A History of the Hungarian Constitution: Law, Government and Political Culture in Central Europe. Edited by Ferenc Hörcher and Thomas Lorman. London: I.B. Tauris, 2018. 366 pp.
The enactment of the new Hungarian Basic Law has triggered a considerable amount of literature on the Hungarian constitution today and in the past. This volume belongs to the second category: it describes Hungarian constitutional history from a predominantly historical-political perspective, focusing mainly on the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Since the present Basic Law is to be interpreted in light of the “achievements of our historical constitution,” as it sets out in article R) section (3), constitutional history is not only l’art pour l’art, but has an at least potential impact on today’s constitutional practice. Unsurprisingly, most works on constitutional history are written by lawyers. This volume, however, is edited by a philosopher (Hörcher) and a historian (Lorman), and most of the authors are British or Hungarian historians.
The connection between today’s Basic Law and the development of Hungarian historical constitutionalism is made in the first chapter of the book. The subsequent eight chapters describe and analyze Hungary’s constitution from the late Middle Ages until 1946. Special attention is given to the reform debates in the eighteenth century and their influence on the Parliament of 1790/91, the early nineteenth century and the “revolutionary” laws of 1848, constitutional theory and practice after the Settlement of 1867, the interwar period, and the reestablishment of Hungarian constitutionalism in 1946, including the transition into the socialist constitution of 1949. After these descriptive and interpretative parts, the final two chapters look at the modern Basic Law and ask how a development of several centuries can or cannot be incorporated into present-day law, as well as whether it is desirable to do so at all.
The first two chapters show that the “constitution” did not start as such. Until the late eighteenth century, we only find a constant struggle for power between the crown on the one side and the nobility on the other. Alongside this continuous political dualism, the Tripartitum by István Werbőczy caused legal thinking to stagnate on a late medieval level so that no constitutional impulses could come from legal science. This changed when the late eighteenth century discovered “[ancient] constitution” ([ősi] alkotmány) as a term and an inter alia legal concept, retroactively construing a “historical constitution” for the country, mainly as a source of legitimacy for the ruling elites and their ancient privileges, such as the exemption from taxation, as well as for the Catholic church. Thus, the ancient constitution became an argument primarily designed to preserve and legitimize social and religious inequality. Even the 1848 laws did not bring about a radical change, as Hörcher’s analysis of that legislation and its “father,” Lajos Kossuth, explains.
A certain focus lies on the constitutional history of the time after the Compromise (1867–1919), which is justified because that epoch, alongside 1946, is the primary point of reference of the allusion to “our historical constitution” in today’s Basic Law. The Compromise era shows a failure of the democratic ideals of 1848 and the prevalence, in contrast, of late feudal structures defended by a nobility clinging to their antediluvian privileges. In defense of these privileges, the “ancient constitution” played an important role, because it was endowed with historical-national prestige, but as it was not laid down in a charter, it did not have a clearly defined content, and this allowed the governments of the day to say whatever they pleased (whatever best suited their needs in a given situation) about constitutional rules. This book also shows that Hungarian governments never failed to set aside a constitutional or statutory rule if they felt that it hampered their political ambitions. One prominent example of this is the Nationalities Act of 1868.
After 1920, Hungary pursued an insecure middle passage between the need to change (in part because of the state’s independence) and the desire to preserve the old constitutional system or at least the image of it, branded with the misleading term “legal continuity.” Here, it becomes clear how much the ideology of an “ancient constitution” can prevent necessary adaptation to new circumstances. On the other hand, the “Small Constitution” of 1946 is presented as a relatively successful effort to modernize the ancient constitution without abandoning entirely the tradition it represented. Balázs Fekete argues this case quite convincingly and thus persuasively proves the dominant view wrong according to which act 1946:I terminated historical constitutional continuity.
The last two chapters by Kálmán Pócza and Ferenc Hörcher try to determine the extent to which the historical processes described in the previous chapters can be used in the interpretation of the Basic Law of 2011. They approach the question from a politological point of view, thus circumventing the majority opinion of legal science according to which the Basic Law’s reference to “the achievements of our historical constitution” is at best symbolic. Pócza uses a theoretical approach, which does, as such, not give an immediate answer to the question, but it shows paths for further research which may make the historical constitution useful for today’s constitutional and legal purposes and requirements. Finally, Hörcher and Pócza ask whether incorporating ancient law into a modern constitution is useful and desirable. They assemble the pros and cons of the usefulness of such an enterprise and refer to future insights from the perspective of desirability.
The book contains several appendixes with the English translations of several crucial constitutional documents from 1222 until 2011. Some of these documents have now been published for the first time in English.
This book neither gives a comprehensive description of the “ancient constitution” nor does it analyze the “achievements of our historical constitution” from the point of view of modern constitutional law. It does serve, however, as a starting point for a predominantly politological analysis of what the “ancient constitution” can mean to a modern political-constitutional culture. As such, it is of interest not only to political scientists, but also to lawyers who get the opportunity to take a step back and look at an overall picture extending beyond the limitations of legal discourse. Finally, a reading public interested in the general political structures of Hungary will find a wealth of information in this volume.
Institut für Ostrecht, Munich
The Ottoman Threat and Crusading on the Eastern Border of Christendom during the 15th Century. By Liviu Pilat and Ovidiu Cristea. East Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 450–1450, 48. Leiden: Brill, 2018. 337 pp.
Despite the abundance of literature on the crusades, The Ottoman Threat and Crusading on the Eastern Border of Christendom during the 15th Century serves as an important monograph which will further an understanding of the complexity of the crusade movement in the late Middle Ages. With very few exceptions, the historiography tends to reflect a Western perspective on the crusade movement, centered on France, England, the Papacy, and the Italian merchant cities. Liviu Pilat and Ovidiu Cristea’s monograph, which has been published as part of the Brill series East Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 450–1450, shifts focus to a less familiar crusade frontier, the Northern Black Sea region. Described by Gheorghe Bratianu as a “plaque tournante” of international commerce in the late Middle Ages, after 1204, the Black Sea area became an important crossroad in the Euro-Asian commercial system. Thereby, Latin Christendom expanded towards the east, but its interests clashed eventually with Ottoman expansion in the region. However, the struggle for hegemony was complex, and involved it Christian and Muslim powers alike who, despite their religious differences, at times built alliances in their struggles against factions within the two larger spheres. Thus, on many occasions, “Christians allied with Muslims against Christians, and Muslims allied with Christians against Muslims” (p.15).
The framework of Pilat and Cristea’s research highlights how Ottoman power and the Ottoman empire’s expansion collided with the Italian merchant cities and Hungary and Poland’s economic and strategic interests in the Black Sea region. The authors adopt a chronological approach from the Fourth Crusade (1204) to the 1503 general peace of Buda between Christendom and the sultan. The first two chapters of the book focus on the struggle for commercial supremacy and hegemony between the Porte and its commercial rivals in the area (Venice, Genoa, Hungary, and Poland). With a meticulous sense of detail, the authors describe the political and commercial realities which led to the advance of the Ottomans in Central Eastern Europe. Despite the crusade efforts and plans, from “1479 onwards the trade in the Black Sea was rigorously controlled by the Porte,” ending the role of the Black Sea “as a cornerstone of international trade in the Later Middle Ages” (p.63).
In the subsequent two chapters, the authors focus on the papal crusade policy in the Black Sea region in the fifteenth century and the change of the local ruler’s politics after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. There is also discussion of the religious aspects in the efforts of subsequent popes to use the “union of the Churches” as a sine qua non commitment of the Byzantine emperor to send military aid to the empire. Nonetheless neither the emperor nor the Patriarch of Constantinople had the authority to impose the union anywhere other than in the Byzantine empire. Therefore, the rejection of the Florentine Union had not only religious consequences in Central Eastern Europe, but also political particularities with permanent ramifications. Mehmed II’s conquest of the Byzantine capital created new political and economic realities to which the regional powers needed to adapt. Given the fact that both Hungary and Poland had major commercial interests in the area, the objective of the Holy See was to establish good relations between the two major players in Central Eastern Europe. Therefore, Pilat and Cristea argue that “good relations between these two Eastern polities were absolutely necessary for accomplishing the general crusade against the Ottomans” (p.134).
In the last two chapters, the authors examine the consolidation of Ottoman power in the Black Sea and the failed attempts to recover the two important strongholds in the region: Kilia and Akkerman. The expansion of the empire’s frontiers brought more challenges to the neighboring states: the strategic location of the two cities allowed raids in their territory. Pilat and Cristea argue that this conquest caused “restlessness, and the pope’s calling was received with much more interest” (p.223). Despite the strategic value of Kilia and Akkerman, the proposals for a reconquest of these two cities in a crusade-like campaign were pure fantasy. As the authors underline, the failure of this crusade policy was due to the “divergent political interests of the Christian states,” which “finally led to the consolidation of Ottoman domination in the northern Black Sea region” (p.230).
