self-determination, human rights, and social justice.

Conway limits himself in this book to Cold War Western Europe, but his work has important implications for the study of post-World War II Eastern Europe, as well. The approach he adopts invites an exploration of the socialist dictatorships as the contingent outcome of a range of historical factors instead of the consequence of a Manichean struggle between advocates and enemies of democracy, ending with the victory, at least for a time, of the latter. Conway’s vigorous push to problematize some of the sacrosanct concepts of contemporary history makes it relevant to fields and contexts beyond postwar Western Europe. This aspect of the book makes it important reading for anyone who hopes to understand the recent history of Europe and beyond.

Péter Apor
Research Center for the Humanities
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1 Tamás Körmendi, “A Gertrúd királyné elleni merénylet körülményei” [The circumstances of the murder of Queen Gertrude]. In Egy történelmi gyilkosság margójára. Merániai Gertrúd emlékezete, 1213–2013. Tanulmánykötet, ed. Judit Majorossy. (Szentendre: Ferenczy Múzeum, 2014.) 95–124.

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pdfVolume 7 Issue 2 CONTENTS


European Regions and Boundaries: A Conceptual History. Edited by Diana Mishkova and Balázs Trencsényi. New York–Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2017. 401 pp.

The social construction of markers on which we rely to interpret the world has functioned as an inexhaustible source of raw material for historians and social scientists. Research in this field has become increasingly prevalent over the course of the past three decades. Space especially has emerged as one of the concepts closely interrogated in a wide variety of research projects. It is a fundamental device of orientation, and its constructed character is masked by its appearance as quintessentially a priori in character, always already “given.” By engaging critically with the semblance of naturalness, research can uncover a multiplicity of knowledge production mechanisms linked to the social construction of space.

There remain, however, aspects of such practices which have attracted limited attention so far, precisely because of the vastness of the material available for study. While notions of national territory and boundary-making have been analyzed repeatedly, regionalization, which in this context means the imposition of supranational divisions over continuities of physical expanse, has remained understudied. Discipline-specific treatises on the academic or political construction and instrumentalization of specific regions abound, but the existing literature has been less inquisitive regarding what may be said in general about the logics of regionalization as recurring modes of knowledge production.

The ambitions of this edited volume include making inroads into this latter, imperfectly charted meta-territory of academic and political language games. The research project organized by editors Diana Mishkova and Balázs Trencsényi adopted two different perspectives with an effect similar to organizing two concurrent expeditions towards the same hard-to-reach summit. The first half of the book presents interdisciplinary analyses of the construction of regionalized spaces in the mode of conceptual history. The concepts investigated here are Western Europe, Scandinavia/Norden, the Baltics, The Mediterranean, Southern Europe, Iberia, the Balkans/Southeastern Europe, Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and Eurasia. The second part changes the perspective, offering disciplinary case studies of logics of regionalization operating in specific fields of academia (European History, Political Geography, Economics, Historical Demography, Linguistics, Literary History, and Art History). The two parts should ideally lead the reader towards the same destination, offering complementary analyses. These analyses would demonstrate how conceptualizations of space converge around certain ideologically (if not academically) overdetermined regions, on the one hand, and offer the reader a peek into the academic laboratories of regionalizing knowledge production, on the other. The latter would emerge as a meta-study of “how-to” construct regions (regionalizing knowledges), while one expects the former to contain case studies (regionalizing practices) that tie in with the meta-studies.

If one accepts this logic, European Regions and Boundaries may be summarized as an exceptionally rich and productive failure. Failure here does not refer to the quality of either the contributions or the work of the editors. Rather, failure here is a research outcome. It highlights an important imbalance in the production of spatial knowledge with regard to conceptualizing regions which causes the two parts of the book to be more corrective to each other than symbiotic in character. Nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century political, civilizational, and geopolitical frames have shaped and often determined the ways in which we think about regions. This is shown in the first half. The second half of the book demonstrates the extent to which these inherited notions of regions that populate even present-day collective imaginaries have either been deconstructed or superseded by critical and reflexive academic work within the individual disciplines. The first half is a reminder of the ideological determinants of spatial thinking, the second perhaps a cautious argument in favor of academia’s potential (at least in some cases) to recast its toolbox by generating novel and ideologically less burdened conceptualizations.

The first half presents a survey of regions as strategic concepts. Some of these regions have been strikingly underutilized in shaping public thinking throughout the Late Modern Era, the notion of Iberia, for instance (discussed by Xosé M. Núñez Seixas). Others have become thick and layered to the point of being impossible to disentangle. This is notably the case with the Balkans/Southeastern Europe (Mishkova), Central Europe (Trencsényi), and most importantly Western Europe (Stefan Berger). The latter emerges as a polyvalent signifier that can enter almost any discourse as a point of comparison, and, accordingly, the notion of the (or “a”) West resonates across almost all chapters. Berger’s perceptive analysis provides a solid footing, but the reader begins to understand the omnipresence of “some” concept of Western Europe only when repeatedly encountering it, with shifting meanings, in the subsequent papers as a point of reference and comparison. In the end, the (nuanced, yet fairly unequivocal) image that emerges is one of the West against the Rest. Dichotomies based on normative contrasts between the meaning of Western Europe and the concept of some other region appear as the rhetorical devices governing the discourses. Relying on these dichotomies, the regionalizing discourses disseminate notions of belatedness or “authenticity”, depending on whether they possess a westernizing or a more autochthonous bent. Regionalization is shown to function (in the clearest form perhaps in Frithjof B. Schenk’s chapter on Eastern Europe) as yet another battleground for the competing ideologies.

Despite the Archimedean position of the “West” in the conceptualization of macroregions, the thickest and most intriguing (hi)story emerges out of a parallel reading of several chapters on the shift in spatial thinking under the aegis of liberal ideology in the nineteenth century. These highly dialogical chapters on Eastern Europe, the North, and Eurasia (by Schenk, Marja Jalava and Bo Stråth, and Mark Bassin, respectively) significantly enrich our understanding of this complex process, which has had repercussions into the present. This is accomplished by drawing liberally on past scholarship, including Larry Wolff’s classic contribution on the construction of Eastern Europe in the “West” (Inventing Eastern Europe [1994]) and also on less frequently cited, yet groundbreaking texts, inter alia by Hans Lemberg (“Zur Entstehung des Osteuropabegriffs im 19. Jahrhundert,” Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas [1985]) and Ezequiel Adamovsky (Euro-Orientalism: Liberal Ideology and the Image of Russia in France [2006]). The chapters offer an exceptionally nuanced account of how the triadic division of Europe was reduced into an often orientalizing East–West dualism in the wake of the Napoleonic wars. As both Jalava and Stråth and Schenk observe, the repositioning of Russia as an Eastern rather than a Nordic power opened up a way to a reconstruction of the concept of the North as a minor region with positive connotations, becoming synonymous with Scandinavia in the process (pp.36, 45–47, and 189–93). At the same time, the mapping of Russia onto the East also “colonized” understandings of Eastern Europe as a zone not only of backwardness, but also of political otherness, under the specter of tyranny (p.194). This added a juridico-political layer which reinforced the already established civilizational cleavage. While the chapters do not explore current European controversies about perceived threats to regional identities in any detail, this tradition of intracontinental othering has already been traced to the present and shown to influence current discourses of political identity in the European Union, most recently by Maria Mälksoo (“’Memory Must Be Defended’: Beyond the Politics of Mnemonical Security,” Security Dialogue [2013]).

If the authors can be faulted for anything, it is perhaps the relative lack of attention given to nineteenth-century reflections originating from the newly constructed “East.” Schenk’s discussion of interwar conceptualizations of East Central European is an important quasi-digression in his text on Eastern Europe, and his subsequent account about region-focused research in the Eastern Bloc is both detailed and conceptually refined (pp.195–97 and 199–203). Adding to these, Balázs Trencsényi’s detailed chapter on twentieth-century notions of Central Europe further enriches the image of intellectuals belonging to a mesoregion (the non-Russian East, rebranded as East Central Europe). They are seen struggling to distance themselves and their homelands from the dominant image of the macroregion under which they have found themselves subsumed, while also increasingly resenting the orientalizing discourse they perceive as developed and deployed by the “West.” What is not discussed in either chapter is the nineteenth-century liberal reaction in the non-Russian parts of the new East, to which Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Romanian, and other intellectuals contributed in droves. Before the birth of intellectual discourses about East Central European specificity, such as that of Oskar Halecki, the initial reaction to finding oneself relegated to the zone of backwardness and tyranny was to reject the classification (while acknowledging the fact of backwardness itself) and to construct discourses about belonging to the West by virtue of culture and often constitutional or legal traditions.

The tradition of negating the perennial character of one’s “home” region (Eastern Europe or the East) even made spearheads into Russia through the ideology of zapadniks. Yet, as Bassin’s essay makes clear, Russian spatial thinking was shaped to a far greater extent by the idea of Eurasia. Eurasia represents a rather novel construct when compared with the triadic and dualist Western divisions of Europe, and it was usually deployed, from the late nineteenth century on, as a trope challenging the orientalism inherent in the East/West dichotomy. It replaced (and is still used to replace) the expanse traditionally thought of as the East, providing it with an autochthonous and positive character (pp.211–13). With some of the ideas familiar from present-day Russian neoimperialist thought, the essay also works as a reminder of how Eurasia once enjoyed broad currency also in Western scholarship and spatial thinking in general. In the end, both Russia and its smaller Western neighbours, that is to say both the imperial half and the other half composed of nation-states managed to produce their respective emancipatory discourses. However, Eurasia and (East) Central Europe represent divergent elective affinities symptomatic of the thinking of the intellectuals who promoted and still promote these concepts. One of the chief virtues of the book is that it sheds light on how these identity discourses have unfolded in the interplay of often competing regionalizing logics.

The second part of the volume offers a different background narrative to the social construction of regions. Traditional “allies” of regionalizing discourses, first and foremost history (Stefan Troebst) and political geography/geopolitics (Virginie Mamadouh and Martin Müller), are revisited in discipline-specific analyses which suggest patterns of increasing reflexivity as a mode of “scientific evolution.” With regard to both of the aforementioned disciplines, the texts relate how in recent decades scholarly discourse has tended to move towards critical engagement with earlier entanglements in the production of spatial impositions, or, in plainer terms, with having functioned as a language of power. As the overlaps and synergies with the first half of the tome make evident, these disciplines were indeed responsible for sustaining and refining the bulk of conceptualizations that have structured social thinking about Europe’s regions in the past.

The other disciplines differ from history and political geography both with regard to their impact on collective imaginaries of space and their modes of engaging with intra-disciplinary legacies. While both history and political geography have engaged in the deconstruction of its earlier regionalizing modes, disciplines less impacted by linguistic and reflexive turns and less central to the production of the late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century cognitive maps of European regions have tended simply to evolve away from earlier modes of regionalization. This movement has involved abandoning conceptualizations borrowed from prevailing ideologies and engaging in discipline-specific conceptualizations. Some chapters in the volume are thoroughly historicizing and offer ample insight into this process (for instance the chapter on historical demography by Attila Melegh). Others tend towards academic presentism and highlight the current prevalence of discipline-specific regionalizations (the chapter on economics by Georgy Ganev, for instance). Yet more straddle a medial position (the chapters on linguistics by Uwe Hinrichs, literary history by Alex Drace-Francis, and art history by Eric Storm). Despite this variation, the overarching realization that academic evolution has led to, inter alia, the discipline-specific and increasingly autonomous production and deployment of regionalizing discourse shines through most contributions.

The shared character of this trend nevertheless allows for considerable variation. Historical demography both reflects and diverges from received spatial knowledges, reproducing regional divisions familiar from historical and political thought (as in the case of LePlay), but as a discipline it has also “evolved away” from the traditional patterns of dividing Europe either into a triad or two opposing poles (pp.303–04 and 312–14). At the same time, these legacies have never quite disappeared. In Melegh’s text, they transect the discipline itself. A more traditional approach investigates existing regionalizations and considers whether demography reflects or lends support to them. Simultaneously, a broadly critical stream argues against projecting cultural-ideological regionalizations onto demographic data and vice-versa.

The chapter on linguistics does not reflect this kind of bifurcation. It describes a fairly linear evolution away from reliance on exogenous, culturalist notions of regions towards a procedural (as opposed to substantive) understanding of them. In this latter mode, the existence/operability of a certain regionalizing frame within the discipline is conditional on confirmation by linguistic markers, rather than being accepted as existing a priori. Similarly to the “critical stream” in demography, contemporary linguists (and also economists) have tended towards generating their own, intra-disciplinary concepts, which are less connected to the political and cultural legacies of earlier patterns in regionalizing knowledges.

Despite all of the above, a survey of the volume as a whole demonstrates first and foremost the confluence of research and ideology in the invention of regions. Traditional academic knowledges have greatly contributed to the construction of a value-laden, culturalist lexicon of regions on which most of us still routinely rely in referencing larger European spaces. Both in the humanities and the social sciences, practitioners have mapped onto the globe images of civilizational difference, neatly tucked in behind regional boundaries. The studies included in this selection enable the reader to trace these processes both across disciplines and across specific cases. Continuing and expanding on earlier work by some of the contributors (such as Bassin, Troebst, and Trencsényi), the volume respects the divergent disciplinary histories, paying the cost of this attention to detail and idiosyncrasies with an occasional loss of coherence or dialogue between the individual contributions. This is especially palpable towards the final chapters of the book. The present-day state of linguistics or economics seems to have little bearing on the nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century genealogies of regions which the reader encounters in the first chapters. At the same time, this relative lack of coherence highlights the very justified emphasis on the collusion of other disciplines (history and political geography) with political languages of spatial division. Perhaps current regionalizing schemes prevailing in linguistics or economics could also be deconstructed as older onesschemes in interwar history and geopolitics have been deconstructed in this book, i.e. through engagement and self-reflective critique.

This volume accomplishes a great deal even if it stops short of this (i.e. offering a deconstruction of current regionalizing schemes used in linguistics or economics). It analyzes and subverts the late-nineteenth century regionalizing frames by highlighting the ideological contingencies underpinning them and adds to this a survey of contemporary, more reflexive and cautious, less sweeping trends of thinking about regions within the confines of individual disciplines. In this respect, the book amounts to a considerable reflexive achievement, and it is itself part of the cross-disciplinary trend towards the kind of greater academic autonomy its last half-dozen or so chapters aptly survey.

Gergely Romsics
Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Vpdfolume 7 Issue 2 CONTENTS


A kalandozó hadjáratok nyugati kútfői [Western sources on the tenth-century Hungarian military incursions]. By Dániel Bácsatyai. Budapest: HM Hadtörténeti Intézet és Múzeum, 2017. 296 pp.

pdfIn his recent book, Dániel Bácsatyai examines the Latin sources on the period of the Hungarian incursions into Western Europe. By offering a critical historico-philological analysis of the sources, he provides an overview of the events, stages, directions, and methods of the incursions that took place in the ninth and tenth centuries.

The book is organized into three chapters. In the first, Bácsatyai presents assessments in the French historiography of the Hungarian incursions which were launched against Burgundy, and he examines sources from the Burgundian monasteries on the Hungarians. This chapter is a case study which demonstrates that the interpretations by Western historians of the narrative sources from the period can be misleading. Modern Belgian and French scholars often presume that the references to the arrival of Hungarians in settlements in the West are untrue, and they consider these references stereotypical remarks or hagiographical and rhetoric clichés. According to them, by mentioning the Hungarians and the raids they conducted, the chroniclers only intended to create a ‘necessary’ enemy, which a Christian religious community could overcome. Bácsatyai contradicts this approach by pointing out that even if there are descriptions in the sources which rest on or rehearse stereotypes, this does not mean that their authors should be dismissed entirely as unreliable. A fine example of this is the Vita Sanctae Wiboradae, which describes how Wiborada suffered martyrdom at the hands of the Hungarians in Sankt Gallen in 926. As Bácsatyai states, the Hungarians depicted in the vita are indeed clearly portrayed as the necessary executives of Wiborada’s martyrdom, but their presence in Sankt Gallen can be confirmed by other, more reliable sources. This questioning of the rather critical concept about the Hungarian incursions is a valuable methodological innovation with which Bácsatyai manages to argue persuasively that many Hungarian incursions which have come to be seen in much of the secondary literature in the West as never having taken place (i.e. as mere rhetorical fictions) did indeed happen.

In the second chapter, Bácsatyai discusses a theory suggested by the historian Szabolcs Vajay, according to whom some of the Hungarian military expeditions, – e. g. the campaign in 917 to Alsace and Lorraine or the attack against Burgundy in 937, – were part of an alliance between the Hungarians and the Carolingian rulers. Bácsatyai gives an overview of the related events in support of his argument that there was never any such alliance.

In the third chapter, Bácsatyai analyzes Western sources containing notes about the incursions. The subchapters are organized according to source-types: annals from the ninth and tenth centuries, tenth-century necrologies, chronicles by abbots, hagiographic works, chronicles (most importantly those of Liutprand and Widukind), and charters and letters.

It is particularly useful that Bácsatyai evaluates these sources alongside a discussion of the relevant historical-philological problems, and he demonstrates the manuscript-traditions of the sources, too. A fine example of the usefulness of this approach is his exploration of a manuscript of the Annales Bertiniani by Hincmar, Archbishop of Reims. By emphasizing the significance and the authenticity of this manuscript, – which until now has been largely overlooked in the Hungarian secondary literature –, Bácsatyai argues persuasively that the manuscript’s note about the Hungarian incursion of 862 can be accepted as credible.

Another valuable finding in the book concerns the settling of a number of chronological disputes. Drawing on the sources, Bácsatyai outlines the chronological order of the Hungarian military campaigns from the middle of the ninth century to the end of the tenth, which were launched against East and West Francia, Moravia, Italy, Bavaria, Carinthia, Saxony, Swabia, Thuringia, Burgundy, Lotharingia, and Aquitaine.

The clarification of the events of the great campaign against Italy (899–900) is extremely valuable. With the help of a charter from Altino, Bácsatyai demonstrates that the expedition began in the spring or summer of 899, and after the Hungarians were defeated in Venice, they probably devastated the monastery of Altino on June 29. Using the Gesta/Catalogus abbatum Nonantulani, Bácsatyai clarifies the date of the Hungarian victory over Berengar I in Brenta (September 24). As Bácsatyai points out, the Annales Fuldenses reported that Berengar lost 20,000 of his soldiers in this battle. Using a necrology, Bácsatyai specifies the possible date of the Hungarian attack against Vercelli and the murder of bishop Liutward. The chronology of the events of the Hungarian campaign against Italy, – which ended in the spring of 900, – offers a good example of how Bácsatyai uses different types of sources concerning each episode of the Hungarian incursions in order to obtain a picture that is as complete as possible.

In addition to these strengths of this important monograph, I would be remiss not to mention another new finding in the book. Bácsatyai draws attention to a story from a work entitled Translatio et miracula Sancti Marci. The tale, which has been ignored by Hungarian historians so far, tells the story of a crippled churchman. Seeking (for) healing, the man visits a site of pilgrimage which, – according to the Translatio, – fell under the control of the Hungarians. Bácsatyai points out that there is only one settlement in the Carpathian Basin where a relic was kept in the ninth century, and this was Mosaburg/Zalavár.

In conclusion, Dániel Bácsatyai’s monograph presents significant findings. His opposition to the minimalist attitude of the Western European scholars and the theory presented by Szabolcs Vajay about the Hungarian-Carolingian alliance can be regarded as important progress and therefore an important addition to earlier historiographic viewpoints. Bácsatyai was able to add several insights concerning the chronology of events, and he has also made a number of corrections. His examination of the manuscript-traditions also yields important findings, and he has made unique discoveries, such as the identification of Mosaburg/Zalavár as an early site of pilgrimage in the Carpathian Basin.

