A: Notes

Chapter I. Myth: The Foundation of Historical Consciousness

  1. Scythia: territory inhabited by nomadic peoples in ca. the 8th to the 1st centuries B.C. The Scythians probably were a mixture of Mongolian and Indo-European tribes. Occasionally they controlled huge areas of the Southern Russian steppe. Since they were nomads, the physical boundaries of their sphere of influence constantly changed.
  2. Gog and Magog: mysterious rulers mentioned in the Old Testament. All attempts for a closer identification (assumptions that the country called Magog was ruled by Gog, that Gog was another name for the Asian king Gyges and his people were the Scythians, that they were "giants", etc.) remained conjectures. Reference to Alexander the Great: according to the fantastic geste of Alexander (ca. 320 A.D.), the Macedonian king built a protective wall somewhere in or around the Caucasus to defend his empire against raids by the barbarians.
  3. The assumption that Magog, son of Japheth (Genesis, 10) lent his name to the Magyars is an example of so-called naive etymology which bases semantic observations on morphological similarities of unrelated words.
  4. Menroth is identical with the mighty Biblical hunter-king Nimrod, Noah's great-grandson from Ham's lineage (Genesis, 10). Evilath: the Biblical Havilah, land of gold (Genesis, 2). According to the Hungarian chroniclers, it was the ancient homeland of the Hungarians. In fact, both Menroth and the Evilath of the Hungarian chronicles had nothing to do with the Biblical person and site.
  5. Maeotis: Greek name for the Sea of Azov.
  6. Belar: ruler of the Bulgarians (a Turkish people) at the Sea of Azov. Dula(n): according to the Hungarian chronicles, king of the Alans (an Iranian people) - in fact, another king of the Azov Bulgarians.
  7. Attila, king of the Huns (433-453): while demonized as one of the most abominable historical figures in Western consciousness, in the past centuries many Hungarians proudly (but erroneously) regarded him as an ancestral ruler of the Hungarians. The first written document that briefly mentioned this myth was the gesta of Anonymous. Later chroniclers elaborated on the myth. Buda was Attila's older brother with whom he shared power for a while, then killed him.
  8. Reference to the abandoned Roman settlement along the Danube, between Buda and Aquincum to the north.
  9. Emesh: "the female one," also referring to female animals. Like the name of Enech, Nimrod's wife, Emesh is also a totemic name.
  10. Turul: a bird of prey of much debated ornithological identity, totemic symbol of the nomadic Hungarians.
  11. More exactly, almus means "the blessed one" in Latin. A typical example of medieval historiography that tried to find analogies between Pagan and Christian times, or their symbolism. This practice was widespread in Europe.
  12. Pannonia: Roman province; in the early 2nd century A.D. emperor Traian extended its eastern border to the Danube, which flows across Hungary in a north-south direction. The Romans abandoned the Hungarian part of the province in the mid-4th century.
  13. Árpád: head of the Hungarian tribal confederation that entered the Carpathian Basin in 895-96 A.D., establishing there what became the Kingdom of Hungary.
  14. The Rhetor Priscus: 5th-century Greek historian. Among others, he wrote a report about his mission to Attila's court as emissary of the Byzantine emperor Theodesius II. This report is regarded as one of the few authentic human profiles of the mysterious Hun king.
  15. Galeotti: Galeotto Marzio, Italian humanist (1427?- 1497). Between 1461-1479 he sojourned several times, for several years, in the court of the Hungarian king Matthias (Mátyás, 1458-90). In 1484-87, back in Italy, he wrote a Latin work lavishly praising the personality and court of the great Hungarian Renaissance king.
  16. Son of János Hunyadi, a Transylvanian warlord, Mátyás was the only Hungarian king elected by "the people," i.e., the lower nobility. Consequently, he was probably the most popular figure of his country's royal oligarchy.
  17. Andrew III (1290-1301) was the last king of the Árpád dynasty. The source of Arany's reference to an award for poets is unknown.
  18. On August 29, 1526, the Osmanic Turkish imperial army smashed the Hungarian royal army at the southern town of Mohács. The defeat started the disintegration of the country. In 1541, when the Turks took Buda by cunning, Hungary fell into three parts: the western Hungarian Christian kingdom ruled by the Habsburgs, the vast central area under Turkish yoke, and the Transylvanian principality in the east and southeast. The tripartite division lasted until 1695.
  19. The 150-year-long Turkish occupation affected all aspects of life (demography, culture, psychology, ecology), and had such devastating long-term consequences that, in the view of social and cultural historians, the country has not overcome them yet.
  20. Sebestyén Tinódi Lantos ("the Luter," 1510?-1556): Hungary's most famous bard, narrator of many heroic songs about battles against the Turks. Texts and authentic melodies of his songs have been preserved.
  21. Miklós Toldi was a semi-legendary 14th-century knight, famous for his great physical strength. A series of amazing adventures ere attributed to him. Physical strength was a characteristic of both mythical (Hercules) and folkloric (Paul Bunyan) heroes.
  22. A concise summary of the democratic-reformist, but historically untenable, idea of mid-19th century Hungarian intellectuals that the concepts of nation and people (folk) coincided in the early (nomadic) Middle Ages.
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Chapter II. Roots, or the Never-Ending Polemics on the Origins

