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.
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.
MTA−ELTE−SZTE History of Globalization Research Group
Aufklärung habsburgisch: Staatsbildung, Wissenskultur und Geschichtspolitik in Zentraleuropa 1750–1850. By Franz Leander Fillafer. Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2020. 628 pp.
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.
University of Public Service, Budapest
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.
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
“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.
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.
Eötvös Loránd University
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.
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.”
Tampere University, Finland
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.
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.
Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security
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