In addition to the insights and contributions mentioned above, the most important point of the book is the argument it presents according to which the Hungarian tribal federation pursued an organic, unified foreign policy in the first half of the tenth century. This contention is significant in part because it runs contrary to the interpretations of some of the most well-known scholars of the period (such as József Deér and Gyula Kristó). Kristó’s main argument was that there were certain occasions, namely in 917, 934, and 943, when the tribes appeared in Western-Europe, and Byzantium. This implies that the tribes must have acted independently, without central guidance. However, as Bácsatyai points out, the sources reveal that the Hungarian defeat in Bavaria took place in 945, not 943, there are no reliable sources verifying the existence of an incursion in 934, and the authenticity of the expedition in 917 is also questionable. Therefore, it seems that the Hungarian incursions in the first half of the tenth century fit a pattern of a conscious strategy, and they were far from random campaigns.

Iván Kis
Eötvös Loránd University


pdfMagyarországi diákok a prágai és a krakkói egyetemeken, 1348–1525, I–II. [Students from Hungary at the universities of Prague and Kraków, 1348–1525, I–II]. By Péter Haraszti Szabó, Borbála Kelényi, and László Szögi. (Hungarian students at medieval universities, 2.) Budapest: Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem Levéltára / MTA–ELTE Egyetemtörténeti Kutatócsoport, 2016–2017, 152 pp., 592 pp.

Peregrination (or study tours) of Hungarian students has long been a subject of interest for scholars dealing with Hungarian history and literature. Though the important series in which the present volume was published was launched nearly two decades ago, medievalists and early modernists have been waiting for new volumes, their appetites endlessly whetted by the research produced by László Szögi and his colleagues, which has, so far, produced twenty-four rich volumes about Hungarian students who traveled to destinations abroad (between 1526 and 1919), including the lands of the Habsburg Empire, (and for instance cities like Vienna), Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, the Baltic region, England, Scotland, Italy, Kraków, Prague, and, in the most recent and final volume, France, Belgium, Romania, Serbia, and Russia.

The two new volumes about Hungarian students in Prague and Kraków step back in time, since they are part of the subseries on peregrination in the medieval period. The first volume of this section dealt with the University of Vienna between 1365 and 1526 (Anna Tüskés, Magyarországi diákok a Bécsi Egyetemen, 1365–1526 [2008]), and this is now complemented by examinations of the lives and scholarly endeavors of Hungarian students at two other universities important in Hungarian cultural history. The earlier publication on Kraków dealing with the modern period has now been supplemented with student data from 1401 onwards, while the list on students from Prague ranges from ca. 1365 to 1526. The two volumes are not divided by university; the first volume contains introductions and essays in Hungarian and shortened versions in English about the two universities. The second presents the data regarding the students.

The first volume (published in 2016) begins with introductions to both Prague and Kraków. Péter Haraszti Szabó provides a detailed summary of the secondary literature on the former, and Borbála Kelényi provides summaries of the literature on the latter. Haraszti Szabó offers a history of the university founded by Charles IV, describes the judicial and economic aspects of the institution, and plots the rise and fall in the number of students. He also addresses the influence of monarchs (such as the aforementioned founder and Louis the Great) and figures and groups such as John Wycliffe and the Hussites. The introduction concludes with a list of Hungarian students in Prague. Though the sources are fragmented, some 252 students (of which 84 are potentially Hungarian in origin), most of whom studied at the institution before 1420, can be identified. (To highlight the difficulties with the sources, the estimated number of Hungarian students at this important university over the course of the two centuries in question is around twelve to fifteen hundred.) Borbála Kelényi introduces a much wider corpus concerning the Hungarian students in Kraków. The Jagiellonian University, founded in 1364 by Casimir the Great (and re-founded in 1386 by Vladislaus II), hosted 4,476 students (229 of whom had ambiguous origins) from the territory of medieval Hungary between ca. 1365 and 1526. In its heyday in the second half of the fifteenth century, the Jagiellonian University was the most popular destination for Hungarian students. In its peak year (1484), there were 109 registered students of Hungarian origin. Notably, almost ten percent of those who studied in Kraków continued their studies at other European universities (mainly in Vienna and at German and Italian institutions). While information regarding Prague is rare, Kraków has copious accurate and detailed descriptions allowing for a variety of views. Both authors adopt a wide-ranging view which takes into consideration the history, structure, and everyday life of the university, with information about university circles (such as the Bursa Hungarorum in Kraków) and Hungarian professors. They also include numeric information regarding graduations and average student numbers, and they comment on the geographical and social origins of students. (Interestingly, while most of the Hungarian students in Prague appear to come from southwestern Hungary, the largest number of students in Kraków came from Upper Hungary and the east-central region.) Both introductions have extensive bibliographies, and the first volume concludes with illustrations and detailed maps and visualizations.

The second volume (published in 2017) contains a list of the students with indices of names and places. Though the preface, which details the methodology and format, is in Hungarian, the entries follow a logical pattern: student name, ecclesiastical rank, dioceses from which the person was sent, date of birth, date of registration at the university, faculty, academic rank received, names of other universities the student visited, information concerning later career, and other details about the student and his studies. Though the editors repeatedly stress that the entries could be expanded (as the new charters and data in the second volume prove), the 4,722 names clearly bear witness to the effort invested in the enterprise. Though further findings will be included in the planned online edition on peregrination, these two volumes are a substantial resource for any scholar even vaguely connected to the topic. Any researcher dealing with a figure who attended one of these universities, which exerted a strong influence on the intellectual, political, and cultural life of the Hungarian Kingdom in the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries, will find ample context, and any researcher interested in the broader picture will likewise be fruitfully rewarded.

Borbála Lovas
MTA–ELTE Humanism in East Central Europe Research Group


pdfSamospráva města Košice v stredoveku [Urban administration in Košice in the Middle Ages]. By Drahoslav Magdoško. Košice: Univerzita Pavla Jozefa Šafárika v Košiciach, 2017. 304 pp.

The organization and execution of administration are cornerstones to an understanding of the history of any town or city within any historical period. In European urban history, analysis of different forms of municipal governance is a popular topic which has great potential for comparative research. These two reasons in themselves are sufficient explanation for why the publication of the book by Drahoslav Magdoško devoted to the self-governance of the city of Košice in the Middle Ages is to be welcomed. Chronologically, the book covers the period from the mid-thirteenth century to the end of the first third of the sixteenth century. In fact, there are more reasons to appreciate this book. Its findings are based on long-term and careful archival research, which has yielded several new insights and revisions of our previous knowledge on this subject. Primarily, Magdoško has focused on the mechanisms of operation related to the performance of municipal self-governance in Košice, such as the agenda of the local town judge (villicus, iudex, ger. Richter) and of the city council, the role of the Community of Burghers (later replaced by the Council of Elders), the functioning of the municipal offices, management of the urban economy, administration of the local suburbs, etc. To frame this issue in context, Magdoško dedicated the introductory passages of his book to an outline of the history of Košice in the Middle Ages and also to an assessment of the position and role of this city in the urban network of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary.

The tendency to compare the situation in Košice to other contemporary Hungarian towns is generally strong in the text, making Magdoško´s book very relevant for urban historiography on this area. One might regret that the same comparative point of view was not always consistently applied to compare his findings for Košice to the history of cities in the neighboring countries, in particular Lesser Poland, Silesia, Moravia, and Bohemia. Certain issues, such as the election and competencies of the town judge, are viewed from a wider, Central European perspective. In other cases, however, Magdoško offers not a systematic comparison, but rather an indication of wider contexts. For the periods of time in question, when the events in Hungary were closely linked to the situation in the surrounding kingdoms under the rule of one sovereign (Sigismund of Luxembourg, Matthias Corvinus), the comparative approach would be particularly desirable. Moreover, to assess the situation in the neighboring countries, it is possible to rely on various secondary literature titles.

Despite the fact that Košice´s urban sources are preserved in greater integrity only from the second half of the fifteenth century, Magdoško has succeeded in compensating for the lack of direct evidence by considering analogies with the situation in other Upper Hungarian towns. In this respect, it is possible to quote, for instance, his convincing reasoning that although a specific document attesting to this is missing, one can nonetheless assume, on the basis of other sources, that Košice had complete judicial autonomy even before 1342.

The most interesting parts of the book include a description of the processes the common denominator of which was the effort of the Košice urban elites to ensure their share of power in the city. Their endeavors had a significant result. In the mid-fifteenth century, for the election of town judge and councilors, the Community of Burghers (a group of full-fledged citizens owning property within the city walls) was replaced by the more exclusive Council of Elders, which included several dozen men who were appointed by the outgoing members of the council and by the town judge. We can hope that by providing a description and analysis of these events, Magdoško has paved the way for more detailed (and potentially very interesting) prosopographical studies devoted to the particular families belonging to the circle of Košice power elites, which consisted mostly of wholesalers. Magdoško’s observations concerning the analysis of incomes and expenses of the city, which are neatly presented in the appendix of the book, are also valuable, as is his detailed survey of the competencies of individual urban officials and city employees, who were determined by the town judge and councilors. In the city’s leadership there were visible efforts by a limited group of burghers to restrict the government in the city to themselves as much as possible. It would be very interesting to see whether and to what extent these tendencies of the Košice power elites were manifested, for example, in the socio-topography of the city (as suggested in tables in the appendix), marriage strategies, the existence of the exclusive urban societies, etc.

It is also necessary to acknowledge with gratitude the carefully crafted appendices, including lists of notaries, town judges, and members of municipal councils until 1534, which clearly show continuity in the individual personalities/families who occupied these offices. The book also includes a detailed summary in English of the main findings and conclusions.

Michaela Antonín Malaníková
Palacky University, Olomouc


pdfA költészet születése: A magyarországi költészet társadalomtörténete a 19. század első évtizedeiben [The birth of poetry: A social history of poetry in Hungary in the first decades of the nineteenth century]. By Gábor Vaderna. Budapest: Universitas, 2017. 656 pp.

Gábor Vaderna’s new book represents a significant contribution to both nineteenth-century literary and social historical studies. It takes as its primary aim the reading of the neglected corpus of poetry in Hungary from 1800 to 1820. Following the author’s classification, this corpus consists of a discussion of poetry written for ceremonial (representational) functions on or for various occasions important to members of the upper classes; popular and bardic poetry, and finally, the poetry of sensibility. Later reactions against this immense number of texts and nineteenth-century literary canon formation produced a state of cultural amnesia which Vaderna’s book engages to correct. It will certainly provoke discussion among anyone interested in the decades of poetry it considers.

As far as Hungarian literary history writing is concerned, much of this enormous corpus of texts has been rather ignored so far, and not much scholarly work has been devoted to this kind of writing. This neglect has caused a serious deficit in our ability to read and examine the poetry of the first decades of the nineteenth century. Consequently, our understanding of modern poetry in Hungary has also suffered. Vaderna’s book offers a convincing explanation of the genesis of this indifference, as well. Ferenc Toldy, considered the “father of Hungarian literary history writing,” established a long tradition of an extremely narrow literary canon in his handbooks published in the mid-nineteenth century. Though Toldy had a good knowledge of the poetry investigated in Vaderna’s book, he eventually disqualified most of these texts based on criteria such as language, aesthetic value, and characteristics associated with the concept of the “genius.” Due to his particular approach to literary history, he decided to omit non-Hungarian texts, occasional poems, and traditional forms of poetry. No wonder that the ensuing literary history writing, strongly influenced by Toldy’s handbooks, again ignored the vast amount of manuscripts and printed material written in the first decades of the nineteenth century. As a result, literary canon formation not only erased a large corpus of vital and important poetry, it also obscured the conventions that supported such writing. This impressive monograph is therefore an attempt to recover an almost lost world.

As stated in the introduction, Vaderna seeks to explore the poetry of the first decades of the nineteenth century in its originating social historical contexts. In other words, Vaderna is not only interested in texts but also in the social milieu in which the cultural practice of literature emerged. Thus, combining the methodological practices of ingenious text interpretation, social historical analysis, and the history of ideas, the monograph eventually reads as an alternative story of modernization within the Habsburg Empire and East Central Europe.

The book is prefaced by a brief history of research and some major considerations regarding its structure. Following the preface, two long introductory chapters reflect on the position of the lyrical poetry of the first two decades of the nineteenth century within the narratives of Hungarian literary histories. Moreover, the introduction provides a detailed overview of the poetic tradition of the eighteenth century, indispensable to an understanding of the poetry of the first decades of the 1800s. According to Vaderna, the five chapters that follow the introduction establish the structure of a previously unknown poetical system.

Chapter 1 considers works of poetry associated with public representations of the upper classes. The authors of this kind of poetry were usually literate people, secretaries and tutors, living in the employment of the nobility. The literature they wrote followed fixed verse forms taught in the schools of law and theology they had attended. Furthermore, the poetry of patronage they practiced was intimately linked to rites of passage of their patrons’ lives: births, weddings, inaugural ceremonies, and funerals. This chapter also deals with poems written by aristocrats themselves. Chapter 2 examines another consistent corpus of texts generally regarded in Hungarian literary history as popular poetry. This kind of poetry is basically a hybrid literature of both popular and folkloric forms, a large corpus located at the crossroads of elite and popular culture, and respectively orality, scribal culture, and print publicity. Chapter 3 investigates the writing practices of clergymen authors and focuses on the ways in which ecclesiastical practices intertwined with secular poetry. Chapter 4 explores the poetics of sensibility targeting the lyrical cycle, a genre of considerable importance in Hungarian literature in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Finally, Chapter 5 ponders the possibilities of bardic poetry in the oeuvre of Dániel Berzsenyi, a major representative of neoclassical poetry in Hungarian literary history.

In general, Vaderna’s monograph addresses a broad variety of texts structured around lively case studies to illustrate points in the argument. The title, ambitious as it is, refers in fact to the birth of modern poetry: poetry written for publication by an individual author expressing individual experiences and common group identities. The corpus of texts examined in Vaderna’s book is relevant because it unfolds an intricate story of the birth of modern poetry, and it uncovers the various traditions from which this poetry emerged. From a socio-historical perspective, the monograph also accentuates the importance of eighteenth-century and nineteenth-century educational institutions and an educational system that deliberately nurtured poetry writing. Therefore, from the perspective of the twenty-first century, the story of the evolution of modern poetry becomes the story of a process of deinstitutionalization, as well. For while the eighteenth-century and nineteenth-century educational system provided young people (mainly young men) with the necessary knowledge and skills to become poets or to write poems occasionally if needed, this process gradually became an autodidactic one in the twentieth century and the first decades of the twenty-first. The monograph, however, does not aim to offer teleological explanations: it exhibits traditions and practices of poetry which can only be understood in their own sociohistorical and cultural contexts.

Clearly, the problem that most concerns Vaderna is not a change in the Hungarian literary canon, it is the tendency to approach literature in all its forms (canonical or non-canonical) in rational, scientific terms. His study therefore is an ambitious and consistent effort to reevaluate the Hungarian cultural and literary heritage. Serious in its argumentation but often humorous in style, the monograph is a most relevant contribution to our understanding of larger processes between literature and society during the first decades of the nineteenth century.

Zsuzsa Török
Hungarian Academy of Sciences


pdfThe World of Prostitution in Late Imperial Austria. By Nancy M. Wingfield. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017. 288 pp.

The World of Prostitution in Late Imperial Austria explores the history of prostitution in the Austrian provinces of the empire from the late nineteenth century to the dissolution of the Habsburg Monarchy after World War I. Based on extensive research in archives found in cities, towns, and regions across the former empire, the book provides new insights and a novel approach to the history of prostitution.

In terms of its methodology, the study takes a three-pronged approach. It examines prostitution on the level of individuals, the larger society, and the state. The book presents prostitutes as individuals who made conscious choices and therefore possessed agency. It also reveals a society that projected its fears about the effects of modernization, urbanization, and dramatic social transformation onto the issue of prostitution. Finally, Wingfield analyzes the official approach of the state and its representatives to prostitution. Concerned as they were with public morality and protecting the health of middle-class men, public officials believed in regulating the supply side of prostitution. In contrast to studies that focus on large urban centers or individual towns, Wingfield’s approach integrates large cities, such as Vienna and Prague, and provincial centers, such as Cracow and Salzburg, with small municipalities, such as Theresienstadt, and spa towns, such as Karslbad, as well as other rural areas. In addition to providing new local histories of prostitution, the author’s expansive scope illuminates a complicated web of interrelationships in the realm of commercial sex between the imperial center, provincial centers, and the periphery of Habsburg Austria. In so doing, The World of Prostitution portrays a Monarchy-wide integrated sexual economy which the book contextualizes within contemporary European and global trends.

The book opens with a discussion of the 1906 trial of Vienna’s infamous madam, Regina Riehl, a Jewish brothel owner charged and ultimately convicted of embezzlement, fraud, and pandering. Wingfield’s colorful narrative of the trial and the media frenzy it generated is a window into contemporary views about prostitution and its regulation. Widely considered an inevitable part of society, prostitution was treated by the state primarily as a public health issue. In an age when there was no effective cure for syphilis, prostitutes (although not their clients) were considered disease carriers who had to be controlled and regulated. Placed under the authority of the Vice Police, prostitutes voluntarily registered with police officials and agreed to have regular medical examinations in order to work in brothels or police-approved private residences. The Riehl trial brought attention to the treatment of prostitutes, while Vienna’s anti-Semitic press stressed the alleged role of Jews in the corrupt brothel business. Yet as Wingfield’s analysis of official responses in Chapter 2 highlights, despite attempts to reform prostitution, the 1911 revision of the law did not change the overall approach. This approach continued until the dissolution of the Habsburg Empire and even beyond in the new nation states created out of it.

At the same time, by incorporating smaller cities into the history of prostitution, the book provides new insights into the considerable role local officials played in the regulation of prostitution. Even as centrifugal forces from Vienna provided general guidelines, local circumstances and particularly the local police determined how regulations would be enforced in the provinces (p.80). This was especially the case in smaller municipalities. In contrast to the provincial centers of Prague, Trieste, or Czernowitz, which tended to follow Viennese reforms enacted in 1911, as revealed in Chapter 3, middle-sized and smaller municipalities adjusted regulations to fit the needs of their local communities.

One of the book’s important contributions to the scholarship on sexuality is the social history of prostitutes, brothel keepers, pimps, and panderers. The discussion of contemporary views of female prostitutes is particularly valuable. Scrupulous research and her discovery of the voices of women who worked as prostitutes, combined with a critical reading of official sources about them, allow Wingfield to compare the actual lives of prostitutes with contemporary discourse about them. In contrast to official and public attitudes that framed prostitutes as women either to be saved or damned as immoral creatures, Wingfield reconstructs the actual lives of registered and unregistered prostitutes. Chapters 3 and 4 focus on the varied reasons which might influence a woman to choose to become a prostitute and the paradox of making choices and having agency amidst the daily difficulty of making a living in this era.

Chapter 6 places fin-de-siècle Austria and the specter of Mädchenhandel within the broader context of European conversations about trafficking women. While popular representations usually depicted deceitful Jewish traffickers moving “innocent” girls to foreign (often South American) brothels, the reality was much more complicated. Both the traffickers and the women trafficked defy this kind of simplistic portrayal. As Wingfield demonstrates, traffickers and panderers also included non-Jewish men and women, while many women who were trafficked decided to go on their own terms. Regardless, concerns over young women being forced into prostitution aided both official and voluntary efforts to “save” them.

The last chapter investigates the impact of World War I and how deprivation and economic austerity on the home front led to the collapse of regulated prostitution and an explosion of clandestine activity. As a result, men in the military were subjected to forced inspection for venereal disease for the first time. The goal was to cure those infected so they could return to the front. Predictably, the state continued to view women as primarily responsible for the spread of disease. As in most of the countries at war, women who transgressed sexual norms faced greater scrutiny than men, whether officials or civilians. Consequently, World War I brought further intrusion by government authorities into the private lives of working-class women.