  1. Kőrösi Csoma's hesitation between Transylvania and Hungary (earlier he calls the college of Nagyenyed the best one in his country, and later mentions that he set off to find the cradle of his nation, i.e. Hungary) derives from the fact that after the expulsion of the Turks at the end of the 17th century, the large historical territory Transylvania, once organic part of the kingdom, was not reunited with Hungary but was pronounced an Austrian province, administered directly from the imperial court in Vienna (1690-1867). Hungary, on the other hand, was a sovereign kingdom whose monarch happened to be the (Habsburg) Holy Roman Emperor.
  2. Hungarian Scientific Society: an early alternative name for the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (founded in 1825, actual activity started in 1830).
  3. János Hunyadi (1387?-1456), Transylvanian oligarch and warlord, father to king Matthias (Mátyás), successful military opponent of the increasingly threatening Turkish attacks. See note 16, chapt. 1.
  4. Sándor Petőfi (1823-49), born to a Hungarian-Serbian butcher called Petrovics and a Hungarian-Slovak servant girl, became questionably the greatest, unquestionably the most popular, Hungarian poet ever. His spontaneous language and vivid images make the identification with his poetic world easy.
  5. Reference to Hungary's conversion to Christianity and the end of nomadic life.
  6. The Hungarian equivalents of the Finnish words are cited in brackets. In both languages, diacritical marks (that is, various unfamiliar "accents") are used to qualify the pronunciation and length of the vowels. The following chart represents the family tree of the Finno-Ugric languages. In the Hungarian lineage, the end date of coexistence is indicated. (The language groups with more than a million speakers are listed in bold characters).

    (ide jön a kép)

  7. Kalevala is the national epic of Finland, a poetic compilation of folkloric myths based on old Karelian songs. The compilations was the work of Elias Lönnrot, a country doctor, who published the first version of Kalevala in 1835.
  8. The demographic statistics provided below, are courtesy of Dr. Harri Mürk of the University of Toronto. Like certain other ethnic groups in our century, some Finno-Ugric peoples have objected against their traditional (in their opinion, patronizing) name. The name they prefer is indicated in parentheses.
    Hungarians 14 500 000
    Finns 5 000 000
    Estonians 1 120 000
    Mordvinians 1 191 800
    Votyaks (Udmurts) 713 700
    Cheremises (Maris) 622 000
    Zyrians (Komis) 477 500
    Karelians 138 000
    Laps (Saamis) 48 000
    Ostyaks (Khantis) 20 900
    Voguls (Mansis) 7 600
    Vepses 8 000
  9. Ármin Vámbéry (1832-1913): orientalist, writer, and university professor. He travelled extensively in Central Asia, and became preoccupied with the cultural ties between Hungarians and the Turkish peoples.
  10. Reference to the final secession of the Hungarians from their nearest linguistic relatives.
  11. One of several attempts to justify the right of Hungarians to the Carpathian Basin. Earlier, the assumed Hunnish-Hungarian relationship provided such justification. László theorized that the so-called "Late Avars," a Caucasian people who dominated the Basin from the 670s till the early 9th century A.D., were related to the Hungarians. According to this interpretation, the Hungarians moved into the Carpathian Basin in two phases.
  12. The first Eastern (Arabic) and Western mentions of the Hungarians originate from the early 860s A.D. Al-Dzhaihani, a high-ranking emissary of the Bokharan emir, wrote about the "ferocious" Hungarians with fear and respect. In Western Europe, we find the first reference in a Belgian chronicle from 862 A.D. By the end of that century, when the raids of the Hungarians reached the West, chroniclers began to demonize them, attributing bizarre inhuman traits to them.
  13. The Hungarian chroniclers mention seven tribes, while the Turkish word onogur (from which the name Hungarian was derived) means "ten arrows," probably referring to a confederation of ten tribes.
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Chapter III. Historical Tradition

