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The second half of the 10th century

The conquering Hungarians gave up their nomadic heritage brought from the east in the middle of the 10th century - after their migration to the Carpathian Basin, and defeats suffered in the course of their European campaigns. They assimilated into European Christian countries. In this process Prince Géza played an important role by accepting Christianity.

They started to build a new residence, Esztergom at that time. The first palace building and the tower of the fortress, which controlled the road leading to the castle and the trade of the marketplace, might have been built in the age of Géza, too. The other important center was Székesfehérvár with St Peter's parish church in it. According to tradition Géza was buried here. The building with four lobes might have been an early baptisterium before. Behind it there was a parish church with a longitudinal ground-plan, which has not been opened up till today.

The results of Géza's reign enabled his son, Stephen to establish a Hungarian feudal state. The castle and church district systems were formed. From Stephen's laws we know that royal castles were important elements of church organisation. The baptising churches of royal castles, the centers of archidiacons were the buds of church organisation; from them the network of subordinated churches and chapels was created. The organisation of royal estates was the basis of forming church districts.

The typical church building of the age was the round church or round chapel, which could be found both in royal castles and near palaces, and they organically assimilated to Central-European traditions. The St George chapel in Veszprém was probably built at the end of the 10th century, and soon a cathedral was built next to it.

Art in the age of the founding of the state

Art in the age of St Stephen is known only from written sources, legends and later chronicles, as materials decayed. In this respect first class sources are King St Stephen's legends, in which the authors brought great care to bear upon introducing the founder of the church, who regularly visits the cathedrals and monasteries he founded. His wife, Gisela, is also mentioned, as presenting liturgic clothes to these churches.

Byzantine works could also be found in Stephen's treasury, and he must have had an outstanding collection of relics. During his campaign, which he led together with the Byzantine emperor against Bulgaria, the king came into possession of the relics of the St George monastery in Ohrid for a time. The larger legend of St Stephen mentions the fact that the king presented golden altar tabloids, a ciborium, crosses and rich clothes to his basilica in Székesfehérvár.

Besides St Stephen, Queen Gisela also presented devotional objects to churches. To the tomb of her mother, who died in 1006, she had the so-called Gisela-cross - decorated with precious stones and enamel - made for the Niedermünster of Regensburg. The liturgic chasuble, which was presented to the church of the Blessed Lady of Székesfehérvár in 1031, and which was later remade and became the coronation cloak of Hungarian kings, is also connected to her personality. This piece of clothing represents the universe. There is Christ on the throne (Maiestas Domini) in the center surrounded by angels, prophets, apostles and saints in the company of St Stephen and Gisela.

Besides court art, which was mostly imported, church constructions also had an important role, as they changed the character of the country quite significantly. St Stephen founded the church of Virgin Mary (church of Our Lady) in Székesfehérvár in 1019, which performed several duties at the same time: the crown jewels of the ruler were kept here, it was a burial place and it received court priests, who settled state matters. The royal basilica of Székesfehérvár was significant both in state and ecclesiastical matters.

Unfortunately only the foundation walls survived from the Székesfehérvár church, and they were built reusing Roman stone-cuttings. Its ground-plan shows a traditional basilica arrangement with a semi-circular chancel (apsis) and three naves. Originally - following Italian or Byzantine patterns - it was decorated with mosaics, but these were destroyed with the exception of a few uninterpretable pieces.

Further memories of foundations made in the age of Stephen are the first cathedral of Kalocsa and the later cathedral of Gyulafehérvár. The history of constructions of the Pécsvárad abbey, founded in 1015, is still unknown today, but the St Adorjan Benedictian abbey of Zalavár also raises several problems, which is known from a 16th-century draft of military engineering.

The first churches of the 11th century were quite pure and simple buildings. The majority of them may have been built of wood. Monumental decoration was not yet popular in this age in Europe. The fragments, which survived, suggest that decorative stone-cutting played an important role only in the decoration of the inner space - with braided decorations and representations of animal shapes designed according to strict geometrical logic (Zalavár).

