Gábor Bethlen’s visit in Brassó as reflected in the financial registers of the city
The paper discusses one of the most notable periods in the history of the Principality of Transylvania: the reign of Gábor Bethlen. Unusually, however, the focus is not on questions of political history, warfare or diplomacy but rather on an everyday event from the era of the Transylvanian princes, the reception of the Transylvanian ruler – in our case Gábor Bethlen – in one the most important towns of his country, Brassó. As an organic part of the princely services weighing on the Saxon towns, the prince’s visit was a fundamental component in the relationship between the Saxon communities and the prince. Accordingly, the details of the event can cast light on the actual relationship between the princely power and the Transylvanian Saxon communities. Moreover, this can augment our knowledge about the history, economic conditions and the life of the Saxon autonomy, and even about the town and court hierarchy of the era.
The study is based on a specific group of sources, the financial registers of the city villicus (city officer responsible for the financials of the community), which are available from the years 1613–1617 and 1620–1629. On the basis of the entries and comments, we can draw a detailed and colorful picture of this extraordinary event: the visit of the prince. We learn about the ceremonial framework for the distinguished guest’s stay in Brassó, the organizational tasks the city needed to carry out as well as the town management mechanisms working in the background, and we can also have a glimpse of the eating habits in contemporary Brassó and the way of life of the locals. The data reveal such details that provide further additions to our knowledge about the relationship of the prince and the the privileged Saxon community, and bring us closer to understanding the everyday life of a 17th-century Central Eastern European municipal community.
“Only those enter the army...” (The living conditions and the motivation of the warrior estate in the second half of 17th century)
In order to understand the circumstances of the Hungarian warrior class of the 16th and 17the centuries, we need to thoroughly study their legal position and living conditions. However, it is rather difficult to give an overall picture as the composition of the frontier military was not uniform in either territorial, social, financial, legal, ethnic or religious terms. The diverse circumstances can be best illustrated through the correspondence of the generalatus and the districts of the captain generals, of which the paper describes the life of the border forces in lower Hungary in detail.
Using the correspondence of Pál Esterházy, captain general of the mining area and the Cisdanubia district with the border fortresses, the author studies the legal situation and living conditions of the warrior estate. Using both already published and yet unpublished sources as well as the literature, he shows the peculiarities and contradictions of the life of the warrior class. Looking at the advantages of serving at the frontier, he describes those rights, privileges and possibilities that provided a living for the soldiers at the frontier in the constantly deteriorating circumstances during the second half of the 17th century. He also shows the disadvantages and the unfavorable side of the service to illustrate which were those ever worsening conditions in which the soldiers lived their daily lives. Through the study of their rights and living conditions, he aims to amend the oft-mentioned commonplace about the border armies’ “old freedom”. Through this we can not only have a glimpse of the everyday life of the forces guarding the frontier but also get a better understanding of the social class that emerged within the new circumstances of the Ottoman occupation.
The ceremonial entry into Paris of Louis XIV and Maria Theresa (1660) as described in Bureau de la Ville sources and Theatrum Europaeum
Using the Bureau de la Ville records held in the National Archives of Paris and the accounts of the contemporary journal Theatrum Europaeum, the paper describes the splendid wedding ceremony of Louis XIV and the elder daughter of Philip IV, Maria Theresa, the magnificent royal entry (Grande Entrée) into Paris in 1660. Theatrum Europaeum was a collection of journals, edited between 1633 and 1738 in Frankfurt am Main, that provided a successive recapitulation of Europe’s history between 1618 and 1718 in 21 volumes. First, the journal describes the main events of a given year in each country with historical authenticity. After an overview of wars and peace treaties, the reader can get a glimpse of the everyday life of the royal, princely and ducal courts, the diplomatic and protocol events and other curiosities. The archival sources of the Bureau de la Ville are of great importance because they were edited in the Paris „town-hall” of the 17th century, that is at the location and at the time of the great event, consequently they can be considered the most authentic sources, giving first-hand information about the ceremonial events and the preparations preceding them. Besides, we can get a glimpse of the everyday life of the city and the institutional structure of the French capital. They also prove the authenticity of Theatrum Europaeum. Both sources provide a detailed description of the royal couple’s magnificent entry into Paris, which reflected France’s great power ambitions. The marriage of Louis XIV and Maria Theresa was very important as far as later claims to the Spanish throne were concerned, since through this marriage the French king obtained legal rights both for himself and his successors to the Spanish throne.
