Medieval Hungary: The Age of the Árpád Dynasty

Medieval Hungary: The Age of the Árpád Dynasty

The yr 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 one of the cornerstones of the medieval Hungarian constitutional process and its anniversary made a fantastic chance to manage a main exhibition committed to Hungary’s initial ruling household, 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 geared up a proposal for a key exhibition with worldwide financial loans. In 2017 government support arrived, alongside with the decision that the exhibition need to be held at Székesfehérvár, to mark the anniversary of the Golden Bull and to inaugurate a newly renovated museum constructing belonging to the King Saint Stephen Museum. Curators were being appointed from the two establishments and the very long function of securing loans and preparing a catalog was started. At the starting of 2019 a new authorities-funded institution, the Institute of Hungarian Investigation started off its operations. The Minister of Human Assets (in charge of cultural affairs) delegated this Institute to the consortium preparing the exhibition. Do the job ongoing and the scheduled date of opening was nearing – despite the fact that the renovation of the Székesfehérvár museum building was not however concluded.

Set up perspective

Then late in December of 2021, Miklós Kásler, Minister of Human Resources – in settlement with the freshly appointed director of the Hungarian National Museum, László L. Simon – announced in an e-mail that the appointment of the curators (Etele Kiss, Ágnes Ritoók, and Erika Simonyi of the Hungarian Nationwide Museum) is becoming withdrawn, and Miklós Makoldi of the Institute of Hungarian Investigate is appointed as the new curator of the exhibition. Making these types of a transfer three months right before the opening of a major exhibition is pretty astonishing even in Hungary and obviously, a scandal broke out. Given the actuality that Miklós Makoldi, an archeologist without having a doctorate and any appropriate museum-similar knowledge was about to take above the final results of 3 yrs of function by a staff of skilled museum curators, quite a few students made a decision that they no lengthier would like to participate in these kinds of a project. In the finish, 25 scholars signed an open up letter, withdrawing their contributions from the catalog of the exhibition (which was now nearing completion). In this situation, a lot of folks doubted that the exhibition could be opened at all. In the end, the exhibition – titled Kings and Saints, The Era of the Árpád Dynasty – opened on March 18, 2022, in a former monastery turned into a museum at Székesfehérvár. Thanks to the situations, even so, the result amounts to a monumental missed option.

The Monomachos Crown (Hungarian Nationwide Museum)

Permit me demonstrate in detail. Makoldi, the new curator of the exhibition, had no likelihood or time to adjust the principle of the exhibition. He only modified three rooms of the exhibition, largely to take out references to the non-Hungarian population of medieval Hungary (which include Carolingians and Slavs from the initial portion dealing with the Hungarian conquest and a chapter about Muslims, Jews, and numerous Jap nomadic people dwelling in the Kingdom of Hungary). You can study the rationalization of the Institute and see for on your own. In any scenario, the new curator worked with the primary synopsis and item record – using more than other people’s function, if you will. On the other hand, the initial concept could not be understood. Numerous vital loans did not make it to Székesfehérvár (the Cross of Adelheid from Lavantall is one these types of item mentioned in the push, but there are several others). It is challenging to notify what job the scandal played in the case of missing loans – I consider the venue in Székesfehérvár might also have played a position in this. Not the handle by itself, but the fact that the museum making in Székesfehérvár was completed just a couple months just before the opening of the exhibition, so creditors could not confirm that it is up to worldwide requirements desired for sensitive objects. 

Lehel’s horn from Jászberény

Enklopion from Maastricht
The exhibition mounted with the remaining objects nonetheless is made up of a lot of highlights and offers a excellent overview of Árpád-age Hungary. In accordance to the original idea, the objects are arranged in 17 sections, ranging from the interval of the Hungarian Conquest to an overview of saints from the Árpád Dynasty. The web-site of the exhibition (a perform in development at the time of creating) lists the chapters. A lot of 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 (these types of as the Lehel’s horn/olifant from Jászberény).  A number of the latest archaeological finds – these kinds of as a reliquary and other finds from Pétermonostora – are on look at. There are a lot of overseas financial loans as properly: the sword of Saint Stephen from Prague, stone carvings from former monasteries now situated in Serbia or Romania, essential manuscripts from a variety of 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 sort of as the 12th century double cross in the Dommuseum of Salzburg and in particular the highly advanced 13th-century courtroom goldsmith functions (the Zaviš-cross, the cross built from diadems in Cracow or the Bern (Königsfelden) diptych) are regrettably missing from the exhibition. Granted, these kinds of financial loans are really hard to protected and not all of these objects ended up even envisioned in the first scenario of the exhibition – but these an exhibition is a one-time likelihood in a generation and this chance was regrettably missed. 
A show of stone carvings

The exhibition also does not acquire benefit of remaining in Székesfehérvár. Whilst there are references to the royal basilica committed to the Virgin – the coronation church and most essential burial location of Hungarian kings – the true web page of the church was closed at the time of my visit (though supposedly it is open up each day from April 1st). The remarkably vital Árpád-period stone carvings from this church keep on being mostly inaccessible – a museum scheduled to become their new dwelling will open only by the end of the calendar year.


Finds from Pétermonostora

What’s more, it is apparent that the new curator and his team scrambled to put the exhibition with each other in the 3 months at their disposal. As there is no checklist of the exhibition crew, it is really hard to notify who did what, but two weeks after the opening day, the exhibition appeared half-concluded. All the rooms are darkly lit (even rooms with stone carvings and goldsmith objects), the item labels are rather unachievable to go through and some of them are even missing. Some essential objects are put in dim corners or shut to the ground, or at the again of large showcases. The much larger exhibition graphics are avoidable and poorly developed 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 Famous was adapted to a graphic of a faux medieval stained glass window sequence, some kings lifted from the 14th-century Illuminated Chronicle are mislabeled, and many others. There is no rationalization for the finish lack of any info in English in the exhibition. There are some interactive online video screens – but no new information was created for them, they basically demonstrate movies recycled from other venues and exhibitions. Of study course, there is no catalog in any language or any publication whatsoever, thanks to the deficiency of authors (see earlier mentioned). All this makes it extremely hard to attain any variety of intercontinental effects with the exhibition All this regardless of the 506 million HUF (about 1,3 million euros) funds from government assist dedicated to the exhibition. A skipped possibility, without a doubt.

13th-century crown from Margaret Island, HNM

Irrespective of these considerable shortcomings, do visit the exhibition if you get a likelihood. Objects that are or else challenging to see and some highlights are surely worthy of a check out. The initial idea of the exhibition can continue to be followed (as extended as you read through Hungarian…) and Székesfehérvár is only about 45 minutes from Budapest by train. 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

(images my possess, taken with authorization)

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