One of the best known monuments of the century is the St Stephen sarcophagus. It is kept in the ruin garden of Székesfehérvár. The sides of the coffin recarved from a Roman sarcophagus are decorated with symbolic reliefs, according to Byzantine tableaus. Memories of minor art in the age of St Stephen were almost all destroyed. From among the few pieces of work which survived we must mention St Stephen's "purse", and a golden corpus, which was found at Újszász.

The second third of the 11th century

St Stephen's state founding activity and example defined his successors' aims as well. Several construction works started in his age were completed only in the middle of the 11th century, and the construction of many cathedrals also started then. The St Peter Cathedral of Pécs was presumably founded during the reign of King Peter, but the only certainty is that its reconstruction works started after the great fire of 1064. The St Peter prepostery of Óbuda was also founded by King Peter, the construction works of which lasted for a long time. Stephen's successors followed his example and tried to found their own monastery during their lives to guarantee a burial place for themselves and their families.

Till the age of King Coloman, the Booklover, it was not a tradition to bury the kings at Székesfehérvár, they were usually buried in their own churches. The church of Feldebrő, which stood on the estate of the Aba clan, might have been founded with this aim, too. The church of Feldebrő had a square ground-plan divided by four rows of pillars, with a central place enlarged with four apsides on all the four sides and with a crypt decorated with frescos representing stories form the Old Testament.

King Béla founded the Benedictine monastery-church of Szekszárd in 1061, which followed the space arrangement of the developed Byzantine cross-dome churches. The chancel closed with three semi-circular apsides, the main nave and the transepts rose in a cross-shape, and the eastern and western parts of its side-aisles fit into the system of the Byzantine nine-division space plan, and its four robust pillars must have supported the dome. This church is a very important relic, because its decorative stone-cuttings also survived, which show further relations to Byzantine art.

The main characteristic feature of stone-cuttings of palmette-braided ornamental style is that they are definitely of Byzantine nature. Palmette-motifs appeared quite often in significant place of churches at that time: on capitals, corbels, corner stones. Besides rulers, aristocrats also founded churches in the second half of the 11th century. Around 1067 Peter from the Aba clan founded a monastery at Százd, around 1061 Bailiff Otto from the Győr clan also founded a monastery at Zselicszentjakab.

Byzantine relations appeared not only in decorative sculpture but there were also several Greek Christian churches and monasteries in this age (for example, Tihany, Visegrád). Byzantine smithery import was quite significant, as it is proved by the partitioned enamelled woman's crown made during the reign of Emperor Constantinos Monomachos IX found in Nyitra, and the partitioned enamelled hoop of the Hungarian Holy Crown. Wood-cuttings from the Benedictian monastery of Dombó, in the south of the country and the tomb stone from Aracs refer to Byzantine cultural relations, too.

The Roman age

The first period of mature Romanism
(The end of the 11th century - the beginning of the 12th century)

The basilica which was divided into three naves by archways supported by pillars, without transepts, closed with three semi-circular apsides became dominant in the architecture of the age. It was usually covered with an open stone-dressing (the cathedral of Vác, the Benedictine abbey of Garamszentbenedek, Szentjobb, Kolozsmonostor).

The Benedictine abbey of Somogyvár, built in the honour of St Egyed, founded by King Ladislaus in 1091, was very significant among these. Besides its architectural values it is worth mentioning since its letter of foundation is known. The monastery belonged under the control of the Saint-Gilles abbey in France. Till the beginning of the 13th century the monks had to be French, so this monastery became one of the earliest centers of Hungarian-French intellectual relations. The founder was buried in this complex, which was built in concert with Lombardian patterns, in 1095, according to his will. After the transport of the king's corp to Várad a separated relic was still respected - especially after his canonisation in 1192.

From among the constructions of the end of the 11th century the reconstruction of the Székesfehérvár basilica is worth mentioning. In all probability it was done after 1083, when King Ladislaus I canonised St Stephen and his son, Prince Emeric. The town, which was one of the significant stations of the route to Jerusalem, soon became a national center of pilgrimages. The basilica soon turned out to be too small, and needed reconstructions, which lasted till the 12th century.

