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 program held at Fehérvár, the Golden Bull is a person of the cornerstones of the medieval Hungarian constitutional system and its anniversary developed a best opportunity to manage a significant exhibition committed to Hungary’s initial ruling household, the Árpád Dynasty. This sort of an exhibition has been prepared for at least a ten years and curators at the Hungarian Nationwide Museum have geared up a proposal for a important exhibition with worldwide financial loans. In 2017 federal government assistance arrived, alongside with the decision that the exhibition must be held at Székesfehérvár, to mark the anniversary of the Golden Bull and to inaugurate a newly renovated museum setting up belonging to the King Saint Stephen Museum. Curators were appointed from both institutions and the prolonged do the job of securing loans and preparing a catalog was began. At the beginning of 2019 a new authorities-funded institution, the Institute of Hungarian Research started out its operations. The Minister of Human Methods (in cost of cultural affairs) delegated this Institute to the consortium getting ready the exhibition. Operate ongoing and the scheduled date of opening was nearing – though the renovation of the Székesfehérvár museum creating was not but finished.

Set up view

Then late in December of 2021, Miklós Kásler, Minister of Human Resources – in agreement with the newly appointed director of the Hungarian Nationwide Museum, László L. Simon – declared in an email that the appointment of the curators (Etele Kiss, Ágnes Ritoók, and Erika Simonyi of the Hungarian Countrywide Museum) is staying withdrawn, and Miklós Makoldi of the Institute of Hungarian Study is appointed as the new curator of the exhibition. Making this sort of a go 3 months before the opening of a major exhibition is pretty shocking even in Hungary and by natural means, a scandal broke out. Offered the point that Miklós Makoldi, an archeologist devoid of a doctorate and any relevant museum-relevant abilities was about to consider more than the benefits of 3 decades of function by a staff of knowledgeable museum curators, lots of students decided that they no longer wish to participate in these a challenge. In the conclusion, 25 scholars signed an open letter, withdrawing their contributions from the catalog of the exhibition (which was previously nearing completion). In this condition, several people doubted that the exhibition could be opened at all. In the conclude, 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. Owing to the situation, even so, the result quantities to a monumental missed possibility.

The Monomachos Crown (Hungarian Nationwide Museum)

Permit me demonstrate in detail. Makoldi, the new curator of the exhibition, experienced no likelihood or time to modify the idea of the exhibition. He only modified a few rooms of the exhibition, mostly to eliminate references to the non-Hungarian population of medieval Hungary (like Carolingians and Slavs from the very first portion dealing with the Hungarian conquest and a chapter about Muslims, Jews, and a variety of Eastern nomadic persons dwelling in the Kingdom of Hungary). You can read through the clarification of the Institute and see for by yourself. In any case, the new curator worked with the unique synopsis and item checklist – taking in excess of other people’s get the job done, if you will. Having said that, the initial principle could not be understood. Various vital financial loans did not make it to Székesfehérvár (the Cross of Adelheid from Lavantall is just one this kind of item pointed out in the push, but there are lots of other folks). It is really hard to explain to what role the scandal performed in the scenario of missing financial loans – I think the venue in Székesfehérvár may perhaps also have played a role in this. Not the address by itself, but the actuality that the museum making in Székesfehérvár was finished just a several weeks in advance of the opening of the exhibition, so loan providers could not confirm that it is up to international benchmarks desired for sensitive objects. 

Lehel’s horn from Jászberény

Enklopion from Maastricht
The exhibition mounted with the remaining objects continue to includes quite a few highlights and offers a excellent overview of Árpád-age Hungary. According to the initial principle, the objects are arranged in 17 sections, ranging from the time period of the Hungarian Conquest to an overview of saints from the Árpád Dynasty. The internet site of the exhibition (a do the job in progress at the time of crafting) lists the chapters. Many 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 important objects from Székesfehérvár and other Hungarian museums (such as the Lehel’s horn/olifant from Jászberény).  A amount of latest archaeological finds – these as a reliquary and other finds from Pétermonostora – are on watch. There are a lot of international financial loans as effectively: the sword of Saint Stephen from Prague, stone carvings from former monasteries now positioned in Serbia or Romania, vital manuscripts from various 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). Real highlights, these as the 12th century double cross in the Dommuseum of Salzburg and specially the extremely sophisticated 13th-century courtroom goldsmith works (the Zaviš-cross, the cross created from diadems in Cracow or the Bern (Königsfelden) diptych) are unfortunately lacking from the exhibition. Granted, such financial loans are extremely tricky to protected and not all of these objects have been even envisioned in the original circumstance of the exhibition – but such an exhibition is a 1-time opportunity in a technology and this possibility was unfortunately skipped. 
A show of stone carvings

The exhibition also does not get gain of becoming in Székesfehérvár. While there are references to the royal basilica committed to the Virgin – the coronation church and most significant burial location of Hungarian kings – the real web-site of the church was closed at the time of my take a look at (whilst supposedly it is open day by day from April 1st). The really critical Árpád-time period stone carvings from this church continue being mainly inaccessible – a museum scheduled to grow to be their new dwelling will open up only by the conclusion of the 12 months.


Finds from Pétermonostora

What’s more, it is obvious that the new curator and his crew scrambled to put the exhibition together in the three months at their disposal. As there is no record of the exhibition group, it is really hard to convey to who did what, but two months following the opening working day, the exhibition looked 50 %-concluded. All the rooms are darkly lit (even rooms with stone carvings and goldsmith objects), the object labels are really unattainable to browse and some of them are even missing. Some critical objects are positioned in dim corners or close to the flooring, or at the back again of large showcases. The bigger exhibition graphics are unnecessary and badly intended in typical: 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 tailored to a graphic of a pretend medieval stained glass window collection, some kings lifted from the 14th-century Illuminated Chronicle are mislabeled, and so forth. There is no clarification for the finish absence of any details in English in the exhibition. There are some interactive video screens – but no new content material was made for them, they basically exhibit films recycled from other venues and exhibitions. Of study course, there is no catalog in any language or any publication in any respect, owing to the lack of authors (see earlier mentioned). All this will make it extremely hard to achieve any kind of international impression with the exhibition All this despite the 506 million HUF (about 1,3 million euros) finances from governing administration help devoted to the exhibition. A missed possibility, without a doubt.

13th-century crown from Margaret Island, HNM

Regardless of these substantial shortcomings, do visit the exhibition if you get a prospect. Objects that are usually tricky to see and some highlights are definitely truly worth a stop by. The first principle of the exhibition can still be followed (as extended as you study Hungarian…) and Székesfehérvár is only about 45 minutes from Budapest by prepare. The exhibition will be on view right up until June 15, 2022.

Fragments from the tomb of Queen Gertrude, from Pilis Abbey

14th-century reliquary of St. Stephen from Aachen

(photographs my own, taken with permission)


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