One important element that is constantly underlined by the authors is the relationship between crusading and local political power. The local rulers used the crusades to legitimize their political and commercial goals, and as the authors astutely emphasize, these ambitions conflicted with the crusading ideology. This conflict is reflected by the struggle to maintain a long-lasting political alliance, as every power had divergent interests and hegemony claims over the trade routes in the Black Sea. As Pilat and Cristea note, “before the Ottoman threat, the crusade represented a state of mind and an ideal, whose purpose was the recovery of the Holy Land, but at the same time the crusade was an extremely powerful political instrument in periods of crisis” (p.288). Through the examples of John Hunyadi, Mathias Corvinus, Stephen the Great, and John Olbracht, we are introduced to the crusade rhetoric of the fifteenth century. This was fueled by the need for Christian solidarity, the defense of the faith, and a growing fear inspired by the Turks. A different perspective from other theaters emerges: the complex relationship between the Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. For the latter, a crusade was not the same enterprise as it was for the Catholics in the West. The Orthodox princes were not interested in the spiritual rewards offered by the popes. They considered the crusade “an expression of Christian solidarity” (p.292), and they only accepted the guidance of the pope to obtain financial support and military aid from the West.
Pilat and Cristea’s book is well researched, and they are versed in the history and the interactions in the northwestern Black Sea area. The use of secondary literature written in different languages (Hungarian, Polish, Romanian, Italian, French, English) is impressive, as the large amount of documents and narrative sources used to shape this study. Though national historiographies tend to present the history of the later crusades in Central Eastern Europe in a contradictory (and sometimes quite biased) manner the authors have succeeded in untangling this massive corpus of secondary literature. With a rigorous insistence on maintaining a clear perspective and careful attention to fine detail, they guide their reader through the intertwined political, religious, and economic specter of Central Eastern Europe in the fifteenth century. Though the abundance of detail and information in the book may make it less appealing or less accessible to the larger reading public, The Ottoman Threat and Crusading on the Eastern Border of Christendom during the 15th Century constitutes an original contribution to our understanding of the crusades in the frontier zones, and it establishes certain guidelines which future scholars will not be able to ignore.
University of Montreal
L’économie des couvents mendiants en Europe centrale: Bohême, Hongrie, Pologne, v. 1220–v. 1550. Edited by Marie-Madeleine de Cevins and Ludovic Viallet. Rennes, Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2018. 447 pp.
The need for a new approach to the history of mendicant orders has increased in recent decades. This volume presents a new generation of historians interested in this field of research and active all across Central Europe. The selection of contributors is the result of the MARGEC – Marginalité, économie et christianisme. La vie materiélles des couvents mendiants en Europe centrale (v.1220–v.1550) project, developed between 2012 and 2016 under the supervision of French historian Marie-Madeleine de Cevins, who coordinated the volume together with Ludovic Viallet. At the core of their interest in mendicant orders lies the legacy of Jacques Le Goff, who was among the first to identify the presence of one or the other orders in the development of urban life in the Middle Ages. This approach has represented a way of seeing the mendicant orders as agents of change, rather than narrating their histories from within.
The volume was devised to contain four sections, each of which comprises thematic studies. Thus, the authors contributing to the first part, Entre stabilité et précarité: le défi de la pauvreté [Between stability and precarity: the challenge of poverty], marshal a series of examples showcasing the contradictions within various European mendicant convents, the dynamics of which indicated a shift from the ideal of poverty. The second section, Les Mendiants et la terre, ou le défi de la propriété [The mendicants and their landed estates, or the challenge of ownership], examines the mendicant establishments that went on to attain landed property outside their urban communities through donations or acquisition. The studies included in the third part, Autour des frères: soutiens matériels et flux immatériels [Around the friars: financial benefactors and flow of intangible assets], emphasize the nature of benefactors and strive to identify them, primarily on the basis of accounts of support granted for the development of mendicant convents. The last section, Les Mendiants dans l’économie du salut [The mendicants and the economy of salvation], closes the volume with a series of examples of the religious privileges awarded to the mendicants by the Holy See, namely the right to grant indulgences or to bury members of the lay community within the convents’ premises. The book also contains a name index, a place index, and a list of the contributing authors, thus making it easier for the reader to find passages which are more relevant to particular interests.
The studies in the first section examine some cases of convents “struggling” to keep in line with their respective rule or their ideal of poverty. The areas of mendicant presence chosen by the authors contributing to this section are the ones assumed by the volume’s coordinators, namely to a large extent from Central Europe, for instance the articles by Dominika Brudzy (“Poverty Put to the Test in both Dominican Friaries of Sandomierz up to the Sixteenth Century”), Rafał Kubicki (“The Economic Situation of Mendicants in Royal Prussia in the Fifteenth and First Half of the Sixteenth Century”), and Martin Ollé and Rudolf Procházka (“The Cloister in Early Franciscan Architecture in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia during the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries”). This part includes also two case studies on the mendicants’ history in medieval England and Ireland, as well as two other interconnected studies concerning the level of education and culture gained by the friars within the mendicant convents. Marie Charbonnel’s paper describes the development of libraries belonging to these convents in Central Europe, and Kerzy Kaliszuk considers the example of Poland in the Middle Ages.
The second section, Les Mendiants et la terre, ou le défi de la propriété, seems more homogenous from the spatial perspective, the areas of interest being more related to one another, whether the studies in question examine the case of mendicants’ landed estates in the Hungarian realm (Beatrix Fülöpp-Romhányi), in rural Bohemia (Petr Hlaváč), in Brno (Adrien Quéret-Podesta), or in Prague (Christian-Frederik Felskau). The papers focus on the ways in which landed estates were acquired. They also identify the benefactors, who were members of the nobility or the royal family. The section stands out with a study on the nature of donations given to mendicants in medieval Poland based on the example of the Poor Clares’ convent in Strzelin (Olga Miriam Przybyłowicz), this being the only paper dedicated to a mendicant women’s order.
The section chapter, Autour des frères: souteins matériels et flux immatériels, builds on the first two, bringing further information about the mendicants’ benefactors, including examples concerning the Franciscan convents in Silesia and Upper Lusatia in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries (Ludovic Viallet), the Franciscans in Bohemia in the early sixteenth century (Petr Hlaváček), and the donation-based economy of the Dominicans in Sieradz, Poland (Grzegorz Wierzchowski) and the Franciscans in Zadar, Croatia (Sanja Miljan, Suzana Miljan). For the region of Prussia, many donations to the mendicant orders were made by the Teutonic Order in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries (Piotr Oliński). The involvement of benefactors and patrons was visible even in the furnishing provided for the churches of the mendicant orders all over Central Europe (Marie Charbonnel).
The last section, Les Mendiants dans l’économie du salut, emphasizes or brings forth elements of the histories of some of the orders which led to conflictive relations with the regular clergy, mostly due to the privileges they received from the outset: the right to grant indulgences and to bury laymen within the premises of their convents. The examples included in this section of the volume reflect these particularities in the cases of Central Europe between 1225 and 1275 (Étienne Doublier) in general and, more narrowly, in the Hungarian realm in the late Middle Ages (Gergely Kiss) or in Český Krumlov in the Czech Republic of today (Adrian Quéret-Podesta). Beatrix Fülöpp-Romhányi’s study stands out. She emphasizes the importance of the interdisciplinary approach with examples of pertinent findings from the field of archaeology, which are combined with insights based on written sources. This section ends with another contribution by Stéphanie Vocanson-Manzi regarding the Franciscan involvement in the burials of laymen in fourteenth-century Lausanne.
From the very outset, the editors aimed to include a significant number of scholars in the development of the project and in the composition of this volume. In my view, one of their greatest achievement is encouraging and presenting a new generation of historians, young researchers, whose work is dedicated to the history of mendicant orders in Central Europe. The project and, more specifically, this book will do a great deal to suggest avenues for further inquiry to the next generation of historians.
Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities, Sibiu
Secular Power and Sacral Authority in Medieval East-Central Europe. Edited by Kosana Jovanović and Suzana Miljan. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2018. 186 pp.
