The Visual World of the Hungarian Angevin Legendary

The Visual World of the Hungarian Angevin Legendary

The Visual World of the Hungarian Angevin Legendary

The Visual World of the Hungarian Angevin Legendary


"Dispersed in two continents, four countries and six collections; many of its pages were cropped, cut into four, or lost forever; its history, origin, commissioner and audience are obscure; still, in its fragmented state it presents fifty-eight legends in an abundant series of images, on folios fully covered by miniatures, richly gilded, using only one side of the fine parchment; a luxurious codex worthy of a ruler; a unique iconographic treasury of medieval legends; one of the most significant manuscripts of the medieval Hungarian Kingdom--these are all what we call the Hungarian Angevin Legendary"--Provided by publisher.


The borders of Central Europe are undefined and constantly changing in both geographical and political terms. At an intuitive level, there is a sense of this region being generally different from more well defined parts of Europe such as the Mediterranean world or Western Europe or even Scandinavia. There is something which may be defined, however, as culturally distinct about Central Europe. Scholars have long debated what comprises this special character of what might be loosely described as a historical region. Is this character connected to the interactions and continuous transformations of influences which arrived through a variety of media from the ‘other’ Europe or even unexpectedly from Central Asia. the combined impact of disparate political entities such as the Roman and Byzantine, the Mongol and the Ottoman, and the Russian and the German Holy Roman empires is not as evident in other parts of Europe as in this central and yet still peripheral region.

This fuzzy historical image is in stark contrast to clear notions of Central Europeanness which pervades popular ideas about centers of classical and modern music in the eighteenth to twentieth centuries. Whether we think about Mozart and Haydn in Vienna or Bartók and Kodály in Budapest, or Dvořak and Smetena in Bohemia it is immediately understood that the character of their music is firmly rooted in a definable place that can be called Central Europe. Literature is less simple although writers such as Franz Kafka, Imre Kertész, Milan Kundera and many others cannot be imagined outside the region and its obscure worlds filled with contradiction and uncertainty. the culture of Central Europe represents an entity which is much less well defined but still keenly felt by the people experiencing, enjoying, struggling, and surviving life there. This lack of clarity in cultural identity is connected to gaps in continuity resulting from the collisions of outside forces or internal struggles which destroyed significant parts of the cultural heritage.

For this reason, it is extremely relevant that an educational institution calling itself the Central European University and its press should produce a new series that presents what might be described by people in the region as their cultural heritage. We intend to bring to this series a colorful palette of tangible and intangible heritage ranging from historical monuments, to cultural landscapes, from folk music to contemporary urban art, from traditional craftsmanship to industrial sites. These large format books will display the cultural heritage of Central Europe in both words and color images designed to manifest the value of objects and ideas which may be less well known outside this region. For that reason, the first volume in this series will be about the contested history and the visual power of a beautiful medieval illuminated manuscript, the Hungarian Angevin Legendary.

One of the main goals of this series is thus to give a rounded picture of a shared cultural heritage in the center of Europe together with its scholarly evaluation. the intention is to present a critical approach to the way this heritage emerged in the past, is protected in the present and may serve generations in the future.

Alice Choyke – József Laszlovszky

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