The Economy of Medieval Hungary. Edited by József Laszlovszky, Balázs Nagy, Péter Szabó, and András Vadas. East Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 450–1450 49. Leiden–Boston: Brill, 2018. 736 pp.
As the subtitle to the introduction to this book reveals, this volume is about history, sources, research, and methodology. The introduction, which is almost 40 pages long, was written by the four editors, and as it makes clear, this book is not a conventional economic history. It is a book which owes its creation to particular, country-specific conditions and a very unusual personal and institutional constellation. Books which are so well integrated and which, from the perspective of the contributions of which they consist, are so coordinated and interrelated (the various contributions often intertwine in an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary manner), do not just come into being. There’s a special story, a special will behind it. Well-received economic histories of the past, such as those by Henri Pirenne, Adriaan Verhulst, and Michael McCormick, were almost always written by individuals. Especially in the humanities, this is still common today, and the national funding of scholarly work often only makes individual research possible. However, a field such as economic history has to be examined today in an interdisciplinary manner. Only then can a work offer scholarly “added value.” The editors and authors of the book have taken on the comparatively more arduous approach of coming from different disciplines to work jointly. Such a path requires coordination, communication, and determination. It also requires a great deal of energy, otherwise failure is inevitable. But the project on which this book was based itself had solid foundations. The Hungarian National Scholarly Research Fund (OTKA) provided support for a project entitled “Medieval Hungarian Economic History in the Light of Archaeology and Material Culture,” the members of which were active from 2005 to 2008. The project leader, the late András Kubinyi (who passed away in 2007), was particular effective as a leader. He was a teacher and colleague of many of the people who contributed to this book. His energy and persuasiveness as a scholar has shaped an entire generation. His interdisciplinary approach was groundbreaking and probably made this book, like its Hungarian predecessor, possible. The conditions of such a joint venture were not necessarily favorable. The editors present the development of the discipline in individual stages since the seventeenth century, and they touch on caesuras such as 1918, differences in national histories, different languages spoken in the area under study, the scarcity of sources due to the Ottoman conquest, etc.
The book is divided into five major sections: Structures; Human–Nature Interactions in Production; Money, Incomes and Management; Spheres of Production; Trade Relations, and 25 persons contributed. The articles were cleverly chosen and the structure is logical. The concept works. Precise analyses are used to offer a broad overview of the subject, and contributions have important overlaps. The overall picture presented by the book touches on far more than economic history. The contributions offer insights into the history of economy, production, and material culture, and they make significant use of the disciplines of agricultural and environmental history, historical ecology, social history, constitutional history, historical demography, settlement history, migration history, and more.
The method adopted merits emphasis. For instance, it is notable that the author’s biographies (“Notes on Contributors”) are given at the beginning of the book, and not towards the end, as is customary. The contributors include historians, medievalists, economic historians, environmental historians, archeologists, archeo-zoologists, a numismatist, archivists, environmental scientists, and historical ecologists. They come not only from different disciplines, but also from different institutions, universities, academies, and archives. The significance of the Central European University in the creation of this work cannot be overestimated. One strength of the book is that the contributors are all specialists in their fields, but many of them work in an interdisciplinary manner. They have come together to form teams and have either already worked on an issue in an interdisciplinary manner or formed a team for the book project in order to combine their knowledge. The concept of integrating disciplinary contributions with interdisciplinary ones works. With this innovative approach, new standards have been set, not only nationally, but internationally. The work shows perspectives on how national research can be continued and how international networking can be achieved. The present volume makes it considerably easier for the reader to draw international comparisons, since it is now available in English. Many articles have already been published in English or German. Now, however, the Hungarian research has a completely different value, because it is not presented as part of (and contributes to) an overall picture. The book already offers some context by taking into consideration the international secondary literature, which is no longer as unbalanced as it used to be. Now the outstanding Hungarian research can also be used on a large scale by the international community. It is no exaggeration to say that comparable results have not yet been achieved at the “national” or country level. This is what makes the volume so important and valuable. Moreover, though it was written by specialists for specialists, it will still be of interest to a wider readership. The authors have managed to write articles which will be of interest to specialists, students, and beginners. The illustrations, which complement the text well, also contribute to the appeal of the book. In summary, the editors have compiled a showcase for Hungarian research on economic history understood in the broadest sense. The contributors raise insightful and interesting questions, and the book offers an overview of the secondary literature, the relevant methods, and the sources on the respective themes. Together with the rich illustrations, this makes the work a useful handbook which will be of interest to a wide audience.
Wiener Stadt- und Landesarchiv
Das Wiener Fürstentreffen von 1515: Beiträge zur Geschichte der Habsburgisch-Jagiellonischen Doppelvermählung. Edited by Bogusław Dybaś and István Tringli. Budapest: Research Centre for the Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 2019. 479 pp.
The book under review is a collection of articles based on the presentations held at a conference entitled “The Congress of Vienna 1515: Middle Europe between Habsburgs and Jagiellons,” which was held in Vienna on April 15–17, 2015. The conference was organized as part of a cooperative effort among Austria, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. Renowned experts from these countries participated in the conference, and this book is the product of their research and their presentations. It consists of 17 articles which touch in some way on the 1515 Congress of Vienna. The articles are coherent and strictly focus on the main topic of the book. It was thus possible to bring scholars from a range of backgrounds together and offer deep analyses of the questions at hand, many of which are not overly familiar in the secondary literature. I will not analyze all the articles separately, but rather will focus on the major problems discussed.
The main issue which was discussed is the political situation of this part of Europe, which was shaped by the competing political interests of the Habsburgs and the Jagiellons, which gave political meaning to the Congress and urgency to relations between the Papacy and Central Europe. The contributors to the book offer thorough descriptions and analyses of the standpoints of the countries that participated in that Congress. This furthers an understanding of the complicated situation in Europe at the time. Krzysztof Baczkowski, an outstanding Polish historian and an expert in Polish-Hungarians relations, challenges the negative assessment in Polish historiography of the consequences of the Congress for Poland in his article. According to Baczkowski, the Congress was a tremendous triumph of Polish diplomacy and the key to Polish stabilization in sixteenth century, which has been characterized in Polish historiography as a “golden age.” Pál Fodor and Géza Dávid analyze relations between Hungary and Turkey at the beginning of sixteenth century, and they identify three factors that were crucial to Hungary’s political situation: the idea of a fight against Turkey, which was, they claim, merely an empty slogan used to justify personal politics in each country; the changing standpoint of Poland and Venice after their defeats at the hands of Turkey at the end of fifteenth century, which prompted them to adopt much more conciliatory policies towards the Ottoman Empire; the standpoint of Turkey, which tried to make use of tensions among the Christian countries of Europe. Jacek Wijaczka examines the rivalry between the Habsburgs and Jagiellons and tries to determine why the Jagiellons were unable to hold onto power in Hungary and Bohemia. Janusz Smołucha describes the Papacy’s standpoint towards the Middle and Eastern Europe at the time of the Congress. Antonín Kalous examines the sources in Bohemia’s archives which are relevant in some way to the Congress. Manfred Holleger and István Tringli analyze the political plans of Maximilian Habsburg and Vladislaus II.
Alongside the articles focused on political issues, some of the contributions show how the Congress was seen by its participants. Tibor Neumann offers a list of the people who took part in the Congress. As it was a private event, only people who were trusted by the king were invited. This made it possible to reconstruct the positions of nobles at the king’s court. Neumann examines whether or not, during the reign of Vladislaus (who is characterized in the secondary literature in Hungary as having been a very weak king), one could speak about a king’s party or about people trusted by the king. According Neumann, one could. The article offers a lot of new, important information to our knowledge of the Congress, Vladislaus II, and his court.
Some of the contributions offer analyses of the 1515 Congress of Vienna from the perspectives of the elite of the host cities. In my opinion, this is an important standpoint from which to consider the events of the Congress, and the inclusion of this viewpoint enriches the collection. Judit Majorossy describes how the Congress was perceived by the elite of Pressburg (Pozsony in Hungarian, today Bratislava, Slovakia) and how it influenced their lives. She also presents information concerning the incomes and expenditures of the city in connection with the Congress. She concludes that the elite of Pressburg saw no significant difference between this Congress and other important events which took place in the town. Juraj Sedivy analyzes so-called memorium, forms of the commemoration and representation used by the town’s elites. Bence Péterfi looks at interrelationships between politics and diplomacy, and he offers a new point of view from which to consider the problem of real politics. He examines the rhetoric of the 1491 Treaty of Pressburg and explains how it was understood in reality. Political rhetoric and the reality turned out to be totally different.