A similarly large reconstruction started in 1064, when the St Peter cathedral of Pécs was destroyed in a fire. In the church with three naves, closed with three apsides, a huge crypt covered with cross-vaulting without ribs was built under the sanctuary. It was divided into five naves by columns with square capitals. Above it there was the choir receiving the priests of the cathedral. The two figurative cutting which survived show the typical iconographical topics of the Roman age: "the fight of the good against the evil". The constructions of the St Margaret communal chapter church of Dömös, founded by Prince Álmos around 1105, already began in the 12th century.

The Benedictine abbey of Pannonhalma was consecrated in 1137 in the presence of King Béla II and his court. The details of its early architectural periods were discovered only a few years ago in the course of archaeological excavations. At the same time big constructions started in Esztergom, too. Its high quality sculptural decorations enriched with new motifs might have been the work of the nearby Dömös stone-dressers. The church of the St Peter prepostery of Óbuda shows similar decorative motifs, where the same antique elements appear as those of Esztergom.

The plastic art of buildings was quite various in the middle of the 12th century. It can be related to Italian, mainly Lombardian, Pavian and other North-Italian styles. Parallel to the development of outstanding centers building activity became manysided and popular. The system of private churches of advowees, and clan churches was formed, the most significant architectural element of which became the choir. The role of these choirs is still not clear. According to the finding of modern research it was not only the specific place of the advowee of the church, but the altar was also set up there.

There were tow basic types of private and village churches: the first is the so-called rotunda or a central version of that enlarged with a single apsis; the other type was the square church from the middle of the 12th century covered with a flat ceiling. It consisted of a single nave and an apsis vaulted by a semi-dome. There is hardly any information about wall-painting and book culture; only a few written sources or later descriptions, inventories mention them.

The memory of early wall-paintings is documented only by a few fragments (for example, from the dean church of Visegrád or the royal castle of Esztergom). At the painting of the church of Feldebrő besides the Italian-Byzantine tableaus some South-German (Salzburg, Regensburg) adoptions can clearly be recognised, which also appeared at the painting of the apsis of the Pécsvárad abbey and at the first painting of the cella trichora of Pécs.

The earliest memory of book-painting is the service book from the end of the 11th century, called the Nyitra or Szelepcsény Evangelistarium. This codex written in Carolingian minuscula was made for Hungarian Benedictine use. Besides the initials drawn or painted on a coloured base, enriched with a sarmentous, stylised bird it is decorated with red, blue and green initials. The Bible once kept in Bailiff Márton's (from the Gutkeled clan) monastery of Csatár is an outstanding one, called the Admont Bible today. This memory of Benedictine book-painting from Salzburg was not the only one in the age, it had a great influence on several other codices (Pray codex).

Contemporary smithery - the relics of which survived in great numbers - is represented by a bronze relic-holder cross, which was found as a funeral accessory. The pieces of seals - as the practise of issuing charters spread quickly and the use of signets became compulsory - were mostly destroyed. The majority of Hungarian royal signets were also destroyed, and the signet of medieval Hungarian prelates, chapters and convents are mentioned only by the brief description of sources.

The golden age of mature Romanism
(The second half of the 12th century)

In the last quarter of the 12th century the Roman style went through a significant change in Hungary. The reasons of this among others are the following: the stabilisation of royal power during King Béla III's reign, the broadening of cultural relations from Byzantium to Paris, the settling down of new French monastic orders, especially that of the Cistercians, and last but not least the financial stabilisation of the leading layer of the country and their striving for luxury and representation. The center of this development became the castle of Esztergom. The most important architectural memories of the age of Béla III were the enlargement of the St Adalbert cathedral and the royal castle.

As the 1188 fire destroyed the archbishopric cathedral, it can be reconstructed only from some high quality fragments. Such important pieces are the triumphal arch, the Porta Speciosa of Esztergom. From some fragments and an 18th-century copy of an oil-painting a so-called "incrustrational" technique helped to reveal the sacred topic for the first time, when King St Stephen offers the crown to Virgin Mary in the company of apostles and prophets. The composition of the scene is analogous with the decoration of the arch of the St Anne Gate of the Parisian Notre Dame, even the rhythmic prose of the writings shows a relationship with the royal chancellery, who were educated in France.

