Integration through Language: the Multi-lingual Character of Late Medieval Hungarian Towns
The paper assesses the ethnically heterogeneous nature of urban population in the medieval Kingdom of Hungary from the point of view of language usage. Literacy and orality with regard to the languages used by the indigenous (Hungarian, Slovak, Croatian, and so forth) and immigrant (German, Italian, Walloon and other), Christian and non-Christian elements are discussed both on a countrywide basis and on the level of individual towns.
The examples taken from a number of towns in the medieval Kingdom of Hungary, from ®ilina in the north to Dubrovnik in the south, from Sopron in the west to Bra.ov in the east, show both the integrative role of language and its limitations. On the one hand, by understanding and, in some contexts (especially in commerce, daily life and diplomacy), by using the languages of the ‘others’, various ethnic groups could avoid segregation. On the other hand, by maintaining situations (partly in administration and jurisdiction, and especially in religious life) when the use of their mother tongue was not only permitted but even required, they consciously counteracted assimilation. It was only in very few and isolated instances that the use of a single language was made compulsory.
Through the analysis of available data using tools borrowed from historical sociolingusitics, we can gain deeper insight into the multi-lingual character of late medieval Hungarian towns. The author points out various elements of bilingualism and diglossia, and emphasizes the different and changing level of prestige of Latin and the various vernaculars. This helps explain language choices on the individual and community level, and understand how social and cultural development as well as changes in the ethnic structure of urban populations affected and were reflected in the use of various languages.
The relation of the cities and the river in the Loire region (from the end of the 11th century until the middle of the 14th century)
Examining the process of medieval urban development, the paper focuses on the development of the relationship between the cities and the river. All the four major cities in the lower Loire region were strongly connected to the Loire and its hydrographic network. In all four cases, the town formed at or close to the confluence of the tributary and the river (Erdre-Nantes, Maine-Angers, Thouet-Saumur, Cher-Tours). Beside the obvious considerations of urban defense, the importance of this was growing in the era, as a result of which the towns could maintain more lively relationship with the mostly agrarian hinterland. Their expansion towards the river became more marked from the 11th century onwards. It was always the counts and the church whose initiatives led to the urbanization of the territories at the river banks. However, over time we can witness the withdrawal of comital power and that of secular nobility from these areas. In the early period (11th-13th centuries), this was accompanied by the strengthening of newly founded or out-of-town church institutions in the given zone. Through the consequent assertion of the rights of landlords and the parish, their position in the balance of power of the city raised them to the level of influential municipal abbeys. Demographic growth brought an ever growing number of lay population in the river bank areas, which also contributed to this. The attachment of this mostly artisan-craftsman-trader stratum to these institutions remained lively and their association with the new foundations (primarily charitable institutions) further strengthened the character of the zone. The need to store economic goods, the appearance of warehouses, harbors and new marketplaces rearranged the economic centers of gravity within the city, adding importance and, in the property market, growing value to the waterfront and the areas near the bridges. Naturally, the growth of built-up areas brought new possibilities as well as new challenges for the city-dwellers. Defending the river bank, regulating the operation of mill bridges and dams, building and supervising bridges more and more became community tasks.
The City of the Khazars: Etil. The Beginnings of Urbanization in the Lower Volga Region
One of the important topics in the history of the Khazars is the localization, origin and role of their „capital”, Etil (Atil). New archaeological findings in the region of the modern town of Astrakhan may be connected to the former Khazar settlement. The paper aims to summarize the information from the written sources on Etil. It consists of three parts: 1. The problem of the localization and structure of Etil: Where was Etil? Was Etil a real town? Did it have urban structure? 2. The foundation of Etil. When and how was Etil established? 3. The role Etil played in the history of Eastern Europe and other medieval towns in the lower Volga region.
We cannot localize Etil for certain. According to the written sources, it was located in the delta of the Volga river, but more precise localization would require archaeological data. Etil was a town, which consisted of two or three parts on the right and left banks of the river and on an island. Contemporary Muslim authors mentioned Etil as a „town”, it had a royal palace, markets, mosques and public baths. The royal palace (fortress) was built brick building, while the city houses were made of wood. There were tents as well in the city. It seems that Etil was similar to the towns of Central Asia but it had a special character (the tents and maybe the imperfection of the street-system).