  1. Three peoples that were the enemies of the Hungarians in nomadic times, yet found refuge from their enemies in Christian Hungary and assimilated to the Hungarians. All three groups were multiethnic: the Cumanians and Pechenegs spoke Turkish languages, while the Jazygians were Iranian. The Cumanians came from the Black Sea area, first attacking the Hungarians in the 11th century; their big influx was in the 13th century. The Jazygians started their migration to Hungary at an unknown date. Once enemies, other times allies of the Hungarians, the Pechenegs started arriving in the mid-10th century, but the biggest wave came in the early 12th century. By the mid-14th century, all three groups were fully assimilated; only a number of geographic names keep their memory alive.
  2. The expulsion of the Turkish empire from the Balkans was a simmering issue of the 19th century. In 1862, when Kossuth made his views on the Danubian Confederation public, the whole Balkan Peninsula was still under Turkish rule or control, with the exception of Greece and Croatia. Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia gained their independence in 1878, after long military and diplomatic pressure on Turkey by Russia and the Western powers.
  3. In Romanian and the Slavic languages both titles are approximate equivalents of the ruling prince.
  4. The north-eastern fringe of historical Hungary, held in special esteem since the Verecke Pass, through which chief Árpád led the Hungarians into the Carpathian Basin, is situated in this area. The Trianon treaty assigned the area to Czechoslovakia. In 1939, when this country ceased to exist, Hungary reclaimed Subcarpathia. After World War II the region was occupied by the Soviet Union; today it belongs to Ukraine, where it is known as Transcarpathia.
  5. Ruthenians are a Slavic group inhabiting Subcarpathia. They have a sense of ethnic identity, although Ukrainians claim they are just a subgroup.
  6. Two international conferences held in Vienna returned to Hungary parts of the Upland (Felvidék) in 1938 and Transylvania (Erdély) in 1940.
  7. Sultan Suleiman's (1520-66) five expeditions to Hungary took place in 1521, 1526, 1543, 1552, and 1566.
  8. During the 150-year-long Turkish threat and partial occupation of Hungary, the town Nagyvárad (now Oradea, Romania), on the edge of the Great Plain, flourished, until it was occupied by the Turks in 1660. In Zrínyi's eyes, "Várad" had great strategic importance for Hungary.
  9. Actually, Brazil was under Spanish rule only between 1580-1640, 23 years before Zrínyi wrote his pamphlet. Otherwise, Brazil was a Portuguese colony. News from other continents travelled slowly in those times.
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Chapter IV. Ethnology and Folklore

  1. Gábor Bethlen (1613-29), ruling prince of Transylvania, and for a short time (1620-21), uncrowned king of Hungary. While harbouring ambitious plans for Hungary's liberation from both Austrians and Turks, Bethlen's greatest success is believed to have been the consolidation of his principality which prospered during his rule in all respects.
  2. Wallachs: originally dwellers of the Balkan mountains who gradually migrated north to the Lower Danube Valley. Beginning with the thirteenth century A.D., some of them moved on to Transylvania.
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Chapter V. National Economy and Social Life

  1. Reference to numerous peasant rebellions that took place in the course of Hungarian history.
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Chapter VI. Education and Science

  1. Philology: "love of the word" - once regarded as the basis of comparative cultural studies, it is hardly used in English any more. This discipline presupposes the perfect knowledge of the language(s) in which the scrutinized documents are written, and derives far-reaching historical, anthropological, social, even scientific, conclusions from the linguistic facts. A philologist was a person of wide and thorough knowledge.
  2. Széchenyi is referring to one of his ambitious projects: the construction of the Chain Bridge (Lánchíd), the first permanent bridge connecting Pest and Buda. He commissioned two English masters, both called Clark (but unrelated): William, the planner, and Adam, the builder. Construction started in 1840, and the opening was in 1849.
  3. Reference to Farkas Bolyai's most important contribution to mathematics: the two-volume Tentamen that he published in Latin in 1832. The lengthy Latin title is usually not quoted in its entirety. It means, more or less: "An attempt to introduce the studious youth to the basics of mathematics." The modesty of the title does not reflect the pioneering character of this internationally acclaimed work.
  4. Long and difficult decades preceded the opening of the National Theatre (at that time called the Hungarian Theatre of Pest) in 1837, in the course of which Pest county's mid-rank nobility assumed initiative and pushed forward with the plan.
  5. Eötvös is addressing Ágoston Trefort, Minister of Religious Cults and Education, in this "open letter". See the biographical notes.
  6. At that time in Budapest and Kolozsvár (now Cluj, Romania).
  7. A traditional Hungarian wind-instrument, most popular in the early 18th century, during prince Ferenc Rákóczi's campaign against Austrian supremacy.
  8. In 1896 Hungary celebrated the one thousandth anniversary of its statehood with splendid commemorative events.
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Chapter VII. Hungarian National Character

