Their Traces | Part 1

National Archives of Hungary

Centuries - Personalities - Signatures

Authentication tools from the Middle Ages
The fact that documents had to be authenticated was already recognized in the Middle Ages. The royal signature appeared only in the 15th century, earlier the seal and the chirograph were the accepted procedures. What did they mean in practice?
A significant number of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary’s written sources are charters. Charter is an authentic document, which grants rights, privileges or legal facts.

Louis I, in agreement with his mother, Elizabeth the queen consort, the barons and prelates, conferred the domain of Copy in Sáros county, the site of a castle in Mogloch–which had been bartered for the Olaszi domain in Zemplén county between King Charles and Fuldruh’s son Balázs–upon knight Péter Poháros (Paharus), the Ispán of Abaúj county and former guardian of Louis. The king’s validating clause can be found in the lower left corner of the decree, dated 5 July 1364.

It confirmed the charter with the second seal after the first had been stolen during the siege of Srebrenik. In the middle of the charter there is the first,double-sided seal of the ruler, and on its right side the second (broken) double-sided seal.

The seal, the first tool that confirmed authenticity in the Middle Ages, appeared in Western Europe and spread towards East.

Customarily this material was the natural colored wax until the 13th century. Red, green, and black sealing wax emerged in the 14th century.

King Matthias has died, the justice has gone
Matthias Hunyadi or Corvin is one of our greatest kings. But do we know, under what circumstances did he lead the country, so the posterity consider that period as the brightest heyday?
King Matthias forgives the injustices of counts János Bazini and Szentgyörgyi and Zsigmond Bazini and Szentgyörgyi. He also promises to reconfirm the charter, which ensure their impunity after he mounted the royal throne. Dénes, archbishop of Esztergom, János bishop of Várad, Mihály Guti Országh, palatine, and other nobleman listed and mentioned by name, also promise to keep the king’s assurance.  

Matthias mounted the royal throne as a member of the nobility without dynastic ancestry so he heavily depended on the baronial leagues to stabilize his reign.

Thus, he pursued a peaceful, cautious, and in many cases a permissive policy towards them. The case of János and Zsigmond, counts from the Szentgyörgyi and Bazini family, illustrates well his politics.

Fifteen decrees are known from the period of Matthias’ reign that were ratified by Matthias. Decretum Maius was the Civil and Criminal code of King Matthias from 1486. It was circulated in a printed form as well.

This was the first codification attempt, which tried to introduce the eternal regulation of jurisdiction and legal administration system.

Queen consort Beatrix orders Ferenc, castellan of Óbuda and Máté Chepely’s officer of Csepel Island, to give 1 golden Forint fee to Ferenc Ostffy.
King Matthias’ acknowledgment of the debt he owes to László Egervári, ban of Slavonia, Domenico Giugni, Slavonic toll-collectorfrom Florence, Baltazár aulicus (László Hermannnfy’s step-son, Boldizsár Batthyány I), László Hermannfy, László Rohffy, Slavonic nobleman,and Lőrinc Parvus (Kis), provisor from Jajca.
Under Ottoman rule
The struggle against the Ottoman Empire was a pivotal factor in the 16-17th century Hungarian history. How did the country split, and how did it reunite again? What was the age of occupation in Hungary like?

Mehmed, son of Sultan Ibrahim Khan, forever victorious.

The command of the ascended and honorable sign of the sultan, the world-owning tughra of the Khan, after asking for God’s help:
Because the noble sultans’ practice was to care about the sipahis and protect the victorious army, the tanner-land of 4000 akces, after its owner, Ali had died, then I gave up.

Deed of Mehmed IV in which he confirms with his tughra–the calligraphic sign containing the name of the ruler–sultan Ibraim’s gift of 4000 akces Timar (fief of land) to Hasan, son of sipahi Ali from the tax income of Vasas village from the Sanjak of Pécs.

The secrect covenant between John Zápolya and Ferdinand I stated that they help each other against the Ottomans, mutually retained the parts of the country they had already owned, and, after the death of Zápolya, his rival received his lands.

John Zápolya’s letter to Ferdinand I about Gáspár secretary, who was sent to him in connection with the conclusion of peace.

István Dobó and the heroes of Eger
Géza Gárdonyi’s novel on the siege of Eger in 1552 is part of our cultural memory. What historical events are in the background of the work, and who was the captain of Eger, István Dobó?
The letter of István Dobó, castellan of Eger, his deputy, István Mekcsey, Gáspár Pethő, István Zoltay, and Gergely Bornemissza royal captains to Tamás Nádasdy, Palatine about the successful defense of the castle.
Order of Ferdinand I to the Hungarian Chamber about the rewards for the families of fallen soldiers, and the wounded. A list of the soldiers by name, the description of their merits, injuries, and rewards is attached to the order.

The defenders lost about 300 people, and hundreds had been wounded.

Following István Dobó’s suggestion, the King has granted rewards and pension for 69 wounded soldiers, for 23 orphans, and the widows.

The Diet of 1553 have called upon the country’s nobility for general donations to support them, and a ten denarius special tax was imposed after every serf parcel.

Zrínyis and Zrinskies
The Zrínyi family is one of the best known families of Croatian origin in the early modern Hungarian Kingdom. They played an outstanding role in the history of the country. The House of Zrínyi was the mainstay of Habsburg government’s policy in South-Hungary and especially in Croatia.
Miklós IV Zrínyi’s last letter to Ursula Kanizsay, widow of his dead friend Tamás Nádasdy. He reported that the main army of Suleiman had marched against Szigetvár and preparing for the siege. Zrínyi asked for help from the widowed lady. He emphasized in the letter that he dedicated his life to serve the Ruler, Christianity, and his country.
Miklós IV Zrínyi’s letter to Ferenc Batthyány, royal councilor after the death of his first wife, Katarina Frankopan, in 1561. He sent his three daughters “in the present bitterness and need” to the Batthyány court in order to “educate and teach them to follow their mother's footsteps and bear the reputation of her name“. 
Miklós VII Zrínyi informed Ádám Batthyány that he was going to travel to him at his request. In the postscript, he mourned: “We became ridiculous for other nations, nobody felt pity for the poor Hungarians, if we idle, we will be lost and not have any remembrance on earth.”
Francis I Rákóczi’s wife, Ilona Zrínyi reported to Paul Esterházy that his mother-in-law, George II Rákóczi widow had died.   
Credits: Story


This online exhibition is curated by László Sándor Németh with help of Gergő Paukovics and Ábel Takács.

The content of the exhibition is based on the temporary exhibition "Their Traces: Centuries-Personalities-Signatures", held at the National Archives of Hungary, Budapest from 15 March 2016 to 15 March 2018.
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Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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