French influence is even more significant in inner arrangement, the inner and outer plastic art and painted decorations of the chapel of the royal castle. Béla III was the first among his Central-European contemporaries to turn to the Parisian court, which was the western model of court art and royal representation at that time. The Hungarian ruler invited masters from Burgundy or Champagne to the country, who knew the achievements of the Paris region very well. While Hungarian architecture followed Western patterns, painting showed Byzantine influence. However, from the painting of the chapel in Esztergom only the lower part survived, which imitated a curtain, this is definitely the painted imitation of purple brocades representing lions.

The other leading workshop of mature Romanism developed around the St Peter Cathedral of Pécs. The church obtained its final Roman-age form at the end of the 12th century with its richly divided inner space and its two twin-towers, first built in the east, then in the west. The arrangement of its decorated inner space can be best traced on the series of reliefs on the two staircases leading to the crypt. On the northern one we can see the ancient Biblical parents and the standing figures of the six apostles, while on the southern one Jesus' birth and childhood is represented with his tortures above and the Samson story beneath.

The masters of the relief series must have known the North-Italian adoptions of these topics, but the role of the French tableaus could also be influential. The baldachin of the altar of the Holy Cross, which used to stand in front of the western facade of the crypt in Pécs, shows a definite analogy with the decorations of the churches of Pavia, appearing after the middle of the 12th century. This decoration style quickly spread all over the country. The wood-cuttings of Ercs, the fragments with apostle representations decorating the gates - built at the end of the 12th century - of the Székesfehérvár basilica, the outer relief tabloids of the Benedictine abbey of Somogyvár - on which we can see the half-shape of the judging Christ, an angel and a legendary bird and a boy, who is pulling out the thorn - all belong to this category.

At the end of the 12th century - at the beginning of the 13th century the European import of works of art played an important role in the development of Hungarian art. This process was especially felt in the field of smithery, but the import of textiles and curtains, which disappeared by today, could also be traced. In the course of this trade carved bronze plates, figural hand-washing dishes (aquamaniles), smokers, crosses and candle-sticks were brought into the country from the most outstanding centers of Saxony, the Rhine region and the Maas region.

Besides objects brought from the west the other significant products of smithery were the objects with tiny decorations, the origin of which went back to Byzantine. Gold mounts, belt decorations, golden beans and hangers were such memories. A bigger group of these was found in the royal tombs of Székesfehérvár, and the handle and the mounting of the Hungarian coronation sceptre also belong to this group.

Béla III's and his wife's (Anna of Antiochia) funeral regalias made of silver, which were found in Székesfehérvár, provide data about royal burials. The accessories included a crown, a sceptre, a chest cross, a sword, spurs and a bracelet. Béla III's golden bull, ring and a disc with partitioned enamels, found in Székesfehérvár represent contemporary goldsmith's works.

The reform policy at the end of the 12th century had its influence in state administration and also in settling down monastic orders. Besides the dominant Benedictine order the Premontreans and Cistercians began to play an important role as well. They soon represented a completely new view, system and liturgy in the territory of Hungarian architecture and book-culture. The monasteries of the Cistercians were all built in concert with the strict monastic regulations and the traditional French styles concerning both the division of their monastery buildings and the arrangement of the church. The details are various but all of them can be characterised by early Gothic space-division and the arrangement of churches, where chapels open from the transepts.

The most important center of Cistercian architecture - which lasted till the end of the first third of the 13th century - was the monastery of Pilis (today Pilisszentkereszt). The Cistercian abbey named after the Virgin Mother was founded by King Béla III in 1184. The ruins of the buildings of the monastery, which was destroyed during the Turkish wars, were found in the course of the latest archaeological excavations. The opening up of the monastery complex and the church with a traditional ground-plan is worth mentioning not only because it had a richly carved, ornamental plastic decoration with animal shapes rich in ideas, but also Andrew II's Meranian wife was buried here. On the basis of the wood-carvings, which survived, Queen Gertrudis's tomb might have been made in the 1230s and it can also be connected to French art, to the stone-cutting workshop of Reims.

