Private clerks in contemporary and historical discourse in Germany and Hungary in the twentieth century
The paper surveys German and Hungarian works on the clerks of private offices [Privatbeamten]. Surveying the German sociological and sociographical literature in the first half of the twentieth century, the paper introduces the problematic issues concerning the social group in question. This is followed by an overview of the German sociohistorical literature after World War II. The history of Privatbeamten has been emphasized as one of the elements in the discussions on the special way of German social development, treated by extensive literature. The second part of the paper discusses the literature on the significantly smaller group of Hungarian private clerks, first the contemporary works before World War II, then the historical literature since the war. A comparison of German and Hungarian works generates questions on the picture of Hungarian society in the first half of the twentieth century, closely associated with the work of Ferenc Erdei. While the descriptive tradition on Hungarian society regards private clerks as belonging to the bourgeoise part of society and free from feudal legacy, the German literature discusses the "vorbürgerliche", "vorkapitalische" nature of this group and the role of feudal behavioural patterns. The paper, which is a chapter from a PhD dissertation in progress, discusses the possible questions resulting from the different contents of the discourses.
Crises and elections. Financial policy in Hungary and Austria, 1931-1936
The experience of the years of inflation and the principles of the financial reconstruction elaborated in Geneva had a profound effect on the financial politics of Hungary and Austria. Both countries had been in serious economic trouble even before the monetary crisis which unfolded in 1931. In the summer of 1931 both Hungary and Austria had to choose between maintainin the official gold parity and the devaluation of the currency. The financial governments of these two countries, which had gone through a serious inflation, regarded devaluation and abandoning the gold parity as a dangerous and irresponsible measure conductive to the complete depreciation of the currency. The reasons behind the refusal of devaluation and the insistance on official gold parity were first of all fear of inflation and adherence to the principles of the politics of stabilization. The cost of the decision was the introduction of foreign exchange restrictions, and the sacrifice of the converitbility of the currencies. Centralized foreign exchange control did not prove effective enough, the central banks unable to control foreign payments. A significant part of the money avoiding the control was inserted into circulation on the black market in the cafés of Vienna and Budapest, where quotations differed significantly from official rates. The artificial maintenance of the fictitious exchange rate was a serious disadvantage for the export sector and rendered the surmounting of the crisis difficult. Gradually liberalizing its foreign trade from 1932, Austria officially acknowledged the depreciation of the schilling in 1934. The Hungarian government and the leaders of the Hungarian National Bank, however, continued opposing the devaluation of the pengő. Finance Minister Béla Imrédy was seriously considering devaluation from early 1934, and the idea was supported by a member of the Financial Committee of the League of Nations as well as the commissioner of the League of Nation delegated to Budapest. However, with the president of the issue bank opposing it, the measure was never taken. Although at the end of 1935, the reform of the surcharge system pushed the exchange rate of the pengő to its market value, a unified currency exchange rate was not established. The leaders of the central bank were afraid that that a unified devaluation might direct Hungarian exports even more toward Germany and Italy, where due to an inflation greater than that in Hungary internal price levels were higher.
It was a peculiar paradox in the economic politics of Hungary and Austria between the two world wars that it was the adherence to liberal financial principles (maintaining the balance of the budget, protecting the gold parity) and the fear of an inflation once experienced that moved the government to introduce centralized economic measures, such as foreign exchange restrictions, which were originally meant to be provisional emergency steps but proved to be in effect for years. People in Budapest and Vienna were convinced that countries opting for devaluation stepped on the dangerious path of the sate influencing the money market, and that by adminsitrative interference with exchange rates and the purchasing value of the currency would ultimately push their respective economies into an even deeper crisis. Austrian historians have already pointed out the duality of the way the authoritarian government, which did away with the parliament as well, was following a liberal economic policy based on anti-interventionist principles, which could be associated with the names of Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig Mises. It can be claimed that Hungary, at least in the field of monetary and fiscal politics, also tried to follow these liberalist principles, even if it had to leave them at times on account of the emergency born of the crisis.
