Jacobus Tollius’s Hungarian Mosaics
The name of Jacobus Tollius (1630-1696) does not ring a bell nowadays, even though the Dutch traveler was a well-known and esteemed philologist and alchemist in his life. He visited Hungary twice. His first journey took place in 1660. Due to a coincidence, this time he enjoyed the hospitality of Miklós Zrínyi at Csáktornya, where he found „beautiful buildings, dazzling furniture, great comfort, cleanliness and an erudite family”. The first destination of his second journey in 1687 was Pozsony, then he visited some mining towns in Upper Hungary stopping in Győr, Komárom and Érsekújvár and finished his trip in Buda. The journey is important because of its peculiar three-dimensionality. The first remarkable dimension was the timing: Tollius arrived in Buda only six months after the expulsion of the Ottomans, and he traveled through Upper Hungary when it was under kuruc control. The fairly incomprehensible, eclectic labyrinth of everyday life must have been fascinating for the foreign traveler. On the other hand, Tollius was a traveler, who supplemented his empirical impressions and observations, often of subtle details, with the possibilities offered by oral history. Third, he was a notable scientist in the history of mining and chemistry. This is why Tollius’ letters are an enjoyable read. It is not an accident that – besides the works of British traveler Edward Brown, a contemporary of Tollius who had also visited the country a few years earlier – Jacobus Tollius’ works are one of the most important sources used in 18th-century European, but mainly French, dictionary literature for drawing the image of Hungary.
Franz Griselini’s Image of the Banat
Franz Griselini was an Italian-born polymath whose best known work was “The History of the Banat of Temesvár”. Published in Vienna in 1780, this German-language book had a great influence on later historiography, which is proven by the great number of references to Griselini. In the introduction of his book, he describes the Banat as a special European phenomenon, „a homeland of brave nations that respect each other’s religions and habits”. He was the first to pinpoint multiculturalism as a particular characteristic of the Banat. He compiles the early history of the Banat from the works of ancient and medieval historians. He distinguishes the following ages in the history of the territory: Dacian, Hun, Avar, Frank, Slavonic and Hungarian, which are held together by the area’s stable geographical frame (the Southern banks of the Tisza and the Danube and the Maros-Tisza Angle) and the successive systems of fortification (Dacian ramparts, the Ring of the Avars, francavilla, the Slavic duchy, and the Hungarian castles). The Hungarian conquest of the Banat is represented by the captaincy of Kund, followed by the rule of chieftain Csanád. The latter is credited with establishing the counties and later, the Duchy of Temes. The transformation of the forms of territorial governance that emerged on the estates of the nobility is used to illustrate the historical continuity of the Banat. The monuments of the Ottoman era are used to provide a local illustration of common Hungarian history. He confesses that, lacking adequate source material, he continued the historical argumentation from György Dózsa, through the siege of Temesvár (Timișoara) up to the fall of Várad (Oradea) from the point of view of Transylvania and Hungary. It was only after this that the Banat comes into focus again with his mention of events from the Ottoman era. The larger section of the book, and the one more valuable for historians, begins with the age of the anti-Ottoman wars. Interesting details are described about the campaigns of Eugene of Savoy: about the intention to reach the planned new border that would have run in a straight line from the Danube to the Craiova river, and about the mutual attempts at border revision during the negotiations in Karlowitz. After having accepted that the Eyalet of Temesvár remained under Ottoman rule, while Transylvania and Partium would belong to the Empire, the Habsburgs signed the treaty. Griselini then describes the Hapsburg era of the Banat. His evaluation of the treaty of Passarowitz is quite interesting. He claims that the House of Austria extended their Hungarian territories and the emperor came into possession of three Hungarian provinces: Hungary, Transylvania and the Banat. From here on, he is practically writing contemporary history, as the era he depicts is not far from his own, so much so that he actually partook in some of the events. Thus he can almost identify himself with the persons and institutions described. His text is not a historical description of a country anymore, but rather a snapshot of the actual social and political situation. Still, those accounts are the most historically authentic as they synthesize the author’s experiences and his research in the documents of the Provincial Administration. The last chapters’ value as a historical source are defined by the fact that the author works his personality into the narrative: he unfolds the circumstances of his arrival to the Banat, the tasks he had been given by president Brigido and, through this, the real motives for the whole scientific analysis of the situation. But these motives were the very reasons why he went on his tour to get to know the life of the ethnic groups (Gypsies, Serbs, Vlachs) living in the Banat. These writings are a hardly replaceable source for any scholar studying the Banat society.