  1. Elite soldiers of the Ottoman Turkish army, composed of kidnapped Christian boys who were raised to become fanatical fighters for the Sultan.
  2. Osman (1288-1326), first ruler of the Turks, founder of the Ottoman Empire that later challenged Hungary and Europe. The data provided here about his thirteen descendants is incorrect; that his nation developed from the dwellers of two thousand tents may be more of a figurative expression than historical fact.
  3. After hundreds of years of using Latin, Hungarian public administration adopted the national language in 1844.
  4. The Unitarian bishop János Kriza's Vadrózsák (1863) was a celebrated collection of Transylvanian folk ballads. "Clement the Mason" revolves around a topic well known not only from Eastern European but also world lore: human sacrifice for the public good.
  5. Székelys (Saecler): Transylvanian Hungarian group of much debated origin. Assumedly, they constituted a Turkish-speaking tribe of the nomadic Hungarians who seceded in the 6th century, and arrived to Hungary some time after, that is, potentially centuries before the conquering Hungarians.
  6. Slovaks: a Slavic speaking group in Northern Hungary.
  7. Gyula Szekfű was a historian in the first half of the 20th century. The source of his quote by Babits is unknown, but the same idea rings familiar from several of Szekfű's other works.
  8. Reference to the Trianon peace treaty.
  9. Endre Ady (1877-1919) was a rebellious Symbolist poet of many controversial ideas.
  10. Distinguishing between "high" and "low" culture was a once fashionable division of cultural production along the horizontal line of social stratification. The debated issue was whether folk art and customs were "sunken" manifestations of upper-class culture, or whether the latter was refined folk culture.
  11. The term "national classicism" was an attempt to reconcile the concept of Romanticism with the earlier, great poetic tradition. Actually, the poets who were thought to fall into this category, and the critics who coined the term, were closer to national romanticism.
  12. The typical late 19th-century historical outlook in most countries of Europe was historicism. Rooted in Romanticism, it advocated the idea that history was a continuum. In poetry and ethics it also meant, figuratively, that the past and its heroes were still actively shaping contemporary consciousness.
  13. After humiliating defeats on various European battlefields, Austria was compelled to yield to the long-time Hungarian demand for independence. In 1867, Austria made Hungary an equal partner in governing the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy (known in English terminology as the "Austro-Hungarian Empire"). The emperor was Hungary's king. Hungary gained full autonomy in all respects except external affairs, defense, and finances. About half of the country celebrated the Compromise as realization of a centuries old dream, while the other half regarded it as a betrayal. The debate still goes on. At any rate, the new arrangement led Hungary into decades of very intensive economic and cultural progress.
  14. Zsigmond Móricz (1879-1942) is regarded as a writer (of mostly prose works) who developed an unprecedented sympathetic, yet non-idealized, literary image of the Hungarian country people.
  15. Although 18-19th century Hungarian authors often referred to this assumption (familiar from Romanticism) in their works, no one expressed it in writing in exactly these terms. It is a composite wisdom.
  16. In 1936 Lajos Prohászka, a Hungarian philosopher, published an influential book, A vándor és a bujdosó (The wanderer and the refugee), in which he used sweeping allegories to compare the national character of Germans and Hungarians. One of his controversial concepts was Hungarian finitism: the assumed preference of Hungarians to close down their world, delimiting themselves, and resisting change and expansion.
  17. The original sequence of this and the following two excerpts was rearranged.
  18. Until 1949 Hungary did not have a single document that would have clarified the rights and responsibilities of government and citizens. Instead, gradually enacted laws regulated political life. Similarly, in Great Britain codified legal agreements and laws fill the role of a constitution.
  19. The motto of Miklós Zrínyi's prose pamphlet Remedy Against Turkish Opium.
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Chapter VIII. Confrontations