Volksbund. National Socialist organization of an ethnic group or an emancipationist minority association?
In the government formed after the revolutions of 1919-18, Jakob Bleyer, leader of the Germans in Hungary was Minister of Nationalities. A supporter of the "unassailable Magyar supremacy", Bleyer was for a centralized and conservative form of government. The task of his ministry was not the elaboration of the future minority policy of the Hungarian government, but propaganda against the separation of Northern and Western Hungary, territories inhabited by Magyars. Thus the loss of Burgenland was regarded by the public as the personal failure of Bleyer, and his ministry was eventually dissolved.
In the wake of the shock of the Peace Treaty of Trianon, the Hungarian public, living in the heated atmosphere of the "conspiracy theory", according to which the disintegration of Hungary was the result of the undermining activities of the ethnic minorities, demanded the establishment of an ethnically unified and, therefore, "strong" Hungary as a necessary precondition of future revision. Accepting this, Bleyer acted accordingly. His thesis of "Deutschungar" ruled out "pan-German politics" and cooperation with the German minorities of neighbouring countries. This orientation was continued by the Ungarländischer Deutscher Volkbildungsverein.
According to the results of the elections of 1930, the proportion of Germans in the total population went down from 6.9% to 5.5%. This resulted in tensions in the leadership of the Verein. What is more, the new prime minister, Count Gyula Károlyi openly declared that permitting the Union to function had been an irreparable mistake, and he would not cooperate even with Bleyer. The situation was made more difficult when Gyula Gömbös became prime minister. After that Bleyer also looked to Berlin and to "pan-Germanism" for the saving of the German minority. Berlin, however, not embracing their cause for the time being, made it possible for the Hungarian government to take firm measures against the German minority leaders who wanted to vindicate national interests. After Bleyer's death, Franz Basch gradually moved to the foreground. Gömbös, who was for the complete suppression of the German minority movement, forfeited the last chance to put minority politics in Hungary on a new basis.
From 1937, Berlin increasingly tried to exploit the German minorities for its own foreign political ends. That is why the Volksbund was organized. However, since according to the intentions of the founders the organization should rather unite than polarize the Germans in Hungary, the Volksbund refused to be involved in partisan political activities. And although Berlin was in the background, the goals of the organization were less closely related to National Socialism than to the traditions of the protection of the minorities from the 1920s. At the same time, they regarded the power politics of the Third Reich as ethnopolitical ethnic group ideology. German imperial influence was increasing within the organization, reinforced by the weight of the ethnic Germans in recently reannexed Bácska. The politics of dissimilation that Berlin wanted to carry out naturally resulted in conflicts with the Hungarian government, but did not harmonize with the original ideas of the Volksbund either, the latter interpreting the protection of minority interests as defensive popular politics.
On the crossroads of Ruthenian autonomy (March-September, 1939)
When Sub-Carpathia (Ruthenia) [Kárpátalja] was reannexed to Hungary upon the collapse of the Czechoslovak state in the middle of March, 1939, the various governments in Budapest had been promising the mostly Ruthene population self-government for nearly two decades in case of an integral revision. And, of course, they had never failed to mention that the Czechoslovak state was continually violating its obligation to establish Ruthenian autonomy, promised in the minority treaty signed at Saint-Germain-en-Laye.
The time to make good the Hungarian promise came just at a time when the man at the head of the government was Pál Teleki, who as a geographer had been clearly endeavouring to reconcile the demands of a political and economical entity in the Carpathian Basin with the needs of minority and/or regional self-governments. Teleki wanted a political consensus that would include relevant persons and political forces in Hungarian public life, as well as loyal Ruthenian politicians. The consensus was nearly complete in that autonomy was necessary and the parties were bound by their given word.
