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 Food plan held at Fehérvár, the Golden Bull is one of the cornerstones of the medieval Hungarian constitutional process and its anniversary created a best prospect to organize a important exhibition devoted to Hungary’s very first ruling residence, the Árpád Dynasty. This sort of an exhibition has been prepared for at the very least a decade and curators at the Hungarian National Museum have ready a proposal for a main exhibition with worldwide loans. In 2017 govt assistance arrived, together with the final 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 constructing belonging to the King Saint Stephen Museum. Curators had been appointed from the two institutions and the extended perform of securing financial loans and planning a catalog was commenced. At the beginning of 2019 a new government-funded institution, the Institute of Hungarian Exploration begun its functions. The Minister of Human Means (in cost of cultural affairs) delegated this Institute to the consortium planning the exhibition. Perform continued and the scheduled date of opening was nearing – even though the renovation of the Székesfehérvár museum making was not nevertheless accomplished.

Set up watch

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 – announced in an e mail that the appointment of the curators (Etele Kiss, Ágnes Ritoók, and Erika Simonyi of the Hungarian National Museum) is getting withdrawn, and Miklós Makoldi of the Institute of Hungarian Study is appointed as the new curator of the exhibition. Earning these types of a shift a few months prior to the opening of a key exhibition is really astonishing even in Hungary and obviously, a scandal broke out. Offered the fact that Miklós Makoldi, an archeologist without having a doctorate and any suitable museum-related abilities was about to acquire more than the results of three decades of do the job by a crew of skilled museum curators, numerous students decided that they no lengthier want to take part in such a venture. In the stop, 25 students signed an open up letter, withdrawing their contributions from the catalog of the exhibition (which was already nearing completion). In this condition, quite a few people doubted that the exhibition could be opened at all. In the close, 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 circumstances, having said that, the final result amounts to a monumental skipped prospect.

The Monomachos Crown (Hungarian Countrywide Museum)

Enable me make clear in depth. Makoldi, the new curator of the exhibition, had no probability or time to transform the strategy of the exhibition. He only modified 3 rooms of the exhibition, largely to remove references to the non-Hungarian inhabitants of medieval Hungary (together with Carolingians and Slavs from the initial segment working with the Hungarian conquest and a chapter about Muslims, Jews, and several Japanese nomadic people today dwelling in the Kingdom of Hungary). You can go through the clarification of the Institute and see for you. In any situation, the new curator labored with the unique synopsis and object checklist – getting above other people’s work, if you will. Nonetheless, the authentic concept could not be recognized. Various crucial loans did not make it to Székesfehérvár (the Cross of Adelheid from Lavantall is a single such item mentioned in the press, but there are numerous other folks). It is tricky to explain to what part the scandal played in the scenario of lacking financial loans – I believe the venue in Székesfehérvár may perhaps also have played a function in this. Not the address itself, but the point that the museum building in Székesfehérvár was done just a several weeks right before the opening of the exhibition, so loan providers could not confirm that it is up to international requirements required for delicate objects. 

Lehel’s horn from Jászberény

Enklopion from Maastricht
The exhibition mounted with the remaining objects nonetheless incorporates a lot of highlights and presents a great overview of Árpád-age Hungary. According to the unique principle, the objects are organized in 17 sections, ranging from the period of time of the Hungarian Conquest to an overview of saints from the Árpád Dynasty. The site of the exhibition (a do the job in development at the time of creating) lists the chapters. Several of the highlights – the Monomachos Crown, the crown with lilies from Margaret Island, or some stone carvings – come from the Hungarian Countrywide Museum. There are crucial objects from Székesfehérvár and other Hungarian museums (these types of as the Lehel’s horn/olifant from Jászberény).  A range of current archaeological finds – these types of as a reliquary and other finds from Pétermonostora – are on look at. There are quite a few international loans as nicely: the sword of Saint Stephen from Prague, stone carvings from former monasteries now positioned in Serbia or Romania, significant manuscripts from numerous 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 kinds of as the 12th century double cross in the Dommuseum of Salzburg and specifically the extremely refined 13th-century courtroom goldsmith works (the Zaviš-cross, the cross created from diadems in Cracow or the Bern (Königsfelden) diptych) are sadly lacking from the exhibition. Granted, this kind of loans are particularly difficult to protected and not all of these objects were being even envisioned in the unique circumstance of the exhibition – but these types of an exhibition is a just one-time opportunity in a era and this opportunity was regrettably skipped. 
A display of stone carvings

The exhibition also does not consider edge of becoming in Székesfehérvár. Whilst there are references to the royal basilica committed to the Virgin – the coronation church and most crucial burial location of Hungarian kings – the actual website of the church was shut at the time of my take a look at (although supposedly it is open up day-to-day from April 1st). The highly crucial Árpád-period stone carvings from this church continue being mostly inaccessible – a museum scheduled to turn out to be their new household will open only by the finish of the 12 months.


Finds from Pétermonostora

What’s more, it is apparent that the new curator and his workforce scrambled to set the exhibition together in the a few months at their disposal. As there is no list of the exhibition group, it is really hard to inform who did what, but two months just after the opening working day, the exhibition looked half-finished. All the rooms are darkly lit (even rooms with stone carvings and goldsmith objects), the item labels are quite not possible to examine and some of them are even lacking. Some critical objects are put in darkish corners or shut to the ground, or at the back of big showcases. The larger exhibition graphics are unneeded and terribly created in common: a portion 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 phony medieval stained glass window series, some kings lifted from the 14th-century Illuminated Chronicle are mislabeled, and many others. There is no explanation for the full absence of any information and facts in English in the exhibition. There are some interactive movie screens – but no new material was produced for them, they simply just show 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 lack of authors (see earlier mentioned). All this helps make it difficult to arrive at any kind of intercontinental impression with the exhibition All this even with the 506 million HUF (about 1,3 million euros) spending budget from authorities help dedicated to the exhibition. A skipped prospect, in truth.

13th-century crown from Margaret Island, HNM

Regardless of these considerable shortcomings, do take a look at the exhibition if you get a probability. Objects that are normally difficult to see and some highlights are unquestionably worthy of a check out. The initial notion of the exhibition can however be adopted (as lengthy as you examine Hungarian…) and Székesfehérvár is only about 45 minutes from Budapest by train. The exhibition will be on check out right up until June 15, 2022.

Fragments from the tomb of Queen Gertrude, from Pilis Abbey

14th-century reliquary of St. Stephen from Aachen

(images my very own, taken with authorization)


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