March 2, 2024


General will live on forever

Medieval Hungary: The Age of the Árpád Dynasty

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 just one of the cornerstones of the medieval Hungarian constitutional program and its anniversary created a fantastic option to arrange a major exhibition devoted to Hungary’s first ruling residence, the Árpád Dynasty. This sort of an exhibition has been prepared for at the very least a 10 years and curators at the Hungarian National Museum have geared up a proposal for a key exhibition with international loans. In 2017 federal government aid came, together with the conclusion that the exhibition should really be held at Székesfehérvár, to mark the anniversary of the Golden Bull and to inaugurate a freshly renovated museum setting up belonging to the King Saint Stephen Museum. Curators have been appointed from both establishments and the long operate of securing financial loans and getting ready a catalog was began. At the beginning of 2019 a new governing administration-funded institution, the Institute of Hungarian Research started out its operations. The Minister of Human Means (in cost of cultural affairs) delegated this Institute to the consortium preparing the exhibition. Work continued and the scheduled day of opening was nearing – while the renovation of the Székesfehérvár museum developing was not still finished.

Installation view

Then late in December of 2021, Miklós Kásler, Minister of Human Sources – in arrangement with the newly appointed director of the Hungarian Nationwide 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of the curators (Etele Kiss, Ágnes Ritoók, and Erika Simonyi of the Hungarian Countrywide Museum) is staying withdrawn, and Miklós Makoldi of the Institute of Hungarian Study is appointed as the new curator of the exhibition. Creating this sort of a transfer a few months ahead of the opening of a major exhibition is really shocking even in Hungary and the natural way, a scandal broke out. Specified the actuality that Miklós Makoldi, an archeologist with out a doctorate and any related museum-linked knowledge was about to get above the results of 3 decades of work by a workforce of seasoned museum curators, a lot of scholars resolved that they no longer desire to take part in these kinds of a undertaking. In the end, 25 scholars signed an open up letter, withdrawing their contributions from the catalog of the exhibition (which was by now nearing completion). In this situation, lots of 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. Owing to the conditions, even so, the final result quantities to a monumental missed possibility.

The Monomachos Crown (Hungarian Countrywide Museum)

Let me make clear in detail. Makoldi, the new curator of the exhibition, experienced no opportunity or time to change the idea of the exhibition. He only modified three rooms of the exhibition, primarily to eliminate references to the non-Hungarian population of medieval Hungary (like Carolingians and Slavs from the to start with section dealing with the Hungarian conquest and a chapter about Muslims, Jews, and various Eastern nomadic persons residing in the Kingdom of Hungary). You can study the clarification of the Institute and see for you. In any scenario, the new curator worked with the primary synopsis and item list – getting around other people’s perform, if you will. Even so, the primary thought could not be recognized. Several critical loans did not make it to Székesfehérvár (the Cross of Adelheid from Lavantall is just one this kind of item talked about in the push, but there are many other people). It is hard to convey to what role the scandal played in the scenario of missing financial loans – I feel the location in Székesfehérvár may possibly also have played a role in this. Not the handle alone, but the actuality that the museum building in Székesfehérvár was concluded just a number of weeks ahead of the opening of the exhibition, so loan companies could not confirm that it is up to intercontinental benchmarks desired for sensitive objects. 

Lehel’s horn from Jászberény

Enklopion from Maastricht
The exhibition mounted with the remaining objects still is made up of lots of highlights and offers a great 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 site of the exhibition (a function 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 National Museum. There are significant objects from Székesfehérvár and other Hungarian museums (this sort of as the Lehel’s horn/olifant from Jászberény).  A number of new archaeological finds – these kinds of as a reliquary and other finds from Pétermonostora – are on perspective. There are various overseas loans as very well: the sword of Saint Stephen from Prague, stone carvings from previous monasteries now positioned in Serbia or Romania, critical 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 specifically the extremely advanced 13th-century court docket goldsmith will work (the Zaviš-cross, the cross created from diadems in Cracow or the Bern (Königsfelden) diptych) are unfortunately lacking from the exhibition. Granted, these kinds of loans are particularly tricky to protected and not all of these objects have been even envisioned in the primary state of affairs of the exhibition – but these kinds of an exhibition is a a single-time likelihood in a era and this probability was unfortunately skipped. 
A display screen of stone carvings

The exhibition also does not consider gain of becoming in Székesfehérvár. Even though there are references to the royal basilica focused to the Virgin – the coronation church and most significant burial place of Hungarian kings – the real web site of the church was shut at the time of my take a look at (despite the fact that supposedly it is open day-to-day from April 1st). The very critical Árpád-period of time stone carvings from this church continue to be largely inaccessible – a museum scheduled to turn out to be their new dwelling will open up only by the conclusion of the 12 months.


Finds from Pétermonostora

Moreover, it is evident that the new curator and his team scrambled to put the exhibition together in the a few months at their disposal. As there is no list of the exhibition team, it is difficult to explain to who did what, but two months after the opening working day, the exhibition seemed 50 %-concluded. All the rooms are darkly lit (even rooms with stone carvings and goldsmith objects), the object labels are fairly unachievable to read and some of them are even missing. Some crucial objects are put in dark corners or close to the flooring, or at the back of large showcases. The larger sized exhibition graphics are pointless and poorly intended in basic: 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 pretend medieval stained glass window sequence, some kings lifted from the 14th-century Illuminated Chronicle are mislabeled, and so on. There is no explanation for the comprehensive lack of any information in English in the exhibition. There are some interactive online video screens – but no new material was designed for them, they simply just clearly show movies recycled from other venues and exhibitions. Of study course, there is no catalog in any language or any publication by any means, because of to the absence of authors (see above). All this would make it difficult to get to any variety of global impression with the exhibition All this in spite of the 506 million HUF (about 1,3 million euros) spending budget from govt guidance dedicated to the exhibition. A skipped prospect, indeed.

13th-century crown from Margaret Island, HNM

Irrespective of these significant shortcomings, do visit the exhibition if you get a opportunity. Objects that are in any other case challenging to see and some highlights are absolutely well worth a stop by. The primary thought of the exhibition can still be adopted (as lengthy as you browse Hungarian…) and Székesfehérvár is only about 45 minutes from Budapest by train. The exhibition will be on see till June 15, 2022.

Fragments from the tomb of Queen Gertrude, from Pilis Abbey

14th-century reliquary of St. Stephen from Aachen

(pictures my very own, taken with permission)