Sigismund Báthory’s Policy and His Third Abdication (1599–1600)
The paper discusses the policy and the personality of Sigismund Báthory (1572–1613), Prince of Transylvania. The author analyzes the historical background of his abdications and returns, with special emphasis on his third abdication in favor of his elder nephew, cardinal Andrew Báthory. After his resignation in March 1599, Sigismund stayed for a while on the Transylvanian estates given to him by Andrew, and then in the summer left for Poland to the Prussian estates conceded to him. Analyzing the letters of Sigismund to his nephew Andrew, one can have insight into Sigismund’s mentality and policy. While Sigismund emphasized his loyalty to the new prince, he retained his own princely title. He tried to give general advice on ruling to his nephew, and practical advice to his uncle Stephen Bocskai. He admitted that the enmity between Prince Andrew and Bocskai was attributable to some scheming people, but still suggested that Prince Andrew should occupy Bocskai’s castles in case the charges turned out to be true. After his nephew Prince Andrew had been defeated by the Wallachian voivode Michael and murdered (October 1599), Sigismund renewed his claim to the principality. After the fall of Michael (September 1600), he returned to the Principality with Polish and Ottoman support and regained the country (February 1601). Soon he was defeated by the Habsburg army, abdicated (1602) and left for Bohemia.
Prince Sigismund Báthory was a complicated personality, an active and restless politician. In the beginning he had been influenced by his elder advisers (Stephen Bocskai, Alfonso Carrillo), but later he made his own decisions. He was regarded perfidious and tyrannical by most of his contemporaries. His policy was considered inconsistent and illogical due to his mental illness and the total failure of his marriage with Maria Christina of Austria. In the author’s opinion, Prince Sigismund tried to take into account in all of his decisions the interests of both Christianity and Transylvania/Hungary as well as his own interests and those of the Báthory family. At first he allied (1595) with Emperor Rudolf, the Hungarian king against the Ottoman Empire in the 15 Years War (1593–1606). Then he gave up Transylvania to Emperor Rudolf to defend the country from the Ottomans (1598). Then after his return, he transferred the rule to his nephew Andrew to secure Transylvania with Polish and Ottoman support (1599, and in the end he tried again to govern Transylvania as a Turkish vassal (1601). He could not succeed but tried every way and method.
Nature, law, theology – a chapter from the history of political discourse in 18th-century Hungary
In his paper the author focuses on a seldom spotlighted thread from the history of natural law in Hungary, the 18th century reception of modern Protestant natural law theories in Calvinist colleges. Providing an analysis of Theologia naturalis written by István Szentgyörgyi, one-time professor of the Sárospatak College, he wants to demonstrate that political culture in the early modern period in Hungary was more complex in terms of language than we usually think, and that within this political culture modern Protestant (Pufendorfian and Wolffian) natural law had some role. Also, he argues that the reception of modern Protestant natural law theory was not necessarily a mechanical acceptance but much rather an adoption determined by the local socio-cultural circumstances.
First, the author reconstructs what the latest English-language literature says about modern Protestant natural law theory, then he provides an overview of Calvinism in 18thcentury Hungary and only after that, referring to these contexts, does he discuss Szentgyörgyi’s book. The conclusions he arrives at seem important in many respects.
On the one hand, they call attention to the fact that the reception of modern Protestant natural law theory was not necessarily connected to the educational program of enlightened absolutism, either in institutional or in an ideological sense. On the other hand, they remind us that not only reform movements threatening the social-political status quo had a role in the dissemination of Enlightenment thought in Hungary but also such institutions that were conservative in character. This way, the moderate or conservative movements of the Enlightenment seem to have been present in Hungary, too, in their peculiar localized versions.