Most of the innumerable plans for autonomy drafted between March and September, 1939 were of either of two opinions. One argued for the so called popular (cultural), the other for territorial autonomy. Although the existing county system would perhaps have been administratively more compatible with the popular autonomy, the Department of Nationalities of the Prime Minister's Office as well as most of the prominent persons who submitted proposals were trying to find a way to establish territorial autonomy. The reason lay mostly in Hungarian constitutional traditions and in the political tradition that explicitly left individuals to decide which nation or nationality they wished to belong to. That is why the popular principle, a favourite of the German (National Socialist) constitutional law, was regarded with considerable dislike.
In the meantime, a number of opinions were also formulated that explicitly conflicted with the intentions of the government. While the representatives of the Ruthenian Magyars would, in their heart of hearts, have restricted the jurisdiction of the autonomy to the minimum, the Ruthene autonomists laid claim to an autonomy as extensive as that of Croatia between 1868 and 1918, which meant the status of co-nation [társnemzet].
Due to the wide range of views and opinions, and to the lack of time, the Hungarian government, in the summer of 1939, in want of of a consensual bill, laid the foundations of an autonomy in the near future by decree. Imposed from above, this solution was a peculiar mixture of deconcentrated administration and self-government.
The paper discusses the material, consisting of protocols, plans, proposals made at the Department of Nationalities of the Prime Minister's office that has, through a curious stroke of luck, recently been recovered, and the originals of which were probably destroyed during the last days of World War II in Hungary.
The Hungarian Articles of 1608 before the Roman Inquisition: the excommunication of Mathias II
The essay tries to find an explanation of how it was possible that Catholicism, which was totally pushed into the background at the Diet of 1608 due to the Protestant Bocskai uprising, could regain a number of its positions in Hungary by the time of the Diet of 1609.
One of the most important events of the intervening year, in this respect, was the Roman censorship of the articles passed at the 1608 Diet, published in print, upon the request of Hungarian prelates. Despite the repeated urges of Cardinal Ferenc Forgách, Archbishop of Esztergom wishing firm intervention, Rome before and under the 1608 Diet assumed an expectant attitude against the religious politics of the new Hungarian king, Mathias II (1608-1619), who had deposed Rudolph II (1576-1608) and come into power with support from the Protestant Estates. More favourable than those of Forgách, the reports of Bishop Placido de Mara of Melf, a nuncio accredited to the king played a crucial part in this.
The behaviour of the Holy See changed only after seeing a printed copy of the articles, which made Catholicism in Hungary impossible, confirmed by the sovereign's initials, sent by the Hungarian bishop to Rome, and after receiving the news of the freedom of religion granted to the Austrian Protestants in 1609. At this point, Pope Paul V (1605-1621) informed Mathias II that due to these concessions the king had come under the ruling of the provisions contined in the bull In Coena Domini, and that had himself excommunicated from the Church along with his councillors.
The Roman Inquisition acting in the case, namely the Holy Office (Sanctum Officium) took the laws under close scrutiny and then invalidated not only certain articles but the whole text, declaring that Catholics - both secular and clerical - could not be put under obligation to observe it. The Cardinals of the Inquisition with the Pope at their head, following repeated negotiations and wearisome postponements, instead of having the laws repealed, as had been long claimed, eventually made strict conditions concerning the earliest possible absolution from the automatic interdictum due to the proclamation of the laws, to Mathias II and his ministers, who had been obliged to repent repeatedly. The king had to contact Rome directly, because the Holy Office claimed the privilege of settling the matter, and had withdrawn all earlier spiritual faculties in time on the basis of which local churches could also have administered the firmly urged absolution.
The case did not come to the notice of the wider public, but the diplomats of Emperor Rudolph II and Venice, accreditedto Rome, could provide reliable information about the proceedings of the negotiations not always free from tension. The events taking place in Rome, Vienna, and Pozsony, in which one of the key figures was Bishop Melchior Klesl of Vienna, are reconstructed in detail by the author mainly with the help of the sources available at the recently opened Archives of the Inquisition.
The intervention of the Holy Office considerably contributed to the fact that the Hapsburg sovereign and his environment, putting considerations of political realism to the fore, promoted the unfolding of the Hungarian counter-reformation more effectively in the following decade, within the scope of which the opportunity of implementing the reform resolutions of the Council of Trento presented itself. Hungarian Catholics, led by Cardinal Ferenc Forgách eventually managed to counterbalance the superiority of Protestantism in home affairs in 1609 with the help of foreign support, which, in their case, was extended by potetas indirecta, as applied by the Holy See.
