Loving Husbands, Caring Fathers, Glorious Ancestors: Male Family Roles in Early Modern Transylvania

Angelika Orgona
Hungarian National Museum
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Hungarian Historical Review Volume 9 Issue 4  (2020): 624-649 DOI 10.38145/2020.4.624

The study examines how a Transylvanian nobleman, Gáspár Kornis of Göncruszka (1641–1683), created a narrative concerning four generations of his family. Though in his memoir, a patrilineal lineage scheme dominates, a close reading of scattered family documents also provides insights into the practices of horizontal bonding among relatives. The letters and last wills reflect the life cycle changes and represent emotional relationships among family members. By considering the act of writing as an emotional practice, the essay tests the claims of the memoir with the help of other archival and extratextual sources. What were the narrated roles of heroized protagonists, and what were the everyday duties of noble heads of family in the early modern period? The study depicts the transformations of the family network during crisis situations in the Transylvanian Principality.

Keywords: male family roles, kinship networks, egodocument, generational memory, orphanhood, widowhood, seventeenth-century Transylvania

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