May 20, 2024


General Inside You

Medieval Hungary: The Age of the Árpád Dynasty


The 12 months 2022 marks the 800th anniversary of the issuance of the Golden Bull by King Andrew II.  Issued at the 1222 Diet plan held at Fehérvár, the Golden Bull is 1 of the cornerstones of the medieval Hungarian constitutional program and its anniversary made a best possibility to arrange a key exhibition committed to Hungary’s 1st ruling dwelling, the Árpád Dynasty. Such an exhibition has been prepared for at minimum a decade and curators at the Hungarian Nationwide Museum have geared up a proposal for a big exhibition with global financial loans. In 2017 federal government guidance arrived, alongside with the determination that the exhibition should be held at Székesfehérvár, to mark the anniversary of the Golden Bull and to inaugurate a recently renovated museum creating belonging to the King Saint Stephen Museum. Curators were appointed from both equally institutions and the extensive get the job done of securing loans and getting ready a catalog was started. At the beginning of 2019 a new governing administration-funded institution, the Institute of Hungarian Research commenced its functions. The Minister of Human Assets (in cost of cultural affairs) delegated this Institute to the consortium making ready the exhibition. Work ongoing and the scheduled day of opening was nearing – even though the renovation of the Székesfehérvár museum building was not but accomplished.

Set up view

Then late in December of 2021, Miklós Kásler, Minister of Human Methods – in agreement with the newly appointed director of the Hungarian Nationwide Museum, László L. Simon – introduced in an e mail that the appointment of the curators (Etele Kiss, Ágnes Ritoók, and Erika Simonyi of the Hungarian Countrywide Museum) is getting withdrawn, and Miklós Makoldi of the Institute of Hungarian Exploration is appointed as the new curator of the exhibition. Producing this kind of a shift 3 months before the opening of a significant exhibition is really stunning even in Hungary and by natural means, a scandal broke out. Supplied the simple fact that Miklós Makoldi, an archeologist with out a doctorate and any applicable museum-related expertise was about to just take above the final results of a few years of function by a staff of knowledgeable museum curators, a lot of students resolved that they no lengthier would like to take part in this kind of a undertaking. In the end, 25 students signed an open letter, withdrawing their contributions from the catalog of the exhibition (which was by now nearing completion). In this problem, many men and women doubted that the exhibition could be opened at all. In the conclusion, the exhibition – titled Kings and Saints, The Era of the Árpád Dynasty – opened on March 18, 2022, in a previous monastery turned into a museum at Székesfehérvár. Due to the conditions, nevertheless, the result quantities to a monumental skipped option.

The Monomachos Crown (Hungarian Countrywide Museum)

Allow me reveal in detail. Makoldi, the new curator of the exhibition, experienced no opportunity or time to improve the notion of the exhibition. He only modified a few rooms of the exhibition, predominantly to clear away references to the non-Hungarian inhabitants of medieval Hungary (which include Carolingians and Slavs from the first portion working with the Hungarian conquest and a chapter about Muslims, Jews, and several Eastern nomadic individuals dwelling in the Kingdom of Hungary). You can study the clarification of the Institute and see for yourself. In any scenario, the new curator worked with the primary synopsis and object list – having in excess of other people’s do the job, if you will. Even so, the primary principle could not be realized. Quite a few critical loans did not make it to Székesfehérvár (the Cross of Adelheid from Lavantall is 1 this kind of object stated in the press, but there are many others). It is tricky to tell what purpose the scandal played in the situation of missing loans – I think the location in Székesfehérvár may perhaps also have performed a function in this. Not the handle alone, but the actuality that the museum setting up in Székesfehérvár was completed just a handful of weeks before the opening of the exhibition, so lenders could not confirm that it is up to worldwide benchmarks essential for sensitive objects. 

Lehel’s horn from Jászberény

Enklopion from Maastricht
The exhibition mounted with the remaining objects still contains lots of highlights and presents a great overview of Árpád-age Hungary. According to the primary thought, the objects are organized in 17 sections, ranging from the time period of the Hungarian Conquest to an overview of saints from the Árpád Dynasty. The site of the exhibition (a work in development at the time of producing) lists the chapters. Several of the highlights – the Monomachos Crown, the crown with lilies from Margaret Island, or some stone carvings – arrive from the Hungarian Nationwide Museum. There are significant objects from Székesfehérvár and other Hungarian museums (these kinds of as the Lehel’s horn/olifant from Jászberény).  A quantity of the latest archaeological finds – this kind of as a reliquary and other finds from Pétermonostora – are on check out. There are several overseas financial loans as effectively: the sword of Saint Stephen from Prague, stone carvings from previous monasteries now located in Serbia or Romania, vital manuscripts from many 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). Genuine highlights, this sort of as the 12th century double cross in the Dommuseum of Salzburg and specifically the remarkably advanced 13th-century court docket goldsmith operates (the Zaviš-cross, the cross created from diadems in Cracow or the Bern (Königsfelden) diptych) are unfortunately missing from the exhibition. Granted, this sort of loans are exceptionally really hard to safe and not all of these objects have been even envisioned in the initial situation of the exhibition – but this kind of an exhibition is a 1-time probability in a era and this prospect was regrettably missed. 
A screen of stone carvings

The exhibition also does not consider benefit of becoming in Székesfehérvár. Whilst there are references to the royal basilica devoted to the Virgin – the coronation church and most important burial location of Hungarian kings – the real site of the church was shut at the time of my visit (whilst supposedly it is open day-to-day from April 1st). The really crucial Árpád-period of time stone carvings from this church continue being mostly inaccessible – a museum scheduled to become their new dwelling will open up only by the close of the year.


Finds from Pétermonostora

Additionally, it is clear that the new curator and his crew scrambled to set the exhibition with each other in the 3 months at their disposal. As there is no listing of the exhibition team, it is challenging to tell who did what, but two weeks soon after the opening day, the exhibition seemed 50 %-finished. All the rooms are darkly lit (even rooms with stone carvings and goldsmith objects), the item labels are pretty unattainable to go through and some of them are even missing. Some crucial objects are positioned in dim corners or shut to the floor, or at the back again of big showcases. The much larger exhibition graphics are pointless and poorly built in typical: a area of the Bayeaux tapestry stands in to illustrate 11th-century battles in Hungary, the Legend of Saint Ladislas from the Hungarian Angevin Legendary was adapted to a graphic of a pretend medieval stained glass window series, some kings lifted from the 14th-century Illuminated Chronicle are mislabeled, etc. There is no explanation for the comprehensive lack of any information in English in the exhibition. There are some interactive movie screens – but no new information was designed for them, they simply just display films recycled from other venues and exhibitions. Of course, there is no catalog in any language or any publication in any respect, because of to the deficiency of authors (see previously mentioned). All this makes it difficult to access any variety of worldwide impact with the exhibition All this despite the 506 million HUF (about 1,3 million euros) spending plan from federal government assistance devoted to the exhibition. A missed chance, in truth.

13th-century crown from Margaret Island, HNM

Inspite of these sizeable shortcomings, do visit the exhibition if you get a likelihood. Objects that are usually tricky to see and some highlights are absolutely well worth a stop by. The first notion of the exhibition can nonetheless be adopted (as long as you study Hungarian…) and Székesfehérvár is only about 45 minutes from Budapest by coach. The exhibition will be on look at right until June 15, 2022.

Fragments from the tomb of Queen Gertrude, from Pilis Abbey

14th-century reliquary of St. Stephen from Aachen

(photographs my possess, taken with permission)


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