The book would have benefitted from the inclusion of Budapest and the Hungarian side of the Monarchy into the analyses. This would have highlighted the role of Vienna as a model for larger cities on both sides of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, and it would have strengthened and added more context to the argument about local autonomy in dealing with prostitution, while also placing greater emphasis on the role of ethnic stereotypes in shaping public discourses on prostitution. This is a relatively minor criticism, however, of a book which otherwise shows remarkable range in its coverage.

Anita Kurimay
Bryn Mawr College


pdfKarl Polanyi: A Life on the Left. By Gareth Dale. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016. 381 pp.

As Gareth Dale puts it in his introduction, Karl Polanyi is “an attractive biographical protagonist” (p.8). The contemporary revival of interest in Polanyi’s social-economic theories, his exciting and sometimes contradictory personality, and his inspiring career all make him an appealing main character. Dale’s previous books on the great thinker (Karl Polanyi: The Limits of the Market [2010], Karl Polanyi: The Hungarian Writings [ed., 2016], and Reconstructing Karl Polanyi [2016]) focused on analyses of Polanyi’s ideas. His new monograph concentrates instead on his life. However, it undertakes something more complex than the mere retelling of a life story, as Dale aims to offer an intellectual biography. His ambition is to reconstruct the cultural and social milieu in which Polanyi’s intellectual formation took place and to paint a picture of both his formative years and the intellectual currents that influenced later developments in his thought. Dale also explicitly notes, furthermore, that the “lessons” of Polanyi’s life shed light on the whole intellectual climate of his era and his milieu and, more specifically, on the history of reformist socialism, “an international movement that sought to transform capitalism into a socialist society by means of parliament-led piecemeal alterations” (p.9).

This “lost world of socialism” not only provides the context of the Polanyian defense of a “nonmarket utopia,” it also constitutes the main concern of the book itself, which is Polanyi’s search for an alternative to “market fundamentalism,” as Dale characterizes (using Polanyi’s words) the global economy’s current neoliberal face. Without having written a political pamphlet, Dale expresses explicit regret that after the 1959 Bad Godesberg Conference of the German Social Democrats adopted a program of combining democratic systems with self-regulating market capitalism, the reformist version became marginal and the chances of a radical transformation were reduced to the minimum.

The contextualization of Polanyi’s intellectual biography takes place in two directions, as, chapter by chapter, Dale offers detailed descriptions of the social background of his protagonist, whether this background was fin-de-siècle Budapest or Columbia University in the 1950s. Dale also provides an exhaustive history of ideas connected to Polanyi’s intellectual world. From Hungarian radical bourgeois circles through H.G. Wells-inspired guild socialists to the London-based Christian socialists Robert Owen and Richard Tawney, Dale examines personal and intellectual encounters in order to reconstruct Polanyi’s lifelong quest for a feasible form of socialism. This double agenda makes the book rich and thoughtful, but it is a vertiginous ambition which ultimately leaves the reader with an occasional feeling of incompleteness.

One can only admire the quantity and quality of research into sources in three languages and from archives in five countries, the careful and critical use of oral history, and the meticulous reconstruction of links between life and scholarly work. An exciting example of the latter is Dale’s interpretation of the fact that for Polanyi, when diagnosing the crisis of his age, the main concern was social unification and the search for solidarity in a fragmented society whereby individual moral responsibility would remain subsidiary. This concern, Dale reasons, was related to Polanyi’s Budapest years, when “the Jews of his milieu (…) were acutely sensitized to questions of detachment, alienation and community” (p.83). The way Dale sketches the very different but also (re)unification-centered ideas of Georg Lukacs and Karl Mannheim, both of whom came from the same milieu, makes his conclusions all the more intriguing and convincing.

At the same time, Dale is less persuasive when providing accounts of some historic events. Obviously, the reader cannot expect a detailed history of the countries in which Polanyi lived and worked, but against the brilliantly drawn background, some key moments of history should have been sketched more precisely. Because of the absence of this more analytic approach, some simplistic judgments attenuate the argumentative strength of the narrative. Qualifying for instance the Austro–Hungarian Monarchy as “a short-lived and forgettable empire that […] was destroyed by the mutiny of its own armies” (p.1) is such a strong statement that at least some supporting evidence should have been provided. Similarly, when describing the Republic of Councils, Dale seems to oversimplify the events when he accepts without critical overtones a Polanyian appreciation of the Commune, described as “desperate but not inglorious” (p.71). As a matter of fact, even Polanyi had more ambivalent feelings about this experience, which descended into paramilitary violence (the so-called red terror). Polanyi was deeply concerned about Bolshevism and gave several lectures warning against such a turn. It would have been worthwhile to investigate Polanyi’s attitude towards the events and the people who shaped them, as he was very close to several of the Commune’s leaders but nonetheless chose emigration at the time. At these specific points and, more generally, whenever Dale reports on other highly controversial events, one could reasonably have expected him to draw on the relevant proliferating debates in historiography.

Dale has the rare ability to bring a personality closer to the reader through, for instance, descriptions of his warm family relations, but without entering into intimate details. He evokes not only the popular and the brilliant from Polanyi’s oeuvre, but also the failures, dilemmas, and even some of the embarrassing details. Ironically, by the 1930s, the man who made it his lifelong vocation to bring the moral dimension back into the political and economic spheres and who had had a nuanced view of the 1919 commune of Béla Kun had become blind to the inhuman practices of the Soviet Union under Stalin. The most striking example might be the way in which he stubbornly defended Stalinist methods of governance even when his own niece, Éva Zeisel, became the victim of a show trial in 1936. (Her experiences were to inspire parts of Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon.) In spite of the warm relationship between the Polanyi brothers, on which Dale writes in detail, Michael sternly reproached Karl on the issue.

This was not a singular instance of Polanyi’s lack of clear discernment. Even this sometimes idealized portrait, which describes him as a man of principle with a very strong sense of duty, occasionally makes note of his “Hamlet-like irresolution” (p.77), though the delicate conflicts between this “life on the left” in principle and the comfortable bourgeois lifestyle of the Polanyi’s in practice goes unmentioned. When, for instance, Polanyi describes his standard of living as “a normal proletarian life” (p.78), in spite of the fact that his family employed a servant (Erzsi, whose last name, of course, has been forgotten) and he could count on a significant annuity from his wife’s family, the irony seems to be lost on Dale.

The narrative strikes a truly critical tone only in parts of the Epilogue. This is regrettable, given that more explicit reflections by Dale regarding some of the abovementioned issues would have enriched the text. Furthermore, only in the epilogue does Dale undertake to analyze briefly the contemporary reception of Polanyi’s oeuvre, including his popularity among the most diverse tendencies critical of capitalism. Nevertheless, for a reader interested in these kinds of critical tendencies, this volume makes an enormous contribution to a better understanding of Karl Polanyi’s sometimes contradictory but always thought-provoking ideas.

Veronika Eszik
Hungarian Academy of Sciences


pdfEurope on Trial: The Story of Collaboration, Resistance, and Retribution during World War II. By István Deák. Boulder, Colorado: Westwiew Press, 2015. 257 pp.

This monograph by István Deák goes against the conventional narratives of World War II. The widely accepted accounts of the war which were established after 1945 won approval from the major participants in it in no small part because these accounts were convenient. According to these narratives, World War II was basically a struggle between the “democratic” and the “fascist” powers. Furthermore, a special but popular exculpatory interpretation was established as a kind of subplot of these stories which held significant sway until the 1960s, according to which ordinary German people were not responsible for Nazi crimes, as these crimes had been committed by the Nazis who “captured” ordinary Germans as well. The Polish took a privileged position in the remembrance of World War II because they could be represented entirely as victims, and the Poles did not miss the opportunity to portray themselves as martyrs. However, several books have been published since the mid-1990s (for instance Christopher Browning’s Ordinary Men about the role of “ordinary” Germans in the Holocaust or Jan T. Gross’ work on the massacre in Jedwabne) which undermine these interpretations (which have enjoyed a significant degree of consensus). The new monograph by István Deák, professor emeritus at Columbia University, fits in this recent trend in the secondary literature. The keywords of his book (as one can see from its title) are collaboration, resistance, and retribution, and he is more interested in the limit situations of everyday life during the war than in major war operations, in no small part because he has personal experience of them. His brother-in-law and idol Béla Stollár, an antifascist journalist and member of the resistance in Hungary, was killed in 1944 by members of the Hungarian Arrow-Cross Party, which ruled the country as a pro-Nazi puppet government at the time. Deák also shares with his reader the latest results of research on World War II, offering new perspectives on various key issues.

In clear opposition to revisionist works, István Deák’s book rehearses the traditional interpretation of the outbreak of the war. According to this interpretation, the war was launched consciously by Hitler in order to colonize the territories of Eastern Europe and destroy the Jewish communities there: “the extermination of the Jews, as a war goal, at least equaled the goal of winning the war” (p.134).

In their ambition to exterminate the Jews, Germans could count on the assistance of locals. Perhaps the most important and also provocative and unpalatable statement of the book is Deák’s assertion that, “if there was one major European project, it was ethnic cleansing” (p.10). With this assertion, Deák deprives the Holocaust of its aura of “incomprehensibility” and supposed uniqueness in the sense that he places it in a series of ethnic cleansings, which he describes as the logical, if radical consequence of the absolutization of the idea of the “organic” nation state. He thus links the deportation of the Jews to the expulsion of the East European Germans after World War II, without, however, intending to relativize. Another link between the deportation (or in the case of the Jews of Europe, the deportation and massacre) of both scapegoated ethnic groups was the redistribution of properties and wealth, i.e. the governmental practice of bribing or rewarding “desirable” social groups by redistributing the stolen property of the victims and thereby making these social groups accomplices.

Collaboration with Hitler’s Germany allowed countries to realize their “national” goals, which included territorial acquisitions, ethnic homogenization (or “cleansing”), and taking possession of the property of people who lost their civil rights and later their lives. Deák does not mute his critical view of the Hungarian “gentry middle-class,” which he sees as the greatest beneficiary of the Holocaust in Hungary. Hungary realized each of the aforementioned goals (at least, in the case of territorial acquisitions, for a time), and this may explain why the Hungarian elite did not turn its back on Germany even on the verge of certain defeat and Soviet occupation.

Deák characterizes the attitude of European leaders and citizens during the years before World War II and in the first period of the conflagration as political and moral bankruptcy, and he maintains that the sacrifice of Czechoslovakia was the moral nadir. (It is worth noting that, as a consequence of the decision in Munich, a huge part of the European military industry was given to Germany.) Deák does observe (and contributions like this make Europe on Trial a revelatory book) that food rations were better in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (created in 1939) than in Germany. Moreover, “the survival rate among Czech males [was] much higher than among Sudeten German males,” as Czech males were not recruited for military service (p.34). During the German occupation, the Czech public administration functioned like the public administration of ‘an eminent allied state,’ even without ideological identification. This phenomenon was not specific to the Czech lands: Germans trusted “obedient bureaucrats” over “new Nazis” in almost every country. The “new Nazis” were given power only as a last resort, for instance in Hungary with the coup by Ferenc Szálasi and his Arrow Cross Party in October, 1944.

Deák continues to complicate and undermine the traditional narrative according to which the European countries could be divided into “bad” and “good” countries, active “conquerors” and passive “victims.” He points out how the allies, above all Italy, typically caused more problems for Germany than the occupied countries. Denmark, which tends to be idealized because it saved its Jewish citizens, even entered the Anti-Comintern Pact in November 1941.

Operation Barbarossa was not a preventive attack, as revisionist authors tend to claim, but a direct consequence of Hitler’s explicit aim: the desire to acquire Lebensraum. However, in spite of the Nazi racial theory (according to which Slavs were subhuman), many locals helped the invaders, especially in territories which had been occupied by the Soviet Union in 1939/40.

A contention characteristic of Deák’s ambition to avoid and challenge simplification is his observation about people who are usually referred to as “partisans” and who were uniformly idealized by the Soviet propaganda as “antifascist heroes.” Deák insists that these people (and the groups of which they were part) conducted ethnic cleansing similar to the German genocide. The various partisan groups fought against one another on several occasions, and the fault lines in these conflicts were based on perceived ethnic difference. The Jewish inhabitants of Timothy Snyder´s Bloodlands were targets not only of the German invaders, but also of the nationalistic and anti-Semitic partisan groups, for instance of Ukrainian nationalists, who simultaneously fought both the Germans and the Soviets.

Deák makes the bold claim that serious resistance in the countries of the West only began in 1943, when, after the German defeat at Stalingrad, it began to seem possible that Germany might lose the war. As the resistance groups did not hesitate to commit attacks that typically prompted German acts of revenge against civilians, any evaluation of the acts of these groups must grapple with serious moral dilemmas. Excellent examples of this include the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich or the contested case of the Italian communists who exploded a bomb at Via Rasella in Rome in March 1944.

Assessments of the practices of retributions after World War II are even more contested. Europe on Trial gives a panoramic overview of the various attempts at retribution in every single country after the war, and it reminds the reader that several prime ministers of Hungary were executed, whereas German Plenipotentiary and key Holocaust perpetrator Edmund Veesenmayer spent only a short period of time in prison and went on to become a successful businessman in West Germany. As Deák writes, “The great irony of history is that whereas Eastern Europe paid a heavy price for its political purges and its ethnic cleansing, Germany, which hardly had any purges and received millions of German and other refugees, soon became a model democracy and the motor of the postwar European economy” (p.223). Of course, the main explanation for the lack of adequate retribution in West Germany remains the outbreak of the Cold War, in which West Germans became “valuable allies” for the Atlantic Powers (p.193). From this perspective, the West German “economic miracle,” which enabled Germany to become the engine of the Common Market (the predecessor to the European Union), was launched and operated by Nazis who could (and should) have been punished for their war crimes. From this point of view, the “Adenauer Deal” was problematic on ethical grounds, but one could well claim that history has justified the acts of politicians “who had dreamed of a new, unified, and better Europe” (p.229), to close my review with the final words of Deák’s provocative book. It will make an interesting and informative reading for anyone who would like to learn more, easily and quickly, about the most recent findings of the scholarship on the history of World War II.

Péter Csunderlik
Eötvös Loránd University – Institute of Political History


pdfThe Value of Labor: The Science of Commodification in Hungary, 1920–1956. By Martha Lampland. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016. 348 pp.

While the 1990s transition to capitalism has sprouted an impressive amount of literature, from buoyant transitologies to more sober analyses, very few scholars of Central and Eastern Europe have dared to zoom in on an equally significant transition: the one from capitalism to socialism in the immediate postwar period. In an ironic twist, it seems the claims of post-1945 communist leaders have surreptitiously seeped into the academic literature, being taken for granted: the advent of socialism has been customarily described by scholars as a moment of powerful rupture, of total discontinuity, a new era in stark contrast with the interwar years.

Framed within an elegant conceptual structure, Martha Lampland’s The Value of Labor brings an important corrective to this narrative. The work traces the diverse technologies and practices used in Hungary to evaluate agricultural labor before and after World War II. This seemingly unassuming topic allows her to pose crucial questions, however. The book offers an inquiry into how the history of the region may be integrated into a larger analysis of commodification as a global process, a process marked by local contingencies and discontinuities, but also molded by global structural constraints and international networks of expertise. Similarly, the book touches upon the crucial issue of how an analysis of state socialisms could enter into dialogue with the history of capitalism, catering in this way to a varied readership, from labor historians and STS scholars to social anthropologists.

The volume is a prequel to Lampland’s previous work, The Object of Labor (University of Chicago Press, 1996), an ethnographic foray into the labor practices structuring the agricultural cooperatives of state socialist Hungary. A central, unavoidable reference for (post)socialist anthropology, the 1996 study was a daring attempt to historicize and put to work, through meticulous fieldwork, Moishe Postone’s reconceptualization of commodification and labor value. It highlighted an apparent paradox: that the commodification of labor could thrive in conditions which, at face value, would seem inimical to such developments, a collectivized agriculture where market institutions were fairly rare. Lampland’s earlier book also posed a chronological challenge. It traced a direct continuity between the pre-socialist conceptions of labor and the ones emerging after collectivization, and it emphasized the centrality of work in determining social value at large.

The current volume picks up this insight into the relevance of labor in creating and establishing social worth, thus continuing to draw on Postone’s notions, but it develops it further through the instruments of an STS scholarship sensitive to the importance of formalizing practices and knowledge technologies. The main question concerns how labor as such was valued, assessed, and formalized and what types of technologies were used in this process. The answer provided by Martha Lampland moves from work science experts in interwar Hungary and their focus on agrarian labor to the first collectivization attempts and wage formulas developed by the communist authorities. Underpinning her narrative is an attempt to avoid a rather common pitfall of commodification debates: the excessive focus on markets which, according to her, has prevented us from analyzing other means of assessing and evaluating labor. This dangerous market-bias has obscured the gigantic infrastructure necessary to make labor “commodifiable” in various historical contexts.

This infrastructure includes the complex formalizing techniques needed to standardize labor practices across local variations. The development of work sciences at the end of the nineteenth century and their global spread gave rise to different forms of expertise, harnessed in order to streamline and frame the rich variety of labor forms. For the Hungarian case, it was German business economics and scientific work management, from Taylorism to work psychology, that provided the novel instruments and new formulas that were used to regulate and evaluate labor power. Through a permanent dialogue with the local manorial traditions of labor administration, these developments spurred the emergence of original wage schemes and accounting techniques. At least as importantly, however, these kinds of formalizing practices required a complex infrastructure, straddling the boundaries between academia, state institutions, and the private economy: research centers, new university departments, statistical offices, bureaucratic experts, etc. And throughout the interwar period, Hungarian work scientists were at pains to find the resources necessary to establish and maintain such a complex infrastructure of expertise. Analyzing both the formalizing technologies developed by the Hungarian labor experts (new wage schemes, new accounting methods) and the infrastructure of knowledge they relied on, the first part of the volume draws a fascinating portrait of Hungary’s agricultural modernizers: work scientists, accounting experts, agricultural economists, etc.

This portrait is framed by a specific ambiguity regarding capitalism and market institutions. Although they were generally market enthusiasts, Hungarian modernizers devised formal tools and evaluation instruments which could be impervious to the vagaries of a market shaken by constant economic crises, from the Great Depression to waves of postwar inflation. Thus, the way in which they conceived of rural labor was somewhat outside market constraints or at least indifferent to them. For this reason, adopting and making use of their technologies became an easy job for a communist regime keen on scraping off market institutions. As Lampland shows in the second part of the book, communist agricultural modernization was not so much a revolution from abroad as a process underpinned by techno-political devices developed locally throughout the 1930s and 1940s. The end result was an original synthesis which can hardly fit a specific label. It was neither a Soviet import nor simply a local offshoot. A case in point is the history of the work units, a complex hybrid between Soviet collectivization practices (trudnoi), interwar work science, and manorial practices, each of which was constantly changed by the social violence of the immediate postwar years.

Commodification appears throughout the volume as a complex bundle of practices and technologies that can hardly be confined to market mechanisms. This has the heuristic advantage of problematizing the relationship between capitalism and socialism. Following the archival trail, one can trace these technologies across economic systems and construct a more inclusive historiography in which the relationship between state socialism and postwar capitalism is one of constant dialogue and interaction. The book leaves untouched, however, a more extensive discussion on the relationship between market mechanisms and the technologies of commodification it analyzes. We do not find out, for instance, exactly how the formalizing practices developed by Hungarian work scientists might have interacted with agricultural labor markets. More generally, we do not know too much about pre-1945 labor markets as such or the way they functioned (in conjunction with other commodification mechanisms or not). This is far more than a mere empirical addendum, as it raises an important theoretical question that should interest economic anthropologists and social historians alike. And the period analyzed by Martha Lampland, marked as it was by extensive economic experiments, might provide one of the best empirical terrains for research going in this direction. Similarly, it would be important to see how essential shifts in managing economic life, such as the Great Depression or the war economy, might have influenced the management and evaluation of labor and the formalizing practices developed by work scientists before and after 1945.