The Image of Hungary in 18–19th-Century Travelogues
While the literature sees the 18-19th centuries as a golden age of travels and travelogues, the sources from the era are unevenly treated. This is particularly true in the case of Hungary: the travel guides of the period are still unexplored. The paper aims to grasp the methodology and sources of describing a nation, thus providing support for scholars studying this subject, through the analysis of the 1818 French edition of Heinrich August Ottokar Reichard’s travel guide, which was published several times in several languages after 1784. This edition already contained sections on Hungary. The analysis of the guidebook’s passages on Hungary reveals that Reichard – somewhat contrarily to the rules of the genre – provides a very reduced image of the country, mentioning only the most important postal routes and localities, while the description of the country’s geography and political, economical or social circumstances are missing completely, and information on language, religion and common law, all essential for a traveler, is also absent. But we would expect more seeing his bibliography which lists relatively lengthy and more or less up-to-date works. The short, fragmentary and often accidental description of Hungary is largely attributable to the country’s location: the itinerary of the Grand Tour did not embrace the country and the charm of Pozsony or Buda could not rival that of Constantinople or Saint Petersburg. But the main reason why he failed to provide a more complex or detailed description was that the author, admittedly, had never visited Hungary, and most probably did not even consult anyone who had. The absence of thematization, such as topographic descriptions, leads us to the believe that the editor did not use the information found in the sources theoretically available to him, such as the travelogue of Salaberry. In summary, the Reichard guidebook in itself was of little help for foreigners traveling to Hungary: they needed to do additional research (reading geographical dictionaries, travelogues and historical works). Of course, it is a question whether the traveler of the era actually required this. An answer might be provided in the texts created during the “travel fever” beginning in the 1810s; the authors of these, partly because they were aware of the lack of information, strove to publish works, sometimes in multiple volumes, that made it possible for the reader to really get to know Hungary and its history.
The Privileged in the Service of the State and the Common Good. On Joseph von Sonnenfels’ Concept of Nobility
Joseph von Sonnenfels (1732/3–1817) was one of the most colorful and significant theoreticians of the Habsburg Monarchy’s government in the second half of 18th century. Due to his works of various genres as well as his scientific and public activity he was an emblematic figure of the so-called Austrian enlightened absolutism. The paper aims at describing Sonnenfels’ concept of society, and particularly his ideas about nobility in context. During the elaboration of the issue the key notions of enlightened absolutism such as state (statehood) and science of administration (cameralism) are discussed in detail, as the clarification of these notions is essential to a meaningful description of Sonnenfels’ ideas. He did not publish his conception of nobility in a single, independent and coherent work, rather he discussed his related ideas in separate scientific, journalistic and miscellaneous writings, which provide scholars with a jigsaw puzzle of his ideas. The purpose of the paper is to describe Sonnenfels’ ideas in such a way as to avoid blending the diversity of approaches (which are indeed contradictory sometimes), and to draw a picture that reflects the different genres and the author’s presumed intentions. The integration of the privileged strata of society into the 18th-century state, undergoing modernization, was a process full of tensions, as illustrated by the particularly interesting example of the Habsburg Monarchy and the Hungarian nobility. Sonnenfels’ fragmentary ideology provided a possible model for this socio-cultural integration, the influence of which can be regarded as essential due to its popularity.
Unjustified Cruelty or “Bitter Need”? The Conflict between the “Professor” and the “Great Renegade” in November 1848
In the late autumn of 1848, in the Banat theater of the „small war” in the southern territories against the Serbian rebels, Hungarians were gradually gaining ground. As a result of battles there, many commanders and corps had acquired experience in combat and companionship that later proved to be useful elsewhere. But it was also this time that the front’s best soldier, Antal Vetter and János Damjanich fatefully confronted each other. There were only a few preliminary sings of this conflict. Both officers, about the same age, came from military families, both chose the military profession for themselves, both excelled with extraordinary performance and both were the advocates of legitimacy. However, Vetter, being “stiff” and apolitical, considered himself a staff officer, while the “fiery” Damjanich, who was also enthusiastic about reforms, was a real line officer. 1848 gave momentum to the career of both, and both had already had their first successes and had gained fame by the time they met on the same front at the beginning of November. The major-general, a brilliant planner, and the lieutenant-colonel, a great executor might have complemented each other. But the latter’s first great success on this front – the capture of the Serb military camp in Lagerdorf on 9 November 1848 – marked not the beginning but the end of their good relationship. As the troops of Damjanich inflicted severe losses not only on the garrison, but on civilians as well, and they plundered and burned down the defiant village and its neighborhood. The situation was aggravated by the acts of cruelty to the prisoners of war carried out by the soldiers of the 9th battalion in “the hell of Fehértemplom (Bela Crkva)”. Having heard of the events, Vetter reprimanded his subordinate in a letter, who in turn visited his superior in person in mid-November 1848. Although we cannot reconstruct in detail what happened, it seems evident that what was meant to be a clarifying conversation turned into a heated debate. The partners did not understand each other. Vetter, the corps commander, who viewed the events from the perspective of a staff officer, intended to wage a “regular” war fought along the rules and principles he had learned at the Theresian Military Academy in Bécsújhely (Wiener Neustadt). On the other hand, holding firmly to his Serbian identity, Damjanich, who saw the cruelty of the insurgents to the non-Serbian population as well as the poor supply of his troops, acted as a line officer and was forced to adjust to the circumstances of the “irregular” theater of war in the hope of a quick success. Although, according to their later remarks, their views on army discipline and the ways of warfare were scarcely different, their dissimilar character and combat experiences prevented them from coming to terms with each other. Following this case, they harbored mutual antipathy towards each other which prevented these extraordinary soldiers from successfully cooperating not only on the Banat front, but also later, during the spring of 1849 at the river Tisza.