The other significant secular-ecclesiastical center of the beginning of the 13th century was the second cathedral of Kalocsa. The Archbishop of Kalocsa, who had a serious fight for power with the Archbishop of Esztergom, raised his demands with the fact that he had his cathedral built after the model of French Gothic cathedrals, in a chapel-wreath arrangement and in which the chancel could be walked around. So Kalocsa became the local center of the territory between the rivers Danube and Tisza. The king's head from Kalocsa must have belonged to the decoration of the main entrance.

The workshop of Kalocsa may have transmitted the new stylistic elements from the constructions of the royal center of Esztergom to the constructions of the Ócsa, Jánoshida Premontrian preposteries and that of the Benedictine abbey of Aracs. It was the same in case at the sculptural decorations of the Benedictine abbey of Vértesszentkereszt. The octogonal pillars of its nave were closed with freezes of animal shapes, and prophets were represented on the prisms of the arches of its gates.

The late Roman age

The spread of clan monasteries defined the characteristics of architecture of 13th-century art. The plastic art implied on buildings of the age became richer and richer. Elegant facades emphasised with towers of twin-towers were various, and there was a choir inside the building. Smaller private churches were meant to look like the family monasteries of rich clans, but we can see the same process in the construction of village churches.

During this age the role of begging orders (Franciscans, Dominicans) became more influential. The churches and monasteries they built could be found in the edge of towns, usually near the town walls. The Tartar Invasion did not break this energic transformation. The revival of the country, which was burnt down during the Tartar Invasion brought about a new wave of settlement, which was followed by large-scale constructions. The art of the late Roman age developed among such circumstances, which was quite significant concerning its achievements and intensity. The constructions of the churches of Lébény, Gyulafehérvár, Zsámbék and Türje started then, suggesting the activity of a large stone-dressing workshop.

The abbey of Ják was quite outstanding in its neighbourhood. South-German characteristics were influential here, both in the architectural arrangement of the buildings and the sculptures decorating them. The church of Ják, which was consecrated in 1256, is closely related to the memories of Austrian regions. Several smaller churches in Transdanubia followed the model of Ják, such as church of Csempeszkopács, Magyarszecsőd, Őriszentpéter and Kéttornyúlak, especially in respect of their gates and outer arrangements. A similar group of masters worked in the region of Lake Balaton, where the architectural details of the church of Litér and Felsőőrs suggested the existence of a larger workshop there.

The most important construction works of the age could undoubtedly be related to the third abbey of Pannonhalma, which was started in 1224, in abbot Oros' time. The early Gothic inner church also followed the model of the neighbouring Austrian, Czech and Moravian styles, the traces of which can also be found in the fragments of the St George chapel of Veszprém, and later at the fragments of the Gisela chapel, built as a double-chapel of the Queen's palace. This process was the most influential in the decorative sculpture of the of Premontean monastery of Zsámbék. At the same time there were some efforts to follow the architectural model of classical Gothic art, for example at the constructions of the Cistercian order (Bélapátfalva, Kerc).

Besides ecclesiastical constructions secular ones also played an important role after the Tartar Invasion. It became necessary to strengthen earlier castles, fortresses and mansions. Although the fragments of the reconstructed fortresses, towers (Visegrád, Kisnána) are not very significant from the point of view of the history of art, it is a fact that their role was very important during the rebuilding of the country.

A surprising phenomenon of the art of the second half of the 13th century is the special iconographic plastic art appearing in private churches. It is best shown on the tympanums above doorways, where we can see the representation of the founder (donator), or the usual Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) composition (Szentkirály, Sopronhorpács, Ják, Bátmonostor).

The memories of wall-painting suggest similar ambitions, following partly Byzantine, partly South-German models (Hidegség, Szalonka, Dejte, Süvete).

Since the time of Béla III the pieces of work of minor art prove the adoption and reception of unbroken Western-European (French) influences, especially in smithery. Liturgic objects with carved bottoms, decorated with enamel came to the country from German territories, and some decades later from the French Limoges.