Several contributors discuss the cultural transfer of the Congress and the dual-marriage which took place during this event (Piotr Tafiłowski, Christian Gastgeber, Ivan Gerat, and Elisabeth Klecker). Tafiłowski examines images of the Ottoman Turks in European literature at the time. Christian Gastgeber compares two reports from the meeting written by Johannes Cuspininan and Riccardo Bartolini, and Ivan Gerat compares how the events of the Congress were depicted in the woodcut made by Albrecht Dürer and the painting in St. Elisabeth cathedral in Košice. Elisabeth Klecker considers the importance of connections between the University of Vienna and the Congress, and she identifies two people who played important roles, Johannes Cuspinian and Joachim Vadian. Some of the contributors consider the consequences of the Congress. Orsolya Réthelyi, for instance, describes the court lives of Maria of Habsburg and Anna Jagiellon after the Congress and before their marriages.
In conclusion, this impressive collection of conference papers improves our knowledge of the Congress of Vienna. It brings unfamiliar and important problems to the fore and provides analyses which show the Congress of Vienna from different points of view: international politics, the perspective of the burghers of the host cities, the roles of the host cities, the cultural context of the Congress, and cultural transfers. According to the introduction, the aim of the collection was to provide thorough analyses of the circumstances of the Congress, the dynastic plans of the Habsburgs, and the political, social, and cultural contexts in the countries which participated. This goal has been admirably achieved.
University of Silesia
Život u srednjovjekovnom Splitu: Svakodnevica obrtnika u 14. i 15. stoljeću [Life in Medieval Split: Everyday Life of Craftsmen in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries]. By Tonija Andrić. Biblioteka Hrvatska povjesnica, Monografije i studije, III/79. Zagreb–Split: Croatian Institute of History, Department of History at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Split, 2018. 329 pp.
This volume constitutes a valuable contribution to the study of an urban social group which has essentially been neglected in recent scholarship on society in communities on the eastern Adriatic. While there has been a great deal of intense research on this region lately, historians have tended to focus more on the nobility and the wealthy citizenry, particularly merchants. The last monographs dealing especially with crafts and craftsmen as a social group were published in 1951 (Dragan Roller) and 1979 (Josip Lučić), and they both deal exclusively with Dubrovnik, while for other Dalmatian cities, one finds only subsections on crafts(men) in overall histories of the cities, e.g. for Zadar (Nada Klaić/Ivo Petricioli 1976) and Šibenik (Josip Kolanović 1995). The only recent exception, alongside Andrić’s book, has been several articles on the craftsmen of Rab by Meri Kunčić, and Kunčić is expected soon to synthesize her findings into a monograph. Some attention has also been given by art historians to specific artisans, such as painters (Emil Hilje), goldsmiths (Marijana Kovačević), stonemasons (Emil Hilje, Ana Plosnić Škarić) and sculptors (Igor Fisković), and in the last decade, several studies were written on apprentices as part of studies on youth (Tonija Andrić, Florence Sabine Fabijanec, Marija Karbić, Zoran Ladić). Therefore, this book, which is based primarily on an immense number of non-published notarial documents preserved in the State Archive of Zadar, marks a milestone in the social history of Dalmatian craftsmen. It also fills in a big gap in the social and economic history of late Medieval Split.
The time range covered is limited by the fact that, despite the relatively significant number of Medieval narrative sources (the most important of which is the thirteenth-century Chronicle of Thomas the Archdeacon), notarial documents in Split are only preserved from the 1340s, in contrast with Trogir, Dubrovnik, and Zadar. After presenting crucial information on urbanism in Medieval Split (pp.5–17), in which some more precise maps would have made a welcome addition, in the chapter on social structure (pp.19–83), Andrić presents existing historiographic projections on the demographic and ethnic composition of Split in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. She is inclined to use a cautious estimate of the population of Split at the turn of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries (somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000), which probably dropped to 3,500 at the beginning of the fifteenth century.
In her estimate of the ethnic composition of the population of the city which did not belong to the nobility, she accepts the method of using the origin of the surname as the basis for ethnic affiliation. According to this method, in the second half of the fourteenth century (1368–1369) and in the middle of the fifteenth (1443–1453), the great majority of the non-noble population was of Slavic origin (90.47 percent and 90.76 percent, respectively). This method, although not entirely reliable, is still better than taking only given names into account, only 51.72 percent of which were Slavic. If one considers only the craftsmen in the city, more than 80 percent were from Split or the surrounding district by origin (87.87 percent and 85.54 percent respectively).
In the fifteenth century, there were more artisan immigrants from other communes and from Italy, while the number of artisans from the hinterland was at the lowest, since the immigrants from the hinterland usually entered the circle of servants and non-qualified laborers. Andrić is prudent to note that the legal division between non-noble citizens (cives) and inhabitants (habitatores), which is often taken as the division between richer merchants and intellectuals (such as notaries, physicians, and teachers) on the one hand and members of the poorer artisan class on the other, did not apply to artisans, since part of the craftsman population belonged to the communal citizenry, for which one of the main conditions was possession of one’s own house. These people were mostly artisans whose trades were among the more artistic crafts (painters, stonemasons, and goldsmiths) or artisans who practiced crafts which required more advanced technology and higher investments, such as boat repairing, fabric-dyeing, and cloth-making. Along with traders, they could lead lives which in many ways resembled the lives of members of the nobility. For instance, they were not unlikely to have luxurious homes, elegant garb, and good food. As examples of one such artisan, Andrić examines the cases of aromatarius Lappus Zanobii and famous master stonecutter Juraj Dalmatinac (George of Mathew Dalmata). Their larger incomes made it easier for them to invest in land, which along with trade, would provide even better income. However, most artisans were habitatores, who lived solely off their physical labor, although they could also supplement this income by buying or renting a small piece of land. All artisans were involved in trade and sold the products they made, although only a minority could export their products.
In the chapter on economic activity (pp.85–149), Andrić takes into account all types of business activities in which artisans engaged, including business with land, houses, and other real estate, as well as activities in trade and seamanship. She analyzes all the artisans of Split, regardless of their social status as citizens or inhabitants, focusing on the economic aspects of their activities more broadly understood, instead of narrowly limiting her study to their crafts (the work they did with their own hands) as their main sources of income. Still, she rightfully pays more attention to the group of lesser artisans (usually in the status of habitatores), since they not only formed the majority in sheer numbers, but they have also been somewhat neglected in the secondary literature. Her discussion does not include activities like the aforementioned intellectual pursuits or millers and innkeepers (sometimes also treated as crafts in the historiography), nor for that matter does she include servants. She estimates that roughly one fourth of the population of the city were craftsmen (27.08 percent of roughly 3,500 inhabitants). If this number is added to the number of people who were engaged in service activities, sailors and small merchants, the total would come to more than half of the population. Craftsmen involved in leather production (45.14 percent) constituted the largest group of artisans, followed by craftsmen working in carpentry (16.57 percent), textile production (15.42 percent), and the more artistic crafts (10 percent). Andrić analyses each group of crafts, and she also considers the organization of confraternities and training of apprentices (151–202), skillfully combining quantitative analysis of data from various types of notarial sources (business and private documents) with examples from the lives and careers of particular artisans.
The most interesting part of the book is perhaps the part on the everyday lives of craftsmen (pp.203–74), which provides for us the first presentation in the secondary literature on housing, clothing, jewelry, alimentation, marriage, and the marital lives and positions of women (who often contributed a great deal to the income of a family). Most craftsmen lived in the new Medieval part of the city (outside of Diocletian’s palace, the so-called civitas vetus, but within the new Medieval walls), but not in the suburbs, which were populated predominantly by hired fieldworkers. According to data from wills, on average, only one child per family survived into adulthood, a figure which matches results found in the secondary literature on late Medieval towns in the region (Zdenka Janeković Römer, Katalin Szende, Marija Karbić). Altogether, this book breaks the long silence on the lives and labors of the numerically largest part of Dalmatian communal society. It will undoubtedly become a model for similar research on other cities.
Zrinka Nikolić Jakus
University of Zagreb
Erdélyi országgyűlések a 16–17. században [Transylvanian Assemblies in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries]. By Teréz Oborni. Budapest: Országház Kiadó, 2018. 424 pp.
Teréz Oborni’s work on the assemblies which were held during the period of the independent Transylvanian principality, published as the latest addition to the series on parliamentary history by Országház Publishers, provides a detailed summary of the findings of the secondary literature, along with maps and valuable source and textual illustrations, as well as contributions from her own archival research. Oborni has done a broadly conceived study of the history of the Transylvanian assemblies using methods and sources relevant to institutional, legal, and political history. She pays special attention to shifts in the complex relationships between the two great powers, the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire, which to a large extent determined the fate of the principality. According to her, the balance of power between the princes and the estates of Transylvania was subject to change in response to shifts in diplomatic relations between Transylvania and the two great powers.
