Snorri Sturluson, the politician: The relationship between Icelanders and the Norwegian Kings in the Middle-Ages
With its settlement around 870 medieval Iceland started out as a free state with its own government. Nonetheless, it kept up a significant connection with Norway because of trade and common cultural heritage. At the same time, the political influence of the Norwegian Kings was growing as centuries passed and the wish to be recognized and be part of the Norwegian court was shared by many of the social elite in Iceland. One of them was Snorri Sturluson. This essay discusses the relations between the two countries and the growing influence of the Norwegian Kings in Iceland. As a learned skald and a member of a rich family, Snorri gained more and more power in Iceland. He travelled to Norway and became a member of the King’s court. Snorri is best known as an author of a great number of medieval texts, but his career will be examined as a politician in this essay, addressing the following questions: What was his political goal? Was he an opportunist, a rebel, or a faithful retainer?
The Domestic Propaganda of Gustavus II during the Thirty Years’ War
Situated on the northern periphery of the European continent, with extensive territory but sparse population, Sweden had played a minor role only in the history of Europe before entering the Thirty Years’ War, yet soon rising into the ranks of the most significant great powers of the seventeenth century. The foreign policy of expansion, at the same time, took a high social toll: in addition to high taxes, a substantial part of the population of the country was kept in arms permanently, never to return to their homeland. In its effort to prevent rebellions, the Swedish state launched a conscious and extensive propaganda campaign targeted at all segments of the population. In this essay I discuss a period of Swedish participation in the war, brief as it were, yet resulting in significant Protestant victories, concentrating on the Swedish war propaganda implemented during the German campaign of Swedish ruler Gustavus II (1611-1632) as well as the one preparing it. I do this on the basis of documents pertaining to parliamentary sessions, day of prayer posters (böndagsplakat) issued every year, read out and posted in every congregation as well as sources related to days of thanksgiving (tacksägelsedag) ordered after military victories. I first give an overview of the Swedish state, then, having covered the major generic and content-related characteristics of the sources I perform a content analysis of the message conveyed. The Lutheran Church of Sweden played a major role in disseminating war propaganda: the message that the central power wished to mediate on the days of prayer prescribed for every parish several times a year or on days of thanksgiving was coated with the dogmas of Lutheran orthodoxy; it thus could appear as part of the everyday religious practice, in an easily comprehensible way, for the widest target audience of the peasantry.
John Adams and the Beginnings of Dutch-American Relations
2017 marked the 235th anniversary of the beginnings of Dutch-American relations. On April 19, 1782, John Adams was received by the States General in the Hague and recognized as Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States of America. The United Netherlands became the second foreign country to recognize the independence of the United States.This, however, was the beginning of only the official relations as the economic ties had already been strong between the American colonies and the Dutch Republic. The Dutch supplies proved indispensable to the Americans during their war of independence against Great Britain. The small Caribbean Island of St. Eustatius played a key role as a transit port between Europe and the American continent. John Adams arrived in the Netherlands in the summer of 1780, but he had a long way to go till he and the American revolutionary cause found support not only among Dutch businessmen who had an interest in furthering economic cooperation and establishing diplomatic relations, but also in the official circles. Based on primary sources, the essay discusses the early history of Dutch-American relations and the way John Adams achieved diplomatic recognition and received financial support for his country from the Dutch Republic.