It is of course one of the chief ironies of the book that the techno-political dreams of the advocates of capitalism, the work scientists of interwar Hungary, could take shape only under the auspices of communism. It is, however, precisely these kinds of ironic insights, born out of an acrimonious attention to technical detail that may help scholars reconnect the history of capitalism with the study of state socialism, building up a more inclusive global historiography. An understanding of commodification as a complex bundle of practices and technologies, which can easily circulate and be adapted to local conditions, might offer a more nuanced grasp of the economic history of the twentieth century.

Mihai-Dan Cirjan
Central European University – CEFRES Prague


pdfSearching for the Human Factor: Psychology, Power and Ideology in Hungary during the Early Kádár Period. By Tuomas Laine-Frigren. Jyväskylä: University of Jyväskylä, 2016. 369 pp.

The Department of History and Ethnology at the University of Jyväskylä in central Finland is one of the most important institutes at which Hungarian history and culture is studied and taught outside of Hungary, both from the perspectives of teaching and research. Many historians, ethnographers, and literary historians have gotten doctorates at the university pursuing research on Hungary and its culture, and the institute has managed to catch the attention of many young Finnish scholars, who have then taken a more active interest in Hungary. The university, in keeping with tradition, publishes every dissertation as a book and, now, also online. Tuomas Laine-Frigren’s dissertation, which has now been published as the 280th volume in this series (the number is not a typo), offers important new information and insights for scholars of the Kádár era and anyone interested in the history of sciences in Hungary and, more narrowly, the historiography on the social sciences.

Laine-Frigren examines how the science of psychology developed under Kádár, or more precisely, how it was reborn. He considers how the institutional system first began to take shape and the various political and professional/scientific debates amidst which it developed in the period that lasted from the defeat of the 1956 Revolution to the mid-1980s. Laine-Frigren refers to himself as a revisionist historian, by which he means that he considers the state socialist system a meeting and collision point of many competing interests. He adheres to a complex analytical method which includes perspectives from the history of ideas, the history of science, and political history. His discussion is polycentric, by which I mean that he considers, alongside the discipline of psychology in Hungary and its connections to international scholarly life, the significance of formal and informal networks, circles, and individuals, and he also examines the various discourses on this branch of the sciences.

The book is divided into four chapters. In the first, Laine-Frigren offers a historical glance back, providing a portrait of the rich and recognized school of psychology that developed in Hungary, going back as far as the work of Sándor Ferenczi. He also shows how utterly devastating the anti-Jewish laws, the Holocaust, and the destruction of the war were to the discipline, followed, after a brief moment of respite, by the Stalinist dictatorship. He quite rightly notes that the science of psychology never disappeared entirely in Hungary. A slender thread of continuity always remained, though separation from the world of international (and particularly Western) scholarship unquestionably was a serious hindrance.

In the second chapter, Laine-Frigren examines the ideological milieu in which psychology prospered or struggled. This process clearly was in close parallel with the processes underway in the Soviet Union, where behaviorism (based largely on the ideas of Ivan Pavlov) and the ideas of education theorist Anton Makarenko had become dominant. On the other hand, however, the desire of power to rear and shape society collectively also created opportunities. Indeed, the process which came to its culmination in the 1960s and 1970s had already begun before 1956, if only very embryonically. Researchers managed to secure major financial resources and launch comprehensive programs, since the government had ever greater demand for the advice and counsel of psychologists in its attempts to deal with the various social problems it found itself compelled to confront.

These developments are perhaps most clearly evidenced by the changes which took place in the approach to child and youth psychology and treatment, which Laine-Frigren presents in the third chapter (which is the most thorough and circumspect chapter of the book). He was able to draw on serious preliminary studies, since the circumstances of and problems faced by the younger generations in Hungary after 1956 have become popular subjects of study. Laine-Frigren persuasively argues that the large number of young people who took part in the 1956 Revolution and the various forms of counterculture which emerged in the 1960s deeply worried the political leadership of the country. The various measures which were adopted and organizations which were created in order (allegedly) to protect children dealt with these problems in an array of varying ways. Numerous serious issues came to the surface, including the traumas faced by the generation which was growing up in the postwar decades, overburdened parents, and shifts in family roles. Furthermore, the authorities often criminalized and labeled as deviant the behavior of young people who found themselves in difficult circumstances, and instead of providing care, they strove to isolate them. Laine-Frigren offers analyses of numerous case studies, and he offers examples of the kinds of tragedies which took place in the foster and community homes. He also shoes how, with the passage of time, it became increasingly clear that the state was not able and did not particularly even want to address the causes of juvenile delinquency.

The book includes a similarly excellent chapter on the ways in which social psychology gained ground and became increasingly institutionalized. Laine-Frigren essentially ties the increasing prestige and prominence of the social sciences to the introduction of the process of economic reform. The debates which preceded and followed the introduction of the new economic mechanism helped nudge the processes of decision making away from the ideological and towards the rational. The sciences of economics and agriculture acquired new value and respect, but so did branches of the sciences which focused on the ways in which society functions and responds to shifts, as these branches of inquiry provided important information for decision makers. This shift had a positive influence on assessments of the science of psychology.

Laine-Frigren offers two examples illustrating this, examples one might describe as concealed. Ferenc Pataki began his career as part of the People’s College Movement, and was given a Soviet scholarship, and became involved in the Petőfi Circle. In the 1960s and 1970s, through his personal ties to György Aczél, he played a key role in the management of the institutional and personal background of psychology and, in particular, social psychology. The book contains frequent mention of his name, the titles of his works, and references to the decisions he made, and quite rightly so. Pataki’s career quite clearly illustrates that it was possible to pursue a career within the state socialist system which may well have been founded on political loyalty, but which nonetheless yielded important contributions to the field. Not everyone was so fortunate, of course. For Ferenc Mérei, who had a similarly outstanding mind, the period between 1945 and 1949, i.e. the golden age of the short-lived People’s College movement, was the zenith of his career. Mérei was pushed to the margins of official scholarly life, first because of the anti-Jewish laws, then because of the Stalinist dictatorship, and then because of the role he played in 1956. His life story, however, is clear testimony to the fact that a person of his talents could not be completely banished from scholarly life in Hungary. Because of his remarkable intellectual capabilities and stunning knack for pedagogy and teaching, he was given an opportunity, as a laboratory leader, to form a significant circle of students at the National Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology (known more familiarly as Lipótmező after its location in a neighborhood in the Buda hills). The effects of his work and the works of this group of students can still be discerned today. Perhaps the only more serious shortcoming of the work lies in the fact that Laine-Frigren was not always entirely aware of the antecedents in the careers of the psychologists on whom he has chosen to focus, and this sometimes leads to odd lacunae.

In the closing chapter, in which Laine-Frigren offers a summary of his findings, he again raises the central questions: to what extent did the development of a discipline depend on the individual wills of the decision makers in the party state and to what extent did it depend on submitting to political pressures and constraints? Were there any real intentions to reform, and was it possible to resist calls to catch up, as it were, with the science of psychology in the West? One of the great strengths of the book, in conclusion, is that Laine-Frigren has very precisely depicted the opportunities for action and the limits of these opportunities.

István Papp
Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security


pdfOf Red Dragons and Evil Spirits: Post-Communist Historiography between Democratization and New Politics of History. Edited by Oto Luthar. Budapest–New York: Central European University Press, 2017. 248 pp.

The volume surveys eight national contexts from East Central and Southeastern Europe in an attempt to reconstruct the defining features of the contemporary politics of the past. As the authors suggest, falling short of the hopes and expectations of many in the aforementioned two regions, instead of a process of democratizing the narratives about the past, there is a return to or rather no change in the dominance of nation-centered narratives. This diagnosis strikes the often rather disillusioned and pessimistic tone of the volume. The introduction by editor Oto Luthar identifies a veritable watershed in the politics of history in 2010, after which serious breaches of professional standards have occurred within the respective countries. However, this periodization is explicitly reflected upon only by some of the contributors.

Most chapters discuss state socialist politics of history and historical narratives before delving into more recent developments. The new or recurrent narratives analyzed in the various chapters embrace the equation between Nazism and Communism and refuse any investigation of broader societal participation in the most infamous episodes of the past century. It is suggested that such currents are initiated from within the scholarly field (Luthar, p.8). While this is a defensible position, it can be usefully complemented by a focus on all those engaging in the discourse from the margins of scholarship or well beyond its realm, most notably, the prime makers of politics of the past, the so-called memory brokers. Though Of Dragons and Evil Spirits is a fairly coherent edited volume, the foci of the chapters oscillate between national memory brokers and academia-bound debates, politics of history pertaining to specific episodes of national history or the battles over establishing the grand narrative of the nation after the collapse of state socialism. Therefore, in the following I will pinpoint several shared topics to highlight the comparative potentials of the volume.

Some of the authors find it important to reflect on the lustration laws in their respective countries, suggesting that an investigation into their qualities and functioning (or often mere existence) is essential to an understanding of politics of history in a broader sense. Daniela Koleva underlines not only the specific features but also the modest institutional effect that these laws had in Bulgaria. Šačir  Filandra is quite disillusioned with the lack of Bosnian lustration laws and explains their absence by pointing to “post-independence chaos.”

As for the narrative aspects of this new politics of history, all of the authors in the volume claim that an opportunity for the thorough pluralization of historical discourses emerged with the respective regime changes, but this moment has passed. The practically monophonic national canons hardly allow for self-reflection, and their instrumentalization to serve the purposes of politics of the past result in “memorial militancy” (Koleva), which uses selective negationism (Michael Shafir) as a key discursive strategy. In the Croatian case, some sort of pluralization is mentioned, though as Ljiljana Radonić argues, this does not really help further a more critical assessment of the nation’s past. In the Hungarian and Croatian cases, Jewish suffering during the Holocaust serves as shorthand for the rhetorical practice of subsuming different victim groups under the same category (i.e. victims of World War II) and downplaying societal involvement. Although the concept of collective and competitive victimhood has been established primarily in relation to the post-Yugoslav societies, which have been subjected to a form of transnational justice, as Shafir demonstrates in particular, its analytical virtues can be applied to the interpretation of East Central European cases as well. (Shafir’s notion of competitive martyrdom has considerable overlaps with that of C. A. Nielsen, “Collective and Competitive Victimhood as Identity in the Former Yugoslavia,” in Understanding the Age of Transnational Justice: Crimes, Courts, Commissions and Chronicling, ed. Nancy Adler [2018].)

The European dimensions of the politics of history are tacitly present in all of the chapters but are discussed in greater detail only in the contributions by Daniela Koleva and Ferenc Laczó. The former calls attention to the lack of integration of communist experience into common European remembrance after the entry of post-communist countries into the European Union. Laczó does not fully share her view, as he claims that both radical left-wing and right-wing actors’ responsibility for equally serious crimes has been acknowledged to a certain extent. EU conditionality regarding the establishment of consensual remembrance is discussed by both authors. While Bulgaria was a notable exception to this condition, Laczó claims that for the Hungarian public, EU accession amounted to another missed opportunity for engagement and reconciliation.

Although visual representations of the past constitute one of the most often scrutinized aspects of the politics of history, this volume focuses more on narratives and agendas. There are sporadic utterances though, regarding both public spaces and exhibitions. Radonić briefly discusses how Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader (2003–2009) ordered the removal of controversial memorials, and Koleva underscores the importance of local initiatives in Bulgaria, where a comprehensive museum of communism has yet to have been built. At the same time, Todor Kuljić describes competition, i.e. an ever-changing hierarchy among ethnic groups that make similarly exclusive claims to the remembrance of “their” victims at the expense of others.

Although the introduction sets a clear agenda for the volume, some degree of divergence in terms of approaches and style remains inevitable; the authors tend to share a conceptual framework which enables the reader to perceive the texts as directly comparable. Of Dragons and Evil Spirits as a whole has the virtue of addressing some time-specific aspects of contemporary politics of history. Scholars and policy makers may learn important lessons from the cases presented. However, only time will tell whether the authors have truly managed to capture the starting points of a new politics of history.

Réka Krizmanics
Central European University


pdfLong Awaited West: Eastern Europe Since 1944. By Stefano Bottoni. Translated by Sean Lambert. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2017. 292 pp.

It has been almost three decades since Eastern Europe’s communist governments fell and over a decade since the countries of the former Soviet Bloc joined the European Union. The time has certainly come for historians to revisit the grand narrative of Eastern European history under socialism and beyond. Long Awaited West is Stefano Bottoni’s attempt to do just that. This is an ambitious work of synthesis that aims to distill the history of an enormous region over seven tumultuous decades. Bottoni defines “Eastern Europe” as the area that came under the influence of Soviet communism during and after World War II (p.6), a definition which encompasses parts of what became the Soviet Union (the Baltics, Western Ukraine, Moldova). The book concentrates, however, on the countries that made up the former Soviet Bloc, along with Yugoslavia and Albania.

While Bottoni makes an excellent effort to incorporate recent scholarship into the book, his narrative nonetheless largely hews to existing frameworks. The book is organized chronologically along established turning points in political history, with chapters on the impact of the war and creation of communist regimes across the region (1944–48), the Stalinist period (1949–55), the era of the Thaw and the failure of more radical reform (1956–72), the years of stagnation and the collapse of the system (1973–91), the chaos of the 1990s, and a final chapter on European integration and recent challenges to the post-communist neoliberal order. The story Bottoni tells in these chapters is focused on the actions of governments and political elites, giving only cursory attention to the everyday experiences of ordinary people. The choice to concentrate on political history and economic policy fits his general interpretation of Eastern Europe’s communist regimes. Here, they are largely portrayed as repressive forces concerned primarily with maintaining their hold on power. While this is never spelled out explicitly in the text, the title of the book, Long Awaited West, implies that most East Europeans were not invested in socialism, but instead merely dreamed of the day when they would be able to join the West and achieve its higher standard of living. This is underscored by the cover design, which consists of an image of a barbed wire fence with a gate tantalizingly left open, pointing the way across a field into the setting sun.

In line with Bottoni’s previous work, one of the book’s important contributions is its attention to the issue of national minorities and nationalist politics. Bottoni argues the region’s communist governments failed to create viable policies to deal with national difference. Particularly as the region’s economies began to sputter in the 1970s and 1980s, this failure encouraged different groups to see economic woes in national terms. By putting the experiences of Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria and the Soviet Union itself side by side, the book allows us to see common threads in what were otherwise quite different histories.

What most sets this book apart from similar surveys of East European history is its orientation in the contemporary moment. The motivating question behind this book is not a re-evaluation of the socialist past, but a desire to understand the situation of Eastern Europe in 2017 (when the last pages were being written). The post-communist period is therefore not treated as an epilogue or coda, but as an integral part of the narrative; fully one third of the book deals with the period after 1989. Unlike earlier authors, Bottoni does not tell a triumphalist story, in which communism is vanquished and Eastern Europe emerges free and ready to be reunited with the West. He writes from a vantage point from which we already know that joining the European Union and NATO did not bring the prosperity many had imagined. Instead, corruption became even more entrenched and neoliberal “reforms” hurt even wider swaths of the population. The 2008 financial crisis helped fuel a wave of anti-EU and nationalist populism, leading, in Hungary, to the enormous victory by Fidesz in 2010 and the Law and Justice Party in Poland in 2015. For Bottoni, this more recent past highlights the cruel irony that the Iron Curtain might be gone, but “Eastern Europe,” itself a creation of the Cold War, still remains as a region that is not, and may well never be, the same as the West.

In the conclusion, Bottoni implies that the desire to be like the West—or, more precisely, to have the same standard of living as the West—has itself been the cause of Eastern Europe’s misery and malaise. It created unreasonable expectations that could never be fulfilled and had the effect of widening the gap between elites who prospered and the majority who did not. What is happening in Eastern Europe today is, says Bottoni, only the most recent iteration of a longer dilemma; whether Eastern Europeans should try to mimic the West or define themselves against it in nationalist terms. Yet, for Bottoni, the only hope for Eastern Europe in the end is to become integrated into the West. Anything else, he says, would result in a “new era of catastrophe” (p.254). The book leaves us, then, at a critical juncture, wondering what the future may hold.

With any survey text, there is the question of audience. Long Awaited West was first published in 2011 as part of a longer history of Eastern Europe that was used by Italian university students. This revised English-language version, however, is too dense and complicated for a typical U.S. undergraduate audience. It assumes a fair amount of knowledge on the part of the reader and does not define basic concepts and terms (like “central planning” or “Stakhanovite”). Given this, the best audience for this book would consist either of graduate students or of specialists looking for a recent and readable survey of the East European past.

Melissa Feinberg
Rutgers University

pdfVolume 7 Issue 3 CONTENTS


The Habsburg Monarchy 1815–1918. By Steven Beller. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018. 315 pp.

Important, summative assessments of the Habsburg Monarchy have been appearing with increased frequency in recent years. One factor is the series of rolling centenary anniversaries beginning with the outbreak of World War I followed by the death of Franz Joseph, the fall of the Monarchy and the foundation of the successor nation-states. Another is the maturation of a generation of historians who emerged in the decades from the 1970s to 1990s. Many were trained in America and are associated with the “revisionist” trend, which emphasizes the continued viability of the Monarchy and the contingent, constructivist, multivalent nature of nationalism. Pieter Judson (born 1956) and Steven Beller (born 1958) have both recently published general histories of the Habsburg Monarchy in its last century. The monumental series published by the Austrian Academy of Sciences entitled Die Habsburgermonarchie, which covers the period 1848 to 1918 and provided much impetus to the “revisionist” trend, is nearing its end. Other general histories, whether by single authors or multi-authored, are also planned for publication.

A previous generation of historians undertook a similar process of summation and synthesis in the 1960s. The prevailing viewpoint then portrayed a decaying, anachronistic Monarchy weakened by rising nationalism. Historians such as A. J. P. Taylor, Robert Kann, Hans Kohn, Hugo Hantsch and Erich Zöllner, who all published or revised general works in the post–World War II period, had built on the nationalist focused work of the inter-war period, especially the influential analysis of the Hungarian emigré Oscar Jaszi. Kann, Kohn, Hantsch, and Jaszi were born within old, pre-war Austria-Hungary and had thus personally witnessed the end of the Monarchy and the difficult, tragic aftermath. By the 1960s their views dominated the historiography. The influential series of volumes in the Austrian History Yearbook of 1967 were largely ordered around competing nationalities and the concepts of centripetal and centrifugal forces, inspired by Jaszi’s framework. The English historian Carlile Macartney (born 1895) capped a lifetime of work with his massive general history published in 1968. He begins the book with the failure of Austrian state centralism in Hungary in the late eighteenth century and proceeds in admirable breadth and detail to outline the gradual retreat of the state and Empire in response to the multiple challenges of the nineteenth century, including rising nationalism. Thus by the late 1960s, the general consensus was of an old-fashioned, dynastic Monarchy out of step with the modern world of nation-states. Broadcast in 1968, Edward Crankshaw’s BBC documentary series entitled “The Fall of the House of Habsburg, 1848–1918”—largely based on his book published five years earlier—encapsulated this interpretation for a wider audience.

From the 1970s onwards these paradigms of a rigid, feudal, reactionary Monarchy torn apart by competing nationalisms have increasingly been questioned. Starting with reassessments of economic history then spreading to aspects of the governmental system, the administration, legal practice, politics, education, civil society and the military—amongst many other topics—the older assumptions have gradually been overturned. According to this “revisionist” view, the economy was developing well, the legal and educational authorities were mostly fair, the military was creating a relatively coherent, loyal army and the political and administrative framework showed significant flexibility when faced with the demands of an engaged, organized, active populace.