The past decade has seen a significant number of works dedicated to Central Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages published in English. The volume under review here is another sign that the trend is being “institutionalized,” putting Central Eastern Europe more firmly on the map of Medieval Studies. The volume has its roots in the international conference Second Medieval Workshop, which was held at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Rijeka (Croatia) on October 10 and 11, 2014. The aim of the series of conferences is to provide young scholars with a forum in which to present their work. However, the volume also reveals a side which is usually left unmentioned, namely the work of more experienced scholars whose assistance is invaluable to young scholars. The Foreword by the editors is followed by János M. Bak’s paper (“Folklore of the Medieval Kings of Hungary: Preliminary Research Report”), which tries to address the question of what one can say about how the kings’ subjects responded to and were influenced by the royal symbolic communication. In order to answer this question, Bak turns to the memoria of rulers of Hungary–Croatia preserved in folklore. Likewise, the paper by Katalin Szende and Ivan Jurković (“Variations on Nobility in Central and South-Eastern Europe: An Introduction”) should be seen as another example of the support given by more experienced scholars. In this essay, the authors give an overview of eleven papers that follow, focusing on the social group which dominates most of the papers: the nobility. Judit Gál (“The Changes of Office of Ban of Slavonia after the Mongol Invasion in Hungary (1242–1267)”) looks at the changes in the royal policy regarding the bans of tocius Sclavonie in the period after the Mongol Invasion, especially in their connections to the towns of Split and Trogir, in whose internal (communal) developments the author finds the reason for the more focused attention given to them by Bela IV. Maja Cepetić Rogić (“The Reconstruction and Role of Roads in the Formation of a Medieval Cultural Landscape: The Example of Episcopal Estates of Dubrava, Ivanić and Čazma”) and Nikolina Antonić (“Late Medieval Village in Turopolje (Slavonia): The Example of Donja Lomnica”), rely both on written sources and, heavily, on archeological works in their inquiries. The former focuses on how the roads of Roman Antiquity influenced the road network in one part of Medieval Slavonia and, in turn, how these roads determined the sites and structures of settlements. The latter looks at the archeological remains at one site in Turopolje, which in the Middle Ages belonged to the group of castle warriors, and on the basis of this, sheds light on the material conditions of the lives of members of this group of conditional nobility. The same social group, also from Medieval Slavonia, is in the focus of the contribution by Éva B. Halász (“From Castle-Warrior to Nobleman: Case Study of a Family of Slavonian Lesser Nobility”), which looks at the castle warriors from Križevci through the prism of social mobility. Kristian Bertović (“Economic Development and Transformation of the Pauline Monasteries near Senj under the Frankapan Patronage”) looks at two Pauline Monasteries, Holy Savior in Ljubotina and St. Helen, and their relations, expressed mostly through nexus of land donations, with their social environment, the most significant elements of which were the citizens of Senj and the Frankopan magnate family. István Kádas (“The Society of the Noble Judges in Northeastern Hungary during the Reign of King Sigismund (1387–1437) presents a comparative study of a group within the nobility which held the office of noble judge in Abaúj, Gömör, and Sáros Counties. Kádas convincingly argues that we can speak of a well-defined group within the county nobility. However, the author shows significant differences in the social relations of the nobility, especially concerning familiaritas (either as vicecomites or in the service of the magnates), which he traces to the differences in the overall structure of the nobility in respective counties. These insights call into question the conclusions reached in some earlier studies, which tried to represent these differences as widely regional. Valentina Zovko (“Development of Ragusan Diplomatic Service in the First Half of the Fifteenth Century: Father and Son at the Court of Duke Sandalj Hranić”) traces changes in Ragusan diplomacy from a Medieval framework towards the development of proto-Modern practices, through the embassies of Marin de Gondula and his son Benedict to Duke Sandalj Hranić of Bosnia. She looks at the duration of their services, their expenses, their methods of persuasion, and the nature of their communication with Ragusan authorities. Silvie Vančurova (“Croatian Students at the University of Prague in the Fifteenth Century”) shows the receptions of the ideas of Jan Hus among Prague students from Croatia, or at least among those few who can be identified as such for certain, but she warns that there are no indications that these students managed to spread Hus’ ideas after returning to their homes more widely. Neven Isailović’s paper (“A Contribution to Medieval Croatian Diplomatics: Cyrillic Charters of Croatian Nobility from the Franciscan Monastery on Trsat in Rijeka”) traces the use of the Cyrillic script in Medieval Croatia and offers diplomatic analyses of several charters preserved in Rijeka. Tomislav Matić (“Peter of Crkvica, a Man Who Could Be Trusted: The Career of a Middle-Ranking Cleric and Diplomat in the Kingdom of Hungary in Mid-Fifteenth Century”) presents a case of a member of the lower nobility who, as a cleric, served John Hunyadi and John Vitez, and his role as a small cog in the wheel of high politics. Miloš Ivanović (“The Nobility of the Despotate of Serbia between Ottoman Empire and Hungary (1457–1459)”) looks at the political decision of the Serbian nobility clinched between two powers, the Ottomans and the Kingdom of Hungary–Croatia. He contextualizes their alliances. The papers collected here offer clear examples of the work of young authors with the skills necessary to pursue the science of history, well accomplished in dealing with sources and familiar with the relevant secondary literature. However, it is hard not to notice unevenness among the various articles, which can perhaps be seen as a reflection of different stages of their research. Some show ability to address larger issues (Kádas first and foremost, but also Zvoko and Ivanović), while some papers tend to be restricted to micro problems, and in these the main frame of the volume, Central Eastern Europe, and its various distinctive aspects, tend to disappear in the background. With more experience, these budding historians may overcome this minor shortcoming.
University of Zadar
Hit, hatalom, humanizmus: Bártfa reformációja és művelődése Leonhard Stöckel korában [Faith, power, and Humanism: The Reformation and culture in Bártfa/Bartfeld in the age of Leonhard Stöckel]. By Barnabás Guitman. Budapest: Szent István Társulat, 2017. 260 pp.
This book by Barnabás Guitman was published in 2017 as a revised and expanded version of his doctoral dissertation, which he defended in 2009 at Pázmány Péter Catholic University. In his preface, Guitman notes that there are very few works of secondary literature in Hungarian which offer detailed and penetrating presentations of the denominational shifts which took place in the course of the early Reformation in the cities of the Kingdom of Hungary and the very significant social changes which accompanied these shifts. Guitman’s book unquestionably addresses this lacuna in the scholarship. The preface offers an explanation of the relationships between the three key terms in the title. Guitman notes that the relationship between faith and power was much more a matter of stark contrast in the period in question than it was in the periods before the Reformation. Yet, as he also observes in connection with Humanism, the question of the early Reformation cannot be limited simply to denominational history. One must also place at least as much emphasis on aspects of cultural history. Guitman seeks to examine these aspects in a wider European context, and he does just this, deftly contextualizing the issues in question into tendencies in social and denominational history in Europe. One strength of his work which merits particular mention is his use, alongside sources on the Kingdom of Hungary, of German, Silesian, and Czech sources as well.
In the chapter which reflects on the sources and the works of secondary literature on which the book is based, Guitman offers a thorough survey of the relevant primary and secondary literature. He also explains its thematic and geographical organization. This presentation of the relevant groups of sources offers clear evidence of the rich array of works on which Guitman has based his research, and it also provides a useful survey for other scholars who are dealing with the period in question. I would add only that, perhaps as a continuation of this line of inquiry, Guitman hopefully will continue his work and expand on the source material on which he has drawn with the inclusion of documents from other significant institutions which preserve sources. At the same time, the survey of the Hungarian secondary literature on urban history, alas, is not exhaustive.
The presentation of the secondary literature on the Reformation culminates with an assessment of the theory of confessionalization associated with Heinz Schilling and Wolfgang Reinhard. Alongside this theory, Guitman also presents arguments which have called it into question in his discussion of the works and lectures by Heinreich Richard Schmidt, Péter Tusor, and Gábor Kármán. As far as the relevance of this theory to an examination of the early Reformation processes in Bártfa is concerned, according to the introduction, the reader will find an answer to this question in the last chapter. The theoretical system in the historiography and Guitman’s own research (and the conclusions drawn in both) are organically connected in the discussion of the theory of confessionalization, though the applicability of this theory to the early Reformation is a question of subjective selection.
Guitman briefly touches on how changes in confessional identity played a role in the emergence of conflicts in foreign relations at the time, and because of the dynamics of informal denominational networks, the influence of these informal networks extended beyond state borders.