The policy of England towards Constantinople during the Fifteen Years War. English Ambassador to the Porte Edward Barton's reports from Constantinople, 1593-1597
Edward Barton, factor of the Levant Company and English ambassador to Constantinople is well known for Hungarian and foreign historians. His reports, kept in the Public Record Office and in the archives of the British Library in London were discovered by English and Hungarian historians at the end of the nineteenth century. What made Barton's person interesting for Hungarian researchers was that he accompanied Mehmed III on his Hungarian campaign in 1596 at the invitation of the Sultan, and he was present at the siege of Eger as well as at the battle of Mezőkeresztes. The present paper, relying on Barton's reports between 1593 and 1596, attempts to show how the English ambassador to Constantinople organized his office, who were those he could rely on, and what difficulties he had had to overcome before acquiring considerable reputation among both Turkish politicians and the foreign ambassadors then in Constantinople. Barton left England in 1578, when he was probably 16. As the secretary of William Harborne, he worked for years on the establishment of the Levant Company and he became familiar with the customs of the Ottoman Empire and learnt the language as well. He officially became the factor of the Company and the ambassador of England in Constantinople in 1588 (according to some historians, in 1593). He maintained excellent relations with the pashas of the Serai. He enjoyed the friendship and support of Sad al-Din Khoya Efendi, instructor of Sultan Murad III, and a Pasha Nizargi. As a diplomat, he made clever use of the advantages offered by the trading company. His prestige and influence at the Porte was mostly due to the fact that the English merchants also carried munitions that the Ottoman Empire needed in the war it was waging in the Hungarian theatre of war. The European states with official connections to the Porte watched jealously the stregthening positions of Barton and England in Constantinople. As an episode in this rivalry, the French ambassador accused one of Barton's agents, Paolo Mariani of spying for Spain in the Turkish Empire. The Ottoman authorities immediately executed the accused agents, and Barton had a long and hard time explaining to his superiors that his man had not been a Spanish spy, that is, a double agent. England tried to avoid the appearance of being too friendly with Turkey by mediating peace in the war between the Ottoman Empire and the Holy Roman Emperor. Using his connections, Barton more than once let Turkish politicians know that he was ready to mediate for peace. This was, of course, presented to Christian states as the English ambassador wishing merely to advance the interests of Christiandom during his negotiations with the politicians of the Serai. As part of this policy of emphasizing Christian solidarity Barton successfully persuaded the Porte not to send an ambassador to London since that would only have aroused the European powers against England. Of the foreign envoys in Constantinople, Barton maintained particularly good relations with the ambassadors of Poland and the Principality of Transylvania. He often helped the Polish envoys in their talks with the Porte. He was similarly helpful toward the envoys of Transylvanian ruling Prince Sigismund Báthory. He was glad to receive instructions from London to support with all possible means the policies of Transylvania at the Porte.
Sinful city and innocent countryside. The physiocrats' concept of the town/city
The paper discusses the political views of the physiocrats known in the litarture on the subject primarily as economists, with special regard to the way the praise of the life in the country and the dismissal of urbanity as immoral complements the economic argument that value is produced by agriculture only, industry and commerce merely tranforming its products, and thus the latter can be regarded as improductive.
The author attempts to show the relationship between certain elements of the argumentation of the physiocrats with the republican discourse described by John Pocock in connection with Renaissance Italy and 17th-18th-century England in his The Machiavellian Moment. In the light of this interpretation the essay attempts to reconsider the physiocrats' views on the theory and practice of political representation, on the freedom of commerce, on the history of France, and, of course, on the relationship between the city and the countryside. This approach makes it possible to regard the physiocrats not exclusively as a "sect" and the forerunners of Adam Smith, but to find a place for them in the political intellectual history of the eighteenth century.