Pieter Judson’s acclaimed book brings together many of these “revisionist” arguments into a sophisticated, compelling conceptual framework. The guiding theme is the changing relationship between the state (defined broadly) and the populace. For the pre-1848 years this was mainly a triangular schema of ruler/state, local elites (mainly aristocrats) and people (especially the peasants). Judson shows how the Habsburg state and ruler often appealed over the heads of the aristocrats directly to the people, thus empowering the central state against local structures and traditions and also slowly forming a loyalty or patriotism amongst the common people towards the distant, abstract, beneficent ruler and her (Maria Theresa’s) or his (Joseph II’s) institutions. The wars against an assertive revolutionary and Napoleonic France further encouraged this gestating loyalty and patriotism. The subsequent Metternich years emerge in Judson’s account not as a stagnant, oppressive interregnum but as a dynamic, engaged, developing and stimulating era.

The complex turning point of 1848–49 is covered extremely well. Rather than the familiar battles and political intrigue, Judson shows how the populace actively participated in the newly opening public sphere to articulate potential reforms to the Empire. This burgeoning grass-roots political culture and the issue of representative bodies gradually transformed the relationship between ruler/state and the people. Layers of administration and representative bodies, along with a myriad of changing political actors and organizations, meant increased state involvement in everyday life as well as increased demands from the citizens. A complicated, contested, rowdy, fluid set of constitutional and political institutions and practices evolved. Amidst the many difficulties and challenges, there was also adaptation and accommodation—from the state, the political actors and the general populace. Throughout the book Judson illustrates his arguments with examples from across the Empire—Dalmatia, Bosnia, Bukovina, Transylvania, Tyrol, Galicia, Croatia, South Styria as well as Bohemia, Moravia and Hungary—giving a sense of the Monarchy’s tremendous geographical diversity and grounding his arguments in specific contexts. Nationalism is, to some extent, presented as tool for instrumental, pragmatic purposes—whether to form and integrate a political movement or for tactical maneuvering within the system. This mirrors the approach of Judson’s previous book Guardians of the Nation and of Tara Zahra’s work on national indifference or flexibility.

Judson has reflected on the latest scholarship—much of it “revisionist” in nature—and provided a general narrative framework based on the relationship between ruler/state and the people. He has questioned and rethought countless issues within the historiography of the Monarchy. He has also provided some comparative perspectives, placing the Habsburg Monarchy within general European developments. His book is an impressive achievement and is full of provocative ideas and formulations that point towards possible future directions for new research.

Steven Beller, in a prolific career, has written books on Vienna’s Jews, anti-Semitism, Theodore Herzl and Franz Joseph as well as a general history of Austria. In his acknowledgements he concedes that his present book has some overlap with previous works yet he, nevertheless, wished to outline his interpretation in response to recent historiography, in particular Judson’s book. Beller’s book is more traditional and less “revisionist” than Judson’s. It provides more of a standard narrative based around high politics and foreign affairs.

There are some constant themes—modernization (only defined near the end as representative government, national self-determination, popular sovereignty and rule of law [p.275]), successive challenges (Beller uses the term “squaring the circle” [pp.77, 119, 135, 151, 185, 227]), the Habsburg Monarchy as a “European necessity” (p.7; pp.273–86) and an awareness of the Empire’s possibilities (p.21; p.220). Nevertheless, it is sometimes difficult to trace the connecting threads through the book, while the overall argument is rarely stated in an explicit, integrated manner. This is partly because Beller covers more ground then Judson including cultural developments (especially the Biedermeier and c1900 eras), foreign entanglements and the financial strains of maintaining a military befitting a “Great Power.” Beller is best in the final chapters of the book when he combines historiographical comment with interpretive exposition. For example, chapter 6 “1897–1914: Modernization” presents a fascinating portrayal of a flourishing Empire (a stable society and economy, intellectual ferment and achievement) coupled with “everlasting political crisis,” an aging Monarch and an elite embroiled in the Balkans.

Throughout the book, Beller conveys the multiple options and possibilities for the Habsburg Monarchy. Beller outlines this theme in the introduction:

Central European culture was not one which encouraged certainties…. It was a culture fated, almost, to see ironies rather than coming to definite conclusions, not definite theories but rather the penumbra of possible alternative interpretations that connected, one to the other…. As we shall see, this lack of a decisive approach, a lack of a definite national identity, or of a unified national culture, or even of an obvious, straightforward political purpose, was a large part of what brought the Monarchy down, repeatedly, during the course of the nineteenth century, a century of modernization on national, decisive lines. (pp.22–23)

Beller’s characterization of the governing elite is of a conservative, fearful, aristocratic closed circle generally in opposition to the wider populace. This is a stark contrast to Judson’s schema, which postulates a flexible, symbiotic, if sometimes difficult, relationship between the state (in a broader sense than the Viennese ruling class) and the people. Beller’s view is from the centre—of the governmental, military and administrative elite trying to control and direct events and people. Judson’s focus is primarily from below—on the local, everyday level of engagement between the expanding state and its citizens. These are not necessarily incompatible viewpoints. The Monarchy was a vast, diverse and complex entity, as is evident from the myriad of topics and viewpoints in Die Habsburgermonarchie. Amidst perpetual crisis there was reform and adaptation, amidst despair there was hope, amidst extreme nationalism there was fervent patriotism—sometimes simultaneously, sometimes changing over time and often in the same individual or movement. How does Beller, then, navigate the Monarchy’s bewildering variety and diversity?

Starting with 1815 Beller provides an overview of the Metternich system—both internationally and domestically. While acknowledging that Metternich’s security state was not particularly efficient, Beller still states that:

the suppression of an active political scene meant that the emerging German-speaking middle class and intelligentsia in the Monarchy never gained the practical experience in representative politics that their equivalents in northwestern Europe did at this stage of social and economic development…. Had there been more of an active forum for political debate in these crucial post-war decades, a more Viennocentric, albeit German-speaking, but Austrian political consensus might have been able to mitigate, or even co-opt the centrifugal forces of nationalism that would dominate politics later in the century. (pp.35–36)

Yet was such political reform in a Catholic Empire recovering from decades of revolutionary and Napoleonic violence and upheaval ever possible or realistic? Which other countries undertook progressive political reform directed by forward-thinking elites towards representative, constitutional government and freedom of expression immediately after 1815? None of the “Great Powers.” The small states of Baden and Wurttemberg had constitutions in 1818 and 1819, Belgium and France experienced Revolutions in 1830 and the British Reform Bill was passed in 1832. The elites in all of these cases were generally reactive, moderate and pragmatic.

Interestingly Beller pursues the idea of missed opportunities in the following section, beginning with Ferdinand’s ascension to the throne in 1835. Certainly there was even less possibility for reform under the mentally incompetent Ferdinand. Nevertheless, society, the economy and nationalist culture were rapidly developing, despite the “drag” (Beller’s term) of Metternich’s system. The 1848–49 Revolutions, in Beller’s account, exposed further and deeper questions of modernity—Germany, nationalism, representative and constitutional government, the place of Jews, amongst the more significant. Franz Joseph became the ruler and he is well characterized by Beller as “brave, but not imaginative; conservative, even reactionary, but also practical and empirical in his approach, prepared, ultimately, to let the ends justify the means” (p.90). Yet the 1850s “revolution from above” was, according to Beller, not accompanied by sufficient support or loyalty (p.100). From 1861 onwards, then, the task facing the Monarchy was “to achieve the necessary basis of political and financial support” (p.107). Beller’s assessment of the 1867 Compromise is mostly negative, principally because it perpetuated national strife (pp.126–27). This was exacerbated by the onset of mass politics leading to the world of c1900; politically chaotic but also culturally, intellectually, creatively innovative, indeed evincing a form of modernity (p.191). In the context of regional and local administration, Beller acknowledges that some indistinct sort of “multinational federation” was emerging and that “national groups were realizing their goals within the Monarchy’s parameters” (p. 211). Nevertheless, the administrative costs and the ongoing political crises crippled the military budget. The Monarchy, it seems, was trying to balance between incompatible goals and viewpoints, without truly committing to any fundamental new direction.

Here, on the cusp of World War I, Beller summarizes his overall argument. The relationship between state and citizen “was still mainly ‘top-down’”—a contrast with Judson’s representation of a complex negotiation between state and citizens (pp.223–24). According to Beller, it was up to the decision-makers to “square the circle” and introduce decisive, fundamental reforms.

The Monarchy could have, hypothetically, developed as a progressive, federal, prosperous, efficient and law-abiding state, where each nation’s equal status was protected, and acted as a magnet for the rest of southeastern Europe, becoming a real European necessity. (p.225)

These sentiments are reminiscent of Taylor’s and Kann’s view (recently also asserted by Helmut Rumpler) that the only a federalized Monarchy could have survived into the modern era. In addition to these domestic problems of “everyday empire,” the ruling class of 1914 continued to believe in the Monarchy as an old-fashioned “Great Power,” which had to project prestige and power—hence the decision for war. Ironically, when the ruling class was finally decisive, it led to the destruction of the Monarchy (p.248).

After an account of World War I, Beller concludes with a section entitled “Conclusion: Central Europe and the Paths Not Taken.” In the first section, largely covering possible domestic reasons for the failure of the Monarchy—liberalism, nationalism, the 1867 Compromise—Beller concludes that “the Monarchy was still a viable entity in 1914” (p.276). Nevertheless he stresses that the military and the Monarch remained old-fashioned and dangerously detached from wider society. In the final pages Beller states that:

In an era when modernity meant allowing societies to govern themselves, when modernization went hand in hand with Kantian self-determination, the old Habsburg role of being an imperial power, of governing people well, whether they accepted your legitimate authority as their ruler or not, would not work… The problem was that the Monarchy, as a political enterprise, was unable to create in modern form the authority and legitimacy that it had possessed before the modern age…. The Habsburg leadership was never able to square the circle that could turn a dynastic conglomeration of possessions into an all-embracing home for all its people, as well as peoples. It could never come up with a way to convert necessity into a coherent identity. The “Austrian Idea” never achieved cogent meaning. That is why the Habsburg Monarchy collapsed in the crisis of 1918. (pp.284–86)

Fundamentally, Beller’s argument seems to have two crucial aspects—war and democracy. According to his analysis, dealing effectively with these twin aspects of “modernity” remained mere possibilities or “paths not taken.” The spectre of war haunts the book, even if there is little explicit discussion of it. The Monarchy survived the Napoleonic Wars intact and even expanded its territory. It had its chances to continue as a “European necessity” or a vital component of the international scene. Yet throughout the nineteenth century according to Beller’s book, the military did not keep pace with its rivals and the political system could not provide the necessary funding or legitimacy. While the Monarchy survived minor upheavals and defeats in 1848–49, 1859 and 1866, it did not have the coherence or loyalty to withstand the total war of 1914–18. Neither, Beller notes, did Germany, Russia or the Ottoman Empire. If the measure of a state is its ability to wage war, then, the Monarchy was an ailing, declining state in its final decades. Would a democratic, federalist Monarchy have survived the war? What form of democracy could have been implemented, taking into account the delicate balance of interest groups within the Monarchy? In fact, there had already been considerable progress towards a wider democracy, particularly in the Austrian half. For example, the 1907 introduction of equal, universal manhood suffrage in Cisleithania preceded similar reforms in Sweden (1909), Holland (1917) and the United Kingdom (1918). It proved, however, no panacea for the Monarchy’s problems.

In conclusion, the books by Judson and Beller have clearly contrasting goals and arguments. Judson focuses on the dynamic between the Imperial state and the wider populace, especially in provincial and local contexts. Empire, in Judson’s book, is conceived of as a large umbrella, multi-national entity. Judson emphasizes the everyday interactions of the people with a contested, inefficient system, which nevertheless facilitated discussion, participation and distribution of resources. Beller views Empire in more traditional terms—territorial acquisition, monarchical power and the assertion of military prestige and strength. His book is about the governing elite’s traditional conceptions of the Monarchy and their difficulties in the modern world of representative bodies and rising nationalism. While acknowledging the “revisionist” trend and never conceding the “inevitability” of the Monarchy’s collapse, Beller’s assessment is considerably more pessimistic than Judson’s.

What framework will future general histories of the Habsburg Monarchy adopt? The multi-faceted nature and role of nationalism will always be an important aspect of the Monarchy’s history but it will probably never return to the prominence and dominance within the historiography that it occupied in the inter-war and immediate post–World War II eras. My wish list includes more comparative history, some focus on the nexus of military/civil society/politics and on the everyday experience of politics. The historiography of the Monarchy could go in any number of directions. For now, at least, despite Beller’s reservations and caveats, the “revisionist” viewpoint has become the new orthodoxy.

Jonathan Kwan

University of Nottingham

Vpdfolume 7 Issue 3 CONTENTS


Legenda vetus, Acta processus canonizationis et Miracula sanctae Margaritae de Hungaria: The Oldest legend, Acts of canonization process, and miracles of Saint Margaret of Hungary. Edited by Ildikó Csepregi, Gábor Klaniczay, and Bence Péterfi. Translated by Ildikó Csepregi, Clifford Flanigan, and Louis Perraud. Central European Medieval Texts 8. Budapest – New York: Central European University Press, 2018.

Another volume in the Central European Medieval Texts series is the second presenting hagiography. Bilingual editions of the narrative sources from Central Europe and modern translations into widespread academic languages are undoubtedly necessary. The hagiographical corpus of Saint Margaret (1242–1270), daughter of King Béla IV, and Dominican nun, is one of the most important ones. Holy princesses following St. Elizabeth of Hungary present the transition towards new models of sanctity, but also represent the prestige of the ruling dynasties, and reflect their cooperation with the mendicant orders. The book offers the first translation of hagiography related to Margaret into English and any modern language (except for Hungarian translations, and fragmentary translations into Czech and Slovak, and excerpts in various studies). The history of the translation goes back to the 1980s, with delays and several editors and translators involved over time, and luckily reached a happy ending much faster than the centuries-long quest for the canonization of Margaret, with success in 1943.

The volume contains the oldest legend (between 1272–75), the acts of the second canonization investigation (1276)—both on the basis of existing editions, a series of recently discovered documents on the fifteenth-century miracles, edited for the first time, and a few more documents related to medieval canonization attempts (both newly discovered and those edited earlier).

G. Klaniczay’s introduction not only summarizes the state of research on the saint (overview of hagiography and canonization efforts), but adds observations on the phenomenon of royal and female sanctity, especially in the thirteenth century. The introductions to particular parts explain the vicissitudes of the sources from the dossier and their relation to canonization attempts.

The edition and translation of two oldest texts, the legend and the acts, which further served as bases for later lives of the saint, form the core of the volume. The editors accept Marcellus as the author of the oldest legend, for which they adopt the designation Legenda vetus. The basis for the translation is the most recent edition by Szovák (1999), which introduced emendations to the first edition by its discoverer Bőle (1937). The explanation of the base text is somewhat hidden in the introduction by Csepregi (p.38); it would perhaps merit a separate section, including applied conventions, etc. The editors accept Szovák’s corrections, and profit occasionally, as signaled in the apparatus, from further variants proposed by Ilona Nagy working on the Hungarian vernacular legend, or note variants by Bőle. Corrected readings are introduced in the apparatus only; it is a question whether they would be better placed in the main text itself. Biblical citations are identified at places. New critical editions are not the objectives of the series; in this case as well the editors take the old source edition as the basis and add some critical insights. We often have to admit that a new critical edition of the source in question would be desirable. Part III, Acts of the Canonization Process, is the most voluminous one (570 pages!), based on Fraknói’s edition (1896), adding minimum apparatus to the Latin text. The translation of depositions of witnesses, answering the puncta interrogatoria in detail, is a great achievement. Footnotes bring in a lot of useful information: identification of persons, dates, and places, explanation of local realia, but also issues concerning female sanctity and alike.

The volume summarizes recent important findings concerning Margaret’s hagiography and canonization attempts (Deák, Krafft, Nagy, Péterfi) for a broader audience as well. The history of the St. Margaret dossier abounds in discoveries. The basic sources from the period shortly after Margaret’s death are supplemented with the edition and translation of the documents found by Péterfi in the Archivio Orsini (Archivio Storico Capitolino, Rome), described in 2011. The introductions to Parts IV–V provide the first description of the hitherto unknown 6 charters (one of them with transcription of 7 others), including miracle depositions, for non-Hungarian readers. Their edited material is of utmost interest to the Hungarian audience as well.

The editor argues that the set of documents was related to the renewed attempt at canonization during the reign of Matthias Corvinus, which was known about for a long time (thanks to two undated petition letters from ca. 1462–64), but precise information had been missing. The hypothesis that the charters got into the Orsini family archives (where they remained unknown for centuries even to those who renewed the attempts at her canonization in the following centuries) via Latino Orsini, who acted as cardinal protector of the Kingdom of Hungary and was probably entrusted with submitting the issue, is convincing.

The documents include depositions of miracles that happened at the tomb of Margaret in 1446–67, edited and translated in Part V (V/1–11), with necessary corrections in the Latin text and notes in the English translation (mainly identification of persons and places, specification of dates, etc.). They have a noteworthy format of charters issued by the Buda chapter and authenticated by public notaries. They provide information about the local cult on the Island of Hares in the Danube, about which we did not know much previously.

Part IV contains Correspondence relating to Margaret’s medieval canonization attempts, altogether 9 mandates and letters: besides two hitherto unknown documents—the copy of the first papal mandate for starting the investigation (1272) and the petition of Emeric, bishop of Várad/Oradea (1306)—discovered in the Orsini dossier by Péterfi, the editors included other documents related to the Angevin and Corvinus attempts at canonization (edited previously by Krafft and Fraknói).

The last part, a useful tool, offers a list of hagiographic sources—there is much more in the Margaret dossier than the sources translated here — their first and best editions and modern translations. A Slovak translation in Legendy stredovekého Slovenska (ed. Marsina, transl. Vaneková, 1997) could be added to the list of translations of the Legenda maior by Garinus (for long referred to as the Legenda Neapolitana, BHL 5331). It should be noted that the listed Czech translation of the Legenda vetus by Pražák contains only its part (around a third). The summary of the life and miracles of Margaret in a chapter of the Epithoma rerum Hungararum by Ransanus (ed. Kulcsár, pp.123–31, BHL 5333) could have been included in the discussion and catalogue of the sources, especially as it falls within the reign of Corvinus, a couple of decades after the new depositions and petition.

The volume will be of interest not only to scholars of medieval hagiography, but also those interested in the insights into everyday life in the cloister, in towns and villages, and in general life in thirteenth-century Hungary. Besides translating the known important sources, the editing and translating of hitherto unknown documents gives the volume an added value.

Stanislava Kuzmová
Comenius University in Bratislava

Mulieres suadentes – Persuasive Women. Female Royal Saints in Medieval East Central Europe and Eastern Europe. By Martin Homza. Translated by Martina Fedorová et al. East Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages 42. Leiden: Brill, 2017. 260 pp.

Undoubtedly, the topics of female sanctity and the role of women in ruling dynasties, pertaining also to conversion to Christianity in medieval Europe, have been extensively researched during recent decades. Most studies however focus on Western Europe, while the analogous phenomenon in East Central and Eastern Europe is usually overlooked or appears only marginally. This gap has partially been filled by the publications of medievalists from the region, including Martin Homza’s monograph published in Slovakian in 2002. Their reception was, however, limited due to the language barrier. For this reason the English, expanded version of the book is more than welcome.

The book opens with a short but important chapter explaining the methodological approach of the author, the presence of which is a definite improvement upon the original edition. The next two chapters describe the phenomenon of the religious role of women in ruling dynasties in Central and Eastern Europe, especially persuasive women, that is, those who influenced their pagan husbands, sons, or grandsons. The comparative character of this analysis is praiseworthy.