In the first chapter, Oborni offers an overview of the distinctive conditions of constitutional law and social structure in Transylvania, which determined the state of affairs in the principality, situated in the eastern part of the Kingdom of Hungary, beginning with the end of the Middle Ages. She points out that the so-called “voivodes” (chief officers appointed by the Hungarian king) obtained power over the three Transylvanian estates, the so-called “natios” (the nobility, most of which was Hungarian, the Székelys, and the Saxons). The estates were united by their shared need to protect their privileges from the voivodes and the necessity of defending the region from the Turks, which became one of the foundation stones of the Transylvanian principality’s future. Oborni deals with the diplomatic aspirations of 1530–1540 in depth, which were aimed at reconstituting the country, which had been split into two and then three parts (after 1541) due to the so-called dual royal election, which took place after the Battle of Mohács (1526). These aspirations were doomed to failure owing to the political and military situation. The state which came into being on the soil of the historical Transylvania and the surrounding eastern Hungarian counties (the so-called Parts, or Partium), which could be seen as a sort of “Eastern Hungarian Kingdom,” arose under the governance of the son of John Szapolyai, Queen Izabella, and, mainly, the governor, György Fráter, the Bishop of Várad.
In the 1540s and 1550s, the Transylvanian parliaments played a vital role in the creation of the state and in passing legislation and writing the new constitution of the principality. During this process, the estates and Queen Isabella attempted, by and large successfully, to preserve the traditional Hungarian institutional structure. The constitutional legal status and the borders of Transylvania and Partium remained uncertain until the Treaty of Speyer, which was signed in 1571 by Maximillian II and John Sigismund Szapolyai, when John Sigismund assumed the title of “reigning prince of Transylvania and Parts of Hungary” and renounced the title of “elected king.”
The second chapter gives a chronological overview of the legislative work leading to the Treaty of Speyer and the creation of the necessary diplomatic preconditions. However, the Ottoman Empire, which had officially recognized the Transylvanian estates’ right to elect the prince without restriction (libera electio) in 1567, still treated Transylvania’s rulers as vassals of the Porte and always required negotiations regarding the person of the future prince beforehand. The Habsburg kings went on to consider the Transylvanian territory as an inseparable part of the Holy Crown of Hungary, and they referred to its leaders as voivodes, thus expressing its subordination to the Habsburg House.
In the third chapter, Oborni explains the problem of strong princely power as opposed to the weak estates, considering the period between the symbolic date of 1571 and 1690, the end of the independent Transylvanian Principality and the beginning of its the integration into the Habsburg Monarchy. She notes that the Transylvanian Principality could be considered a constitutional monarchy led by a prince, within the framework of which the orders possessed certain political rights in theory, though in practice they could not assert them sufficiently, especially during the princely elections or in times of political crisis.
The huge fiscal and familial landed properties and other fiscal incomes contributed to the overwhelming superiority of the power of the rulers. The unicameral Transylvanian parliament represented an undeveloped system, which was typical of the easternmost parts of the continent. The three natios sent their delegates to the diets, and some higher officials of the government, the members of the Princely Council and the High Court, certain bishops, and church vicars participated on invitation (they were the so-called regalists). The Catholic clergy, which lost its significance due to the Reformation, did not form an independent order in Transylvania, in contrast with developments in Hungary and Western Europe. The first list on the parliamentary presence of towns situated in the Székely Land and in the Hungarian counties dates back to 1658, but at that time, in contrast with the towns in Hungary, the Transylvanian towns did not join forces to protect their interests. The essentially horizontal division of the estates at the diet was shattered by the strengthening of the princely power in the government and legislative sphere through the so-called council order (tanácsi rend), consisting of the chief officers of the prince and the high-ranking members of the Princely Council. Though the latter could have evolved into an upper house following the bicameral system’s pattern of development, it was never institutionalized. Oborni refutes the widespread view in Romanian historiography according to which Romanians were deliberately excluded from the exercise of political rights. They did not form a separate order, as Romanians appeared in Transylvania sporadically and slowly, and they settled down only later and thus could not obtain the same privileges as Saxons or Székelys. Furthermore, the secular Romanian elite integrated into the Hungarian nobility, which was open both from a social and an ethnical point of view.
In the fourth chapter, Oborni states that the estates occasionally concluded or renewed the so-called unions to preserve Transylvanian unity and protect their privileges against the princes. In doing so, the three orders mutually guaranteed the preservation of one another’s prerogatives and privileges, and for the first time in 1588, they set the conditions on the basis of which the ruler was to be elected.
The fifth chapter offers an analysis of the day-to-day operation of the diet and its legislative work, even though no detailed minutes or verbatim records of the meetings were drawn up. A diet was convoked once or twice a year in peacetime and four or five times during moments of political crisis. The reigning prince’s role as legislator was far greater than that of the estates, who used these occasions to remedy local grievances, since, due to the lack of information and without authorization, they could not intervene in more serious political issues. Financial, military, and foreign affairs were almost entirely within the sovereign’s competence. The strongest trump card in the hands of the estates in Western and Central Europe was voting the tax in opposition to the interests of the ruler, however, the Transylvanian diet voted the different taxes obediently throughout the era with only a few exceptions.
Oborni’s new volume analyzes the institution of the Transylvanian assemblies from a multifold perspective, drawing on sources from political, diplomatic, and legal history. She dispels several misconceptions and offers more subtle understandings of particular aspects of this history with a source-based approach. She also draws on new findings in the secondary literature on Transylvanian social history, mostly prosopography, which, in the future, may open new paths for the study of the Transylvanian social history of politics.
Budapest City Archives
Házasság Budán: Családtörténetek a török kiűzése után újjászülető (fő)városból 1686–1726 [Marriage in Buda: Family Histories in the (Capital) City Reborn After the Expulsion of the Turks]. By Eleonóra Géra. Budapest: MTA BTK TTI, 2019. 291 pp.
The new monograph by Eleonóra Géra, which was published as part of the series of publications of the “Momentum” Family History Research Group, examines the structures of families in Buda at the turn of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Géra focuses on a period of several decades which were rife with conflict, crisis, and strife because of the series of military conflicts and economic and natural disasters (including the struggles to recapture the city from the Ottoman Turks, floods caused by the Danube River, epidemics of plague, and the general sense of uncertainty which followed the outbreak of the War of Independence led by Ferenc II Rákóczi). The community on which she focuses consisted of burghers (i.e. people with the rights of denizens of a free city) who for the most part were German-speaking, and she examines families formed through marriage, family networks, and the different and shifting family constructs which arose under these circumstances.
In the course of the various “turns” which were introduced into the historiography in the 1970s and 1980s (the social turn, the spatial turn, and the cultural turn), research which sought to reconstruct the prevailing forms of cohabitation in the early modern era (research which was structured around the study of patterns and models based on the operational terms “family,” “marriage,” and “household”) rewrote or at least modified the thesis statement of John Hajnal concerning family and household models (which was based on the West-East paradigm) and the ideas of Otto Brunner concerning the “large-household family” (grosse Haushaltsfamilie). But beginning in the 1990s, interpretations concerning the internal functioning of the family began to change significantly, in no small part because of the influence of approaches to the study of cultural history which dealt with the division of labor and emotional life within the early modern family. Eleonóra Géra’s book, which can be read as a study of the history of crisis, a social and women’s history, and a social-anthropological analysis, makes a substantial methodological contribution to the latter interpretative framework. In her reconstruction of the agents and mechanisms of the resilient strategies which structured the matrix created by the narrower family networks and the broader community of the city of Buda, she does not strive to arrive at or create a theory. Her method begins to become clear in the course of her narrative, which presents the shorter and longer stories that she reconstructed using an ensemble of empirical sources of various genres and styles and also of varying degrees, at the time they were created, of public access (the record books of city council meetings, council correspondence, juridical documents, last wills and testaments, inventories of bequests, etc.).
