Nobility and Power. The Contreversy of German Historians over the Basis for Noble Power in the Middle Ages
The question, on which basis the aristocratic rule of the High Middle Ages has emerged and developed, is intensively discussed by historians all over Europe. This essay tries to present an overview about the answers, that have been proposed by German medievalists since the early 19th century. Historians of the 19th century assumed a decline of royal power since the time of the Carolingians. Nobles would have acquired and usurped royal rights. In the thirties of the 20th century this view changed fundamentally. According to Frantinek Graus a "paradicmatic turn" took place in German historiography. Nobles now appeared as owners of traditional and "autogenous" rights, which they could maintain against royal requirements. Recently, however, it has been suggested to speak of a well-planned delegation of royal power which led finally to the foundation of the rule of the aristocracy. This question is still strongly debated. It is not possible to present a final solution even tody, because an answer cannot be given by looking merely at the sources. The problem rises a fundamental question: Which general theory should be regarded as adequate to look at medieval German history? The background of all considerations seems to be the delayed foundation of the German national state, which appeared to be a special case in European history.
Additions to Methodius' Activity in Pannonia
The subject of our paper is the activity of Methodius, archbishop of Sirmium and bishop of Pannonia. Using available information we make an attempt to put forward a working hypothesis which enables us to describe the bishop's activity here. We relied on sources related to Pannonia from ecclesiastical history, history, archeology and literary history. When assessing them, we drew primarily upon the results of Hungarian scholars, occasionally taking into account the findings of foreign, mainly Slovenian researchers. We begin with the appearance of Avar and Slav tribes. We outline, as the consequences of the Frank-Avar wars, the missionary activity by the Bishopric of Salzburg and the Archbishopric on the territory that was under the government and in the possession of Pribina and Kocel. Using the Conversio Bagoariorum et Carantanorum, we attempt to identify those churches which could have provided the settings for Methodius' activity. We make an attempt to enumerate the written sources used in Pannonia (the Freising fragments, the anonymous speech from the Kloz collection), to prove that the Freising fragments were indeed used in Pannonia, and to localize the second part of the Kiev fragment (V. Vondrák). We touch upon the Bulgarian relations of Pribina and we try to date the stamp, with Greek writing, of the Bulgarian Archbishop Georgios. We explore that possibility, briefly outlined in the Legenda of Methodius, as well as those two papal bulls, which suggest that the Pope meant to send Methodius, after his release from Frank captivity, to Pannonia again. Even though our data led to hypothetical statements, it is probable that Methodius' activity in Pannonia was not a mere episode in the bishop's life but rather marks the beginning of an active period. Our paper makes an attempt to support such an interpretation.
Henricus III Rex Pacificus. Of the Relations between the Árpáds and the Holy Roman Rulers
It is the PhD thesis of the author, written in 2001 on the relations between the kings of the Árpád dynasty and the Holy Roman Emperors, that provides the background for this paper, which describes a significant element of Henry III's policy in Hungary. It compares the narrative of contemporary historiographical literature with the image modern research formed of Henry III's policy in Hungary, and suggests a new interpretation.
Both Hungarian and German research in this subject use categories of political law and follow the traditions of a nation-state view of history. This holds that the Holy Roman rulers followed a hegemonic-expansive policy ("ostpolitische Konzeption") in the states emerging in the foreground of the Empire, in opposition to which the leaders of these young states strove to defend their independence. But the annals of Altaich describe the king as a peacemaker, an image that was representative in contemporary literature. The stance of contemporary historiography is rooted in the idea of a sacred-theocratic monarchy, which regards peacemaking as the main duty of the king or the emperor ruling by the grace of God and in his earthly image.
In the case of Henry III, the idea of a peacemaking kingdom was most probably not a panegyric-parenetic conception but rather was an essential element in his self-interpretation as a ruler. This seems to be supported by several aspects of Henry's personality, education and his diarchy with his father. His peacemaking ambitions are most clearly expressed in the peace indulgences of 1043 and later, during which Henry III, as a postfiguration of Christ, orders and creates peace based on mutual forgiveness throughout his empire. The events of 1044 in Hungary can bee seen as an organic part of this imperial peacemaking work. Henry proclaimed indulgence on the battlefield of Ménfo, and reconciled the reinstalled king, Peter with his subjects.
Peacemaking was typical of the Holy Roman rulers, who, as the holders of or heirs to imperial dignity, were the defenders of the order of (Western) Christianity. This competence of theirs has to be seen as a defining factor in their relations to the Árpád dynasty up until the end of the 12th century.