After the summary of the theoretical background, we are given insights into religious life in Bártfa at the time, as well as the pious societies, relations between the city and the Church, and economic life. It is worth noting that, the title of the subchapter notwithstanding (“Characteristic features of the late Medieval city”), Guitman reflects primarily on early modern processes. Drawing on the theories of Hamm and Weber, Guitman provocatively interconnects questions concerning economics and mindset. The burghers’ fervent religiousness, expectations placed on the Church, and the urban community’s growing demand for independence (a Pan-European phenomenon) had a strong influence on relations between the city councils and the Church institutions found in the cities. Regrettably, in his discussion of this, Guitman uses the term hospital (“kórház”) when the term spital (“ispotály”) would have been more accurate.
With an examination of cultural developments in the city in the early sixteenth century, Guitman offers an engaging presentation of the activities of the Humanists who came to Bártfa through a discussion of the issue of schooling in the cities of upper Hungary. The detailed consideration of their work offers insights into the theme of the book more narrowly understood. The presentation of the relationship between Bártfa and Valentin Eck is organically connected to this. Guitman offers an important analysis which addresses a lacuna in the secondary literature, since many questions come up concerning Eck’s life and political career. We do not know all the details concerning why Eck ended up coming to the city, and Guitman himself only mentions the intercession of Elek Thurzó. It is quite certain, in any event, that Eck’s presence led to a stronger relationship between Krakow and Bártfa. For Guitman, the real significance of Eck’s work lies in the fact that the school in Bártfa developed into an outstanding representative of Humanist thought when Eck served as rector, and in doing so, it provided an excellent foundation for the later work of Leonhard Stöckel.
The next section of the book, which is a coherent whole from the perspective of its content, addresses the first period of the Reformation in Bártfa. Dividing his narrative into clear points, Guitman examines the relationships between the influences of the media (by which I mean the explosion of information at the time) and the personal networks among the Reformation thinkers and Humanists who were active in the region. He refers to the process of confessionalization mentioned in the introduction. This process can be said to have begun in a given area with the consolidation of a given tendency of the Reformation.
Drawing on the example of the Augustinians, Guitman offers a cross-section of the coexistence of the community (or communities) of monks and the city, as well as of their conflicts at the time of the proto-Reformation. He reaches back to one of the points of the earlier subchapter and shows how, as is commonly known among historians of the era, these conflicts stretched into the early Reformation, and in the case of many cities, they played a decisive role in the acceptance of the Reformation. Guitman emphasizes the earlier mentioned significance of the social network of the schoolmasters, preachers, and notaries who had some knowledge of Humanist teachings. In connection with the case of the Augustinians, he briefly sheds some light on the functionings of the power centers (such as the episcopal faculty) and the social forces (such as the Catholic nobility) lying outside the city, though the reader is given little more than some insights into their unsuccessful attempts to intervene in the internal affairs of the city in the early Reformation.
In his discussion of the reformers who were active in Bártfa, Guitman examines first and foremost the work of Wolfgang Schustel, the city chaplain. He draws on the extensive research of Zoltán Csepregi and raises precise questions concerning Schustel’s life and career. However, we are given no answer to the question of the relevance of the detailed discussion of Schustel’s family background to his work in Bártfa. The title of the subchapter, “Wolfgang Schustel, Bártfa’s first Reformation thinker?” suggests a certain ambivalence concerning the assessment of Schustel’s role and work. On the basis of the sources used by Guitman, there was palpable tension surrounding Schustel after 1527. Schustel’s conflict with parish priest Kristóf offers insights into numerous general phenomena which can be seen as important moments in the history of the cities at the time. The leaders of the city sided with Schustel and opposed the unaccommodating “master Kristóf.” King of Hungary, John Zápolya, who at the time exerted less and less influence in the region, tried to intercede on Kristóf’s behalf. Bártfa asked the magistrate of Kassa (today Košice, Slovakia) for advice on how to address the deadlock. Given the upheaval created by the civil war, it was essential for the city to remain aware of the latest developments in order to ensure its safety and security, so correspondence among many parties provided important information concerning events beyond the city.
Guitman, however, fails even in the remaining section of the chapter to identify the reason for the uncertainty suggested in the title of the subchapter. He notes that, at the turn of the 1520s and 1530s, Schustel urged reform in the teachings of the Church many times in his letters to the city council, and although Guitman does conclude (drawing again on Csepregi) that, in the end, Schustel did not succeed in having all of his suggestions adopted, the suggestions he made indicate that his ideas were clearly shaped by the spirit of the Reformation. Ultimately, Guitman identifies Schustel not as a “Reformer” (i.e. an unambiguous representative of the Reformation), but rather as a “preacher who represented the spirit of the Reformation.” At the end of the subchapter, Guitman again distances his discussion a bit from the urban community and quite astutely emphasizes that the causes of the conflicts between the burghers of Bártfa and the local Catholic institutions were not exclusively questions of religious reform or theological difference. Rather, relations between the different linguistic communities also played a role, as did political and economic interests.
After Schustel’s departure, in the search for a new preacher who would be acceptable for the city, the network among Humanists and preachers who were active representatives of the spirit of the Reformation played a decisive role, as Guitman touches on earlier in the book several times. The magistrate was not to be deterred in this effort, neither by the continuous interventions of Ferdinand’s military leaders in the region nor by the interventions of the ruler’s military leaders. In the end, with the mediation of the city of Besztercebánya (today Banská Bystrica, Slovakia), the position of preacher was taken by Michael Radaschin, who had studied in Wittenberg and who in all likelihood also knew Leonhard Stöckel. Radaschin was in Bártfa by 1544 at the latest, and he was active as the pastor there for 22 years. In their work together, Radaschin and Stöckel, who was the school rector, played a decisive role in the history of the city in the sixteenth century.
The Synod of 1546 in Eperjes (today Prešov, Slovakia) was a significant event in the course of which commitment to the Augsburg Confession and Melanchton’s Loci Communes was declared. Guitman persuasively argues that Stöckel was not among the authors of the 1559–1560 version of the Confessio Pentapolitana. With regards to the Confessio pentapolitana, the secondary literature in German (for instance Gottfried Seebaβ and Max Josef Suda) often notes merely that the authors drew on the Augsburg Confession. With acute critical acumen, Guitman quite rightly draws attention, in contrast, to the differences.
The chapter entitled “Theological debates and rivals,” begins with a lengthy presentation of the Prussian Reformation, which is only indirectly related to Guitman’s topic, more narrowly understood. The discussion of the work of Lauterwald in Eperjes, however, constitutes an integral part of the questions addressed in the book.
The chapter in which Guitman examines the writings of Leonhard Stöckel also begins with a lengthy discussion of antecedents. From the perspective of Stöckel’s work, considering the intellectual and theological influences to which he was exposed early on and his later relationships, the detailed presentation of relations in Breslau (today Wrocław, Poland) is entirely justified. As a kind of analogue to the situation in Bártfa, relations in Breslau offer insights into the ways in which the city, which had also embarked down the path of the Reformation, transformed its educational institutions. The mentality of Wittenberg had already exerted a strong influence on Stöckel, and in the early 1530s he also enrolled at a university considered one of the citadels of the Reformation.
In 1538, Stöckel returned to the city of his birth. The work he did as rector in Bártfa drew to a large extent on the experiences he had had during his years in school. The studies he pursued with Humanists like Valentin Eck, Leonhard Cox, and Johann Agricola (from his time in Eisleben) were a decisive part of these experiences. Stöckel was strongly influenced by Melanchton in his efforts to transform the relationship between the Church and the secular powers. With the consent and support of the Bártfa councilors, he put the school under the authority of the city, organized the incomes set aside for education, and separated them from the parochial sources. The school and its instructors, however, thus were more dependent on the city leaders than they had ever been before.
Guitman offers an excellent overview of everyday life in the Bártfa school by presenting the daily schedules of the students and teachers. He contends that, within a relatively short period of time, the school in Bártfa had become one of the most frequented institutions in the country. Both burgher families and families belonging to the nobility were eager to send their children to the school, and within a few years, the school had acquired an impressive reputation even beyond the borders of the country. Students came from Transylvania, Silesia, Poland, Moravia, Austria, and even Prussia and Russia. As a consequence of his dedicated organizational work, which won him wide renown, Stöckel was given the title Praeceptor Hungariae by his contemporaries.
In the next subchapter, Guitman shifts focus and examines Stöckel’s work in the school by analyzing his pedagogical writings. In the composition of his works, Stöckel followed very much in the path of Erasmus. His commentaries on the Gospels were not necessarily written with concrete pedagogical goals, though his books of sermons were definitely composed with teaching in mind. Not surprisingly, in his explanations of Scripture, he clearly supports Lutheran teachings. Guitman raises the important question of the consistent use of Latin. He suggests that Stöckel may have had two goals: first, given the universal nature of Latin as a language of the Church and of education, he wanted the teachings of Christ to reach the widest possible audience and, second, Stöckel was better able to make use of the rhetorical and aesthetic toolbox of Latin than he would have been of the vernacular languages. In connection with Stöckel’s work as a teacher, Guitman touches briefly on theatrical art in the school and also on two of the less well-known students who attended the institution, Jacob Heraclides and Georg Henisch.