The first seven chapters of the book (which form a larger section) examine the various rituals forms of cohabitation based on marriage, including the selection of a potential spouse, engagement, and the planning and organization of the wedding and the wedding feast. This is followed by a discussion of motives for remarriage and the economic concerns and challenges. The presentation of the various forms of married life comes to a close with a discussion of cases of conflict which arose between husband and wife in the course of a marriage and often led to legal separation (situations such as domestic violence, adultery, or fornication). The second larger thematic section presents the circumstances and possible variations of widowhood. One finds descriptions of widows with small children of their own or with stepchildren, as well as widows who were members of the burgher class or guilds and who were capable of living independently. One also finds descriptions of the varying fates of children who had been orphaned and lived under the care of a stepparent or guardian or, in some cases, siblings who had reached the age of adulthood. There is a separate chapter on the various networks which unquestionably provided a form of physical and ethical protection. I am thinking of networks which were based on blood relations and the horizontal bond among siblings, brothers-in-law, and sisters-in-law and which to some degree could be said to have constituted the whole of the urban society. These networks also were shaped by a sense of belonging to a shared ethnic group, a shared confession, and a given part of the city. The third larger section of the book contains numerous and varied case studies of positive statements made (for the most part out of a sense of solidarity among women or Christian mercifulness) about individuals who found themselves in difficult circumstances through no fault of their own, such as maidens (young, unmarried women) left without any real protection or shelter in the tumultuous life of the city, single, poor widows, destitute orphans, and children who had been adopted based on a verbal agreement only. This section also addresses the fates of groups which, for various reasons, ended up on the periphery of city society (these stories are first and foremost the stories of women and children). We read diverse tales of the fates of children born outside any family constellation or from common law marriages, as well as stories of men who were in dysfunctional marriages and ended up in bigamous relationships, their abandoned wives, people who, because of flood, fire, or some other disaster, ended up destitute, the residents of the city hospital and almshouse, and the nameless souls who lived respectable lives as impoverished denizens of the city or as vagabonds who were looked on with suspicion.
Géra draws persuasive conclusions connected to the conceptual framework created first and foremost in the German scholarship on the history of the family (Familienforschung). The internal order that was established by the German-speaking families who settled in Buda in the time period under discussion in the book essentially followed the models which these families had brought with them. Thus, this order did not differ fundamentally from the models of order prevailing in the smaller and larger cities on the continent which belonged to German cultural influence. In the ideal marriage (around which the ideal family was structured), the spouses were bound by eheliche Liebe, or in other words, mutual respect, solidarity, and trust, which were interpreted as brotherly love in the Christian sense. This bond, which can be seen as an alliance based on common interest and which involved emotional ties on the spiritual level, made it possible for a married couple to preserve their wealth, maintain their families, and create some degree of continuity. This model of marriage is tied to the concept of the frommes Haus, which was seen as the greatest contentment to be found on this earth for the Christian man of the time. At the same time, in the life of the family, alongside relationships among blood relatives and relationships through marriage, the communal networks which created the tissue of society also played an important role. Anyone who was capable, over the course of his or her life, of maintaining his or her honor and reputation could count on receiving help, in the event of the death of a direct blood relative, from the network designated by the term Ehrengesellschaft. Géra convincingly draws a line between the constructions and models of marriage before the middle of the eighteenth century and the constructions and models of marriage which came to prevail after this. In other words, she identifies the process in the course of which the emotional bond known as eheliche Liebe transformed into the arguably milder hingebende Liebe, or “devoted love.” While in the period of crisis on which Géra focuses, the income earned by a head of household in the burger community through his primary employment was not, for various reasons, enough to maintain the family and it was necessary for husband, wife, children, and other relatives living with them to work as an ensemble, because of the influence of the ideological trends which began to emerge in the 1750s (Protestant pietism, the Enlightenment) the place and the roles of women and men within the family began to acquire significantly different meanings.
The book contains an appendix with a section of entries and notes in German and Latin from the records of the meetings of the city council, which both illustrate the different forms of cohabitation and give the source-centered historical narrative authority and credibility. With this attractively designed book, Eleonóra Géra has made a particularly substantial contribution to the secondary literature on the urban, social, and women’s history of Hungary in the early modern era. The stories she provides will add nuance from several perspectives to views and conclusions in the scholarship on the family, marriage, and women’s roles, and they will also give new impetus to consider interpreting and reinterpreting the relevant sources.
Eötvös Loránd University
Egy tudós hazafi Bécsben: Görög Demeter és könyvtára [A Learned Patriot in Vienna: Demeter Görög and His Library]. By Edina Zvara. Budapest: Országos Széchényi Könyvtár–Gondolat Kiadó, 2016. 506 pp.
Edina Zvara, an expert with almost unmatched knowledge of the holdings of the Esterházy library in Kismarton, the history of libraries, culture, and the sciences in Hungary in the Enlightenment in general, and the (early) modern library collections in the Carpathian Basin, has undertaken another ambitious enterprise to offer an overview and summary of the career of a prominent figure of the Hungarian Enlightenment. Zvara has created a narrative of the life and work of Demeter Görög (1760–1833), a figure whose contributions to literature and book culture in Hungary merit comparison with the contributions of Miklós Révai (1750–1807) and Ferenc Kazinczy (1759–1831). The biographical portrait she has provided of Görög, who is only rarely mentioned in the secondary literature, is based primarily on accounts of contemporaries and a methodologically consistent analysis of the items from Görög’s library found in Kismarton. With this focus on the career of a single prominent figure, Zvara has created a very colorful cultural history tableau, which offers us a portrait of an age and of cultural and scientific life in Hungary in the dynamic period at the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth.
The first half of the book offers a nuanced picture of Görög’s life and personality. Zvara uses an array of carefully chosen citations from the writings of contemporaries and also several primary sources (some of which are new in the secondary literature), and of course she draws on the existing scholarship to present the different stages of Görög’s life (beginning with his birth in Hajdúdorog) and the various things he accomplished, as a patron of the arts and sciences, in each of these stages. Zvara offers a sketch of Görög’s life which touches on his very focused, deliberate, and thorough studies, his humility with regards to the sciences, and his admirable work as someone who labored to cultivate and further the arts and sciences. Coupled with his engaging, diplomatic personality, Görög seems almost to have been predestined to achieve the goals he set for himself. At the prompting of his patron András Bacsinszky (1732–1809), a Greek Catholic bishop in the city of Munkács (today Mukachevo, Ukraine), the young Görög became a part of the Kollonich family early on, where for many years (1787–1795) he was László’s tutor, and in the course of his travels through Europe, he became his devoted companion. In 1795, when the Hungarian Jacobin movement was suppressed, Görög was again given a flattering and prestigious opportunity. He became the tutor of Antal Pál (1786–1866), the son of Miklós Esterházy II (1765–1833), in Kismarton. After teaching for seven years, he was given an even more prestigious position. In 1802, he was given the office of head imperial educator in the Habsburg court in Vienna. First, he oversaw and guided the education of Archduke Joseph, and then he played a similar role in the rearing of heir to the throne Ferdinand and, later, Archduke Franz Karl, a role in which he remained until 1824. He was able, while moving in these circles in Vienna, to establish relationships with influential individuals, of which he was able to make good use for the rest of his life. He found talented patrons who provided support for his various organs of the press and also for poor but talented poets, and who also helped him coordinate (both financially and politically) the various initiatives he launched in support of culture and his homeland. He was thus able, together with some of his colleagues, to publish A Hadi és Más Nevezetes Történetek [War stories and other remarkable tales] from 1789 until 1791 and then its continuation, the Viennese Magyar Hírmondó [Hungarian Bulletin], from 1792 until 1803. He was able to have high-quality engravings made of the county maps used in Atlas Hungaricus and to plan other maps of the country and the world. This network also provided him vital assistance in the composition of an ampelographic work entitled Azon sokféle szőlőfajoknak lajstroma [A catalogue of the many kinds of grapes], which was published in Vienna in 1829, and he was able to collect varieties of grapes from all over the world and cultivate them on his estate in Grinzing.
In every era of history, the polymath as a figure would have been an impossibility without the support of repositories of knowledge. Demeter Görög had a library of several thousand books at his disposal, a significant share of which Zvara has managed to identify by using an inventory concerning additions from 1820 and the discoveries she made through her research to construct the holdings. The most detailed chapter of the book offers an analysis of the library holdings that Zvara was able to identify and a discussion of the importance of these works from the perspective of cultural history and the history of the sciences. We are given a good overview of Görög’s library, including its books and manuscripts. In connection with the books, Zvara also offers an interesting examination of thematic focuses, in the course of which she discusses the reconstructed book catalogue included in the appendix, several items from which she mentions in the main section of the book, thus making the dry bibliographical information more interesting to the reader by putting it in context. The first section comes to an end with an afterword, the sources cited and secondary literature, and a list of images.
The second half of the book consists of the documents listed in the appendix. Among the sources, which will be of great use to scholars interested in pursuing further research on the subject, one finds, for instance, Görög’s letter of nobility, his last will and testament, his death certificate, poems that were dedicated to him, an array of prose works (by authors such as Mihály Csokonai Vitéz, Dániel Berzsenyi, and the aforementioned Miklós Révai), contractual texts concerning his responsibilities as a tutor, and various letters and communications written to or by him. This is followed by a list of the items removed from the reconstructed book list of the “scholarly patriot,” the items which do not figure in the list but which Zvara has managed to identify, and other writings connected to printed matter which was published under Görög’s editorship. The detailed indexes (two kinds of person and place indexes, an index of bibliographical information, and index of book owners) make the book complete.
