Their Traces | Part 2

National Archives of Hungary

Centuries - Personalities - Signatures

The Holy Crown
The Holy Crown is the best-known and the oldest emblem of Hungary. The fate of the mysterious crown is epic and tragic at the same time. Many studies—based on facts or theories—have been published on the subject of its origin and history.

The earliest rear depiction of the Holy Crown from the coronation ordo of Ferdinand II, from July 1, 1618. This source is special, because it contains one of the earliest, authentic depiction of the crown and coronation flags, which partly was made by the Hungarian Estates.

Charter of Ferdinand I about the transportation of the crown from Transylvania to Vienna in the summer of 1551.
György Palóci Horváth’s note in which he reportsed that the crown chest had to be opened by force for Anna Maria’s coronation in February 1638.

According to the regulation in 1608, the crown and coronation regalia were transported to a tower–which was built for this reason–in the castle of Pressburg, under the guardiancy of permanent Crown Guard. They placed records into the chest of the regalia, which documented the content and the reasons at each opening. These documents and parliament diaries revealed that the chest had to be forced open violently in 1683 and in 1784, because the key for the chest was lost.

Samples of the coronation, or offertory coins from 1741. From 1608 till 1784, the Holy crown was kept at the corner-tower of the caste of Pressburg under the protection of the Crown Guard. In 1782, Joseph II decided that the crown, like the other royal regalia of the Habsburg Monarchy, had to be transferred to Vienna. The transportation occurred in 1784. The emperor declared: “there is no worthier place to be find for it, and where the king is, there shall be the crown as well”.

The displacement of the crown caused strong dissent, so people enthusiastically celebrated its return on the occasion of the coronation of Leopold II in 1790. At that time, the last coronation was more than half century ago, so they followed the ceremony of the last coronation in 1741, including the sample of the offertory coin. Smaller tokens, scattered to the mass, and offertory coins were made. Latter were made of gold and silver, and were based on the heavy gold medal, originally made for the Church. These were given to an exclusive, distinguished noble circle.

Rákóczi’s War of Independence
What kinds of grievances led Francis II Rákóczi and his companions-in-arms to take up arms against the royal power? What processes led to the peace agreement?
On June 13, 1707 Rákóczi submitted the proposal about the dethronement of the Habsburg dynasty, and Miklós Bercsényi expressed his support in his famous speech. The Estates supported the topple of the rule of the Habsburgs.

The Ordinances of the Diet of Ónod on the dethronement of the House of Habsburgs, on the resolution of economic difficulties with laws, created for the strengthening of the army and the state organization, and on the deflation of copper currencies and their gradual withdrawal from the market, because they led to economic disruption and collapse.

This article of the Diet raised awareness across Europe. The contemporary “media device”, the leaflet, contributed to the quick spreading of news. Rákóczi and the Viennese court, and also the Habsburg loyalist Hungarian aristocracy lived with the opportunity offered by this new media. The printed leaflet with the original signature of Joseph I, which annulled the dethronement, contains the theses of Palatine Pál Esterházy, who was one of the most important Hungarian politicians at that time.

On the last page of the leaflet there is a list of the Hungarian noblemen who supported the Habsburgs. This clearly demonstrates that the country only partially joined Rákóczi’s war. The major part of the Hungarian nobility remained loyal to the Habsburg dynasty.

The defection of the Hungarian nobility after the defeat at Trenčín in 1708, and the endless military and economic difficulties, led to the fall of the war of independence.

„Acta concursus szathmariensis”. Articles of the Treaty of Szatmár, which were only signed by Hungarians.

Rákóczi appointed Sándor Károlyi to commander-in-chief, and to continue the negotiations in his absence, without any defined advice. Károlyi called an assembly in Szatmár, which decided to choose consensus.

Francis II Rákóczi’s letter to Sándor Károlyi, in which he expresses his opposition to the peace negotiations, and his personal despair as well.

Resumption, new order, enlightened absolutism
The 18th century is the age of enlightenment, and also a century of rebuilding and modernizing the country. During the reign of Maria Theresa and Joseph II, many regulations have been made whose effects are still to date.
Maria Theresa’s first decree, in which she informs the Royal Locotential Council, the faculties and Estates about the death of his father, Charles VI Holy Roman Emperor (Hungarian King as Charles III), who passed away two days earlier, and she orders continuity and continuance in the Council’s operation until further notice.
Empress Maria Theresa, after the death of her husband and co-regent, Francis I on August 18, 1765, assigned the authority of co-ruler in the Hereditary provinces, in the Kingdom of Hungary, and in all the provinces of the Habsburg Monarchy, to his firstborn son, Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor.

On the decision, the Royal Locotential Council informed the Hungarian authorities through the medium of the Hungarian Royal Chancellery in Vienna, ergo the empress transferred the rights without parliamentary approval. A law passed in 1741, made it possible to her to do so (1741 Act IV.).
From this point, a period of nearly fifteen years of co-regency began, during which the Holy Roman Emperor was responsible for military affairs of the Habsburg Monarchy, but in all other cases, the final decision was made by Maria Theresa.

In the foundation charter of the Study Fund (Fundus Studiorum), Maria Theresa secured the maintenance of various schools of the Kingdom of Hungary from the income of certain ecclesiastical estates, and defined the coats of arms of each school type.
Revolution and War of Independence 1848-49
It was a long way from the 15th of March in Pest to the Surrender at Világos. What were the milestones of this war of independence? Who was the martyr of Arad, Károly Leiningen-Westerburg, and how did he get into the stream of events?
Lajos Batthyány's letter to Archduke Stephen, palatine of Hungary, in which the Prime Minister appointed the members of his government.
The farewell letter (written in German) of the Honvéd General, Károly Leiningen-Westerburg, which he wrote on the morning of his execution to his brother-in-law, Colonel Lipót Rohonczy, who was in captivity as well in the castle of Arad. This is Leiningen's last letter, as he wrote to his older brother and to his wife on the previous evening. In addition to farewells, he also provides practical instructions for his brother-in-law about his properties, and asks him and his family to support his widow.

“My only one Liza, I love you till my last breath! […] I know that your heart will bleed; but your sense of duty towards the children will abate your pain […].”

Sándor Petőfi’s letter to the House of Representatives, in which he offers his poem, Battle Song (Csatadal) for dissemination among soldiers to enthuse them.
Arthur Görgei’s letter to the Governor-General Lajos Kossuth, in which he reports that he captured the castle of Buda with a siege.
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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