The following three chapters are case studies of the images of three such women. The cult of Ludmila of Bohemia and its influence is discussed with a special focus on her image in the homily Factum est. Homza shows its similarity to that of Olga of Rus’, observed in various sources in the following chapter. Finally, in analyzing the figure of Adelaide—according to the thirteenth-century Hungarian-Polish Chronicle, the mother of St. Stephen of Hungary, who converted her husband Géza (Yesse)—the author poses the question of her real existence on the one hand and of the ideological basis of her presence in the chronicle on the other. The book ends with a short conclusion.

The material gathered in the book without a doubt is not only very interesting but also important for further research. However, the material is presented in ways that might be questioned, as the use of some of the analytical categories is problematic.

I would like to focus on only one, namely, the way the author understands the category of sanctity, which seems to be rather fluid. I do this, of course, not in order to claim that sanctity, especially in the Middle Ages, is a sort of either/or category; however, some distinctions should be observed more carefully. In fact, contrary to the title of the book (Female Royal Saints), of the group of Central and Eastern European women the author focuses on, only Ludmila and Olga were really venerated as saints, while Dubravka of Poland and Jelena of Croatia were never treated as such; the latter can hardly even be called a persuasive woman, as she did not participate in the conversion of anybody. Of course the author himself is conscious of this and informs us of the cult of particular figures or its lack, but one must ask if sanctity is in fact the category which could be effectively used in the analysis of all of their images. I would rather suggest that the book is much more about the patterns of female royal religiosity than about sanctity or female royal saints.

This problem might be related with a misunderstanding that appears in the very beginning. Discussing the question of royal sanctity in his methodological chapter, Homza calls Bloch’s Les rois thaumaturges and Kantorowicz’s The King’s Two Bodies “a fundamental change in hagiographic studies” (p.4). Yet, in my opinion, neither of those can be treated as a part of such studies, as both are rather focused on the phenomenon of sacralization of royal power—strictly connected, but distinct from royal sainthood. As Janet Nelson aptly noted in her 1973 Royal Saints and Early Medieval Kingship, “the concept of sanctity itself could be not only sharply differentiated from sacrality but turned against it” (p.43).

Sometimes even in the case of figures that are to be found in Folz’s Les saintes reines du Moyen Âge, we should be very careful in asking about their real cult and its influence. We should also distinguish different patterns of sanctity. For instance, Homza uses the example of Ottonian saint queens and empresses, Matilda of Saxony and Adelaide of Burgundy, and shows them as “the most immediate inspiration for a creation of the image of St. Ludmila” (p.86), as well as “the most important models to legitimize a new dynasty in a broader context of East Central and East Europe” (p.87). However it should not be overlooked that although both women were believed to be saints, in fact it was only in very limited circles. In the case of the former we do not know of any cult at all, while the cult of the latter remained very local. From this point of view, their status as commonly accepted saints might be questioned, but even more so, it is doubtful that their images could be so influential in Central Europe. The other problem is that although Ludmila was presented in her hagiography as a pious widow, she was at the same time—a fact undoubtedly crucial for her cult—a martyr. So we may wonder to what extent the above-mentioned examples of queens/confessor saints might be seen as models for her image. For the same reason one could also ask whether St. Ludmila’s and St. Olga’s model of sanctity were really as close as the author claims.

Paradoxically, even the case of the sanctity of Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, is much more complicated than the author suggests (“Who has ever questioned the sainthood of Helena?”—he rhetorically asks [pp.181–82]). It is exactly her status in Latin Christianity that was for a long time unclear, as was that of her son (and remaining so in the medieval West). She was undoubtedly treated as a model for royal women (as Constantine was for rulers), but not necessary treated as a venerated saint in the strict sense. Not even mentioning the lack of churches or altars dedicated to her from the Early Middle Ages, let us just note that she is omitted in all but one (the ninth-century Usuard) of the most important martyrologies, her name did not appear in calendars until the eighth century, and during the following centuries is not commonly present. This is, for example, the case of most of the oldest Bohemian calendars. So of course the author is right that the example of Helena and Constantine must have been known to the authors of Ludmila’s and Wenceslaus’s hagiographies, but it is not clear whether they really thought of her as a saint figure and if her influence was obvious enough to allow for the claim that in Ludmila’s life “the name of St. Helena was deliberately avoided” (p.49). Of the group of Central and Eastern European woman the book covers, it is only Olga who is openly compared to Constantine’s mother.

This is not to oppose the general idea that Helena was a very important model for medieval female rulers, including the realm of female royal sanctity. Both royal female sanctity and female religiosity had, however, as the author aptly shows himself, many different sources. The idea that the conversion of a country is related with a male-female couple can also be explained in many ways. It is therefore not clear why Homza, who shows this very interestingly, in many cases decides, in the end, to reduce this phenomenon only to an imitatio Helene et Constantini.

Concluding, I must repeat that we have received an important book, which gathers overlooked material from Central and Eastern Europe and analyzes it with a broad, comparative approach. However, the analysis itself sometimes disappoints due to its lack of precision, especially in the application of analytical categories.

Grzegorz Pac
University of Warsaw

Late Medieval Papal Legation: Between the Councils and the Reformation. By Antonín Kalous. Viella History, Art and Humanities Collection 3. Rome: Viella, 2017. 255 pp.

Antonín Kalous, the well-known young Czech medievalist, published his book on late medieval papal legation in 2017. The author, as the subtitle of his excellent work shows, focused his research mostly on the period beginning with what can be characterized as the success of the popes against the conciliar movement and other institutions of the Church. The spread of the German Reformation, by contrast, marked the outset of a whole new era, also because it resulted in reforms in the Curia, which changed the system of papal representation, including the role of the office of full legation, the legati de latere. Therefore, Kalous excluded the conciliar and the Reformation periods, so that the system of papal representation could be described and analyzed as a separate period in between.

The research was based on the examination of canon law, papal plenitude of power, and the ways of distribution of that power in the second half of the fifteenth century. The author investigated how the office of the so-called de latere legates fit into the system of papal administration and i.e. how they were handled within the church. It was not a stable institute, yet the legates shared the power, the plenitudo potestas of the pontiffs, like the curial offices did. According to Kalous, the engagement of legates in the selected period was an answer to the challenges of a new era, as they could have been applied in cases of various types. One of the most important tasks of the legates was to distribute dispensations and licenses according to their faculties (facultates). Naturally, legates were also political and diplomatic envoys; they were active in the international diplomacy and used their spiritual authority in order to act as peacemakers in European conflicts.

The book in question is divided into four larger chapters. Apart from a summary of previous research, they all serve one main goal, namely, to show the complexity of the system of late medieval papal legation. The first chapter deals with the questions of terminology and the typology of late medieval legates and nuncios from the time of the reforms of the papacy in the late eleventh century, accompanied by a detailed analysis of the sources. It was crucial to handle this topic delicately, since the term legate was indeed in active use in the Middle Ages, and despite the fact that contemporary canonists dealt with the question theoretically, several legal issues remained being attached to it. Furthermore, Kalous dedicated his attention to the possible distinction between legates and nuncios, to the difference between the generic and specific usage of terms (legati laterales, constituti [missi], nati), and he also examined the question of the papal judges-delegate and the practice of subdelegation. The author did not aim to cover the entirety of Western Christendom, but focused primarily on East Central Europe and the states of this region: the Holy Roman Empire, Bohemia, Hungary, and Poland. This approach is justified not only from the viewpoint of historical research, but the contemporary situation also vindicates this perspective since the mentioned territories appeared together frequently in the authorizations of legates.

The second main section of the book discusses the question of authority and powers of the late medieval legates, which derived from the papal plenitude of power, and so from the popes themselves who created and shared their powers with them in form of a transfer. The other fundamental source was the Roman law from which the essential terms like iurisdictio, imperium, etc. derived. De latere legates had the highest possible authority, yet they needed special mandates for certain measures. Their faculties (facultates) were exceptional rights and privileges, a concession of papal reserved powers. Legates represented the pope as the highest judge too; however, this was not the sole aspect of their operations. Their presence meant “celestial gifts,” a blessing for the region they entered; they could mean the way to salvation for the people there.

The third chapter of the book focuses on the modus operandi, and the condition of the legates and their own journeys and activities. Kalous answers questions like what the practice of the legatine missions was like, what rules they followed, if there were any regulations at all, and how they managed to get to their provinces. The author dedicated a subsection to the financial aspects of the legations, the procuratio canonica until the fourteenth century, and the new way of central payments that the legates gained after that century. It is crucial to emphasize that in the investigated era legates did received a regular salary whilst on their missions. Kalous, just like in his whole book, collected a series of examples to support the general statements.

The last chapter deals with the diplomatic and political features of legations as well as, in the words of the author, how we come “from the how to why.” The fundamental questions according to the author are the following: Why did the legates leave Rome, and why did the popes send them? Kalous cites the words of Pope Innocent III, who gave the explanation for the necessity of the authorization of legates as, “a man could not be simultaneously in diverse places.” Nevertheless, the factual reasons behind sending out papal representatives could have been extremely diverse, although crusades represented the most crucial problem of the given period. Therefore, the questions of the fifteenth-century crusades against the Ottomans, the heretics of Bohemia, and the theory of just war were analyzed and presented by Kalous with a handful of fascinating and telling examples.

In summary, the book of Antonín Kalous is an essential contribution to the history of a special medieval institution, the papal legation. The author incorporated the sources and secondary literature from the very beginnings of the practice of authorizing de latere legates to the end of the Middle Ages. However, his main effort was to complete an analysis on the fifteenth-century situation. This choice is especially worth noticing, since previous research has focused mostly on the eras prior to the fifteenth century, or after it. From a Hungarian point of view, it has to be highlighted as well that Kalous chose his examples mostly from the circle of legations that were related to East Central Europe, among them a series of Hungarian affairs. The author shows an extraordinary knowledge not only regarding the Czech sources and literature, but the German, Polish, and Hungarian too. This valuable contribution can be recommended to everyone who is interested generally in the history of papal legation as well as a special segment of the fifteenth-century history of East Central Europe.

Gábor Barabás
University of Pécs

 Water, Towns and People: Polish Lands against a European Background until the Mid-16th Century. By Urszula Sowina. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2016. 529 pp.

 This work contributes immensely to urban and environmental history in general, and Polish medieval studies in particular. The book comes as the obvious culmination of Urszula Sowina’s years of archival research and careful sifting of both published and unpublished sources. The author employs a diverse set of sources, including charters, town statutes, notary books, lay and ecclesiastical court records, as well as letters, chronicles, and learned treatises on medicine and the natural world. Yet she does not confine herself merely to textual evidence but combines it with the latest archeological findings, including the data and images related to cistern, well, and water-pipe construction. The work further succeeds in its aim to contextualize the Polish case within a wider European frame. Each section opens with reference to areas outside Poland and careful comparisons are made throughout. Unsurprisingly, given the subject, Italy appears prominently as a counter-example, but special prominence is also given to cases in France, the author’s other area of expertise. Given the time period covered, it is important to note that the author defines Poland within the boundaries it currently occupies, thus including both Silesia and Pomerania. The work benefits greatly from this choice as it allows for the inclusion of more densely sourced areas formerly occupied by the Teutonic Knights, including Gdańsk, Toruń, and Elbląg, and the large body of research related to Wrocław. She does not focus her interests further into the lands of former Poland–Lithuania, which means detailed explorations of Lviv or Vilnius that might have proved interesting are absent, but the line had to be drawn somewhere. Krakow, due to the abundance of its surviving sources and its prominence as the former medieval capital, receives the most attention. While the work is obvious in its focus on towns and their relationship to water, the hinterland is not completely absent, and the section on the roles of suburban gardens and fishponds is enlightening for its blurring of the urban rural divide.

As to the content, the introduction proves useful reading to anyone interested in the historiography of water and environmental studies in Europe over the last thirty years and particularly the often less well-known work done in Central Eastern Europe. The book is further divided into three main parts with the final section comprising more than half of the total volume. Part one captures in twenty pages historical opinions on the nature and quality of water as discussed by learned individuals in Poland, starting with Vitruvius and ending with Sebastian Petrycy of Pilzno, a doctor and philosopher writing in the early seventeenth century. This part frames for the reader the medieval understanding of water, humans’ relationship to it, and how this dynamic impacted the course of urban development over the centuries. Part two moves from the realm of ideas to the physical relationship between urban sites and rivers; categorizing urban sites as low-land and up-land by their relationship to water courses. It covers briefly the various types of mills in use, highlights the importance of water-related rights, transport, fishing, and water’s impact on a sites’ topographical, social, and economic development. Part three is really the bulk of the work, and here the author’s deep knowledge of the field and primary source material shines. She covers the broad range of cisterns, wells, fountains, and storage reservoirs employed in Poland, discussing their development and design but more remarkedly places them in their social context. Here, she uses Krakow as a specific example, discussing tax policies and costs while convincingly demonstrating how the building out of the city’s public water system was heavily promoted by, and closely linked to, the interests of its burgher elites. In other sections, she gives some attention to the lives, remuneration, and working habits of Poland’s “master fountain builders,” and compares the use of ceramic vis-à-vis wooden piped water supply systems and the water-raising methods used to supply them across Central Eastern Europe. The author’s exploration of the topic as a whole is impressively broad in scope and deep in particulars. While her research is specific enough to give the cost of iron fittings for a new well bucket in Krakow in 1414 (p.220), she simultaneously casts a wide comparative gaze, tracing European water supply systems from Roman aqueducts to the Noria of Arab Spain, and German Wasserkunste, before offering a meticulous tracking of Polish water-works from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century. This list provides only a sampling of the topics covered in detail in part three.

Indeed, throughout the book, the author lays out a veritable cornucopia of information; seemingly every smidgeon of interesting data related to water she has pulled from archival cupboards over the last twenty years. Its very diversity and expansiveness however, make the work somewhat indigestible. The lack of a strong narrative thread and the many interesting but tangential asides leave the reader feeling somewhat lost at the banquet. This problem is further compounded by the rather skimpy index which makes hunting for specific nibbles difficult. Part of the difficulty may come from the fact that the book is a translation from the Polish original, which although generally superb, includes a few minor errors and leaves something stylistically to be desired. Taken together, it is not an easy work to read, but the depth of research and broad range of topics covered make it well worth the effort. Anyone wishing to know more about water and its uses in Poland, and indeed the rest of Europe during the middle ages, would profit highly from cracking its cover.

Leslie Carr-Riegel
Central European University

L’Europe des Lumières/Europa der Aufklärung. Oeuvres choisies de Éva H. Balázs/ Ausgewählte Schriften von Éva H. Balázs. Edited by Lilla Krász and Tibor Frank. Budapest: Académie Hongroise des Sciences – Corvina, 2015. 424 pp.

 The publication of the articles and manuscripts in French and German of Éva H. Balázs, organized on the occasion of her 100th birthday, offers profound insights for international scholarship on the Enlightenment into her creative research. These texts, which were written between 1969 and 1990, laid the foundations for her ambitious monograph Hungary and the Habsburgs 1765–1800: An Experiment in Enlightened Absolutism, published in English translation in 1997. They are, however, also self-standing examples of her scholarship on the Enlightenment in Hungary.

The studies, which are cautious in their argumentation and build on one another, present the characteristic features of the Enlightenment in Hungary, which began to emerge in the latter half of the eighteenth century. These features included religious and confessional plurality, the distinct social strata which served as vehicles and mediaries of Enlightenment thought (which included segments of the upper and middle nobility and the intelligentsia, but not the economically weak municipal “bourgeoisie”), and the fundamental importance of freemasonry for the theoretical, political, and cultural orientation of Hungarian representatives of Enlightenment thought and their political engagement, which ranged from cooperation with the traditional Habsburg elites to open political opposition.

Balázs’s analyses are significant in part because of the very precise perspective they offer on the distinctive features and the interwoven social conditions of the Enlightenment in Hungary. They systematically reveal the meanings of Habsburg Enlightened Absolutism and its transformation in Hungary, as well as the threats it faced. They also offer a cautious presentation of the socioeconomic constellations in which the Enlightenment unfolded in Hungary, including the varied economic-geographical spaces and their distinctive (primarily) agricultural production methods, the strong influence of Habsburg economic policy, the complex and varied connections to economic life in Europe at the time, etc. Last but not least, they also draw attention to the sociocultural conditions of the Enlightenment in Hungary, for instance the gradual waning of confessional tensions and oppositions, the growth of interest in improving education through visits to schools and universities (first and foremost in Central Europe—the Göttingen University played a prominent role in this), Enlightenment forms of sociability (such as lodges and reading circles), and the emergence of a literary marketplace.

Through the nuanced reconstruction of the conditions and motivations which underlay the emergence of the Enlightenment in Hungary, Balázs creates opportunities for analyses of the scope for action of the Enlightenment thinkers, both from the perspective of subjective perceptions and from the perspective of actual institutional frameworks. She makes very clear that their cooperation with the power elites of the Habsburg realm offered them chances to exert an influence on both culture and politics, but she also shows persuasively that there were relatively rigid borders which limited this cooperation and influence. The Freemasonry Patent, for instance, which made freemasonry illegal, and the results of the state parliament of 1790 pushed the representatives of Enlightenment thought out of the political sphere step by step, compelling them increasingly to limit their efforts to the field of culture.

Balázs is able to offer these insights in no small part simply because she shows an intimate and thorough knowledge of the relevant sources. She has examined an extensive array of material on the Hungarian Enlightenment of which precious little use had been made, and she has also looked at familiar sources from new perspectives. She shows tremendous sensitivity to important questions of theory and offers not simply a mechanical registry of the various utterances of the historical actors, but also reflects of what they actually sought to express. In her interpretations, she draws not simply on a precise and broad knowledge of history, but also on her familiarity with the complex theories of historical knowledge itself.

Balázs’ works are distinctive in their field in part because they exemplify a creative change of research approaches. Alongside biographical studies, she includes synthesizing interpretations. From the outset, her reflective form of biographical writing contextualized the historical actor in his or her distinct social, cultural, and political constellation. This focus on context is considered indispensable to the biographical genre today. And because they draw on biographical case studies, the syntheses she offers are both more colorful and more historically informed.

Balázs abandoned the long-standing research perspective of national Enlightenments earlier than other researchers on the Enlightenment. Fully aware of the diversity of the representatives of Enlightenment thought in Hungary, she consistently frames her arguments as discussions of the Enlightenment in Hungary and not of the Hungarian Enlightenment. Her research emphatically emphasizes the European orientations of Hungarian Enlightenment thinkers, and it integrates them persuasively into the larger European context. She does not start from the premise of a European Enlightenment, but rather adopts a theoretically consistent approach and emphasizes the different manifestations of Enlightenment thought in Europe. Her interpretations suggest that Enlightenment thinkers in Europe raised the same questions, but they arrived at different answers depending on the different cultural contexts. Unlike some contemporary scholars of the Enlightenment, she argues in favor of the thesis of the unity of diverse Enlightenments in Europe as a precondition of reciprocal exchange.

The collected works of Éva H. Balázs, which are now available thanks to the efforts of Lilla Krász and Tibor Frank, represent research on the Enlightenment which meets the highest international standards. The element of chance which happened to draw her attention towards the scholarship in the intellectual history of the eighteenth century turns out to have been quite fortuitous for research on the Enlightenment as a broadly international movement and, more narrowly, the Enlightenment in Hungary. Her writings strike one as representative of an innovative approach to the interpretation of the Enlightenment as a cultural practice in its European dimensions.

Hans Erich Bödeker
Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin

Russia and Courtly Europe: Ritual and Diplomatic Culture, 1648–1725. By Jan Hennings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016. 297 pp.

