The Miracles of St. John Capistran

By Stanko Andrić | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
A portrait of the town

ad locum nostrum Uylach, quem beatus pater
elegit sibi ad quiescendum

Stephen Varsányi (5 April 1461)

John Moorman concludes his vivid account of Capistran's life with a measure of licentia poetica when he states that the saint finished his days as “a faithful warrior of Christ in a strange land and among a strange people” (Moorman 1968, 472). It was perhaps the case that Capistran, out of a self-denying fervour, preferred to die in this remote, unfamiliar ambience but was it really so strange to him personally? Since this is never discussed in the learned works on the saint it seems appropriate here to recount in some detail the late medieval condition of this town on the confines of Slavonia and Hungary proper; moreover, a comprehensive examination of Capistranean posthumous miracles is unimaginable away from their local and regional historical context.


Economy, lordship, and privilege

Ilok, on the Danube's right bank—nowadays the most eastern settlement of the Republic of Croatia—was “the most important town of the province of Srijem” (Bosendorfer 1910, 173) in the later Middle Ages. This was obvious to Renaissance chorographers like Nicholas Oláh [Olahus] (1493–1568), who wrote in his famed Hungaria: “That part which extends eastward between the mouths of the Drava and Sava rivers is called Srijem (Sirimium); its castles include Ilok, the threshold and the capital of Srijem…”.1

However, from a purely administrative point of view, Ilok was never part of the medieval Sirmian county (comitatus), the borders of which ran several miles to the east of Ilok and included within their ambit the medieval

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