The Bishop and His Chapel:
The Hédervári Chapel in Győr and the Episcopal Chapels of Central Europe around 1400
Among the spectacular life stories of the prelates of Central Europe, that of János Hédervári, bishop of Győr (northern Hungary), is remarkable from several perspectives. He was one of the bishops who played an active political role in the history of his country and, as a figure of the church who founded a private chapel, also a representative of an important tradition of Central European episcopal patronage. The first part of my paper deals with János’s life, which has not yet been made the subject of detailed study. More precisely, I will emphasize János’s role as a confidant of Queen Elisabeth and someone who assisted as such in her endeavor to hinder the future king, Sigismund of Luxemburg, from seizing the Hungarian crown. János managed to become bishop just a few months before Sigismund ascended to the throne, but he was to spend the first two decades of his episcopal rule in the shadow of political neglect. During these two decades, however, János nurtured a remarkable artistic culture in his episcopal town. Between 1386 and 1403 the Gothic building of the Győr Cathedral was built, as was the delicate structure of the Holy Trinity Chapel, the chapel he himself founded. Through an architectural analysis of the chapel in the second part of the paper, I aim to demonstrate that a structurally complex and prestigious building was constructed under his auspices – and in spite of the fact that the diocese of Győr was by no means the richest among the bishoprics of the country. Furthermore, I will argue that the Holy Trinity Chapel not only integrates the latest architectural features of its era, but also mingles them with a unique structure and adaptations from non-episcopal architectural models, which lends it an individual character and makes the chapel an interesting Hungarian case of episcopal patronage in the late fourteenth century.