Diplomatic history has fallen out of favor in recent decades, paling before trendier approaches and topics. Jan Hennings leaps into the fray with this daring book, making no apologies for his pursuit of what could be a dusty subject. The resulting book demonstrates that there is yet much of interest and importance to be done in this area. Taking the formal ceremonial aspects of diplomacy as seriously as its substantive political goals, he situates Muscovite diplomatic practices within the accepted framework of early modern European understandings. He reorients the field by moving beyond debates over the degree of Russian backwardness, to show, instead, that Russia functioned well within the parameters of early modern European norms. Russian rulers and ambassadors fully understood the defining principles of diplomatic exchange and operated flexibly within them. He illustrates that the tendency of modern historians to scoff at Russia’s rigid ritualism, its tendency to sacrifice substance for form, was already evident in the writings of Europeans at the time, but both then and now, these derisive assessments miss the point. Form and substance were of a piece: a monarch could not wrest major diplomatic concessions without maintaining his or her ritual standing among European rulers.

Hennings’ richly researched comparative approach and impressive linguistic range allows him to establish that Russia was neither more nor less hide-bound and ritualistic than its interlocutors. Representatives of the English, French, Venetian, and Austro-Hungarian courts all insisted on the niceties of precedent just as much as the Russians did, and, moreover, Russians were just as deft at compromising and reworking according to the needs of the moment as any of their contemporaries. Hennings supplies some entertaining examples of each end of the spectrum, hidebound to flexible. He treats the reader to occasional laughs. My favorite, I think, was the discussion of the careful timing of the dismount by receiving and visiting diplomats, to whom the question of which one touched the ground first was of utmost importance. The sixteenth-century Habsburg envoy Herberstein, we learn, slyly kicked his foot free of the stirrup, thereby tricking his Russian host into jumping off his horse, while Herberstein himself took his time.

Exploring the fraught question of whether Russia was in or out of Europe, Hennings leans toward inclusion. Although tropes of barbarism and exoticism not infrequently colored European writers’ impressions of Russia, when it came to diplomatic theater, Russia was assigned a role distinctly within the European, Christian orbit. Non-Christians, by contrast, were greeted with more distancing rituals. For instance, where the ambassadors from Russia or other European countries would kiss the hand of their royal European hosts, non-Christians were denied that intimacy. Still, the author concludes, the key questions were not about membership in Europe but rather about participation in “transcultural political space” characterized by “gradually standardized codes of behaviour and communication” (p.247). Rather than static, isolated “scenarios of power,” court receptions were interactive, constantly subject to reworking as needed, though within accepted parameters of ceremonial language. By the time Peter I entered that field, Russia was no longer struggling to catch up with those norms of conduct but was actively contributing to shaping them.

A clear introduction sets the historiographic framework for the book and makes a compelling case for the significance of this reexamination of early modern diplomacy. The early chapters work through Muscovite interactions with foreign courts, mainly European but also with some attention paid to its eastern and southern neighbors. The first chapter explores early modern perceptions of Russia and more generally, ways of categorizing cultures and polities. Chapter Two explains the peculiarities of Muscovite diplomatic practices. Narrow channels of communication, sharply prescribed forms and genres of reporting, and restrictive rules about what diplomats could and could not do in particular situations all lent Muscovite interactions a distinctive flavor, but did not set it far apart from its contemporaries. Hennings manages not only to present this information with verve and clarity, but also to inflect it consistently with his important argument about Russia’s participation in a shared field of court ceremony and the high stakes involved in succeeding in that arena. Chapter Three turns to Anglo-Russian encounters, providing close readings of diplomatic exchanges in the second half of the seventeenth century.

The book gains momentum as it moves into the era of Peter the Great in the final two chapters, where it decodes some of the most mystifying moments in that imposing ruler’s reign. Why, for instance, did the unmistakable Peter—two meters tall and easily recognizable—pretend to travel incognito as part of an embassy to Europe in 1698? Through the lens of diplomacy, Hennings reveals the practical advantages of this transparent ruse, which allowed Peter to bypass many of the constraints of formal diplomatic protocol and to get business done. Or, what did it mean when Peter accepted the title of imperator in 1721, when his forbearers had already been imperial rulers by their own lights with the title of tsar’ for close to two centuries? The closing chapters tackle these and other important questions of the Petrine era.

Based on research in archives in Russia, Austria, France, and Britain, using both visual and textual sources, and built on wide-ranging erudition, Russia and Courtly Europe sheds truly new light on a much-studied era.

Valerie Kivelson
University of Michigan

 Die literarische Zensur in Österreich von 1751 bis 1848. By Norbert Bachleitner, with contributions by Daniel Syrovy, Petr Píša, and Michael Wögerbauer. Literaturgeschichte in Studien und Quellen, Bd. 28. Vienna, Cologne, and Weimar: Böhlau Verlag, 2017. 528 pp.

 The modern social sciences have extended the uses of the term “censorship” far beyond its original interpretive framework. In the introduction to his most recent book, Norbert Bachleitner, a professor of literary history at the University of Vienna, offers a detailed account of the different interpretations of this term, but his study takes a narrow, traditional understanding of the word as its point of departure. He examines a specific realm of the state use of power with which the state seeks to exert supervision and control over communication in print between its subjects or citizens with the intention of protecting and preserving the social and political establishment.

There are almost innumerable studies on censorship and the history of censorship in German. They tend for the most part to focus on the practices of censorship under the Enlightened Absolutism of the eighteenth century and during the Vormärz period in the Habsburg Empire and the German states. Bachleitner’s book nonetheless constitutes a new contribution to the field, first and foremost simply because it offers a comprehensive history of roughly 100 years of censorship between the mid-eighteenth century and the 1848 revolutions. He draws on the registries of censored books which were regularly compiled in Vienna, censorship documents of the Viennese and Prague committees and police bodies, and works of imaginative literature, which is hardly surprising, since he himself characterizes the inquiry as “literary-sociological” in its inspiration (p.13). For he is interested, first and foremost, not in the history of the institutions through which censorship was practiced or their work processes and the people who collaborated with them (though he provides a detailed presentation of all this), but rather in the decisive influence of censorship on literature and literary life. He calls attention to the fact, however, that censorship (and the practices of self-censorship to which it gave rise), while it may have had repressive and limiting effects on authors and works, also had some positive effects. For instance, censorship compelled authors to develop “Aesopian” methods or writing, i.e. “strategies of writing that were suitable for symbolic language” (p.28), and restrictive measures taken by the authorities often drew the attention of potential readerships to the works censored.

As a kind of preparatory phase in the project, a database was created under Bachleitner’s leadership entitled “Verdrängt, verpönt – vergessen? Eine Datenbank zur Erfassung der in Österreich zwischen 1750 und 1848 verbotenen Bücher” (“Suppressed, Frowned Upon – Forgotten? A Database for a Survey of Books Forbidden in Austria between 1750 and 1848;” http://univie.ac.at/zensur). The database is itself based on the lists of censored publications regularly compiled in the imperial center. Perhaps the most important contribution of Bachleitner’s book is the clear discussion and analysis it offers of this database. The focus is on the works censored. In other words, Bachleitner addresses questions such as how these works can be grouped according to theme, language, publication date, and place of publication, what kinds of works were censored most frequently and according to what justifications, were there any significant shifts in the period under discussion, who were the most frequently censored authors and publishers, and in which time periods was the censor’s power to impose limitations the most unbridled. The processes become almost palpably clear on the basis of the statistics, for instance: religious considerations were pushed somewhat to the background; after the French Revolution political motifs were of primary concern; works of imaginative literature (first and foremost works by French novelists) began to figure in ever greater numbers among the forbidden books in the first half of the nineteenth century; greater tolerance was shown for publications which were intended for an educated, refined, wealthy readership; and a stricter attitude was adopted towards works which were written for broader social layers, in particular the younger generation.

In the first two chapters after the introduction, Bachleitner examines the “Enlightened-paternalistic” censorship of Maria Theresa and Joseph II, as well as the period between 1792 and 1848. The latter roughly half-century was, after three transitional years at the beginning, a period of a “sternly restrictive,” “paternalistic-authoritarian” system of censorship. However, one could not describe the history of censorship over the course of the hundred years in question as a straight line tending in the same direction. Rather, the analyses of the data suggest ebbs and flows from the perspective of the strictness of the censors as consequences of important political events. The history of the institutional frameworks shows considerable continuity, but as far as the functioning of the censors is concerned, a process of professionalization was underway. Beginning in 1781, the call for imperial centralization as a move away from (and in opposition to) the degree of administrative autonomy which the provinces had earlier enjoyed from some perspectives gradually was implemented, even if this process was not entirely completed by the mid-nineteenth century. The fourth chapter, entitled “Ein Blick in die Länder” (“A Look into the Lands”), examines this process. The chapter includes two essays by three authors on the history of censorship in the Kingdom of Bohemia (by Petr Píša und Michael Wögerbauer) and the Kingdom of Lombardy–Venetia (by Daniel Syrovy) in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The inclusion of studies by other authors is a bit unusual in a monograph, but the essays in question offer an important supplement and counterpoint to Bachleitner’s summary, which adopts a central-imperial perspective. It might have been worthwhile to have included a discussion of censorship in Hungary and Transylvania, since, with the exception of the chapter on the history of the theater, both Hungary and Transylvania seem to have escaped Bachleitner’s notice.

In the fifth chapter, Bachleitner offers a summary of the questions of censorship in the life of the theater. In keeping with the tradition of works on the history of censorship, this is followed by engaging case histories, which cast light on the history of literary publications, two forbidden “motifs” (the devil and suicide), and clashes between censors on the one hand and writers and poets on the other (this is the most substantial section of this part of the book). A short conclusion offers a sketch of avenues for further research. More thorough study of the practices and regulation of censorship in the states of Europe (the German states, France) and the other provinces of the Habsburg Empire (for instance, Hungary) could offer a subtler and more nuanced understanding of the subject, as could more discussion of the personalities of the censors. Systematic analyses of the period between 1849 and 1918, based on similar questions and perspectives, might reveal larger-scale historical processes. The appendix includes a few documents concerning state regulation of censorship and a few censorial reports. It might have been fruitful to have included more of these reports, since they provide glimpses into the minds and reasoning of the people who worked as part of the censorship apparatus.

Ágnes Deák
University of Szeged

Das global vernetzte Dorf: Eine Migrationsgeschichte. By Matthias Kaltenbrunner. Frankfurt am Main: Campus Verlag, 2017. 598 pp.

In his impressive and inspiring study, Matthias Kaltenbrunner tells the remarkable story of the migration history of six villages in the Sniatyn district of western Ukraine from the end of the nineteenth century until today. Until World War I this region was located at the southeastern border of Austrian Galicia, and in the interwar period it was part of Poland.

Beginning in 1898 and more intensely after 1905, these villages were involved in transatlantic migration to Canada. From the second half of the 1890s, Ukrainians from Galicia went in increasing numbers to North America for work or settlement. Between 1899 and 1914, 261,000 Ukrainians migrated to the United States and about 171,000 to Canada (p.130).

A well-known pattern of migration processes is that family and local networks largely determine directions of migration. Usually, migrants go to places where members of their family or larger local community already live. After the first families from Rusiv (the book’s central case study) and neighboring villages left for the Canadian prairies in 1898, Canada became the prime destination of migration from this area. While the first migrants left with the aim of permanent settlement and building new farms in Canada, from 1902 and more strongly 1905, a non-permanent pattern of migration emerged. Now most of the migrants did not intend to settle in Canada, but to earn money for supporting their families and for buying additional land for their farms at home after their return.

Kaltenbrunner’s core interest are the networks among migrants and between them and their villages. His study clearly confirms that such networks were extremely important to the process of migration, but he also demonstrates that they lasted for several decades after World War II, when western Ukraine became a part of the Soviet Union.

While transatlantic migration is the book’s most important subject, it also analyses forced and voluntary migration during World War II and during the period of Soviet rule. Here Kaltenbrunner discusses Soviet arrests and deportations between 1939 and 1941 as well as in the early postwar period, the deportation of forced laborers under German occupation, and labor migration within the Soviet Union.

The author was able to use a very wide range of sources, among them archival material from the Austrian, Polish, and Soviet periods, but also from Canadian and US archives. Most important for his analysis of village networks are letters that were exchanged between migrants and their families. In addition, he used a large number of memoirs and, for the postwar period, interviews that he conducted with villagers between 2013 and 2015.

The author gained access to a surprisingly large number of personal documents, especially letters. A fact that contributed to the rich source base for these villages is that the writer Vasyl’ Stefanyk (1871–1936) was born in Rusiv and spent most of his life there. His short novel The Stone Cross, first published in 1901 and set, as most of his writings, in his native village, became a classic work of Ukrainian literature on migration and is part of school curricula until today. Stefanyk’s own family—one of his sons migrated to Canada—and the families who served as inspiration for Stefanyk for some of his literary characters, appear also in Kaltenbrunner’s book. Stefanyk’s literary fame clearly contributed to the fact that archives and individuals kept more personal documents than usual or even published some of them.

The strength of the study consists of three points in particular. First, the author very skillfully uses these personal documents in order to analyze networks of migrants and villagers and their economic and emotional ties. His well-written account brings personal fates and motives very close to the reader and they are tied very effectively to the analysis of economic, cultural, and political circumstances. Second, the long-time frame of the study from the end of the nineteenth century until the beginning of the twenty-first century makes strikingly clear that migration (in a voluntary or a forced form) was a central feature of the villages’ and region’s history for the entire period. Furthermore, the author strongly and convincingly situates migration in the context of the social and political conditions of the villages. Thereby, in a way the book is also a history of western Ukraine in the twentieth century from the perspective of villagers’ experiences. Above all, the chapter on transatlantic networks in the Soviet period has a pioneering character (pp.403–544). It shows a remarkable amount of contacts and exchange of letters, goods, and visits from the beginning of the 1960s onward that connected these western Ukrainian villages with former inhabitants in North America.

Furthermore, the study powerfully rejects any image of remote, isolated, backward villages, but demonstrates their “global interconnectedness,” despite the economic poverty that prevails here until today.

Even excellent studies, as Kaltenbrunner’s book clearly is, oblige a reviewer to look for critical points or desiderata. Two should be mentioned here. The first one is that the study does not really attempt to give an answer to a central question of migration history, i.e., what effect return migration had on the villages as a whole in economic, cultural, or political terms, or if returning migrants introduced innovation and change into villages. The second point refers to the fact that local case studies inevitably provoke the question of the extent to which their results can be generalized. For Kaltenbrunner’s book this question could be asked primarily in regard to its section on the Soviet period. In contrast to most other parts of rural eastern Galicia, in the Sniatyn area the basic political mobilization of the rural population during the last two to three decades before World War I took place primarily within the framework of the left-wing Radical Party. That party remained strong here also in the interwar period. Many migrants left already with some leftist political loyalties that further strengthened or radicalized when they became laborers in Canada. Many of them worked in the harsh conditions of mines. A rather large portion of migrants in Canada from these villages seem to have maintained pro-communist or at least strongly leftist attitudes also after World War II. This may raise the question of the extent to which this rather unusual feature among the post-war Ukrainian diaspora contributed to the number and intensity of contacts in the Soviet period.

In any case, these points are rather suggestions for further research than a critique of this excellent, rich book that is important for Ukrainian history in twentieth century, for Soviet history, and for the history of migration more generally.

Kai Struve
Martin Luther University Halle–Wittenberg

“Europa ist zu eng geworden:” Kolonialpropaganda in Österreich-Ungarn 1885 bis 1918. By Simon Loidl. Vienna: Promedia, 2017. 232 pp.

 In the 2000s, a handful of Austrian historians started to engage with the imperial and colonial past of the Habsburg Monarchy (Walter Sauer, ed., K.u.K. kolonial: Habsburgermonarchie und europäische Herrschaft in Afrika [2007]; Evelyn Kolm, Die Ambitionen Österreich-Ungarns im Zeitalter des Hochimperialismus [2001]). In investigating the history of the Austro-Hungarian Colonial Society (Österreichisch-Ungarische Kolonialgesellschaft or AHCS), Simon Loidl joined this approach. Loidl questions the trend which excludes the postcolonial approach from historical investigation of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy (Chapter 1). He argues that the Dual Monarchy regarded itself as a great power, hence it devoted significant effort to the colonial issue. To prove this statement, the author investigates expansion projects which targeted territories beyond Europe. Although Austria-Hungary participated in no concrete overseas colonial projects out of political and economic reasons, a number of colonial pressure groups were organized in Vienna alongside the Ballhausplatz which elaborated concrete colonial plans. Of these colonial pressure groups, the most important was the Austro-Hungarian Colonial Society which tried to harmonize the theoretical questions and practice of colonialism with the needs of the empire.

The monograph focuses on investigating the Austro-Hungarian colonial attitudes vis-à-vis the Austro-Hungarian Colonial Society’s propaganda activity and colonial practice. The author describes the political, social, and economic background of the Austro-Hungarian colonial debate at the turn of the century (Chapter 2). Loidl proves convincingly that having its own protocolonial period, the Habsburg Empire had reached the threshold of potential colonialism at the turn of the century. Chapter 3 describes how the society was established, the main points of its program, and the reason why a faction radicalized during World War I. The author tries to reconstruct the biographies of the most important society founders as well.

Using discourse analysis methods, the author scrutinizes books, travelogues, reports, articles, and memoranda written by society members (Chapter 4). Loidl focuses his attention first of all on terms of Austro-Hungarian colonialism and particularities and changes in the course of the colonial debate. Despite the lack of proper sources, the author tries to reveal the social and political background of the most important propagandists of the society.

Chapter 5 catalogues the main tendencies and topics of the AHCS propaganda: the place of Habsburg colonialism in the European and global context, the questions of overpopulation and emigration, their analysis from the perspective of society, and the nationalism and treatment of the everyday problems of the emigrated population. The author briefly discusses the case of Bosnia-Herzegovina and certain military aspects that became dominant in World War I and which facilitated the way for some propagandists into the national-social movement of the interwar period.

The most important actions of the AHCS were reconstructed based on archival sources (Chapter 6). The archival corpus enabled the author to carry out a refined research of emigration and the Brazilian action of the society, two of the key issues of the Austro-Hungarian colonial propaganda and activity. It follows from the foregoing that Loidl uses an empirical approach to his topic as he reconstructs the contact points between the colonial theory and praxis of the society. In this chapter, the author draws parallels between the Austrian and the German social reasons and phenomena of colonialism. The most interesting case is how a group of AHCS publicists adjusted their colonial views to the German world domination plans during World War I.

Through the life story of three persons, the book examines the legacy of the Austro-Hungarian colonial discourse and of the society’s propagandists in the interwar period (Chapter 7). After the collapse of Austria-Hungary, the AHCS ceased its activity and its members had to find their place in interwar Austria. Investigating the biographies of Adolf Mahr, Robert Stigler, and Richard Seyfert, Loidl demonstrates clearly that the former members of the AHCS became supporters of Nazism and themselves actors in the racist and colonial ambitions of the Third Reich.

In the conclusion (Chapter 8), Loidl shares the views of Evelyn Kolm. Accordingly, the Habsburg Empire did not participate in the collective colonialism of the great powers and it did not have its own colonial project in the long-run. Yet, having no overseas colonies, Southeast Europe was regarded as a kind of compensation which could be culturally colonized to a certain degree. All in all, the monograph treats the propaganda activities of the AHCS beyond Europe well and provides useful data on the structure and membership of the society.

Although the book’s title promises a general overview on the colonial propaganda of Austria-Hungary, the author in fact fails to investigate Hungary. In some cases Loidl hints that the Hungarians hindered and impeded the Austrian colonial initiations, but the author offers no in-depth explanation of the alleged Hungarian refusal. Furthermore, the author did not put the AHCS in a wider, European context either, and the handful of references to parallel German colonial phenomena do not compensate for this.