Edina Zvara’s book will be of particular interest to readers who seek further insight into the processes and mechanisms through which the arts and sciences were made to flourish in the Hungarian Enlightenment. A monograph which focuses with such admirable thoroughness on the career and life of a single individual, after all, offers far more than a mere discussion of his life’s work. It offers the reader a typical “biography” of the whole era. The engaging presentation of the complex and intertwining network of relationships which evolved among patrons of the arts and sciences gives us insights into the intricate cultural-political labyrinth of a moment in history when interest in culture and the sciences and, in particular, in Hungarian culture and the sciences in Hungary burgeoned. Zvara merits particular praise for having painted a tableau of Görög’s intellectual horizon and his pedagogical, journalistic, cartographical, viticultural, and other scientific and scholarly pursuits by using the items from this prominent polymath’s arsenal of knowledge (i.e. the individual works in his library) as the fundamental points of reference.
Eszterházy Károly University
Landscapes of Disease: Malaria in Modern Greece. By Katerina Gardikas. Budapest and New York: Central European University Press, 2018. 348 pp.
In a time of ecological crisis, it is high time for historians to start writing histories that present how changes in the landscapes, social hierarchies, and state power cause and hasten or slow the spread of disease. It is similarly important to leave room in historical narratives for the needs and adaptation capacity of non-human species, even if these species are perceived as enemies of humans. Katerina Gardikas has the background knowledge to undertake such a venture alone. She has been active in medical history for decades, mostly publishing in Greek, but she has also published articles in English in the Journal of Contemporary History and in several collections of studies. She is a historian by training who has retired as associate professor in History and Archeology at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, one of the largest universities of Europe.
The history of the effects of malaria on human beings and human society is a complex narrative of how humans, Plasmodia (a group of unicellular eukaryotes living as parasites), and various mosquito species have interacted. The statement, “it is safe to infer that that the association between frequencies of β-thalassemia and of malaria are non-random” (p.74) manifests and underlines the importance of the approach Gardikas has adopted. The statistical non-randomness that Gardikas has found means that the frequency of malaria is such a deep structure in the past of human populations in the territory of Greece that it impacted the genetic outlook of humans. Landscapes of Disease, thus, is a narrative that presents nature and culture as intertwined and inseparable.
The first chapter provides the backdrop for Gardikas’s approach, as it presents the state-of the-art and history of the research on the evolution and life cycle of the two types of Plasmodium that are most relevant and deadly in the Mediterranean region, vivax and falciparum.
The three chapters that follow focus on geographical differences, social and military history, and cultural history, respectively. In fact, all aspects are present in each part. The chapters are distinguished more by the writing strategies used in them.
The nearly book-long second chapter consists of seven case studies which describe different geographical patterns during the modern era. Gardikas partially borrows her understanding of landscape from another Greek historian, George Dertilis, though her definition is one that should be kept in mind: “landscapes are understood not merely in a physical sense but also as a ‘human-environmental interactive sphere, transforming over time’;” landscapes are shaped both conceptually and ecologically by the cultural interaction among humans and by evolutionary transformations that also involve other species, and constitute places upon which past events have been described, sometimes subtly, on the land.” (p.47) These cases are based on early twentieth-century surveys for which local medical doctors provided information. Gardikas included places that have been notorious for the relatively high incidence of malaria for millennia and that were also sites where land reclamation and drainage were extensive in modern times, along with a newly colonized hilly area and a town. Gardikas stresses that averages often mask high local incidence of malaria, and that even general rules, such as elevation, do not always mean that the malaria situation is easy to control. Alternation between drought and rainy weather also had different impacts, depending on vectors such as species present and wind. Her sensitivity to the importance of human ecological nuance comes to the fore as she explains how dry weather, which has traditionally been considered healthier than wet periods, becomes conducive to the spread of malaria once flocks of sheep create dust that brings vector mosquitoes to sites that otherwise would have been out of reach for them. In fact, Gardikas’s key finding is the omnipresence of instability and her observation that we need to do away with the blanket approach to malaria and its history.
The chapter on the impact of social aspects, such as urban-rural relations, the presence of a military, and the agrarian economy, is just as extensively researched as the one on topography. In this part, the descriptions which Gardikas cites on the extent and persistence of human suffering caused by malaria are striking. “Kardamitis counted about 200–300 Anopheles [mosquitos – the reviewer] on average in merely one corner in each of the newly constructed houses and estimated that each home contained more than 2,000 Anopheles... He then examined spleens and blood plates on his portable microscope and found mixed infections of all three types of malaria parasites in all fifty of the cases examined.” (p.154) The third chapter examines the contradictory situation in which, on the one hand, institutions and facets of the modern state in Greece provide far more information and opportunity for the study of local malaria patterns in a historical perspective, while on the other, the post-independence state failed to tackle malaria throughout the nineteenth century. This was partially due to the reliance on medicine instead of anti-mosquito measures. Dramatic political failures and warfare turned the ongoing crisis into disaster. This happened due to the presence of British and French armies during World War I and to an even larger extent in World War II. Yet the presence of medical personnel and the increased availability of medicine had a positive influence in certain localities. The late wartime and post-war efforts that the UNRRA relief agency initiated were important steps forward, even if this primarily meant the application of DDT.
The fourth chapter discusses the cultural history of medicine, including the distribution and administration of quinine in the nineteenth century. Gardikas asserts that “patients’ inclination to seek medical attention may be associated with the degree of medicalization and the social construction of their own physical condition and that of their children.” (p.273) She stresses that the cultural and social history of malaria in the nineteenth century malaria is inseparable from the history of the gradual shift from miasmatic to germ theory in medical science. Although Gardikas is interested in finding out if regular quinine intake reduced β-thalassemia or sickle-cell anemia, which are forms of genetic resistance to malaria, she could not reach a definitive answer to this question, though she is inclined to say that it did.
As far as shortcomings are concerned, the number of cases and examples overshadows the contours of arguments in the two longer chapters. The reader would feel less overwhelmed if subchapters were indicated in the table of contents. However, Landscapes of Disease is an important step towards an approach to the study of history that takes other species and the physical environment into account. Gardikas is as confident with factors influencing vector species and Plasmodia types as she is with localities, surveyors, and data sets. In the last chapter, for instance, the focus on the social and geographical distribution and global circulation of quinine, coupled with a clear understanding of the role of medical doctors and other actor-networks in the process, offers ample proof of her ability to bridge social history, the history of medicine, and the history of commodities. The book is a fine contribution to the History of Medicine series of CEU Press.
Research Centre for the Humanities
A Contested Borderland: Competing Russian and Romanian Visions of Bessarabia in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century. By Andrei Cuşco. Budapest–New York: CEU Press, 2017. 327 pp.
Andrei Cuşco has broken new ground in international scholarship with his book on the prehistory of today’s Moldavia’s troubled identities, although he disclaims the role of pioneer. Moreover, he is attentive to multiple perspectives, from both the “hard” and “soft” sides of history, in accordance with Terry Martin’s synthetic approach to imperialism, which he cites as his guiding principle. Aside from the competing visions in the title, Chapters 1 and 5 in particular also give a glimpse into the national affinities—or rather, the lack thereof—among contemporary Bessarabians, and also into cultural initiatives on the ground and roads not taken. To my mind, this dual scope is one of the main assets of the book.
On the former, his major claim is about the asymmetry between the Russian and Romanian visions. Imperial and nation-state projects, Cuşco argues, had different ways of imagining and appropriating frontier regions. He also contends, however, and persuasively shows that both intellectual imaginaries drew massively from Western Orientalizing discourses. While apologists for Russian rule mobilized metaphors of the exotic, the pristine, and the backward when depicting Bessarabia, Romanian authors equipped themselves with Russophobic tropes of French (and, I should add, Polish) provenience. In another common element, both projects treated locals as mere props for their discursive construction of the Bessarabian space.
Regarding the intellectual horizons of said locals, Cuşco recurrently makes the connection between the low levels of ethnic mobilization as late as the eve of World War I and the virtual absence of a home-grown intelligentsia in the province. Ordinary Bessarabian peasants were more responsive to calls for loyalty to the czar than they were with calls for ethnic solidarity with Romania, all the more so, since they felt better-off economically than their peers on the other side of the Prut River.
If Cuşco falls short of his goal to write an “intellectual history of the Bessarabian problem,” that is because of the fragmented structure of the book. Instead of laying out a more or less even and continuous timeline, he directs his attention to a few key or typical episodes. He makes an exposition of his lines of inquiry and summarizes many of his findings in a first chapter which is succinct and commendable, except for a lengthy aside on the nationalism of Romantic poet Mihai Eminescu. Then he combines two loosely connected subjects in Chapter 2—the Bessarabian crisis of 1878 and the Russian administration of the Budjak region—to rush ahead to the year 1912 in Chapter 3.
