Medieval Hungary: The Age of the Árpád Dynasty

Medieval Hungary: The Age of the Árpád Dynasty

The year 2022 marks the 800th anniversary of the issuance of the Golden Bull by King Andrew II.  Issued at the 1222 Diet held at Fehérvár, the Golden Bull is one particular of the cornerstones of the medieval Hungarian constitutional system and its anniversary developed a excellent prospect to manage a big exhibition devoted to Hungary’s very first ruling property, the Árpád Dynasty. Such an exhibition has been prepared for at minimum a 10 years and curators at the Hungarian Nationwide Museum have prepared a proposal for a significant exhibition with global loans. In 2017 govt help came, together with the decision that the exhibition should be held at Székesfehérvár, to mark the anniversary of the Golden Bull and to inaugurate a newly renovated museum developing belonging to the King Saint Stephen Museum. Curators ended up appointed from both equally institutions and the prolonged get the job done of securing financial loans and getting ready a catalog was began. At the commencing of 2019 a new federal government-funded institution, the Institute of Hungarian Exploration started off its functions. The Minister of Human Sources (in charge of cultural affairs) delegated this Institute to the consortium preparing the exhibition. Work ongoing and the scheduled date of opening was nearing – even though the renovation of the Székesfehérvár museum constructing was not but concluded.

Set up watch

Then late in December of 2021, Miklós Kásler, Minister of Human Sources – in settlement with the recently appointed director of the Hungarian National Museum, László L. Simon – announced in an email that the appointment of the curators (Etele Kiss, Ágnes Ritoók, and Erika Simonyi of the Hungarian Countrywide Museum) is currently being withdrawn, and Miklós Makoldi of the Institute of Hungarian Analysis is appointed as the new curator of the exhibition. Earning these a transfer 3 months prior to the opening of a important exhibition is very surprising even in Hungary and by natural means, a scandal broke out. Offered the simple fact that Miklós Makoldi, an archeologist devoid of a doctorate and any appropriate museum-associated skills was about to take in excess of the results of three years of work by a staff of seasoned museum curators, many students decided that they no for a longer time want to take part in these kinds of a challenge. In the end, 25 students signed an open up letter, withdrawing their contributions from the catalog of the exhibition (which was currently nearing completion). In this problem, lots of people doubted that the exhibition could be opened at all. In the end, the exhibition – titled Kings and Saints, The Period of the Árpád Dynasty – opened on March 18, 2022, in a previous monastery turned into a museum at Székesfehérvár. Because of to the circumstances, nonetheless, the consequence amounts to a monumental skipped opportunity.

The Monomachos Crown (Hungarian National Museum)

Permit me reveal in depth. Makoldi, the new curator of the exhibition, had no probability or time to adjust the concept of the exhibition. He only modified a few rooms of the exhibition, predominantly to clear away references to the non-Hungarian populace of medieval Hungary (which includes Carolingians and Slavs from the to start with part working with the Hungarian conquest and a chapter about Muslims, Jews, and numerous Japanese nomadic folks living in the Kingdom of Hungary). You can go through the clarification of the Institute and see for on your own. In any scenario, the new curator worked with the first synopsis and object list – having around other people’s get the job done, if you will. Having said that, the initial strategy could not be understood. A number of essential financial loans did not make it to Székesfehérvár (the Cross of Adelheid from Lavantall is just one this kind of item outlined in the press, but there are several some others). It is tough to tell what role the scandal performed in the scenario of lacking loans – I assume the venue in Székesfehérvár may perhaps also have played a function in this. Not the address itself, but the point that the museum developing in Székesfehérvár was concluded just a couple of weeks in advance of the opening of the exhibition, so lenders could not verify that it is up to global specifications needed for delicate objects. 

Lehel’s horn from Jászberény

Enklopion from Maastricht
The exhibition mounted with the remaining objects even now includes many highlights and presents a excellent overview of Árpád-age Hungary. According to the initial concept, the objects are organized in 17 sections, ranging from the period of time of the Hungarian Conquest to an overview of saints from the Árpád Dynasty. The website of the exhibition (a get the job done in development at the time of composing) lists the chapters. Several of the highlights – the Monomachos Crown, the crown with lilies from Margaret Island, or some stone carvings – appear from the Hungarian National Museum. There are essential objects from Székesfehérvár and other Hungarian museums (these as the Lehel’s horn/olifant from Jászberény).  A number of new archaeological finds – these types of as a reliquary and other finds from Pétermonostora – are on see. There are quite a few international financial loans as nicely: the sword of Saint Stephen from Prague, stone carvings from previous monasteries now located in Serbia or Romania, vital manuscripts from different libraries, a flag with the double-cross of the Árpád Dynasty from Bern, or even the tombstone of the Blessed Elisabeth of Töss, daughter of King Andrew III (from the Landesmuseum in Zürich). Legitimate highlights, this kind of as the 12th century double cross in the Dommuseum of Salzburg and primarily the extremely advanced 13th-century court goldsmith operates (the Zaviš-cross, the cross created from diadems in Cracow or the Bern (Königsfelden) diptych) are sadly lacking from the exhibition. Granted, such loans are exceptionally hard to protected and not all of these objects have been even envisioned in the unique circumstance of the exhibition – but these an exhibition is a just one-time probability in a generation and this opportunity was regrettably skipped. 
A screen of stone carvings

The exhibition also does not choose gain of getting in Székesfehérvár. Whilst there are references to the royal basilica devoted to the Virgin – the coronation church and most essential burial put of Hungarian kings – the genuine site of the church was closed at the time of my go to (whilst supposedly it is open up each day from April 1st). The hugely vital Árpád-period of time stone carvings from this church continue to be mainly inaccessible – a museum scheduled to grow to be their new dwelling will open only by the close of the yr.


Finds from Pétermonostora

Furthermore, it is noticeable that the new curator and his staff scrambled to place the exhibition collectively in the three months at their disposal. As there is no record of the exhibition workforce, it is hard to tell who did what, but two months right after the opening day, the exhibition seemed 50 percent-concluded. All the rooms are darkly lit (even rooms with stone carvings and goldsmith objects), the object labels are quite unachievable to study and some of them are even missing. Some key objects are positioned in dim corners or close to the floor, or at the back of substantial showcases. The larger exhibition graphics are avoidable and poorly made in typical: a part of the Bayeaux tapestry stands in to illustrate 11th-century battles in Hungary, the Legend of Saint Ladislas from the Hungarian Angevin Legendary was tailored to a graphic of a pretend medieval stained glass window series, some kings lifted from the 14th-century Illuminated Chronicle are mislabeled, and so on. There is no clarification for the total deficiency of any information in English in the exhibition. There are some interactive video clip screens – but no new material was made for them, they just clearly show movies recycled from other venues and exhibitions. Of system, there is no catalog in any language or any publication in anyway, owing to the lack of authors (see above). All this would make it extremely hard to access any variety of international impression with the exhibition All this irrespective of the 506 million HUF (about 1,3 million euros) finances from authorities help dedicated to the exhibition. A skipped opportunity, certainly.

13th-century crown from Margaret Island, HNM

Irrespective of these sizeable shortcomings, do visit the exhibition if you get a likelihood. Objects that are otherwise tough to see and some highlights are unquestionably worthy of a pay a visit to. The original idea of the exhibition can still be adopted (as extended as you study Hungarian…) and Székesfehérvár is only about 45 minutes from Budapest by teach. The exhibition will be on view right until June 15, 2022.

Fragments from the tomb of Queen Gertrude, from Pilis Abbey

14th-century reliquary of St. Stephen from Aachen

(images my own, taken with permission)

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