The peculiar twists and turns of the establishment of Hungarian-Cuban diplomatic relations (1959-1960)
This study analyzes the ups and downs in the development of Hungarian-Cuban diplomatic relations following the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. In 1959, the year of the victory of the Cuban Revolution, Hungarian foreign policy focused primarily on Asia and Africa, as the colonial liberation struggles there provided an opportunity for the Soviet Union and the socialist countries to get their foot in the countries of these two continents. However, in the spring of 1956, following the negotiation of a councilor of the Budapest Soviet embassy at the Foreign Ministry, it became clear for the Hungarian foreign policy makers that Moscow considered Latin America as a desirable target and wanted to use the former Hungarian diplomatic ties to realize the idea. The Soviet intention was readily served by Hungary, and the Political Committee of the MDP decided in the first half of 1956 that Hungary should establish diplomatic ties with Mexico, Brazil and Uruguay. The question of the establishment of relations failed in October 1956, and from then on, Latin America meant a political landscape for Hungary, where it continued to refuse to overcome the international, echo of the defeat of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution expressed through the loud rejection of the legitimacy of the Kádár government. Following the rapid deterioration of US-Cuban relations, the Cuban government proposed to Hungary to establish diplomatic relations. Hungary, however, was only moderately interested in the opportunity offered but eventually accepted Soviet "guidance" and overwhelmed by its own ideas, Hungarian foreign policy changed and supported the Soviet Union in getting its foot in Cuba, in the neighborhood of its big rival, the United States.
Inventing a National Hero. The Commemoration of Jón Sigurðsson and the Making of National Unity in Iceland
Jón Sigurðsson has been used as a model for the nationalist socialization of new and modern Icelanders for more than a century and a cult formed around him has been maintained up to the present through various manifestations of the images of him. He seems to have become an independent trademark, because those Icelanders, who have very limited knowledge of him, also embrace him as a unifying symbol. By focusing on a wide range of popular representations, this study analyzes how Sigurðsson’s public images have been utilized to shape an Icelandic national identity. It examines the process through which he emerged as a national icon, both in its textual and performative dimensions. Based on numerous and diverse sources, it elucidates how the collective memory of a singular figure played a formative role in the creation of a nation-state.
Jefferson’s Wall: The Power of Metaphor in Church and State Debates in the 20th Century US
The American constitutional model of church-state separation is customarily characterized by a quote originating from Thomas Jefferson, who wrote approvingly about a “wall of separation” between government and the churches set up by the First Amendment of the Constitution in a 1802 letter. The metaphor was taken up by the US Supreme Court in a formative 1947 ruling, and it soon acquired the authority of a quasi-constitutional principle, especially in the arguments of the advocates of separationism. Its critics – both on and outside the Court – argued, on the other hand, that the widely used image of the wall is misleading as it mischaracterizes the actual requirements of the First Amendment and suggests a degree of isolation between political power and religion that is impossible or at least impractical to carry out in practice. This essay examines the history of how the “wall of separation” metaphor found its way to Supreme Court decisions about Establishment Clause cases and, after a period of almost ubiquitous use, went into a gradual decline during the 1970s and 1980s as the majority of the Court began to drift toward a more accommodationist interpretation of the Establishment Clause. The investigation involves detailed textual analysis of selected Supreme Court decisions as well as minority opinions of individual justices.
The political ideology of Endre Bajcsy-Zsilinszky in the first half of the 1930s
This paper anatomizes the political concepts of a notable Hungarian publicist-politician, Endre Bajcsy-Zsilinszky (1886–1944) between 1930 and 1936, the Anti-Nazi leader of his own-established National Radical Party. Originally being a key player of the Hungarian right-wing racialists in the 1920s, my study first discusses how his worldview was shaped by inland and abroad political changes. I draw attention to surprising foreign relationships as well as his opinion about the issues of racialism and revisionism, presenting his standpoint on the Jewish and the agrarian question as well as interpreting his ideas concerning fascism and Nazism. My survey lays emphasis on Bajcsy-Zsilinszky’s controversial relations with Hungarian governments also analysing his deep-rooted nationalism as well as his new political targets. As it is demonstrated, social-economical-political reform plans and the Hungarian imperial idea related to and strengthened each other in his continuously altering political thinking. Involving a large number of primary sources I call into question the conventional theory of Bajcsy-Zsilinszky’s “turn into left” and instead of the traditional – left-right – conceptual framework I argue for using the political concept of populism in his case.