Romanian reactions to the transfer of the three southern Bessarabian counties in exchange for northern Dobrudja, imposed on Romania at the Berlin Congress, as well as Mihai Kogălniceanu’s role in turning public opinion around on this question are given more detailed coverage here than in Constantin Iordachi’s Citizenship, Nation- and State-Building  or Barbara Jelavich’s Russia and the Formation of the Romanian National State 1821–1878 , which, however, would have merited mention in this context. The attention given to the perception of Dobrudja is justified here and does not distract from the analysis.
In the second half of Chapter 2, Cuşco interrogates the archives and brings to light protracted debates in the Russian imperial civil service over what he calls the Ismail anomaly, the curious fact that the three Southern Bessarabian counties were not fully incorporated into the Russian Empire, but were given special status and were governed by Russian bureaucrats under the Romanian legal code introduced before 1878. While some Russian officials slammed this unique status as a reckless example of bureaucratic sloppiness, others presented it as a sound and deliberate administrative experiment and a civilizing mission. As the polemics spanned over the four decades of Russian sovereignty, I would have been interested to see full justice done to this puzzling anomaly, with more space devoted to it.
In Chapter 3, Cuşco jumps to the 1912 Russian celebrations of the hundred-year anniversary of the conquest of the province, one in a series of imperial jubilees in the début de siècle, which operated with family metaphors in a bid to strengthen bonds of affection for the dynasty among peoples living on the empire’s peripheries. Cuşco offers an overview of the context and interprets the rhetoric of the celebrations, and he also points out that the centenary brought the grief over Bessarabia and the specter of unbridled Russian expansionism back into the forefront of Romanian public discourse.
Chapter 4 returns to the Romanian side by engaging with the writings of three intellectuals of Bessarabian birth who made careers in Romania: Bogdan Petriceicu Haşdeu, Constantin Stere, and Dimitrie C. Moruzi. Somewhat unexpectedly for a reader unfamiliar with contemporary stereotypes in Romania, all three had to struggle with a stigma on account of their “Russian” background. This chapter is rather digressive, in particular the twenty-two pages on Haşdeu’s thought, only the last three of which deal with his relationship to Russia and none with his stance on the Bessarabian question.
Covering the period between the 1905 revolution and Romania entering the war in 1916, Chapter 5 is again more balanced. Cuşco’s emphasis, however, clearly lies in the first years of the war, when, on the one hand, the mobilization and war propaganda submitted the Russian population to a rapid process of nationalization and, on the other, the question of Bessarabia became a significant argument in Romanian political debates about whether the country should join the war and, if so, on which side. While the first question has been the subject of intense research recently, the latter context is mostly familiar from Lucian Boia’s Germanofilii , even though Cuşco concentrates on the opinions of Bessarabian-born intellectuals.
As a comprehensive history of the topic, on balance, the book is a mixed bag, which may work better as a collection of essays than as a monograph and leaves several decades unaddressed. At the same time, it contributes with precious insights to the recent literature on nationalizing empires and imperialist nation-states from the unique viewpoint of a borderland so far rather neglected in that respect. It is a compelling read both for students of nationality policies in the late Romanov Empire and of Romanian nationalism.
Central European University
Embers of Empire: Continuity and Rupture in the Habsburg Successor States after 1918. Edited by Paul Miller and Claire Morelon. New York–Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2018. 366 pp.
The disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire has been characterized in national historiographies as a sort of “zero hour” and total triumph for the newly emerged or enlarged nation states in Central Europe. This volume focuses, in contrast, on the question of what survived this great rupture. As Morelon underlines in her introduction, attention is given to the afterlife of the Empire and its successor states. Her considerations are based on Pieter Judson’s observation that “nation and empire were not binary opposites in the context of the Habsburg Monarchy, and […] the regime’s collapse in 1918 was due to the state’s transformation under the pressures of war conditions rather than any internal nationalist tensions.” The Empire’s institutions, thus, should be understood as institutions which functioned relatively efficiently and successfully up to their official end. The research in this volume is based on local case studies and the examination of different institutional “pillars” of the Empire. This perspective allows the book to go beyond the still dominant paradigms of the nationally biased narratives (without negating them) and also to take a step back from the “Habsburg Myth” in the spirit of Claudio Magris and what later generations made of his concept, occasionally tempted to blur “the line between analyzing the myth and actually sustaining it.” The editors obviously know about the current state of research (ghost borders, concepts of loyalty, history of institutions, etc.), but they do not waste too much time on questions of theory, as the central concepts of “transformation” and “transition” are neither defined nor even delimited from each other.
The first of four parts explores the grassroots level in order to examine “the transition in local contexts across the region” with a focus on processes of coping with contingency. Gábor Egry’s instructive chapter compares two former territories of the Hungarian crown: Slovakia and Transylvania, both regions with large ethnic and religious minorities. He bases his survey on the assumption that in the transformation process, local societies and individuals were confronted with a set of tasks which previously had been undertaken by the state. National demarcation became less important in such moments. Subsequently, Egry asks “how the different regions expressed themselves politically and socially in this early state-building period.” In order to arrive at possible answers to this question, one should consider whether “the region” isn’t rather the product of a “patchwork of local transitions” and therefore another constructed identity to be positioned, eventually, against the centralizing powers. Co-editor Claire Morelon’s study on interwar Prague shifts the focus from the periphery to the center. Morelon explores different approaches to the interpretation of regime change in the capital city of Czechoslovakia. She describes the difficult process of national self-discovery and self-organization, which led to “a very high level of distrust” of the new administration among the population. As a result, the disappointment, which rapidly followed the national triumph, provided a basis for the crises of the 1930s. Iryna Vushko presents the biography of the Polish-Austrian, Galician born politician Leon Biliński, who held the position of Minister of Finance in imperial Austria and in “New Poland.” As a member of an established expert elite, he was needed in the new national state in order to help form the new administration, while as a “Kakanian” he remained “suspect of national defiance,” especially for Polish nationalists, who accused him of favoring the Empire and never fully endorsing the Polish Republic. Marta Filipová presents a comparison of different major exhibitions before and after 1918 in Austria-Hungary and then Czechoslovakia in the period between 1873 and 1928. She finds it problematic that, before the fall of the Empire, Czechs, Romanians, Hungarians, Slovaks, and Moravians were predominantly depicted as peasants in contrast to the “more developed” Germans, depictions which implied different levels of civilization among the inhabitants of the Empire. While this form of inner colonialism seems to have been overcome after 1918, Filipová finds some parallels between the particular strategies of representing the state: e.g. the metaphor of “a bridge between the East and the West” was used at the Weltausstellung of 1873 in Vienna and at the Brünner Expo in 1928. Nevertheless, we need to question whether such strategies of both internal and external representation, which can perhaps be found at nearly every place at any time and which do not feature specific aspects of the concrete transformation process, should be researched in this volume.
The second part of the volume, dedicated to the Habsburg Army, is introduced by Richard Bassett’s “Reflections on the Legacy of the Imperial and Royal army in the successor states.” His essay provides a rough and eloquent though erratic biographical tour through the history of the Habsburg Army and its aftermath until the 1940s. More or less expedient forays lead from the seventeenth century to the present. Hardly a single German word is spelled correctly (for instance on a single page, page 129, one finds “Austrian Bundeswehr,” in “grossen Stil,” and “Scharfes Befehl”). Irina Marin’s chapter on the “K. (u.) k. Officers of Romanian Nationality before and after the Great War” is, in contrast, source-based and analytically instructive. She states that loyalty was an important factor for Habsburg’s Romanian soldiers. There was no contradiction between national awareness and imperial allegiance. The Romanian officers went on to live these values after 1918, even within the new national setting of “Greater Romania.” John Paul Newman demonstrates the reverse side of such an attitude by dedicating his survey to the afterlife of the Austrian-Hungarian Army in Croatia. Many members of the army lost everything with the collapse of the Empire, and their identification with the new south Slavic state was weak. This generated tensions between a humiliated minority “culture of defeat,” which was “isolated, marginalized, but nevertheless present in the successor states,” and larger “cultures of victory.” The “defeated” regained their historical “meaning” with the emergence of the radical right: within the Ustaša movement, they experienced a “remobilization.”