In the last larger thematic unit of his book, Guitman offers a thorough overview of Stöckel’s writings in defense of the faith, writings in which the question of the danger posed by the Ottoman Empire is given considerable emphasis. Guitman provides a detailed discussion of the experiences of the cities of upper Hungary with the Turks, again touching on the more important aspects of the relationship between the central power and the cities (for instance communication and military questions). Stepping out of this system of relationships, he presents Luther’s views on the Ottomans as well. In connection with the image of the Ottomans in Stöckel’s writings, Guitman draws attention to the points at which the Bártfa rector’s views concerning the Turks do not overlap entirely with those of Luther. He praises Stöckel for remaining in Bártfa in the 1540s and 1550s, even though he would have been able to return to Breslau, which was safer. Guitman shows a gift for thorough source analysis in his discussion of the description of the martyrs of Libetbánya (today Ľubietová, Slovakia), descriptions attributed at the level of the base text to Stöckel. He also subjects the contentions made in the source to critical analysis.
In summary, Guitman has offered his reader a thematically lucid and coherent book in which he presents conclusions which are based on extensive knowledge and study of the secondary literature and archival sources, conclusions which in many cases bring to a close debate which have gone on for decades now or which convincingly dismiss fundamentally mistaken views. He uses the appropriate terminology, and his style is flowing and clear. The system according to which he has organized his references is also clear and easy to follow. He is consistent in his use of the basic principles of transcription and terminology presented in the introduction. The tables included in the appendices offer persuasive support for various parts of the main text. The second, third, fourth, and fifth tables in particular offer an excellent summary of the central themes of the book, more narrowly understood. Guitman essentially accomplishes the task he sets for himself in his introduction, according to which he seeks to put the issue of the Church and schooling in Bártfa into the larger European context. In the end, the central idea presented in the introduction could most certainly be continued, for with his book, Guitman has done a great deal to further a deeper knowledge and more nuanced understanding of the denominational and accompanying social changes which took place in the course of the early Reformation in the cities of the Kingdom of Hungary.
University of Miskolc
Untertanen des Sultans oder des Kaisers: Struktur und Organisationsformen der beider Wiener griechischen Gemeinden von den Anfängen im 18. Jahrhundert bis 1918. By Anna Ransmayr. Vienna: Vienna University Press, 2018. 764 pp.
Introduced to a wider, international academic public through the publication of Traian Stoianovich’s seminal article “The Conquering Balkan Orthodox Merchant” in 1960 in the Journal of Economic History, the immigration of Greek and other Orthodox merchants from the Ottoman Balkans into the Habsburg Empire during the eighteen and nineteenth centuries has been a field of interest for different historiographic traditions. First and foremost, it has been significant for histories of the modern Balkan nation states which in a retrospective and often arbitrary way have identified these states as migrant merchants’ homelands, and it has been particularly important for the Greek historiography, in which historical diaspora studies have a long tradition and are still a pool of vibrant scholarly production. On the host countries’ side, it was the Romanian and especially the Hungarian historiography that incorporated the history of the Greek merchant colonies into narratives of their Habsburg past. Historians such as Iván Hajnóczy, Endre Horváth, Ödön Füves, and Olga Cicanci have made significant contributions to the history of the Greek merchant diaspora in the Habsburg lands by bringing to light a rich corpus of archival material and generating wider interest in the subject, along with numerous publications. The topic found much less resonance among Austrian historians, despite the prominent position of Vienna in the network of the Greek merchant settlements in the Habsburg Empire and the significant presence of the Greek entrepreneurs in the economic life of the city throughout the nineteenth century. Paradoxically, as visible as the material imprints of this presence in the commercial heart of the old city are (“Griechenviertel,” Holy Trinity Church, Saint George Church), the Greeks are just as invisible from the historiographic narratives on the multireligious and multiethnic nineteenth-century Viennese bourgeoisie.
Anna Ransmayr’s monograph Untertanen des Sultans oder des Kaisers, an edited version of a dissertation defended in 2017 at the Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies of the University of Vienna, is the first comprehensive history of the Greeks in Vienna in German. Based on the existing scholarly production in Greek and the relevant contributions in German, Ransmayr moves the research further in two ways. She does so, first, by making use of sources from the archives of the two Greek communities in Vienna, to which there was no access before 2005–2007, and, second, she extends the time scope of the research to 1918, i.e. well beyond the conventional (in the relevant accounts) limit of the second half of the nineteenth century.
The book consists of six chapters (conclusions included) which could be grouped into two major thematic parts. The first examines the institutional history of the two Greek communities in Vienna, while the second deals with the demographic and social structure of the Viennese Greeks and their settlement patterns, as well as with issues of their identities, affiliations, and self-recognition. A voluminous section containing edited archival sources on the history of the two Greek communities is also included.
The book’s center of gravity lies in the first part, which constitutes the author’s key contribution to the history of the Greeks in Vienna. Although the use of new sources from the communal archives does not change the overall picture we have had so far, it nevertheless substantially complements our knowledge and supports older cases with new evidence. In this direction, Ransmayr’s contribution in challenging the essentialist perception of the communities as embodiments of a national character is particularly important, as she not only documents the older position, according to which the organization of the Orthodox immigrants in communities was imposed by the Habsburg authorities, but also shows clearly that both Greek communities themselves were specific Habsburg institutions.
However, the use of new sources has primarily enabled the author to write the institutional history of a small immigrant cluster, in which the reader can detect the major processes associated with the transition from empires to nation states in Southeast and Central Europe and their impacts on diasporic groups’ and imperial subjects’ loyalties and identities. Through a thorough examination of the sources, Ransmayr follows the institutional organization of the Greeks in Vienna from the foundation of the first Orthodox church and the granting of imperial privileges to the Saint George’s brotherhood of the Ottoman Greek Orthodox merchants of the city and the Holy Trinity’s community of the Habsburg naturalized Greek and Vlach Orthodox communities in 1776 and 1783 respectively, until their demise, which, not accidentally, coincides with the disintegration of the Habsburg Empire. The book offers a coherent account of the transition from an “imperial” pattern of community organization based on the criteria of common religion and allegiance to a sovereignty (Sultan, or Kaiser) to another, in which ethnic affiliation gains weight, without, however, calling imperial loyalty into question. Signs of this transition are to be observed as early as the first half of the eighteenth century, with the exclusion of the Serbs from the administration of the Saint George’s chapel, and intensified in the second half of the nineteenth century, when the creation of national states in the Balkans and the presence of other Orthodox populations in Vienna combined with the rapid decline of the Greeks in the city led to an increasing ethnicization of the identity discourse. But as the book shows, the ethnicization process of the communities was far from being linear and without tensions. In so far as it was not imposed from above, the existence of two Greek-Orthodox communities, one for the Ottoman and one for the Habsburg subjects, set its seal institutionally, too, on the differing economic and social orientations within the Greek diaspora. Instead of a linear course, the third chapter of the book describes how two imperial institutions, such as the Greek communities, tried to adapt to the new national realities and political loyalties in the places of origin and how the Habsburg authorities reacted to them.
In sum, the book can be read as a case study both of the history of the Greek diaspora and the history of the religious and ethnic groups of the Habsburg monarchy. Greater theorization of the findings and a closer connection with the relevant historiographic debates in Greece, Austria, and Hungary would better serve the venture. In any case, it is an excellently documented book which fills a historiographical gap and is worth reading.
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Reformations in Hungary in the Age of the Ottoman Conquest. By Pál Ács. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2019. 333 pp.
It is always a pleasure to see a good volume appear on the history and culture of Hungary in English. Fortunately, in recent years, we have more and more specialized English books on subjects which have always had broad appeal in Europe, including the Reformation and the Ottoman occupation. The Reformations in Hungary in the Age of the Ottoman Conquest offers selected essays on both of these major themes. It is the first English-language volume by the renowned historian of Hungarian literature and culture, Pál Ács, who is senior research fellow at the Institute for Literary Studies at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Curiously, Ács, who is originally a scholar of Hungarian literature, teaches presently as an honorary professor of history proper at Eötvös Loránd University (Budapest).