  1. "Hungarian truth" (magyar igazság), later on "God of the Hungarians" (magyarok istene): two expressions of much less semantic significance than that which Babits attributed to them.
  2. Obsolete name for the Indo-European language family.
  3. Meaning of the four French words: hussar, kepi (also from French, but also shako), frog (not the animal!), coachman. (Hungarian originals: huszár, csákó, sujtás, kocsis).
  4. Adjectival form kocsi (of/from Kocs).
  5. Ferenc Kazinczy (1759-1831): poet, literary and language reformer. Thanks to his activity, in the early 19th century Hungarian language was modernized and standardized. More important than his fine literary oeuvre are his polemical essays and his letters, the latter published posthumously in 23 volumes. 6. Gergely Czuczor (1800-1866): poet and linguist, editor of the first major dictionary of the Hungarian Academy. Along with Petőfi and Arany, he did much to break down the dividing walls between poetic and colloquial language and imagery.
  6. Actually, in 1791.
  7. Kosztolányi was wrong: linguists regard Dutch and Flemish as practically identical languages.
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B: Biographical and Bibliographical Notes

ANONYMOUS. All that we know about the author of the first Latin chronicle based on old Hungarian historical tales is that he was "King Béla's anonymous notary" who signed his name as Master P. While there were four kings of the Árpád dynasty known by the name Béla (in the two centuries between 1061-1270), research ascertained that the author had to be the court notary of Béla III (1173-96), and his chronicle must have been compiled around 1203.
Gesta Hungarorum (The chronicle of the Hungarians) was first published in Hungarian in 1746. English translation: 6% of total text.

János APÁCZAI CSERE (1625-59). Transylvanian Protestant theologian and educator. He studied in Holland for five years and gained his doctoral degree there. Back in his homeland, the Transylvanian Principality, he was ostracized for his modern pedagogical ideas. He was compiler of the first encyclopedia in the Hungarian language, and author of a book on logic. He delivered his inaugural speech on the occasion of his appointment to the presidency of the college of Gyulafehérvár (now Alba Julia, Romania) - a position he did not manage to hold for long.
"Az iskolák fölöttébb szükséges voltáról" (About the great necessity of schools), 1656. English translation: 2.25% of total text.

János ARANY (1817-82). Poet, critic, editor, secretary-general of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Part of his poetic activity was aimed at recreating the Hungarian heroic epic. Why he thought this endeavour was so important is explained in "Naiv eposzunk" (Our naive folk epic), first published in the periodical Szépirodalmi Figyelő, 1, 2, 3, 1860. English translation: 30% of total text.

Mihály BABITS (1883-1941). One of the most respected literary and public figures of the early 20th century. His activity covered all fields of literature, from poetry to translation. He was also a thinker, often tackling unpopular problems. Selections in chapters VII. and VIII., in sequence, are from the following works: "Pajzzsal és dárdával" (With shield and spear), first published in the periodical Nyugat, 1939: 65-72, 173-79. English translation: 9% of total text.
"A magyar jellemről" (On the characteristics of the Hungarians), first published in the collective volume Mi a magyar? (Budapest, 1939). English translation: 30% of total.
"Az írástudók árulása" (The treason of the intellectuals), first published in the periodical Nyugat, 1928: 355-76. English translation: 7.5% of total text.

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945). Composer, musicologist, one of the internationally best known Hungarians. He researched the musical tradition of a number of countries, most importantly his own, and achieved probably the most impressive synthesis of folk and avantgarde music in his compositions. Selections in chapters IV. and VII., in sequence, are from the following works:
"A parasztzene hatása az újabb műzenére" (The influence of peasant music on modern music), first published in the periodical Új Idők, 23, 1931. English translation: 22% of total text.
"Népdalkutatás és nacionalizmus" (Researching folk songs in our age of nationalism), first published in the periodical Tükör, 3, 1937. English translation: 35% of total text.

Gergely BERZEVICZY (1763-1822). Hungary's first economist. After his studies and travels in Germany, France and England, he participated in Hungarian public life for eight years, then retired to his estate to be a freelance scholar. As such, he received much recognition. Beside economic progress, he also wanted to implement social reforms.
The excerpts are from two of his works written in Latin, translated for this volume from Hungarian: De commercio et industria Hungariae (About Hungary's commerce and industry, 1797), only a few pages of the total translated; and, De conditione et indole rusticorum Hungariae (About the state and nature of the peasants in Hungary, 1806). English translation: 7% of total text.

Dániel BERZSENYI (1776-1836). Transdanubian landlord, writer of poems in classical metric and conventions. His balanced reformist essay on the rural conditions of his country is an exceptional digression from the rest of his oeuvre, partly because it was based on personal experience. "A magyarországi mezei szorgalom némely akadályairul" (About some obstacles of Hungarian agriculture), 1833. English translation: 15% of total text.