The third part of the book is dedicated to further “pillars” of the Empire: Church, dynasty, and aristocracy. First, Michael Carter-Sinclair explores the role of the Catholic Church in the Austrian transformation process into a democratic republic. In this context, the connection with Rome as the heart of the Catholic world constitutes an interesting, unique layer of loyalty in the interwar setting. While the Catholic Church in Austria was pragmatic with regards to the new political circumstances and even participated personally in the politics of the republic, it changed its attitude in 1927 and displayed “its true antidemocratic colors by sanctifying the overthrow of the Austrian Republic.” The comparison with similar situations in other European states of the era helps situate the Austrian development in the international sphere. Nevertheless, a brief glance at other ideologically driven actors and institutions would have been useful to classify the Catholic Church as one important but by no means the only antidemocratic actor in the interwar period. In his chapter on “Central European Nobles during and after the First World War,” Konstantinos Raptis demonstrates, through the example of Count Harrach, that the upper nobility was able to cope with the decline of the Danube Monarchy much better than the members of the service gentry or the petty gentry. Together with the bourgeoisie, the latter experienced a massive social and economic decline. Christopher Brennan dedicates his contribution to the afterlife of the last emperor and king Karl I/IV. His death in exile in 1922 “elicited polarized and emotional reactions” not least because his person was easier to target than his “hollowed” predecessor Franz Joseph. The figure of Karl apparently became “everything to everyone”: “a sinner to anti-Habsburg Pan-Germans and the republican left […]; a saint for unshakable imperial loyalists and Catholics; and a cipher for those who saw him as a feeble and unimpressive figure of no consequence, barely worthy of a footnote in history.” Brennan makes some overly apodictic judgements, but he nonetheless shows convincingly how quickly a ruler can become obsolete, in contrast to his empire.
The last part of the volume, entitled “Processing the Empire’s Passing,” focuses on the culture of remembrance and the historiography. Christoph Mick contrasts two once important war monuments in Vienna: a rather pacifistic one at the Central Cemetery and the Heroes’ memorial at Heroes’ Square. Both were intended to give meaning to the enormous human losses in the war, and both were marginalized in the Austrian culture of remembrance, especially after World War II. Co-Editor Paul Miller presents the culture of memory around the heir to the throne, Franz Ferdinand, assassinated in 1914. Miller intends to offer a portrait of the archduke, rather than focusing on the thoroughly researched culture of remembrance surrounding Franz Ferdinand. This task is more complex than it seems at first, as becomes clear from the characterization Miller gives: “Franz Ferdinand was neither a foolish nor frivolous man. He was obstinate, insolent, arrogant, and abrupt. But if the Archduke knew one thing, it was that the Empire he would someday rule was in dire need of reform, and war would only endanger, if not undo, that eventually. This was not a small thing.” This is, unfortunately, a quite well-known thing, too, so the epistemological value of Miller’s enterprise remains low. Regrettably, he mixes the findings of his research with moralistic elements. The reader remains clueless about what to do with generalizations such as this one: “After all, if Austria could hardly avoid the fact that one of their own started World War II, they were far less ready to accept responsibility for the mythicized Monarchy’s role in the first.”
In his afterword, Pieter Judson reminds us of the still dominant ideal of nations and nation states especially after 1918. As this ambitious and, all in all, very successful volume shows, however, new approaches in the study of history will offer new perspectives on the intricate afterlife of the Habsburg Empire. With a view to the irreversibility of the events of 1918, it remains a question whether the largely neglected notion of “adaption” will lead us further than the (hitherto nevertheless very fruitful) binary concepts of “continuity and rupture.”
Institute for German Culture and History of Southeastern Europe (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)
Social Sciences in the Other Europe since 1945. Edited by Adela Hîncu and Victor Karady. Budapest: Pasts Inc.–Central University Press, 2018. 526 pp.
Offering an understanding of the periphery from within the periphery while avoiding the pitfalls of exceptionalism and provincialism, the ambitious collection of essays edited by Hîncu and Karady joines a growing tide of research that situates the histories of state socialist social sciences primarily in the framework of postwar modernization, rather than trying to explain its characteristics as the result of political captivity or attempting to deny this political captivity. The volume provides a kaleidoscope of disciplinary histories (mostly) under state socialism from the East Central and Southeastern European regions, revisiting epistemic continuities and discontinuities usually in a single national context, with the covert or explicit argument that epistemic changes were not necessarily closely related to changes in the political climate.
The editors had a broad pool of contributions to choose from. They drew on the proceedings of a conference (Social Sciences since 1945 in East and West: Continuities, Discontinuities, Institutionalization, and Internationalization) and a workshop (Cold War Epistemics Revisited: Resistance and Legitimation in the Social Science) which were held at the Central European University in Budapest and put together an impressive selection of geographically focused studies. The volume contains nineteen case studies, among which Hungary is significantly overrepresented, as more than third of the chapters deal with the Hungarian context. From among the countries of the region, Poland, Romania, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria are also present, and there is one chapter about the postwar social sciences in Portugal and one about the postwar social sciences in Estonia.
The introduction to the volume copes well with the daunting task of integrating the chronologically, methodologically, and disciplinarily divergent contexts into a single theoretical framework, although this also means that some of the contributions can now be read as ideal typical representatives of the theoretical framework, while others can be easily placed on a scale of applicability, with necessary outliers. The editorial effort to guide the readers with chronologically-thematically organized sections does not work very effectively for reasons of proportionality: the last part brought together several studies from late socialism and the post-transitional period, compared to the separate sections dedicated to a span of only a few years or a decade. While it is commendable that, true to its theoretical premises, post-transitional developments are also taken as processes emanating partly from global postwar conditions, the otherwise coherent line of the volume might have been better preserved with a final section dedicated to late socialism only.
The first section, entitled Misalignments: Modernization, Sovietization and De-Stalinization, has the most links to broader debates concerning chronologies and ruptures in regional histories, engaging with key concepts of local and regional postwar narratives. That said, perhaps the authors of the essays in this section had most opportunity to situate their topics in relation to well-established critical theoretical frameworks. Agata Zysiak’s Polish case study, which focuses largely on the involvement and agency of a single scholar, sociologist and rector Józef Chałasiński, sheds light on the concept of a state socialist university which was democratized from the perspective of access to higher education at the expense of scholarly autonomy, ultimately emphasizing the limited effect of Stalinization and the considerable decrease in educational inequality. Zoltán Ginelli reaches similar conclusions with regard to Stalinization within the context of the human geography of Hungary. Ginelli’s article, however, is even more explicit in pointing out interwar continuities, which themselves are the most persuasive evidence in support the deconstruction of the concept of Gleichschaltung, which is often equated with the Stalinization of certain disciplines in Hungarian secondary literature. He argues against pro-grand rupture accounts, which in his assessment are forms of political revisionism. The emergence of party history in Hungary is primarily discussed through archival sources, as Anna Birkás is one of the handful of Hungarian scholars who wishes to investigate their activities without immediately dismissing their entire knowledge production as propaganda. Zoltán Rostás’s careful distinction between different rehabilitation practices and their repercussions in Romanian sociology revolves around the legacy of a single person, Dimitrie Gusti, similarly to Zysiak’s argument. The last contributor in this section is Eva Laiferová, who proposes a more traditional periodization of Slovak sociology. Laiferová singles out Slovak sociology within the Czechoslovak context (the state was only federalized in 1969), which is a rather peculiar decision, a decision and which, unfortunately, she does not explain.
The second section is dedicated to the history of sociology in the long 1960s and 1970s. It contains the only thoroughly comparative (while also transnational) contribution, an article by Jarosław Kilias, who focuses on sociology in Poland and Czechoslovakia. Kilias paints a complex picture of Polish sociology, which for a time acted as the main mediator between scholars on either side of the Iron Curtain. Although Matthias Duller’s contribution gives the impression that he is also going to deliver a comparative account, the first parts of his study use the Austrian context as an argument to shift the focus from political intervention to disciplinary histories. His central figure is Rudi Supek, a towering figure of Yugoslav sociology, and Duller is up to the intellectually rewarding task of conceptualizing his case study against the backdrop of the activities of the Praxis school. Adela Hîncu’s chapter about Romanian sociology offers new insights into institutional dynamics, though it is primarily preoccupied with a nuanced depiction of the different pressures under which epistemic continuities and subversions took place. Bruno Monteiro analyzes developments in Portugal, complicating the arena of agencies with the local influence of the Catholic Church and the long shadow of a colonial legacy and adding another peripheral (and also the only non-state socialist) perspective to the volume.
The third section consists of contributions on the transnational flow of ideas in the 1980s, when most of the countries of the region (with the exception of Romania) were on the road of gradual (though not linear) liberalization. Both Eszter Berényi and László Gábor Szűcs approach matters of transnational knowledge exchange through materials published in disciplinary journals, which reveal a great deal about the discursive strategies used by Hungarian scholars when they dealt with Western literature. However, more discussion going beyond the larger, ideological framework and the language of critique and offering an assessment of the science or cultural policies would have been welcome. Jan Levchenko’s study on the Tartu semiotic school introduces a unique institutional setting which reminds the reader of the epistemic anxieties surrounding Marxist revisionism elsewhere in the bloc. The internationalization of the social sciences is an important theme for all the contributions in this section, though only Corina Doboş and Bogdan Iacob problematized these anxieties explicitly. Doboş concluded that the shared demographic concerns of the scholars of postindustrial societies helped bridge the East-West divide, addressing the viability of a more integrated postwar framework as opposed to a cemented division.
