Medieval Hungary: The Age of the Árpád Dynasty


The calendar year 2022 marks the 800th anniversary of the issuance of the Golden Bull by King Andrew II.  Issued at the 1222 Diet regime held at Fehérvár, the Golden Bull is just one of the cornerstones of the medieval Hungarian constitutional system and its anniversary made a ideal possibility to arrange a major exhibition dedicated to Hungary’s initially ruling property, the Árpád Dynasty. These types of an exhibition has been prepared for at minimum a 10 years and curators at the Hungarian Nationwide Museum have ready a proposal for a main exhibition with global financial loans. In 2017 federal government guidance arrived, along with the decision that the exhibition ought to be held at Székesfehérvár, to mark the anniversary of the Golden Bull and to inaugurate a recently renovated museum setting up belonging to the King Saint Stephen Museum. Curators have been appointed from both of those establishments and the long function of securing financial loans and getting ready a catalog was commenced. At the commencing of 2019 a new government-funded establishment, the Institute of Hungarian Study started off its functions. The Minister of Human Sources (in cost of cultural affairs) delegated this Institute to the consortium getting ready the exhibition. Work continued and the scheduled date of opening was nearing – while the renovation of the Székesfehérvár museum creating was not nevertheless concluded.

Set up see

Then late in December of 2021, Miklós Kásler, Minister of Human Sources – in agreement with the newly appointed director of the Hungarian Nationwide Museum, László L. Simon – declared in an e-mail that the appointment of the curators (Etele Kiss, Ágnes Ritoók, and Erika Simonyi of the Hungarian Countrywide Museum) is remaining withdrawn, and Miklós Makoldi of the Institute of Hungarian Investigate is appointed as the new curator of the exhibition. Creating this kind of a go 3 months before the opening of a main exhibition is really stunning even in Hungary and the natural way, a scandal broke out. Provided the actuality that Miklós Makoldi, an archeologist without having a doctorate and any applicable museum-relevant know-how was about to take above the final results of a few many years of function by a crew of experienced museum curators, numerous scholars made a decision that they no extended wish to take part in this sort of a venture. In the stop, 25 scholars signed an open up letter, withdrawing their contributions from the catalog of the exhibition (which was now nearing completion). In this situation, many individuals doubted that the exhibition could be opened at all. In the close, the exhibition – titled Kings and Saints, The Period of the Árpád Dynasty – opened on March 18, 2022, in a former monastery turned into a museum at Székesfehérvár. Thanks to the situations, on the other hand, the consequence quantities to a monumental missed prospect.

The Monomachos Crown (Hungarian Nationwide Museum)

Allow me describe in element. Makoldi, the new curator of the exhibition, experienced no possibility or time to adjust the principle of the exhibition. He only modified a few rooms of the exhibition, generally to remove references to the non-Hungarian inhabitants of medieval Hungary (like Carolingians and Slavs from the initial portion working with the Hungarian conquest and a chapter about Muslims, Jews, and a variety of Japanese nomadic people residing in the Kingdom of Hungary). You can read the rationalization of the Institute and see for your self. In any scenario, the new curator labored with the authentic synopsis and object record – getting more than other people’s operate, if you will. However, the unique idea could not be understood. Numerous essential financial loans did not make it to Székesfehérvár (the Cross of Adelheid from Lavantall is 1 these types of object talked about in the push, but there are lots of other people). It is difficult to notify what position the scandal played in the case of lacking financial loans – I imagine the venue in Székesfehérvár could also have played a part in this. Not the tackle alone, but the simple fact that the museum building in Székesfehérvár was finished just a handful of weeks ahead of the opening of the exhibition, so lenders could not confirm that it is up to international requirements desired for delicate objects. 

Lehel’s horn from Jászberény

Enklopion from Maastricht
The exhibition mounted with the remaining objects nonetheless consists of quite a few highlights and provides a very good overview of Árpád-age Hungary. According to the authentic strategy, 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 web-site of the exhibition (a get the job done in progress at the time of producing) lists the chapters. Lots of of the highlights – the Monomachos Crown, the crown with lilies from Margaret Island, or some stone carvings – occur from the Hungarian Nationwide Museum. There are significant objects from Székesfehérvár and other Hungarian museums (this kind of as the Lehel’s horn/olifant from Jászberény).  A selection of recent archaeological finds – these as a reliquary and other finds from Pétermonostora – are on look at. There are many overseas financial loans as very well: the sword of Saint Stephen from Prague, stone carvings from previous monasteries now found in Serbia or Romania, essential manuscripts from several 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). True highlights, this kind of as the 12th century double cross in the Dommuseum of Salzburg and particularly the highly refined 13th-century courtroom goldsmith is effective (the Zaviš-cross, the cross produced from diadems in Cracow or the Bern (Königsfelden) diptych) are unfortunately lacking from the exhibition. Granted, these kinds of financial loans are particularly challenging to protected and not all of these objects ended up even envisioned in the authentic state of affairs of the exhibition – but these an exhibition is a a person-time chance in a technology and this likelihood was regrettably skipped. 
A show of stone carvings

The exhibition also does not get benefit of currently being in Székesfehérvár. Whilst there are references to the royal basilica devoted to the Virgin – the coronation church and most crucial burial location of Hungarian kings – the genuine site of the church was shut at the time of my pay a visit to (although supposedly it is open up day by day from April 1st). The highly essential Árpád-period of time stone carvings from this church continue being mostly inaccessible – a museum scheduled to come to be their new home will open up only by the finish of the year.


Finds from Pétermonostora

In addition, it is noticeable that the new curator and his crew scrambled to put the exhibition jointly in the 3 months at their disposal. As there is no record of the exhibition crew, it is challenging to notify who did what, but two months after the opening working day, the exhibition looked 50 percent-completed. All the rooms are darkly lit (even rooms with stone carvings and goldsmith objects), the item labels are fairly difficult to study and some of them are even missing. Some vital objects are positioned in darkish corners or shut to the flooring, or at the back again of substantial showcases. The bigger exhibition graphics are pointless and badly made 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 Famous was tailored to a graphic of a faux medieval stained glass window sequence, some kings lifted from the 14th-century Illuminated Chronicle are mislabeled, and so on. There is no clarification for the total lack of any information and facts in English in the exhibition. There are some interactive video screens – but no new content was produced for them, they simply just demonstrate movies recycled from other venues and exhibitions. Of program, there is no catalog in any language or any publication in anyway, because of to the deficiency of authors (see higher than). All this tends to make it unachievable to reach any type of international effect with the exhibition All this regardless of the 506 million HUF (about 1,3 million euros) budget from authorities aid devoted to the exhibition. A missed chance, without a doubt.

13th-century crown from Margaret Island, HNM

In spite of these important shortcomings, do take a look at the exhibition if you get a probability. Objects that are otherwise hard to see and some highlights are unquestionably truly worth a visit. The initial strategy of the exhibition can nonetheless be followed (as lengthy as you go through Hungarian…) and Székesfehérvár is only about 45 minutes from Budapest by educate. The exhibition will be on check out until eventually June 15, 2022.

Fragments from the tomb of Queen Gertrude, from Pilis Abbey

14th-century reliquary of St. Stephen from Aachen

(photos my personal, taken with authorization)


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