Despite these shortcomings, Loidl has produced a dense book that enriches the still embryonic research into the colonial past of Austria. The book demonstrates well the attractivity and potential for further research in this field.

Krisztián Csaplár-Degovics
Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Der Poststalinismus: Ideologie und Utopie einer Epoche. By Pavel Kolář. Cologne: Böhlau, 2016. 370 pp.

 In the course of contemporary historiography devoted to state socialist regimes in Central East Europe, the most attention has been paid to the question of how these regimes were established and according to what measures the process followed. At the same time many scholars have been coping with the question of how and why the state socialist system fell apart. The reviewed monograph represents a study which is devoted to neither of the above mentioned themes, but to a relatively recent historiographical phenomenon focusing on post-Stalinism. Pavel Kolář defines the era as an epoch situated in the time period between Stalinism and late socialism. It is exactly this “between” position that leads the author to interpret post-Stalinism as a phase (Zwischenphase) based on a dilemma between the burden of the past and a radiant future. In this sense post-Stalinism is determined by three decisive features. It was the era when class as a category lost its dominance in favor of nation. Simultaneously, the linearity of time started to be replaced by fragmented narration as well as by a certain level of cyclicality. The third aspect was based on the leading role of the Communist party which was now supposed to be renewed as a true Leninist organization. Compared to Stalinism it was rather the era of instability, when the social and political praxis oscillated between utopian zeal and actual questions of the day. This ambiguity leads the author to define post-Stalinism as a form of processual utopia which was different to the previous fanaticism as well as to the pragmatism of late socialism.

The book is structured into five chapters in which the author seeks to reveal different aspects of post-Stalinist processual utopia based on the examples of Czechoslovakia, Poland, and East Germany. The first one (“After Stalin’s Death: Factual Revolution”) focuses on the role history and historical writing played within the process of the creation of a new communist party identity following the de-Stalinization of 1956. The rediscovery of facticity in the writing of the history of the communist party, especially on the local level, led to a relativization of party identity in comparison to the previous master narrative. In the second chapter (“Party Makes History”), Kolář manifests how in struggling against the cult of personality, the party became a self-confident subject of history (Demiurge). At the same time, he presents here how the discussions about dictatorship and violence changed the shape of the post-Stalinist party line. The third chapter (“Nation: With or Against Party”) is devoted to the antinomy of the communist movement in general, based on the conflicting character of both communist and national emancipation. The author shows how the national discourse overlapped with the communist one, and vice versa. Despite the fact that the national rhetoric was widely present in party agenda, it never became, argues Kolář, a dominant part of the post-Stalinist processual utopia. In the following chapter (“Enemies of the Party”), new images of post-Stalinist enemies are described. As in previous cases, one of the most characteristic features of enemy discourses (e.g., revisionism, social democratism, Zionism) was their unstable and permanently developing and changing character. Post-Stalinist coping with enemies was not based on their annihilation but on persuading strategies. Thus revisionists for example were seen as enemies endangering the official party line, nevertheless they were rather perceived as partners in discussion than former saboteurs set for physical liquidation. In the last chapter (“Longing for the Golden Age”), Kolář pays attention to the post-Stalinist perception of time. In his eyes this era was typical for its return to a pre-Stalinist revolutionary period, which was now perceived to a certain extent with nostalgia. It is this cyclical dimension newly appearing during the post-1956 years that brings the reader to the initial definition of the post-Stalinist epoch, understood as a period trapped between the past and the future.

Without a doubt, the reviewed monograph is a seminal work on the analyzed time period, moreover it represents its first serious conceptualization. Some of the author’s findings are fresh and convincing, especially his interpretation of the Khrushchev speech, his remarks on the problematic relationship between national and communist discourses, and his conceptualization of the perception of time during revolutionary and post-revolutionary periods. His arguments are strong especially when they are derived from an analysis of historical writings of the time and from debates on the Stalinist past. Although Kolář’s book represents a nicely written and inspiring read, it is provocative and in some aspects problematic at the same time. I fully agree with the author’s understanding of post-Stalinism as a relatively unstable era differing from the very universality of the previous period, nevertheless in order to save his comprehensive conception of post-Stalinism as Zwischenphase, Kolář tends to describe both Stalinism and late socialism in a very traditional way (radical fulfillment of future; pragmatic era lacking any utopian visions) which contrasts with his analytical approach. While defining post-Stalinism as indecisive time period, he characterizes it as an epoch based on the analysis of the above-mentioned aspects. It is not the aspects by themselves but the way in which they are understood that is most characteristic and mutually intertwined. Such a comprehension unintentionally portrays post-Stalinism rather as a closed than a vivid and relatively dynamic system. Thus the post-Stalinist internal plurality based on many social, theoretical, and political approaches of the era remains overshadowed by a given set of analyzed features as factuality, past, nation, class, and time. By the same token, it seems to me that the author overestimates some and overlooks other characteristic aspects of the time. Undoubtedly, factuality belonged to key features of post-Stalinist historical writings, regardless of however many Marxist theoreticians of the time criticized absolutization of ‘rare facts’ at the expense of grasping the reality in its very complexity. Similarly, the past, regardless if Stalinist or pre-Stalinist, played an important symbolic role in the post-Stalinist environment, and the return of Marxists intellectuals to Marx’s original texts and to pre-Stalinist theory is a good example of this notion; however, Kolář’s conceptual framework does not allow him to recognize post-Stalinist thought as part of the socialist modernity project which was definitely more oriented towards the future than to a nostalgic longing for the golden age being lost somewhere along the way. Taking the future into account as an important part of post-Stalinist thought could then depict the era in a slightly different tone, as a complex of autonomous and original conceptions of the future based on a dialectical overcoming of the past, as the world of miscellaneous socialist visions. In spite of above mentioned polemical comments, I am convinced that the book will attract a broad readership of historians who are taking the state socialist experiment seriously and not merely as a manifestation of totalitarian rule that deserves our condemnation.

Jan Mervart
Czech Academy of Sciences

The Invisible Shining: The Cult of Mátyás Rákosi in Stalinist Hungary, 1945–1956. By Balázs Apor. Budapest–New York: Central European University Press, 2017. 415 pp.

Leader cults in modern European history had strikingly common elements. They emerged and existed in democratic, authoritarian, and totalitarian regimes alike, as well as in right-wing and left-wing political systems. Accordingly, the types of these political cults differed from each other. Monographs on this phenomenon have already been published, discussing cultic practices around the persons of Hitler, Hindenburg, Mussolini, Metaxas, Stalin, and Horthy. The authors of these books, such as Ian Kershaw, Anna von der Goltz, Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi, Marina Petrakis, Ian Pampler, and the author of this review, have investigated the different aspects of leader cults, including the Stalinist type.

The Invisible Shining is a long-awaited work because no detailed and systematic analysis has been published on the Hungarian type of Stalinist leader cult so far. The aim of the book is to analyze the Hungarian Stalinist political system’s “attempt to implement the Stalinist leader cult in postwar Hungary” (p.1). The emergence of the Rákosi cult and the cults of other “mini Stalins” were the symbolic consequences of the Sovietization of Central and Eastern Europe after 1945. This occurred because the cult of Stalin, “the adaptation of leader worship to local Party secretaries” (p.15), the international hierarchy of cults, and the Stalinist pantheon with its rituals, myths, and symbols were imported from the USSR at that time. Apor emphasizes convincingly that the cults of satellite leaders were partly based on the Soviet model but, on the other hand, were rooted partly in local and national traditions. In addition, the author underlines that the leader cult of Rákosi seems to be “an example of […] self-Sovietization” because Moscow’s “direct influence,” the role of “explicit Soviet orders” in its construction, “remains unclear” (pp.336–37). The careful analysis of the Rákosi cult provided by Apor highlights this complexity.

This book is divided into three parts: the first is about the construction of the cult, the second is about the societal responses to the cult’s expansion, and the third is about the dismantling of the cult. Its structure is based primarily on a thematic, not a chronological, order. The thematic order highlights the agents, institutions, and the techniques of the leader cult. A 45-page chapter (I/1) is devoted to the history and the evolution (chronology) of the analyzed cult, which, with the third chapter, adds a chronological outline to the dominant thematic discussion.

A systematic overview of the construction of the cult is preceded by the short analysis of modern Hungarian leader cults. Apor emphasizes that “although the Stalinist leader cult originated in the Soviet Union, the language employed to deify the leaders of the Hungarian Communist Party did not originate there.” The reason for this was the striking similarity “to the verbal repository of interwar cultic representations” (p.45). It means that the leader cults during the Horthy era can also be considered to be the antecedents of the Rákosi cult. This is a very important contribution to the analysis of the Hungarian symbolic politics of the twentieth century.

Apor summarizes the most important aspects of the leader cult of Mátyás Rákosi from its origins and roots, to its phases between 1945 and 1949, and to its fully developed form (1949–1953). The first main chapter analyzes the role and function of this cult, the evolution of the leader’s image, and the techniques, occasions, agents, and increasingly centralized institutions of cult-building. Between 1945 and 1948/1949 his leader cult existed primarily within the framework of the Hungarian Communist Party. Rákosi became a Hungarian party leader, “father figure,” wise, all-knowing “teacher of the nation,” “man of the people,” “caring leader,” and so on. Between 1949 and 1953 the cult existed in a full-blown form: cult-making was institutionalized and centralized, a wide range of institutions and individuals participated in the complex process of constructing it. Apor systematically refers to the occasions (i.e., the meticulously planned public appearances, anniversaries) and the techniques (speeches, articles, letters, telegrams, biographies, visual representation, and so on) of cult-building when he analyzes the evolution of this leader cult.

In the last three chapters of the first part, the author focuses on three important methods of cult-making: the role of biographies, nationalism and the leader, as well as visual representation. First, the biographies were “heavily exploited” to justify the leadership of Rákosi, “to project the mythical images of the Party secretary” (p.25). They presented an oversimplified, constructed, and depersonalized image of the leader who was the embodiment of the Party and whose life was dedicated to the cause. Second, national traditions, myths, especially the Hungarian revolutionary traditions, were used to justify his elevated position. Rákosi was often portrayed as the heir to the Hungarian freedom fighters. As a result, he was presented “as the embodiment of the entire (national) political community” (p.142). Third, besides language, techniques of visual representation (portraits, busts, posters, newsreels, and so on) were also heavily deployed to describe him as an omnipresent leader.

In the second main chapter, Apor deals with the impact of the Rákosi cult on Hungarian society and with the efficiency of the party-state propaganda. This analysis is based on mood reports, surveys of public opinion, letters written to Rákosi, and telegrams. The author emphasizes that due to the lack of reliable representative sources it is difficult to estimate the extent to which the Hungarian population identified itself with this phenomenon. Apor analyzes positive (“communicative practices” [p. 188]) and negative (“spontaneous manifestations of dissatisfaction” [p.211]) responses to this leader cult. Another chapter about popular indifference and the ineffectiveness of propaganda provides further important details regarding how the propaganda machine worked. Apor concludes that “the Rákosi cult […] found little fertile ground” (p.259), but, on the other hand, this cult “had a remarkable impact on communicative practices, verbal and non-verbal alike;” the population internalized the cultic vocabulary, “even if it generally failed to turn Hungarian society into a community of believers” (p.188).

The third part focuses on the dismantling of the Rákosi cult. The careful analysis is closely connected to the events and trends of political history, first and foremost to the de-Stalinization. The author divides the period into two phases: the decay of the cult (1953–1956), when its significance was slowly decreasing, and its collapse after the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1956, when it disappeared relatively rapidly from public spacesand public discourse.

This monograph, which provides a detailed, valid, and systematic analysis of every important aspect of the Hungarian Stalinist leader cult, is a significant contribution to the better understanding of this political phenomenon. The context of the Rákosi cult was the Soviet symbolic politics, its international system of satellite cults, myths, and symbols, and the Hungarian—especially interwar—cultic traditions, including, the leader cult around Miklós Horthy. The analysis convincingly highlights this complexity. Though the book deals primarily with the Hungarian Stalinist leader cult, it also reflects on important aspects of other parallel phenomena. It provides a theoretically and methodologically valid analysis: the author reflects on, for example, the term ‘charisma’ and ‘the personality cult.’ In all these respects, Apor’s monograph, based on a wide range of primary and secondary sources, is an indispensable work for those interested in leader cults and in the complexities of East and Central European history.

Dávid Turbucz
Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Hungarian Women’s Activism in the Wake of the First World War: From Rights to Revanche. By Judith Szapor. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018. 224 pp.

Judith Szapor’s book is an important and novel contribution to early twentieth-century Hungarian women’s history, in particular the kind that not only presents substantial knowledge about the history of women but also helps place “mainstream” history in a different light. The time frame covers the period from 1913 to 1922, focusing on the multiple turns between 1917 and 1920, the densest years in terms of women’s politics too.

The author discusses the trends and development of women’s movements in a wide and detailed historical context, focusing on the system of relations in which they were embedded and interacted. Its aim is to “write women into the aftermath of the First World War” (p.1), covering two revolutions and a counter-revolution, the three major branches of Hungarian women’s movement with their (changing) bases, scope of action, slogans, aims, interests, and ideologies, as well as their relationship with the actual political system. In its analyses it considers the complex interconnections and transitions between private and public, formal and informal relations. The scholarly background of the book includes the historiography of European women’s movements and the history of interwar Hungary, for both fields using macro- and microhistorical lenses.

Structurally, the book has a general direction and arc from the broad historical-political context to the organizational level, and then to the individual figures, but it also fluctuates among these levels in the narration. The author often refers to later parts of the book, giving it a kind of a “teleological” character.

In the introduction, the author draws our attention to two symbolic events that constitute the frame of the book, representing the poles of the period in question: the 7th Congress of the International Women’s Suffrage Alliance in June 1913, hosted by the mayor of Budapest, and the greeting of governor Miklós Horthy by MANSZ (National Alliance of Hungarian Women) in November 1919. The highlighting and close-reading of particular events is a returning method of the book and it proves to be not only a good way to narrate but is also illuminative in understanding the essential differences between the two (maybe three) eras of (women’s) politics.

The first chapter presents the progressive prewar women’s movements as being able to cooperate not just with one another but also with the governmental authorities. It tells the history and the major causes, leaders, forums, allies, and rivals of the three main branches of women’s politics: the liberal Feminist Association, the Christian, and the socialist women’s movement. (Talking about their foundations, Szapor uses the term “origin myths,” which looks a bit misleading as the roots she reveals are basically factual.)

One of the main common causes of women’s movements was the struggle for equal suffrage, but they were largely differing in their strategies and priorities. A determinative difference is that while the Catholic and socialist women’s movements were attached to and found allies in male-led institutions (the church and the workers’ movement), the Feminist Association was connected primarily to the international liberal women’s rights movement. The divergences especially sharpened in the political circumstances of the postwar era when general suffrage served as a tool for legitimizing the authoritarian system.

In the second chapter Szapor explores a special semi-private meeting place, the Hungarian Women’s Debating Club (initiated by Countess Mihály Károlyi and Rózsika Schwimmer in February 1918), as a “case study.” As she reveals, behind the seemingly apolitical purpose of “social intercourse,” the Club was founded with the purpose of circulating the idea of suffrage among aristocratic women. Thus it was a melting pot of women from different social classes organizing debates on a wide range of issues with many speakers. Behind the cooperation on basic issues, there was much strained disagreement, encapsulating larger and later developments, and after the revolution it became a nest of counter-revolutionary mobilization.

The next chapter explores the two (1918 and 1919) revolutions from the viewpoint of women’s politics after the loss of the war. The announcement of universal suffrage happened immediately in November 1918, but it was not put into practice until the beginning of 1920, and under completely different political circumstances. Szapor also reconstructs the names of the women participants in the National Council. The Republic of Councils between March and August 1919 had ambitious and egalitarian projects but also hasty and anti-democratic actions, including the way they prepared and carried out the elections. As the author underlines, it resulted in alienating and radicalizing the conservative middle class, and strengthened their social anxieties and thus their prejudice-led intolerance. It is remarkable that many women were involved in the Commissariats and in other decision-making positions, but the leadership was dominated by men. After the fall of the Republic of Councils, the majority of its participants went into exile, which resulted in disrupted individual careers and social networks and destroyed prewar unions.

Szapor points out the gendered nature of the reception of Horthy in November 1919. This was manifested in women’s (namely MANSZ’s) emphatic presence and also in the way Horthy’s speech narrated the city and the nation through female symbols. But the author extends the gendered view to the whole era, stressing that women had an active role in restoring prewar social system and values (together with the old borders of the Monarchy); they contributed to creating, realizing, and legitimizing the basic values and slogans of the regime. MANSZ and its rhetoric repressed other women’s movements and women’s representations, occupying the political space in prewar Hungary. The marginalization of liberal feminists was part (and in anticipation) of the general anti-modernist, illiberal, nationalist, and anti-Semitic trend with actually anti-feminist views. The question—“Who is supposed to represent Hungarian women?”—became a wider question of social norms and national ideologies too.

A separate chapter explores the career and semi-literary writings of the two dominant leaders of the right-wing women’s movement, both of them influential figures of contemporary culture too: Emma Ritoók and Cécile Tormay. They both contradicted their own image of the ideal woman (being public figures, unmarried, and in Tormay’s case also lesbian), which caused inner conflicts especially in the case of Ritoók.

At the January 1920 elections the message of MANSZ indicated an important shift in women’s politics, suggesting that there are no separate women’s interests, only national ones. The Christian parties won the elections with the help of women’s votes—paradoxically (or just disappointingly), women supported parties with a very restrictive image of gender roles.

The 1920s period of István Bethlen’s consolidation mitigated post-revolutionary political and racial aggression but brought ethnic homogenization/exclusion and limitations of political and educational rights for women. Szapor does not mention that the numerus clausus law was also created originally for restricting the number of female students (who were to a large extent Jewish). As Szapor emphasizes, the content of citizenship was not determined only by electoral rights.

In the concluding chapter, the author presents an important outlook regarding the long-term impacts and models of the era until today—including its basic values and also the ways of (ab)using democratic tools for anti-democratic purposes. After the 1989 regime change, conservative and sexist views on gender roles and family returned as a part of the revival of the interwar nationalistic-conservative ideologies. The renaissance in Tormay studies has been also an emblem of the wider revival of the Horthy regime and its ideologies (together with spatial restorations and eliminations).

The book relies on and applies a diverse and up-to-date literature as well as partly unknown archival and press sources involving memoirs, correspondences, and organizational papers. (Hungarian names that I missed from the bibliography doing notable research especially on women’s organizations in the countryside are Katalin Kéri and Zsolt Mészáros.) The insightful and well-structured text is also an exciting and enjoyable read in its entirety due to its clear, elegant, and witty style and the good construction of the chapters. The only slightly annoying element is the sometimes redundant narration with returning phrases (especially in the characterization of trends and periods), even if it may have a didactic function. As for the factual part, I found only one mistake on page 42: Lajos Hatvany’s (first) wife, Christa Winsloe was not British but a German (sculptor and playwright).

New explorations and smart interpretations are well-suited in the book. The author confidently navigates the tangle of periods, layers, interests, and conflicts, as well as their roots and changes. She sensitively notices the significant details which constitute and represent larger historical processes and make them more understandable. One of the main conclusions of the book is that the history of women as a group cannot be separated from history as a whole—not just in the sense that it was an organic part of it and influenced by it, but also because in certain (not necessarily the most glorious) moments, women (on individual and organizational levels) fundamentally influenced politics by making alliances based on social and ideological bases. It also leads us to see the significance of intersectional relations and the social and political heterogeneity of women and their key causes. One of the greatest merits of Szapor’s work is that it reveals and nuances these very intersections and the conflicting interests among the different subgroups of women according to their respective social and political connections.

Anna Borgos
Hungarian Academy of Sciences