The origin of Etil is questionable. Tradition has it that the foundation of Etil was connected to the Arab threat. The original Khazar centers, situated in the Northern Caucasian region, as well as the Khazar royal court were moved north, near the Volga river. The terminus post quem of the migration could be the period between 722 and 737 A. D. But there is an alternative view, which claims that the founding of Etil was not related to the Arab threat but it was rather driven by the trading boom of the second half of the eight century. The lower Volga region was located in the intersection of the most important trade routes in Eastern Europe: the „Fur road”, that is the Volga route connected the northern regions with the Caspian sea, and the Northern, Central Asian part of the Silk road, which connected Central Asia with the Byzantine empire. According to this theory, the terminus post quem should be a later date in the last quarter of the eight century.
Etil had an important role in many different ways: it was a political center. The Khazar empire was the strongest political power in Eastern Europe in the eight-ninth centuries and in the first half of the tenth century. Then the political center was in the steppe region. Later, in the eleventh-thirteenth centuries there existed three political centers (the nomads of the steppe: Pechenegs, Cumans), the Volga Bulgaria and the Rus. In this period, there was a balance of power. One town existed in the lower Volga region in this period: Saksin. After the Mongol occupation, the political center of Eastern Europe (the Golden Horde) was again relocated to the lower Volga region, where new „capitals” were founded: „Old” and „New” Saray.
Etil played an important role as a mediator of material and cultural goods between different societies and civilizations. The first wave of the spread of the Islam in Eastern Europe came in the Khazar period. In Etil and the other towns of Khazaria, there were Muslim communities (as well as Christians and Jews). The role of mediation was positive: the Volga, Caucasus and Don regions were subject to many cultural and religious impulses from the neighboring developed cultural centers. Thanks to the permanent existence of urban centers in the lower Volga region after the fall of the Khazar empire (Saksin and after the two Sarays), the cultural contacts did not break up, and the eastern and southeastern part of Western Eurasia did not get isolated from the Muslim civilization and the Oriental world.
Notaries in medieval Pécs: Balázs, the son of Márton Pozsegavári
The paper consists of four chapters. The first discusses the history of the places of authentication (loca credibilia) in medieval Hungary. In the second, the author examines the operation of notaries licensed to issue authentic charters and describes the formal characteristics of the documents they prepared. He claims that it was only in the second half of the 14th century when notary offices finally became widespread in Hungary. As the scribal culture and the activity of the places of authentication could practically completely fulfill local demand, notaries were of secondary importance. They dealt only with ecclesiastical jurisdiction and the connected legal institutions. The third chapter describes the notaries active in the diocese and the city of Pécs. Among them, a person, who has only recently become known, played an especially important role, he was Balázs, the son of Márton Pozsegavári. He is first mentioned in 1459 in the last will of a Pécs citizen, Henry of Bastogne. Probably it was he who prepared the testament for Henry, in which he is mentioned in relation to its execution as well. His notarial activity was praised in a charter issued by the city of Pécs on 8 March, 1456. This recently discovered document, published by the author in the appendix, has survived in the Medici collection of the State Archives of Florence (Archivio di Stato di Firenze. Mediceo avanti il Principato).
The Heresy of an Orthodox Bishop: The Trial of Reginald Pecock, 1457
Reginald Pecock was the only high-ranking clergyman tried for heresy in 15th-century England. Advocating new methods for addressing and instructing the laity, the bishop wanted to defend orthodoxy, but in 1457 he was ultimately pressured to recant several of his views in public. The analysis of the debate surrounding Pecock also casts light on the attempts of reinstating or lifting the limits imposed on intellectual quests. The official “version” of Pecock’s case, described in a letter of Thomas Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury, condemns all who fall into the sin of vain curiosity by reading Pecock’s books. The archbishop does not engage himself in the academic discourse of the taboos of knowledge; he places his judgment of Pecock into the context of the exegetical debates over the interpretation of Paul's two verses (Rom 11:20 and 12:3). Contemporary and close-contemporary popular and monastic chronicles elaborate on the main theme of the official version. Thomas Gascoigne, Chancellor of the University of Oxford, provides an academic alternative to the official assessment of Pecock’s case. He was the only one in the dispute to discredit Pecock on the basis of his scholarly inaptitude: his argument attacks the bishop’s failure to meet the “pro forma” requirements of academia. The broader context of Pecock’s trial reveals that, in spite of the censorship measures affecting the intellectual and academic institutions of the age, the taboos on intellectual activities were more often evoked and harped on by the very authorities. In the Pecock debate we see an academic world, which was very much aware of the intellectual transformation and tensions of the age, even if its only response was collective fear.
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