Farkas BOLYAI (1775-1856). Mathematician, inventor, poet. Studied in Germany (where he met the great mathematician Gauss), was appointed to the college of Marosvásárhely (now Tirgu Mures, Romania) in 1804 as professor of mathematics, physics, and chemistry.
Since Bolyai corresponded with Gauss in German, the two letters were translated from this language as they were published in Franz Schmidt and Paul Stückel, eds., Briefwechsel zwischen Carl Friedrich Gauss und Wolfgang Bolyai (Leipzig, 1899). The letter of 1836 is from pp. 122-24. English translation: 25% of total text. The letter of 1848 is from pp. 128-31. English translation: 7% of total text.

Loránd EÖTVÖS, Baron (1848-1919). Physicist, university professor, president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences for sixteen years. He pursued higher studies in Germany. Better known as a scientist, he had penetrating observations as a teacher and academician as well. Selections in chapter VI, in sequence, from three essays:
"Néhány szó az egyetemi tanítás kérdéséhez: nyílt levél Trefort Ágoston vallás- és közoktatásügyi miniszterhez" (Some observations on university teaching: an open letter to Ágoston Trefort, Minister of Religious Cults and Education), first published in the periodical Budapesti Szemle, 1887: 307-21.
"Az egyetem feladatáról: rektori székfoglaló beszéd a Budapesti Tudományegyetemen" (About the task of the university: inaugural presidential address at the University of Budapest), first published in Természettudományi Közlöny, 1891: 505-14.
The above two writings were conflated here; English translation: 27% of total text.
"Elnöki beszéd a Magyar Tudományos Akadémia közülésén, 1895" (Presidential address at the general meeting of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 1895), first published in Akadémiai Értesítő, 1895: 321-25. English translation: 90% of total text.

Ottó HERMAN (1835-1914). Natural scientist, ethnologist, politician, member of parliament 1875-86. He was famous for his vivid style and his success at presenting the natural and anthropological sciences to the wider public. Also, he had merits in developing Hungarian scholarly terminology. Selections in chapters II. and IV., in sequence, are from the following works:
"Bezáró szó," A magyar nép arca és jelleme (Postscript to: The physiognomy and character of the Hungarian people), Budapest, 1902. English translation: 1.5% of total text.
"A magyar konyha és a tudomány," A magyar halászat könyve (On the relation between Hungarian cuisine and science, in The book of Hungarian fishing), Budapest. 2 vols. English translation: only three pages from the book.

Gyula ILLYÉS (1902-1983). Writer, poet, public figure. Between the world wars, he was one of the leaders of the leftist populist reform movement. He endorsed the communist takeover after World War II but became disenchanted and, not surprisingly, welcomed the national revolution of 1956. During the relatively liberal decades that preceded the collapse of communism, Illyés was revered as a national icon, but also put under surveillance when he raised his voice on behalf of the Hungarian minority of the detached historical territories.
Selections in chapters II. and III. are from the same pamphlet: Ki a magyar? (Who is a Hungarian?), Budapest, 1939. English translation: 16% of total text.

Lajos KOSSUTH (1802-1894). Statesman, newspaper editor, as proxy of various aristocrats delegated to several parliamentary sessions in the 1830s. For his unwavering opposition to Habsburg supremacy he was regarded as a radical and imprisoned for three years (1837-40). He became instrumental in the 1848-49 Hungarian revolution and fight against the Habsburgs, then was elected governor of Hungary for four months in 1849. After the defeat of the revolutionary war in August 1849, Kossuth spent all the rest of his life in exile, bursting with plans that had less and less to do with Hungarian realities.
Selections in chapters III. and VII., in sequence, are from Kossuth's collected works (Iratai, ed. Ferenc Kossuth. Budapest: 1898).
"Dunai szövetség" (Danubian Confederation, 1862), VI, 9-12. Full text translated.

Dezső KOSZTOLÁNYI (1885-1936). Poet, writer, translator and journalist. Without yielding to extreme formalist tendencies, he introduced a new poetic style and perspective in Hungarian literature. He had an inclination to criticism, as the translated polemics (triggered by a sense of fairness) proves.
"A magyar nyelv helye a földgolyón: nyílt levél Antoine Meillet úrhoz" (The global place of the Hungarian language: an open letter to Mr. Antoine Meillet). First published in the periodical Nyugat, July 16, 1930. English translation: 44% of total text.

Ferenc KÖLCSEY (1790-1838). Poet, critic, member of parliament 1832-34; an outstanding public figure of the so-called reform age (1825-1847). His well-known moral integrity also brought recognition to the liberal reform movement that he represented.
"Magyar játékszín" (Theatre in Hungary), 1827. Published posthumously. English translation: 17.5% of total text.