The last section features contributions pertaining to late socialist and post-transitional knowledge production. Ágnes Gagyi convincingly argues for the connectedness of Hungarian economic reformers to global processes, building her case study on the ideas and positioning of power groups that were first formulated in the Pénzügykutatási Intézet [Financial Research Institute]. Aliki Angelidou discusses the institutionalization of Bulgarian sociocultural anthropology, tracing long-standing rivalries between ethnography and folklore. Emese Cselényi’s analysis of publication strategies aptly demonstrates how the local geography of sciences (center-periphery relations within a given national context) remained resilient to the changing political climate. Zsuzsa Hanna Bíró’s investigation of the effects of French and German schools of thought in post-1989 Hungarian educational sociology points to the dominance of the latter, while admitting the moderate interest in theoretical issues among Hungarian scholars in general. Kinga Pétervári’s study attempts to offer a historicized account of the legitimacies of different agents who were involved in quite recent Hungarian law-making, sketching up a longue durée history of expert-bureaucrat rivalries.
The greatest virtue of Social Sciences in the Other Europe since 1945 lies in its disciplinary variety and its ability to provide clearly formulated theoretical insights in a field in which, admittedly, a lot of the groundwork needs to be done, mostly in the form of uncovering neglected epistemic legacies or in the reinterpretations of seemingly incoherent biographies. It is also important to emphasize that the contributions can be read against the canons of their respective national disciplinary communities. The anti-totalitarian zeal which they often evince situates them immediately in an ongoing domestic debate and the very memory of the investigated disciplines. This volume will be useful for scholars who are interested in state socialist knowledge production in the region and especially to historians of (social) sciences and intellectual historians.
Central European University/University of Leipzig
Vanguard of the Revolution: The Global Idea of the Communist Party. By A. James McAdams. Princeton–Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2017. 564 pp.
Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and over a century since the Bolshevik Revolution, the first question concerning James McAdams’ elaborate monograph Vanguard of the Revolution is whether there is a need of another “global history of communism.” Over the past decade several monographs and a series of collaborative “handbooks” dealing with the topic have appeared with leading academic publishing houses. For readers unfamiliar with the history of communism, the Soviet Union, China, Cuba and the Cold War, McAdams certainly provides a potentially good introduction to the topic. In this sense, the book seems to be geared towards a target audience of undergraduate and graduate students. Though a weighty volume, it is eminently readable and has a clear and engaging narrative arc spreading over its thirteen chapters.
As outlined in the introductory chapter, McAdams’ main objective is to tell a story of the communist party that was conceived for “revolution” but grew into a “global” institution only to meet its demise. In the twelve chapters that follow, the reader is presented with a lengthy reflection on some of the key events and developments in the history of communism through the double prism of the “communist party as an idea” and the “communist party as an organization.” Thus the second chapter discusses the evolution of the idea and concept of the communist party from the publication of Marx’ and Engels’ Communist Manifesto to the eve of the First World War. It is essentially a summary of the history of the First and Second Internationals with a geographic focus on Western Europe. The third chapter in effect turns to Russia, Lenin, and the Bolshevik Revolution and in doing so showcases the emergence of the “revolutionary party.”
In the fourth, fifth, and sixth chapters the book discusses how the idea of the party was diffused internationally through the lens of the Communist International in the early 1920s and how it subsequently materialized in the Soviet Union under Stalin and in China under Mao respectively. The seventh and eighth chapters deal consecutively with the period of “high Stalinism” and the expansion of socialist bloc in eastern Europe, followed by destalinization and the Khrushchev period. The ninth chapter in turn focuses on Cuba and the rise of Fidel Castro as a charismatic leader expounding a “case-in-reverse” where the party was essentially created only after the revolution. The tenth chapter returns to China under the throes of Maoism until the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution and the rise of Deng Xiaoping. It builds upon the juxtaposition of the revolution as the work of radicals and the party as the haven of moderates.
Chapter eleven is perhaps the book’s most diversified when it comes to presented cases elaborates on what McAdams calls the “Brezhnev consensus” comprising of an era of reform, suppression, and stabilization of communist regimes from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. Predictably, the twelfth chapter presents the story of communism’s demise in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union with the ensuing collapse of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union portrayed as “anticlimactic.” The final chapter ends with a brief discussion of some eastern European and Russian post-communist successor parties and the trajectory of the Chinese, Cuban, and North Korean regimes into the twenty-first century.
McAdams pitches the book and its arguments towards both general readers and scholars. However, for a historian of communism reading this monograph the question arises whether and to what extent McAdams really presents something qualitatively new. The cited literature hails from a fairly general and limited bibliography and where primary sources are referred to they are usually quite known documents and texts in English translation. Moreover, despite its promising title the reader does not really learn that much about the concept of the communist party (or rather parties). Instead of venturing into a historicized and sociological analysis of political organization, the book presents a rather superficial outline based on ideas formulated in selected texts authored by prominent communist activists and leaders such as Marx’ and Engels’ Communist Manifesto, Lenin’s What Is to Be Done, Stalin’s Short Course, Mao’s Chinese Revolution and the Chinese Communist Party, or Castro’s History Will Absolve Me.
As a result, Vanguard of the Revolution reads more like a synthesis of Cold War-era scholarship on communism than a potentially new perspective on the history of communist parties around the globe. McAdams posits the communist party as the primary challenger to the “liberal-democratic” party in the twentieth century, extrapolating this antagonism into a threat against liberal democracy based ultimately upon some “vague prophecies” first formulated in the Communist Manifesto. A fair reading of Marx’ and Engels’ seminal text in its rightful historical context would however need to concede that it also addressed what are now seen as basic human rights’ issues and, in doing so, contained a blueprint for the now accepted setup of modern liberal democratic states at a time when Slavery still existed in the United States.
Admittedly, McAdams is not wrong that the text does not provide much details about what the “communist party” or “revolution”–two core concepts of the book–would entail. Thus, the book’s first chapters are perhaps rightfully concerned with a quest to retrace the historical crystallization of the revolutionary communist party as concept and practice. One therefore has to wait until the fifth chapter to encounter a discussion about the “functioning of the party.” Unfortunately, this is also the point of the book where McAdams misses an opportunity to provide a new perspective. Acknowledging the primacy of the Soviet state and the fact that following the Great Terror Stalin had basically destroyed the concept of the party, the McAdams also shies away from delving any deeper into the party as such. From that point onwards, barring two chapters on China and one on Cuba, the book turns towards the more standardized and perhaps even canonical Cold-War narrative of the history of communism in Europe. More so, this narrative seems to have been refreshed with what is en vogue in contemporary political science since in retelling the history of postwar communism McAdams contrasts Stalinism with populism, attributing the latter not only to the peasantist Mao, but to Khrushchev and Tito as well.
The book’s “global” perspective equally suffers from the fact that communist parties and movements are overshadowed in the narrative by the communist states and regimes. Soviet foreign policy is substituted for what was an international communist movement albeit an increasingly divided one. At most, a few “deviating” cases of communist regimes serve as an example of a (domestic) exception to the rule. The book does not venture into the postwar inter-party relations or the international communist and workers party conferences. The Global South seems for the most part absent. Where China or Cuba do feature, their role in the global communist movement is simply ignored. It is certainly regrettable that the book does not explore the idea of a revolutionary party in opposition to military regimes in Latin America or in a range of post-colonial settings from war-torn Vietnam to apartheid South Africa and how this compared to the Soviet bloc cases.
Although the reader is presented with the familiar facts about the rise of opposition to communism in the wake of the Helsinki process, reformist tendencies or schisms with the communist movement are rather glossed over. Neither are relations with the rich variety of socialist, Trotskyite or Maoist parties in the postwar era touched upon. The book’s narrative ultimately ends with the same old point of gravity that is the demise of communism in eastern Europe and the Soviet space. While these events indeed impacted the remaining communist parties and post-communist successor parties as they abandoned the very core ideas that had led to their birth in the twentieth century, it was hardly the end as such of parties that call themselves communist. Instead, McAdams’ narrative’s ending is a pivot to another warning about threats to liberal democracy based on the example of communism. While this is an understandable and perhaps even self-evident conclusion about the nature of authoritarianism and dictatorship, it would have been perhaps insightful to mention that there where communist parties operated within the framework of liberal democracies, these parties and their members were often at the forefront of struggles for more democracy and human rights. The latter was a missive ultimately outlined in Marx’ and Engels’ Communist Manifesto, and this provided the ideas that led millions of activists to join communist parties around the globe.
European University Institute