Ács is a man of essays. He has written over 200 published scholarly articles, and several of his previous books are collected volumes of studies. He unquestionably has an original interest in a wide range of different themes and topics. With the curiosity of a humanist antiquarian, he searches for stimulating threads of the past, which lead him to exciting stories, figures, and historical problems. Consequently, it is not easy to find a single common narrative for the eighteen studies in the volume. As Ács notes in his introduction, it is impossible to grasp reality entirely, even less the “reality” of the past. However, if we can solidly support our views, organize our subject matter, and narrate it well, we may convince others of our way of comprehending “reality” as experienced by historical agents. Yet there is a major common ground to the author’s varied interests, and this is the question of how late Renaissance men (especially ethnic Hungarian intellectuals of the sixteenth century) reacted to two major challenges of their times: the Reformation (or the Reformations in the plural) and the Ottoman presence in divided Hungary. While the Reformation concerned the spiritual and intellectual life of Hungarians, the Ottoman presence influenced their essential experience of culture and otherness, as well as their security and prosperity. Alongside these two major themes, the Reformation (part two) and the Ottoman presence (part three), two shorter parts deal with the question of Erasmian humanism (part one) and seventeenth-century Catholic renewal (part four).
Part one, entitled “Erasmian Challenges,” offers a general introduction to Erasmus’s Hungarian influence and two case studies. It underlines the ways Erasmus paradoxically contributed to the advancement of the Hungarian language. In Ács’s analysis, Erasmus most importantly represented a new model of the independent learned man, especially the one who desired spiritual renewal but had ambivalent feelings about the Reformation. Erasmus taught them the philosophy of Christ, which was neither Catholic nor Lutheran but was purportedly based purely on the Bible, above all on the New Testament. If this new Christian philosophy was to reach the individual and teach him morality, it needed to be translated into the vernacular. This was realized by the first Bible translators, who wished to create a book, as János Sylvester, the Hungarian translator of the New Testament, put it, “in which the Savior Christ himself speaks in Hungarian.”
Benedek Komjáti, another translator, translated only Saint Paul’s letters. Appearing in 1533, his was the first Hungarian vernacular book. As Ács reveals (in chapter three), the translation was based on the edition and interpretation of Erasmus. It thus merits our attention for several reasons. One of these is the relationship between vernacularism and female readership (the patron of the work was the widow Katalin Frangepán), a relationship familiar from Western contexts but little studied by Hungarian scholars. Ács does not pursue this question either. For him, Komjáti’s translation matters both from the perspective of the new “print Hungarian,” that is, the problem of written Hungarian, and from the perspective of a new linguistic community defined by its language, which Komjáti’s book was about to create self-consciously. One of Komjáti’s questions was how Hungarians ought to react to the military and political disaster created by the Ottoman occupation. In Ács’s reading, one possible answer to this question was the book itself: Hungarians could find their way out of the political crisis through spiritual and subsequent cultural and literary renewal, following in the footsteps of Christ, as explained by Erasmus via the teachings of Saint Paul. Yet Komjáti also had a more specific answer, which related his work to the ideas of many sixteenth-century Protestants, namely that Hungarians could become God’s newly chosen people.
An aspect of this Jewish–Hungarian parallel is the subject of the complex and exciting study on the Protestant reception of a characteristically Catholic hagiographic story on the martyrdom of the Holy Maccabees in Hungary. This is the subject of chapter two, which emphasizes Erasmus’s influence on this reception history but which could also easily be placed in part two of the volume, entitled “Protestant Reformations in Cultural Contexts.”
Part two also has an introductory chapter, in which Ács argues that the Renaissance and the Reformations had similar intellectual goals, namely the recovery of a lost golden age. One of the theses of the chapter concerns the interrelatedness of the different denominational movements in the sixteenth century. Ács claims that distinct confessional cultures in Hungary only began to develop in the seventeenth century, when the initial goal of the different Reformations (Christian unity) was essentially abandoned.
Chapter seven deals with an early work by Mátyás Dévai entitled On the Sleeping of Saints. Dévai, who was a leading figure of ethnic Hungarian Lutheranism, studied in Wittenberg and compiled his work in 1531, shortly after his return to Hungary. This text was lost, but since Dévai discussed the question again six years later, we can reconstruct the original. The major context in which the article places Dévai’s work was the Protestant discussion of the fate of the human soul after death and before Doomsday. This was obviously a tricky question. One could gain much popularity by rejecting the notion of Purgatory as a human construction, but there were many pitfalls to avoid concerning Hell, resurrection, and the mortality/immortality of the soul. Oddly, Dévai was interested in the debate only to the extent that it gave support to arguments against the cult of the saints. If the saints’ souls were sleeping after their death, they could not be invoked by the living. For Dévai, this was also the case with the Virgin Mary, Hungary’s patron saint, and this constituted a radical, unpatriotic, and unpopular claim. The problem with Dévai’s theory of soul-sleeping was that it was dangerously close to the Anabaptist doctrine of the death of the soul. Consequently, Dévai modified his earlier theory and tempered its claims. Nonetheless, he continued to target the cult of the saints, which says much of the context of the early Reformation in Hungary, which involved violent attacks by the people against images of the saints.
Part three of the book (“The Changing Image of Ottoman Turks”) collects studies from Ács’s more recent and very fruitful research on the Ottomans. Some of the articles have already inspired further research, especially the ones that concern geographical areas where mixed and fluid identities were the order of the day. As a Hungarian researcher, Ács is in a privileged position to observe historical agents moving between Christian Europe and the Ottoman Empire, yet the way he composes his narratives on the basis of less familiar or hidden information sheds light on the most intuitive and creative aspects of his scholarship.
Chapter eleven puts the story of Alvise Gritti in context. Having grown up in Constantinople, Gritti was the illegitimate son of a doge of Venice. He had so much influence in Constantinople that even Sultan Suleyman followed his politics for a while. This chapter explains the less studied international and Ottoman dynamics which resulted first in Gritti’s sudden rise in Transylvania and then his eventual fall and brutal death in 1534.
The following three chapters all deal with Ottoman renegades with Hungarian contacts or origins. Chapter twelve calls attention to Ibrahim, the Ottoman brother-in-law of the humanist diplomat Andreas Dudith. It caused an enormous scandal when Dudith, as the bishop of Pécs, married a Polish noblewoman in 1567. The scandal would have been even greater if people had known that his new wife’s uncle was a renegade, one of the most powerful and dreaded dragomans of the age. There were now two members in the same family serving two inimical emperors. It is thanks to Ács’s research that we know about this unparalleled relationship, however scarce the information concerning their personal contacts may be (Ibrahim’s supposed financial help of Dudith’s family is not substantiated).
Chapter thirteen uncovers the origin and activity of an Austrian and a Hungarian renegade, Tarjumans Mahmud and Murad, who were apparently captured at the same time in or after the Battle of Mohács. They were both educated men, proficient in several languages, and authors of different works, Murad of a Muslim catechism, Mahmud of a historical work on Hungary (Tarih-I Ungarus), in which he might have relied on the assistance of Murad. As the article shows, these two dragomans knew each other well and kept in touch. Murad (who allegedly spoke Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Latin, Hungarian, and Croatian) also translated historical works, most famously an Ottoman chronicle into bad Latin for the use of the humanist Johann Löwenklau, the protagonist of a later chapter. Even more exciting is the involvement of these two dragomans in Christian religious disputes. It appears that the famous Antitrinitarian Adam Neuser, who converted to Islam in Constantinople, was hosted by Mahmud. It also appears that the same Mahmud, probably as much a latitudinarian as Neuser, openly supported the Unitarians against the Calvinists in a dispute in Transylvania, sentencing the Calvinist György Alvinczi to death with the excuse that he made derisory comments about the Quran.
Chapter fourteen is similarly suggestive on the history of Ottoman–Christian relations. It demonstrates the Hungarian origin and knowledge of the protagonist Sehsuvar Bey, one of the most dreaded and cruelest Ottoman soldiers of occupied Hungary. Sehsuvar did all he could in order to earn the trust of the Constantinople court fighting against Hungarians as a Hungarian renegade, still he remained repeatedly frustrated in his career hopes. His is the story of the overcompensation of the neophyte, a story which we know all too well from other historical contexts.
Equally fascinating is chapter fifteen on the humanist Johann Löwenklau, whose Greek and Byzantine interests developed by the end of the century into interests about the Ottomans. Once again, we learn here about the intriguing connection between religious heterodoxy and intellectual openness. The article explores Löwenklau’s Ottoman scholarship and places it in the contexts of a growing humanist interest in the East and an earlier Protestant interest in a religious mission to Ottoman areas. Ács argues that Löwenklau’s activity should be understood as the result of these two intersecting interests.
