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 Eating plan held at Fehérvár, the Golden Bull is 1 of the cornerstones of the medieval Hungarian constitutional process and its anniversary created a best opportunity to manage a main exhibition committed to Hungary’s to start with ruling residence, the Árpád Dynasty. These kinds of an exhibition has been prepared for at minimum a ten years and curators at the Hungarian National Museum have organized a proposal for a significant exhibition with worldwide financial loans. In 2017 govt assist arrived, together with the decision that the exhibition really should be held at Székesfehérvár, to mark the anniversary of the Golden Bull and to inaugurate a recently renovated museum building belonging to the King Saint Stephen Museum. Curators have been appointed from both of those establishments and the prolonged perform of securing financial loans and getting ready a catalog was started. At the beginning of 2019 a new authorities-funded institution, the Institute of Hungarian Exploration began its operations. The Minister of Human Methods (in demand of cultural affairs) delegated this Institute to the consortium getting ready the exhibition. Function ongoing and the scheduled date of opening was nearing – while the renovation of the Székesfehérvár museum creating was not but accomplished.

Set up perspective

Then late in December of 2021, Miklós Kásler, Minister of Human Methods – in arrangement with the freshly appointed director of the Hungarian National Museum, László L. Simon – introduced in an email that the appointment of the curators (Etele Kiss, Ágnes Ritoók, and Erika Simonyi of the Hungarian Countrywide Museum) is being withdrawn, and Miklós Makoldi of the Institute of Hungarian Study is appointed as the new curator of the exhibition. Producing this sort of a go a few months before the opening of a major exhibition is quite surprising even in Hungary and naturally, a scandal broke out. Given the point that Miklós Makoldi, an archeologist without having a doctorate and any applicable museum-connected know-how was about to acquire more than the results of a few years of function by a group of expert museum curators, lots of scholars determined that they no lengthier wish to participate in such a project. In the conclude, 25 students signed an open letter, withdrawing their contributions from the catalog of the exhibition (which was previously nearing completion). In this condition, a lot of people today doubted that the exhibition could be opened at all. In the conclusion, 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. Due to the instances, nevertheless, the end result amounts to a monumental missed possibility.

The Monomachos Crown (Hungarian Countrywide Museum)

Permit me demonstrate in depth. Makoldi, the new curator of the exhibition, had no chance or time to transform the strategy of the exhibition. He only modified 3 rooms of the exhibition, mostly to clear away references to the non-Hungarian populace of medieval Hungary (which include Carolingians and Slavs from the initially portion dealing with the Hungarian conquest and a chapter about Muslims, Jews, and many Japanese nomadic men and women dwelling in the Kingdom of Hungary). You can go through the rationalization of the Institute and see for oneself. In any case, the new curator labored with the initial synopsis and item listing – having over other people’s perform, if you will. Having said that, the original notion could not be recognized. A number of critical financial loans did not make it to Székesfehérvár (the Cross of Adelheid from Lavantall is 1 such object stated in the push, but there are lots of other individuals). It is tough to inform what job the scandal performed in the circumstance of lacking financial loans – I assume the venue in Székesfehérvár may perhaps also have played a position in this. Not the tackle alone, but the simple fact that the museum developing in Székesfehérvár was accomplished just a number of weeks before the opening of the exhibition, so creditors could not validate that it is up to global benchmarks wanted for delicate objects. 

Lehel’s horn from Jászberény

Enklopion from Maastricht
The exhibition mounted with the remaining objects continue to is made up of lots of highlights and offers a superior overview of Árpád-age Hungary. According to the initial thought, the objects are arranged in 17 sections, ranging from the period of time of the Hungarian Conquest to an overview of saints from the Árpád Dynasty. The internet site of the exhibition (a get the job done in progress 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 – appear from the Hungarian Nationwide Museum. There are significant objects from Székesfehérvár and other Hungarian museums (this sort of as the Lehel’s horn/olifant from Jászberény).  A variety of latest archaeological finds – such as a reliquary and other finds from Pétermonostora – are on perspective. There are quite a few foreign financial loans as well: the sword of Saint Stephen from Prague, stone carvings from former monasteries now situated in Serbia or Romania, significant 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). Accurate highlights, this kind of as the 12th century double cross in the Dommuseum of Salzburg and particularly the very subtle 13th-century courtroom goldsmith will work (the Zaviš-cross, the cross produced from diadems in Cracow or the Bern (Königsfelden) diptych) are unfortunately lacking from the exhibition. Granted, such loans are incredibly hard to safe and not all of these objects were even envisioned in the authentic situation of the exhibition – but this sort of an exhibition is a a single-time chance in a generation and this possibility was unfortunately skipped. 
A display screen of stone carvings

The exhibition also does not choose edge of getting in Székesfehérvár. Though there are references to the royal basilica dedicated to the Virgin – the coronation church and most significant burial location of Hungarian kings – the true website of the church was shut at the time of my check out (though supposedly it is open up daily from April 1st). The highly essential Árpád-period stone carvings from this church keep on being mainly inaccessible – a museum scheduled to develop into their new property will open only by the stop of the calendar year.


Finds from Pétermonostora

Furthermore, it is evident that the new curator and his staff scrambled to place the exhibition alongside one another in the three months at their disposal. As there is no listing of the exhibition staff, it is hard to convey to who did what, but two months immediately after the opening working day, the exhibition appeared fifty percent-completed. All the rooms are darkly lit (even rooms with stone carvings and goldsmith objects), the item labels are really difficult to read and some of them are even missing. Some critical objects are positioned in dim corners or close to the flooring, or at the again of huge showcases. The greater exhibition graphics are unneeded and badly built in normal: a segment 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 sequence, some kings lifted from the 14th-century Illuminated Chronicle are mislabeled, and so forth. There is no rationalization for the comprehensive deficiency of any details in English in the exhibition. There are some interactive online video screens – but no new content material was designed for them, they merely demonstrate movies recycled from other venues and exhibitions. Of study course, there is no catalog in any language or any publication by any means, due to the absence of authors (see above). All this helps make it extremely hard to access any sort of global impact with the exhibition All this inspite of the 506 million HUF (about 1,3 million euros) spending plan from government support dedicated to the exhibition. A skipped prospect, without a doubt.

13th-century crown from Margaret Island, HNM

Even with these considerable shortcomings, do stop by the exhibition if you get a likelihood. Objects that are if not really hard to see and some highlights are unquestionably truly worth a stop by. The initial notion of the exhibition can however be adopted (as long as you go through Hungarian…) and Székesfehérvár is only about 45 minutes from Budapest by coach. The exhibition will be on check out until finally 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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