Sándor KŐRÖSI CSOMA (1784-1842). Transylvanian scholar, traveller, linguist. After his studies at the college of Nagyenyed (now Aiud, Romania) and in Germany, he set off to trace the route of the migrating Hungarians from the Orient to their homeland. His hypothesis about the ancient cradle of his nation did not coincide with the Finno-Ugric theory. During the decades of his Asian sojourns, he became an internationally noted orientalist who, among others, compiled the first dictionary of the Tibetan language.
Selections are from the same collective volume: Kőrösi Csoma Sándor levelesládája (The correspondence of S.K.Cs.), Budapest, 1984. Letter to his sponsors; dated Teheran, December 21, 1820. English translation: 50% of total text. Letter to Gábor Döbrentey; dated Calcutta, July 18, 1835. English translation: 25% of total text.

Gyula LÁSZLÓ (1910-1998). Archeologist and historian, prominent figure of the new historical school that has challenged the official, linguistically oriented views on Hungarian prehistory.
Excerpts are arranged as a mosaic from two of his works: A honfoglalókról (About the conquerors), Budapest, 1974; and Őstörténetünk (Our prehistory), Budapest, 1981. English translation: 4% of the total of two books.

László NÉMETH (1901-1975). By profession a physician, one of the most influential and controversial thinkers, writers and critics of 20th-century Hungarian intellectual life.
"A magyar rádió feladatai" (The tasks of the Hungarian Radio). First published in the periodical Tanú, 9, 1934: 197-222. English translation: 8% of total text.

SIMON OF KÉZA. Court chaplain of king László (Ladislaus) IV (1272-90). He wrote his Latin chronicle around 1283, in which he provided a colourful (although fictitious) account of the Hun-Hungarian relations. First translated into Hungarian in 1862. English translation: 3% of total text.

(Saint) STEPHEN I, born in 975, first king and converter of Hungary 1000-1038. He was born to the last pagan chieftain Géza (who also converted later) and was named Vajk, until he became Christian and adopted the name István (Stephen). During his rule he forged a feudal kingdom from the previous tribal system. He was canonized in 1083. His son and appointed successor, Prince Imre, died young - seven years before his father.
"Admonitions": the complete Latin title is Libellus de institutione morum ad Emericum ducem (A book of admonitions to Prince Imre). Hungarian translation 1738. English translation from Hungarian: 20% of total text.
[The genre is European, where similar medieval "King's Mirrors" summarized the characteristics of the good monarch. The actual author who wrote down Stephen's rules around 1015, was probably a German monk.]

István SZÉCHENYI (1791-1860), Count. Patriotic reformist aristocrat who used his great wealth to initiate so many economic and cultural projects that only more substantial biographies list all of them. Pertinent to our readings is that he tried to modernize Hungarian finances and economy, and established the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, which is still the citadel of research and scholarship in his country.
Selections in chapters III. and V. are from Hitel (Credit), 1830. English translation: 1.3% of total text.
The excerpt in chapter VII. is from Világ (Light), 1831. English translation: 1.5% of total text.
Excerpts in chapter VI. are from A Magyar Akadémia körül (About the Hungarian Academy), 1842. English translation: 12% of total text.

Blanka TELEKI, Countess (1806-1862). Pioneer of Hungarian women's education, she opened the first school for girls in 1846. Because of the war of independence of 1848-49, the school closed down. After the defeat of the revolution, countess Teleki was charged with conspiracy and suffered six years of imprisonment.
"Nyilatkozat" (Proclamation). First published in the periodical Honderű, 24, 1845. Full text translated.

Pál TELEKI, Count (1879-1941). Scholar, politician, statesman. Received a Ph.D. in geography; his work on this field brought him academic membership. Between the world wars he filled several political positions, among others as minister of different cabinets. He did much to introduce social reforms and propagate Hungarian history in Europe. In 1941 Prime Minister Teleki committed suicide, in despair about Hungary's irreversible alignment with Germany.
Magyar politikai gondolatok (literally: Hungarian political thoughts, i.e. Hungarian thoughts on politics), Budapest, 1941, is a collection of already published essays. English translation: 1.75% of total book.

Mrs. Pál VERES, née Hermin Beniczky (1815-1895). Educator, emancipator, founder of the first, extant, women's college (1867). Also founder of the National Association for Education of Women (to whose first meeting she refers in one excerpt), and author of a handbook in psychology.
A complete [?] collection of her writings was published in Budapest, 1902: Veres Pálné Beniczky Hermin élete és működése (The life and work of ...). Selections from: "Két levél Madách Imréhez" (Two letters to Imre Madách), 1864, pp. 130-35; "Felhívás a nőkhöz közvetlenül az első értekezlet előtt" (Call to women preceding the first conference), 1867, pp. 142-43. English translation: 50% and 60% of texts, respectively.