Religious Devotion, Community Identity, Representation. The Main Features Of Late-Medieval Processions
Festive processions were indispensable ingredients of most late medieval feasts. All processions begin at a starting point where participants line up in hierarchical order. This is kept throughout the procession and then they return to the starting point. These events, important for both the sacred and the profane sphere, had subtle meanings as they, beside the particular subject and object of the celebration, symbolized fundamental values for the communities. Without trying to draw a complete picture, the author mainly deals with 14–15th-century processions.
Processions can be placed into several categories. On the basis of their origin, we can talk about regular and special processions; they can be sacred or not sacred; praying, thanksgiving etc. processions. Of these the author outlines 11 distinct categories among which we can find the Sunday Aspereges processions, processions connected to consecration ceremonies (eg. Palm Sunday), Corpus Christ processions, and processions related to the sovereigns' entry or funerals. Among the participants we could find clergymen as well as laymen, usually without distinction of gender, age or social status. The number of participants, quite naturally, varied as it was dependent on many factors. The processions held on popular feasts (eg. Corpus Christi) were mass events. Participants walked in a hierarchical order. Generally, we can find among them the high-ranking clergymen, the magistrates, the members of guilds and religious confraternities, schoolboys, canopy and candle bearers, musicians etc.
Processions could be held either inside or outside the church. Those that were likely to attract masses were more likely to be organized outdoors. Weather conditions (like floods or rain), however, did affect the course of the processions. As processions sacralized either the whole town or certain parts of it, the way courses were set was of great significance. In the late Middle Ages, processions (especially on Corpus Christi) were carefully designed. It is especially true for Italy, where respected artist were commissioned for the job. Often were Biblical scenes on display along the procession route, and occasionally they were acted out by the participants (like in Barcelona). The churches and houses were adorned with flowers and tapestry, and the streets and public squares were cleaned up.
Regarding the role of the processions, the author highlighted the following: being collective activities, they above all could express the community identity of a given group; personal devotion was primarily expressed in the devout donations; they had an important part in the restoration of sacrality; they also had a significant representational and propagandistic function; they could convey information. In the late Middle Ages, more and more profane elements appeared in the processions, which often jeopardized the sacrality of the events. At the end of the paper, the author highlights a few incidents and conflicts related to processions.
Matthias Hunyadi: the Personality and the King
In the paper, the author provides more than a summary of commonplace and well-known facts. In the first part of the work, he surveys the family relations of Matthias Hunyadi, born in 1443, then outlines his education and the circumstances of his coming to power in 1458. The reign of Matthias can be divided into three periods. Between 1458 and 1464, he strove to strengthen his royal power. He cleansed Upper Hungary of the Czech troops and established order in the country. Despite his weak position, he usually had his way. He ruled together with a coalition of nobles, and raised many families to the ranks of the aristocracy. It was at this time that he raised his mercenary army. In the Treaty of Bécsújhely, Emperor Frederick III accepted his rule and gave the Holy Crown back to him.
The years between 1464 and 1471 mark the period of reform in his reign. He introduced a unified chancellery, and simplified jurisdiction. As a part of his treasury reform, he introduced, for example, silver coins of stable value and new taxes to eliminate former exemptions. The Czech war together with the burden of higher taxes led to discontent in the country, and a conspiracy, led by archbishop János Vitéz, was organized against him.
After suppressing the rebellion, the king's power became unshakable and was apparently plenipotentiary. And though the coalition government continued even after 1471, much fewer nobles were included. His marriage to Beatrice increased his international recognition. Matthias realized, especially after the victory at Szabács, which had claimed many casualties, that Hungary alone could not fight successfully against the Ottoman Empire. He adopted a passive policy against the Turks and focused rather on finishing the construction of the southern line of border castles (végvárak). In the last years of his reign, Matthias apparently had ambitions to become a Holy Roman Emperor, but his position in foreign policy had weakened. He tried vigorously to secure the succession of his illegitimate son, John Corvin.
Compared to contemporary Western rulers, Matthias was a man of immense erudition. His interest in arts was inspired not only by his personal fascination but also by propagandistic aims. He realized the opportunities in printing, and meant to offset his low-rank origins with patronage and the pomp of his court.
The Equipment and Assets of Middle-Class Households in Eperjes at the End of the Middle Ages
Using archival sources, mainly last wills and testaments, inventories of assets as well as local pictorial representations and altarpieces, the paper provides a description of the material culture of the town Eperjes in the 15th and the early 16th centuries. The author describes the main characteristics of the topographical developments in Eperjes, the town districts, the middle-class houses, their building methods, rooms and their contemporary prices. A separate chapter is dedicated to how the particular rooms were equipped, what heating methods were used, how fuel was procured, and how the personal assets, everyday tools, the furnishings and the clothes etc. looked like. The paper provides an outlook on the material culture of two neighboring towns, Kassa and Bártfa, and compares it to that of Eperjes. It describes in detail a few testaments and the related inventories of assets as well as the way last wills were executed.