Medieval Hungary: The Age of the Árpád Dynasty

The year 2022 marks the 800th anniversary of the issuance of the Golden Bull by King Andrew II.  Issued at the 1222 Diet held at Fehérvár, the Golden Bull is one of the cornerstones of the medieval Hungarian constitutional method and its anniversary developed a fantastic prospect to manage a important exhibition dedicated to Hungary’s initial ruling residence, the Árpád Dynasty. These types of an exhibition has been planned for at least a decade and curators at the Hungarian Nationwide Museum have well prepared a proposal for a key exhibition with international financial loans. In 2017 govt help arrived, together with the final decision that the exhibition should be held at Székesfehérvár, to mark the anniversary of the Golden Bull and to inaugurate a newly renovated museum developing belonging to the King Saint Stephen Museum. Curators ended up appointed from the two establishments and the extensive get the job done of securing loans and planning a catalog was commenced. At the beginning of 2019 a new federal government-funded institution, the Institute of Hungarian Investigation started its operations. The Minister of Human Means (in demand of cultural affairs) delegated this Institute to the consortium getting ready the exhibition. Work ongoing and the scheduled day of opening was nearing – though the renovation of the Székesfehérvár museum setting up was not nevertheless done.

Set up watch

Then late in December of 2021, Miklós Kásler, Minister of Human Sources – in agreement with the newly appointed director of the Hungarian National Museum, László L. Simon – announced in an email that the appointment of the curators (Etele Kiss, Ágnes Ritoók, and Erika Simonyi of the Hungarian Countrywide Museum) is being withdrawn, and Miklós Makoldi of the Institute of Hungarian Analysis is appointed as the new curator of the exhibition. Making these a move three months before the opening of a major exhibition is fairly surprising even in Hungary and by natural means, a scandal broke out. Provided the simple fact that Miklós Makoldi, an archeologist devoid of a doctorate and any appropriate museum-related expertise was about to just take more than the benefits of a few many years of do the job by a crew of skilled museum curators, several scholars decided that they no extended would like to take part in these kinds of a venture. In the conclusion, 25 scholars signed an open up letter, withdrawing their contributions from the catalog of the exhibition (which was now nearing completion). In this circumstance, several people doubted that the exhibition could be opened at all. In the end, 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, having said that, the final result amounts to a monumental skipped option.

The Monomachos Crown (Hungarian Nationwide Museum)

Permit me demonstrate in detail. Makoldi, the new curator of the exhibition, experienced no chance or time to change the notion of the exhibition. He only modified 3 rooms of the exhibition, mostly to clear away references to the non-Hungarian population of medieval Hungary (together with Carolingians and Slavs from the first area dealing with the Hungarian conquest and a chapter about Muslims, Jews, and numerous Japanese nomadic people today living in the Kingdom of Hungary). You can examine the rationalization of the Institute and see for you. In any case, the new curator labored with the primary synopsis and item checklist – taking about other people’s work, if you will. On the other hand, the unique thought could not be understood. Many critical loans did not make it to Székesfehérvár (the Cross of Adelheid from Lavantall is a single this kind of item described in the press, but there are a lot of other people). It is tough to notify what part the scandal performed in the situation of missing loans – I believe the location in Székesfehérvár may possibly also have played a purpose in this. Not the deal with itself, but the truth that the museum developing in Székesfehérvár was accomplished just a couple of weeks right before the opening of the exhibition, so loan providers could not validate that it is up to worldwide standards needed for sensitive objects. 

Lehel’s horn from Jászberény

Enklopion from Maastricht
The exhibition mounted with the remaining objects even now incorporates numerous highlights and offers a very good overview of Árpád-age Hungary. In accordance to the original principle, 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 web site of the exhibition (a perform in progress at the time of composing) 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 important objects from Székesfehérvár and other Hungarian museums (these types of as the Lehel’s horn/olifant from Jászberény).  A variety 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 perfectly: the sword of Saint Stephen from Prague, stone carvings from previous monasteries now located in Serbia or Romania, crucial 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, these kinds of as the 12th century double cross in the Dommuseum of Salzburg and particularly the hugely complex 13th-century court goldsmith functions (the Zaviš-cross, the cross produced from diadems in Cracow or the Bern (Königsfelden) diptych) are regrettably missing from the exhibition. Granted, this kind of financial loans are particularly difficult to safe and not all of these objects have been even envisioned in the first circumstance of the exhibition – but this sort of an exhibition is a a person-time possibility in a era and this opportunity was sadly skipped. 
A display of stone carvings

The exhibition also does not take edge of being in Székesfehérvár. Although there are references to the royal basilica focused to the Virgin – the coronation church and most essential burial area of Hungarian kings – the genuine website of the church was shut at the time of my check out (even though supposedly it is open up every day from April 1st). The highly essential Árpád-period of time stone carvings from this church continue to be largely inaccessible – a museum scheduled to turn out to be their new property will open only by the close of the calendar year.

 

Finds from Pétermonostora

Additionally, it is clear that the new curator and his group scrambled to set the exhibition collectively in the 3 months at their disposal. As there is no list of the exhibition staff, it is challenging to explain to who did what, but two months right after the opening day, the exhibition appeared 50 percent-concluded. All the rooms are darkly lit (even rooms with stone carvings and goldsmith objects), the object labels are very unattainable to go through and some of them are even missing. Some vital objects are placed in darkish corners or close to the floor, or at the again of substantial showcases. The greater exhibition graphics are unwanted and badly developed in basic: a area of the Bayeaux tapestry stands in to illustrate 11th-century battles in Hungary, the Legend of Saint Ladislas from the Hungarian Angevin Famous was tailored to a graphic of a pretend medieval stained glass window series, some kings lifted from the 14th-century Illuminated Chronicle are mislabeled, and so on. There is no clarification for the finish lack of any information and facts in English in the exhibition. There are some interactive video screens – but no new material was produced for them, they simply exhibit movies recycled from other venues and exhibitions. Of class, there is no catalog in any language or any publication in any respect, because of to the lack of authors (see previously mentioned). All this can make it not possible to achieve any variety of international affect with the exhibition All this inspite of the 506 million HUF (about 1,3 million euros) spending budget from federal government assist committed to the exhibition. A skipped option, without a doubt.

13th-century crown from Margaret Island, HNM

In spite of these considerable shortcomings, do stop by the exhibition if you get a chance. Objects that are or else tricky to see and some highlights are undoubtedly well worth a visit. The authentic concept of the exhibition can nevertheless be followed (as lengthy as you go through Hungarian…) and Székesfehérvár is only about 45 minutes from Budapest by coach. The exhibition will be on look at until June 15, 2022.

Fragments from the tomb of Queen Gertrude, from Pilis Abbey

14th-century reliquary of St. Stephen from Aachen

(pictures my own, taken with authorization)

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