Miklós ZRÍNYI, Count (1620-1664). Poet, soldier, statesman. He was brought up to be loyal to Hungary's Habsburg kings, appointed captain-general of Croatia, and celebrated as an outstanding leader. As time passed, Zrínyi got in conflict with the attitude of the Viennese court towards Hungary. As it has been surmised, he could have become head of an openly anti-Habsburg opposition. Because of his early death (a topic of many conjectures), we will never know. His most famous poetic work is a Baroque heroic epic about his great-grandfather's battle with the Turks. He wrote several military and historical treatises and polemic pamphlets.
Az török áfium ellen való orvosság (Remedy against Turkish opium), 1660-61, first published in 1705. English translation: 8% of total text whose considerable parts are quotations from Latin sources.


C: Chronological Table

Since the persons or events listed below are explained either in the text or notes, further information is not provided here. For the sake of continuity, however, important long periods not covered by the readings are mentioned below in brackets.

895: The Conquest: Árpád and the Hungarian tribes arrive in the Carpathian Basin.
1000-1038: Stephen I, first Christian king, converts Hungary to Christianity
1000-1301: The rule of the Árpád Dynasty.
Ca. 1203: The first Hungarian chronicle written (in Latin) by Anonymous.
1247: The Mongol invasion.
[1302-1458: Hungary is ruled mostly by foreign-born kings - a familiar phenomenon in the Middle Ages. Rulers of the 14th century are generally more benevolent than those of the 15th.]
1458-90: King Matthias rules Hungary.
[After Matthias' death: decades of eroding power and declining morale.]
1526: The Mohács disaster.
1541: The Turks take the fortress of Buda by cunning.
Hungary falls into three parts. 1541-1690: Historical Hungary is governed by three rulers: the Habsburg emperor (king of Hungary) in the West, the Ottoman Empire in the centre, and the Transylvanian Principality (a Turkish vassal state) in the East.
1685- : The united Christian armies of Europe expel the Turks from the territory of the whole of historical Hungary.
Transylvania is not reunited with the kingdom - it becomes ruled directly fromVienna.
[1699: a peace treaty between Austria and the Ottoman Empire ends Turkish claims to Hungary.]
1703-11: Rákóczi's War for Freedom
[Prince Ferenc Rákóczi's attempt to regain Hungary's independence from the Habsburgs. Defeated in 1711, Rákóczi leaves the country and dies in emigration in Turkey.]
18th century: Repopulation of the war-torn country by the Habsburgs.
[For a while, Hungarians become a minority in their own homeland.]
1825: After years of absolutism, the parliament convenes. Call for reforms; Széchenyi establishes the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

The "Reform Age": hopes for a peaceful way to gradual independence.

1837: The National Theatre opens in Pest.
1848-49: Peaceful changes having failed, a revolution (March 15, 1848), then a War of Independence erupts, led by Lajos Kossuth.
Hungary demands the restoration of its autonomy, later its full independence.
[April 1849: Hungary becomes a republic. Desperate to win, the young Austrian emperor seeks the help of the Russian emperor. The struggle for independence is crushed. Hungary surrenders in August. A brief period of terror, then almost two decades of absolutism follow.]
Aug. 1849-1894: Kossuth lives in exile; eventually dies in Turin, Italy.
1867: The Austro-Hungarian Compromise: Hungary regains full autonomy and is reunited with Transylvania.
1896: The Millennium: one thousandth anniversary of the Conquest.

[1914-18: as Austria's partner, Hungary is drawn into World War I, ending up as loser.
Fall 1918: after almost four hundred years, dethronement of the Habsburgs is achieved.]
June 4, 1920: The Trianon peace treaty is signed, meaning catastrophic losses to Hungary.

[1920-44: nominally Hungary remains a kingdom, ruled by regent Miklós Horthy, a rear-admiral of the Austro-Hungarian navy in World War I.]
1938: First Vienna Award: the southern part of the Upland (Felvidék) is returned to Hungary.
1940: Second Vienna Award: northern and eastern Transylvania is returned to Hungary.

[1941: Hungary enters World War II as ally of Germany and Italy. For the country, the war ends in April 1945. The barbarism of the conquering Red Army defies description.
1945-91: the country is occupied by the Soviet Union, with a communist puppet regime in power from 1948 to 1989.]
Fall 1956: unsuccessful national uprising against communist rule and Soviet occupation.


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