Chapter sixteen explores the Oriental travels of István Kakas, the wealthiest and at the same time one of the most erudite citizens of Cluj/Kolozsvár. How Kakas ended up as the leader of a diplomatic mission to the Persian Shah ‘Abbas I in 1602 is a question that places the whole expedition into an entirely unexpected context. We find out that the mission, starting from Rudolf II’s Prague, had much less to do with the military designs of the Habsburg Empire staying in war with the Ottomans since 1591 than with the plans of adventuring English traders eager to create new intercontinental networks and commercial routes.
Finally, part four, “The Catholic Reforming Movements in the Early 17th Century,” is rather sketchy compared to the previous ones, and the promise of the title is only partially fulfilled. On the one hand, we would need an introductory chapter here too; on the other, chapter seventeen, which is about a poem by one the most remarkable aristocrats of the period, Pál Esterházy, says more about Baroque secular Hungary than Catholic movements. In contrast, the last study on Péter Pázmány’s Catholicism is highly suggestive of new potential approaches towards Catholic Renewal. Pázmány’s historical interpretation appears to have provided new answers to real intellectual needs, answers that Protestant historical works failed to offer. While the enormous success of seventeenth-century Catholic Counter-Reformation is most commonly explained with reference to the efficiency of the Catholic Church and its power relations in the context of a Catholic empire, this chapter suggests that their success might also partly be explained with reference to their religious message. In a country fighting for its survival, the Protestant dogma of Predestination might not have been a strong motivating force and might have failed to correspond to the needs of a generation that struggled to find a way out of political crisis and liberate occupied Hungary.
The merits of the book are far greater than the very few points I have mentioned, sometimes with critical remarks. It offers a valuable contribution to historical knowledge about early modern Hungary’s culture, literature, and religion for non-Hungarian scholars interested in the region.
Eötvös Loránd University
De l’exotisme à la modernité: Un siècle de voyage français en Hongrie (1818–1910). By Catherine Horel. Montrouge: Éditions du Bourg, 2018. 225 pp.
Catherine Horel, an outstanding French historian whose research touches on the history of Central Europe from an array of perspectives, is rightly considered one of the finest international scholars of Hungarian history. She has published a great deal of articles based on her impressive research on topics including the Hungarian Holocaust and the history of Central Europe. Not long ago, she won acclaim for her scholarly biography of Miklós Horthy. In her most recent book, she offers an exhaustive presentation and penetrating analyses of the texts of French travel writers who journeyed to Hungary between 1818 and 1910. The antecedents to this topic in her work stretch back relatively far. In several earlier articles, Horel dealt with this subject, so her new book can be seen as a synthesis of the findings of a longer research endeavor.
In the introduction, which is comparatively long, Horel defines the theme and outlines her methods. The period in question could be called, just for the sake of simplicity, “the short nineteenth century,” which began with the travels of the famous French geologist François Sulpice Beudant to Hungary and came to a close with the first decade of the twentieth century which bore witness to the birth of the automobile which revolutionized travel (the visit to Hungary of a tourist by the name of Pierre Marge, who traveled by car, offers a symbolic end to the era). The period, which lasted essentially from the end of the Napoleonic wars until the outbreak of World War I, was remarkably varied from the perspective of both French and Hungarian history. It was an era of reforms and modern ideals, as well as the emergence of modern nationalisms, revolutions and freedom fights, and the various compromises with which these events often drew to a close. It was also a time in which, alongside the shared interest felt by the two nations in each other’s culture and plights, fundamental differences began to appear, as well as the distorting effects of false images. The authors of the travel accounts came from numerous layers of the intelligentsia of the era, including scholars, members of the nobility who were performing either military or diplomatic functions, conservative representatives of the Church, émigré aristocrats, and enlightened journalists. The quantity and, of course, the nature of the information they left for future generations were shaped by the variety of backgrounds from which they came. Travel at the time was still part of a lifestyle that was accessible only to the social elites, the aristocracy, the nobility, the upper middle classes, and the intelligentsia. In her monograph, Horel attempts to call attention to the distinctive features of the travel writings of the French authors who journeyed to and through Hungary by presenting the most characteristic texts in her body of source material.
In the first chapter of the book, Horel examines the stereotypes which were prevalent in the era (some of which persist to the present day). Alongside the romantic image of the blue Danube and the “Puszta,” she focuses on the cities, the dynamic development of which can be seen as one of the signs and symptoms of urbanization in Hungary at the time. In the second section of the book, Horel discusses another group of stereotypes, the elements of so-called Hungarian national character. Her discussion touches on ideas concerning the origins of the Hungarians and the cultural history of the idea of Hungarian hospitality, as well as religious and political questions. As a kind of counterpoint to the notions of Hungarian national character, Horel also presents the images given by the French travel writers of the national minorities and the larger religious and ethnic minorities living in Hungary, including the Croats, the Romanians, the Slovaks, the Germans, the Serbs, the Ruthenians, the Jews, and the Roma.
The protagonist of the second chapter is Budapest, the capital of the Kingdom of Hungary as of 1873 and a city which rivaled Vienna as a political and cultural center. As Horel has already published a very successful monograph on Budapest in French, it is hard to offer the French reader something new about the city, which was one of the most dynamically changing metropolises of Europe, so we are given more of a sample of the nineteenth-century French sources. Horel likes to let the sources speak for themselves, as they are. She uses copious citations, which she complements with insightful notes and useful explanations. In this central part of the book, we bear witness to the birth of the Budapest mythos, which is still very alive today for the average French tourist.
In the last chapter, Horel uses a structure which resembles a triptych to present the French mirror image of political relations in Hungary. In the first section, she discusses the great patriots (primarily Lajos Kossuth and Ferenc Deák) of the Reform Era and the Vormärz. The second section offers an examination of the problems of the 1848 Revolution and War of Independence from the perspective of France. Here, Horel draws attention to the failure of the approach and policies adopted by the Hungarian independence movement to the national minorities and also to social problems in Hungary at the time. Horel presents the era of the Austro–Hungarian Monarchy created by the Compromise of 1867 by examining shifting sentiment among the travel writers. On the one hand, Horel offers her reader glimpses of outbursts of sympathy for Hungarians in some of the narratives, but at the same time, in her summary of the geopolitical realities of the period leading up to the outbreak of World War I, she notes the failure of the attempts by France to pursue a pro-Hungary foreign policy. In the summary of the book, she continues this line of thinking, presenting the changes which are discernible in the images of Hungarians in the narratives of French travel writers over the course of this short nineteenth century. Among the major fateful shifts in these images was the fundamental transformation of the romantic notion of Hungary and the Hungarians and the change which took place as, when it came to reports on the peoples of Central Europe, the narratives of travelers and discoverers, which were largely literary in nature, were replaced towards the end of the era by the descriptions given by French geographers and Slavophile journalists and writers. An array of carefully selected illustrations and the detailed bibliography also make Horel’s book an enjoyable read.
This captivatingly written and persuasively argued work of scholarship has numerous merits, but there are perhaps a few minor shortcomings which also deserve mention. Horel’s use of the term “French” may be a bit confusing for the reader. In the case of most of the travel writers in her account, the term refers simply to France as country of origin, but in the case of the Swiss authors, it means “French speaking.” It might have been worth clarifying this minor ambiguity in the introduction. Also, though she makes very precise use of an exhaustive range of sources, one or two important sources are still missing from her account. It made have been worth including, for example, the travel narrative by Cyprien Polydore, a parish priest from Périgueux (Voyage en Allemagne, en Autriche-Hongrie et en Italie. ) who traveled through the country by train and who offered a fascinating example of a travel narrative by a deeply religious pilgrim. It also would have been useful had Horel offered some reflection on works in the secondary literature on the subject written in the recent past by Hungarian scholars, for instance the works by historian and literary scholar Géza Szász, a member of the faculty at the University of Szeged.
Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Transnational Patriotism in the Mediterranean, 1800–1850: Stammering the Nation. By Konstantina Zanou. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. 248 pp.
