Tanulmányok a 16.–17. századi lengyel-erdélyi-magyar kapcsolattörténetről
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The studies of this volume concern Polish-Hungarian and Polish-Transylvanian relations in the 16th and 17th centuries. In the first paper, with reference both to older scholarship and recent research on the history of borderlands, I analyze the character and role of the Polish-Hungarian borderland. I ask how it was influenced by the natural environment and how it shaped mutual relations between the countries on both sides of the Carpathian Mountains. My conclusion is that this borderland was quite stable politically (despite the proximity to the turbulent Habsburg-Ottoman border) and remained a region of exchange, connected through numerous social, ethnic and economic ties. The western part of the borderland was a more easily accessible area (with more convenient mountain passes), cultivated and colonized earlier than the Eastern Carpathians. It influenced the number of trade routes and intensity of exchange. A special role was played by the Szepes (Spiš) region, which receives less attention here only due to the general character of the paper and many recent historical studies. Three papers refer to two remarkable figures in Polish-Hungarian/Polish-Transylvanian relations in the early modern period: John Sigismund Zapolya (Szapolyai, 1540-1571), first Prince of Transylvania, and Stephen Báthory, his successor as a Prince of Transylvania, then King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania (1576-1586). I examine the way in which they were perceived by contemporaries. In the case of John Sigismund Zapolya, I describe how the image of the ruler, who died young, was shaped by his followers in the first years after his death, that is, in the 1570s and 1580s, and how the commemoration served the emerging political identity of Transylvania in the context of close Polish-Transylvanian ties during the reign of Báthory. An essential factor was the religious (Protestant, especially Unitarian) motivation of the apologists. This was accompanied by their religious and political goals together with moral issues (e.g. the commonly used notions of fortune and loss through which the reign of John Sigismund was interpreted). The paper is based on a survey of historiographical and literary works mainly by Christian Schesaeus (neolatin epic historiography), András Valkai (popular historiographical poems in Hungarian), Demeter Csanádi, Jan Gruszczyński (moralistic, commemorative texts) and Johannes Sommer with references to other authors as well. Subsequently, in a paper on King Stephen Báthory I show the contemporary polemics on his rule, in particular the controversies that arose in the years 1584-1585 and in the first years after the king’s death. In this period, Báthory was faced with serious criticism due to his harsh conflict with the Zborowski family. I argue here mainly with evidence of contemporary political journalism. The fact of the foreign origin of the king and his support for Hungarian compatriots in Poland-Lithuania was also raised, just as in the first years following Báthory’s death in 1586. This image changed only gradually later. In the next paper I show this process, using the example of literary texts known as “kings’ catalogues” (icones, imagines), which shaped popular historical knowledge until the 18th century. It was much because of this sort of text why the representation of the king evolved to result in an image of a brave and wise ruler, almost overwhelming in the Polish historical memory of the subsequent centuries. This image also contained stereotypes of Hungarians (appearance, character), partly derived from the ‘Hunnic’ tradition and the parallel between Báthory and Attila. Decisive was the impact of contemporary events, primarily the Polish-Muscovite wars of the 17th century. To sum up, the papers contribute to a more nuanced history of the Polish-Hungarian relations and stereotypes, but refer to more general questions about the commemoration of a ruler (Herrschermemoria) in early modern Europe.
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