At a time when the Mediterranean Sea is in the focus of international audiences, especially because of flows of migrants from the global south towards Europe, it seems that the Mediterranean space has begun to meet with new interest in scientific research, as well. Numerous studies which in recent years have re-analyzed this area from the perspective of its history have focused primarily on the scope, frequency, and diversity of mutual transfers, exchanges, entanglements, and interactions along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The monograph by Kostantina Zanou, Assistant Professor of Italian at Columbia University and a historian specialized in the history of nineteenth-century Mediterranean, is part of this research. Zanou’s work, however, is not a general overview of the history of the Mediterranean. The main characters of her book are not the countries, empires, and nations still featured in much of the traditional historical narratives, but rather the life stories of people who lived amid (and some of them through) the historical changes that this region witnessed in the first half of the nineteenth century. This was the time when the Venetian Republic collapsed after a long period of almost complete domination in this part of the world. It was also the period in which the first germs of nationalism, an ideology which in only a few decades did away with century-old empires and gave rise to semi-nation-states in their stead, emerged on the horizon. The book does not focus on the entire Mediterranean space. The geographical analytical framework is the seven Ionian Islands in the southeastern corner of the Adriatic Sea, which were situated at the crossroads of the Venetian and Ottoman worlds and which during that time shifted sovereignties among the French, British, Russian, and Habsburg Empires. The changing geopolitical conditions are intertwined with multiple histories of individuals into a novel attempt to describe these complex processes from a point of view which combines microhistory with macrohistory. As she writes, Zanou is attempting “to look at the big picture through the small details” (p.2). Particularly the intellectuals, who became heralds of the nation and the national idea in the individual national movements (especially the Greek and Italian) are examined in a new light which reveals their other role: non-national or, rather, trans-national patriots whose perceptions of themselves different significantly from the perceptions posthumously imposed on them by nation builders. In their diasporic wanderings and experience as exiles, they represented a bridge between cultures and languages, marking a time and space not yet codified into national paradigms.
The introduction brilliantly presents the essential focus on Zanou’s inquiry and outlines the direction of the analysis, which then extends over four parts. These parts are based primarily on the personal profiles of intellectuals such as Ugo Foscolo, Andreas Kalvos, Dionysios Solomos, Mario Pieri, Andrea Papadopoulo Vretto, and Andrea Mustoxidi, which intertwine in the text with many other characters, ranging from noted politicians and prominent diplomats, such as Ioannis Kapodistrias, and influential scholars, like Adamantios Koraes, to perhaps less familiar names, such as Alexandros Vogorides, Christodoloulos Clonares, Spiridion Vlandi, and Spiridion Naranzi, mostly from the Ionian environment, who in different ways and on different levels left a mark on much broader regions.
The second part in particular, in which Zanou describes the strategic presence of Russia in the southern Adriatic and the role that Orthodox Christianity played in patching up the “plot gaps” in national ideology, is one of the main strengths of the book. By the eighteenth century, the Mediterranean had become part of the Russian political horizon. Even at the time of the Russo-Turkish war between 1768 and 1774, the Russian navy successfully countered the Turkish forces and further reinforced its presence and role in the period to follow. Despite the superiority of the British and the growing appetites of Italian irredentism and Austro-German expansionism in the Balkans, from the nineteenth century on, Russia was an important international force in shaping the Mediterranean environment. The study reveals the complexity and diversity of options and choices available to the protagonists of this book over a relatively short period of time in the wake of the collapse of la Serenissima and Napoleon’s ambitions for the eastern Mediterranean. By examining the choices made by the figures who are the protagonists of her narrative, Zanou leads the reader to an understanding of the Ionian version of patriotism. Although it mainly deals with the intertwining of Italian and Greek cultural and political milieus, the work is not (nor does it aspire to be) a study of Italian and Greek literary cooperation in the pre-national era. The personages represent paradigmatic figures compatible with a broader Mediterranean environment, standing alongside Niccolò Tommaseo, likely the best-known Kulturträger of mutual transnational dialogue along the Adriatic shores during the period in question. Based on assorted archives and personal legacies, as well as secondary literature in several languages, Zanou thus provides the reader with new perspectives on the issue of the Greek Revolution and its actors, philhellenism, European post-Enlightenment society, the concrete traps of post-imperial governance, different understandings of patria and patriotism, the intermingling of religion and nationalism, and the significance of linguistic diversity in Europe at the time.
The questions regarding how the disintegrating empires, changing sovereignties, emerging states, shifting loyalties, and imagined national communities were reflected in the writings of these southern Adriatic intellectuals evolve into fulcrums of European history. This becomes especially clear in the conclusion, which shows that nationalism in practice proved much more complex and problematic than nationalism as a set of theoretical concepts. In this context, the Ionian Islands were no exception. Rather, they could be seen more as a European paradigm of the changes that marked global developments. Thus, this book will be engaging not only for the ever more numerous enthusiasts who have taken an interest in the Adriatic region in recent years, but also for readers looking for a novel, fresh perspective on Europe and the Mediterranean during a crucial period of their histories.
European University Institute
Wien 1918: Agonie der Kaiserstadt. By Edgar Haider. Vienna: Böhlau, 2018. 418 pp.
The hundred-year anniversary of the end of World War I has witnessed the publication of a number of studies in Austria and abroad that explore the nature of the 1918 regime change in Central Europe. In the vein of his previous portrait of the imperial capital at the start of the war (Wien 1914: Alltag am Rande des Abgrunds, ), in his latest work, Edgard Haider chronicles life in Vienna four years later, in 1918. Other recent books might offer more detailed archival research on the collapse of the Empire viewed from its capital city, but Haider’s study provides a very enjoyable tour through the streets, cafés, parks, and palaces of Vienna. Based mostly on newspaper sources (as well as published diaries and memoirs), it gives an atmospheric account of the last year of the war and uncovers many distinctive aspects of urban life in wartime, such as traditional celebrations, burial customs, lighting, housecleaning, fashion, and rubbish collection.
While not organized strictly chronologically, the structure loosely follows the unfolding of the calendar year with its main festivals and seasons, starting with the celebration of New Year’s Eve and ending with preparations for Christmas. The first chapters provide some context on the international and internal situation of the monarchy and on the Habsburg dynasty. The core chapters of the book, however, deal with everyday life in wartime Vienna, detailing the impact of the conflict in various areas. The hunger crisis of the last years of the war plays a major role in this narrative, as dwindling food supplies shaped new behaviours and daily rhythms, from constant queuing to trips to the countryside and changes in eating habits. Haider relates episodes which can be seen as symptoms of the crisis: the disappearance of sausages as a snack and their replacement with corn on the cob or the shooting of a polar bear in a zoo by a man who considered them not worth feeding, as humans were starving. Haider also presents the health consequences of malnutrition for children and the difficult living conditions created by the shortage of housing. Other descriptions give a sense of the transformations in street life, as Haider paints overcrowded tramways, the fate of bourgeois buildings, missing door handles, and empty shop windows. The most interesting chapter focuses on the celebration and adaptation of regular rituals (carnival, lent, Easter, summer vacations, confirmations) in times of war and penury, contrasting them with pre-war customs. In the middle of the book, a form of excursus discusses the death of several key artists of the Viennese Modern Age, whose passing can be seen as a sign of the end of an era (for instance Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Otto Wagner, and Koloman Moser, all of whom died in 1918). This section, however, also includes artists such as Ferdinand Hodler and Peter Rosegger whose relationship to Vienna is more tenuous and feels more disconnected from the rest of the book. Finally, the volume comes to a close with two more general chapters depicting the end of the monarchy and the birth of the Austrian Republic. The political transformations are also embodied in the fabric of the city: the chaos of these few weeks is illustrated through the confusion at railway stations and the removal of imperial insignias.
The book, which has neither an introduction nor a conclusion, functions more as a series of well-chosen vignettes (without much transition from one to the next) than as a scholarly argument. Richly illustrated, it also includes many enjoyable newspaper excerpts, cited at length, which give a nice feel for contemporary humour and language. Some of them are particularly delightful, such as the feuilleton on the all-encompassing Ersatz products by Ludwig Hirschfeld (pp.127–130). The glossary of period and Viennese terms at the end of the book is in this respect a very useful addition to help the reader appreciate the original sources. The result is an impressionistic picture of Vienna in 1918, filtered through a slightly nostalgic lens and covering a wide range of topics related to the urban experience. It highlights the profound repercussions of the war for all of Vienna’s inhabitants regardless of class, as the events and aftermath of the war left hardly any corner of urban activity untouched. However, this work does not present many new elements on the collapse of Austria–Hungary for specialists in the field. The main political and military developments of the period are probably better covered elsewhere, as are the social and economic consequences of the war for Vienna’s population. Also, the specificities of the year 1918 as opposed to 1917 or 1919 (in terms of hunger levels, for example) do not appear as clearly as they should, given the focus on that particular year. Overall, Wien 1918 gives insights into the mood on Viennese streets one century ago with an eye for improbable and revealing details. It provides more atmosphere than analysis, but it nicely complements other works on the topic.
University of Padua