Gothic art

The style of classical Gothic art
in the second half of the 13th century

The traces of Gothic art - which had already been popular and wide-spread in Western-Europe for a long time - could be best seen in architecture in the third quarter of the 13th century. These influences can be discovered on the building of the Church of Our Lady of Buda, but the same tendencies can be noticed on the building of the Maria-Magdalena church or on the Dominican church and nunnery on the Margaret Island, or at the reconstructions of the Franciscan church and convent of Sopron and the Gyulafehérvár cathedral.

The stylistic trends traced in architecture played an important role in other branches of art. The new style of the building wave on the Margaret Island had its influence in smithery, too, as it is shown by a hoop of a woman crown decorated with bunches of ivy leaves, found in Stephen V's tomb, which originates from the third quarter of the 13th century.

The coronation oath cross, originating from the second half of the 13th century, the sides of which are decorated with precious stones and real pearls, is a good example of how the tradition of Byzantine miniature works united with the Gothic styles of North-France and the Rhine-region.

At the end of the 13th century imported objects had a very influential role. Such object was the so-called diptichon of Bern - made in Venice -, which can be related to the last king of the Árpád dynasty. The representations of Hungarian saints (Stephen, Emeric, Ladislaus and Elisabeth ) first appear on this, besides Venetian saints: on miniatures painted on parchment, though without independent, special characteristic features. There were changes in book-painting and the art of making signets - in the spirit of classical Gothic style and iconography.


The basis of liturgy and music

The unbroken development in the country seemed to stop after King Stephen's death. Though the most important bishoprics were built, and the institutional basis of the spiritual-religious life of the country (the network of bishoprics and parishes, the monastic and chapter educational system) granted the continuity of development and helped to get over the troubles caused by the pagan riots. While liturgic and music life of the country was quite manysided (in connection with the work of missionaries coming from different regions) in the first half of the century - during the time of conversion and the organisation of the church -, in the second half of the century this picture becomes homogenous, and the leading role of Esztergom became more and more clear.

The newly founded bishoprics - as the one founded by King Ladislaus in Zegreb - ask for liturgic books from Esztergom, accepting its defining and leading role with this. The 1083 canonisations (Stephen, Emeric, Gerald) also strengthen the unity of liturgic songs, since it brought about the creation of new musical compositions, or the application of the old ones.

The above-mentioned tendency defined the characteristic features of Hungarian liturgical-musical tradition by the beginning of the 12th century, and it reaches its aim in the second half of the century. "Esztergom is highly respected; it is directed by highly educated archbishops, who had strong will-power; its priesthood is also educated, many of them were educated in French and Italian schools and gained a world-view there, which broadened their «Latin» horizons...We are now in the course of Géza II's and Béla III's reign". (L. Dobszay) The Esztergom reform of liturgic songs might have occurred at that time, during Lucas Bánffy's reign as an archbishop. This reform regulated the repertoire of songs ("what we should sing"), the structure of the office ("according to what order we should sing"), and finally the variants ("which melody-variant we should sing"). After this we can speak about "Hungarian Gregorianism", as this reform brought about the collection and definition of the signs of Hungarian music writing, too.

Note sources and Hungarian musical notation

Three service books survived from the end of the 11th century which contained notes or other music records (The Benedictionale from Esztergom, the St Margaret Sacramentarium and the Agenda of Hartvic, Bishop of Győr). The notes in these are the variants of German neuma-writing each, which did not refer to the exact pitch, they only helped to memorise the well-known melody. The first office book, the Codex Albensis, which originated from the beginning of the 12th century (presumably from Gyulafehérvár), used the same writing technique. In its contents and arrangement it shows the stabilisation of Hungarian Gregorianism.

Hatvic's Agenda and the Codex Albensis contained two dramatic plays, which were popular and well-known in Europe: the Twelfth night Star play (Tractus stellae) and the Eastern resurrection play (Quem quaeritis...). The origin of such dramatic plays goes back to the tropes (interpolation of verse and music into liturgic texts). They were sung at the end of the office during the night service, transforming the Biblical story into a dramatic play with numerous dialogues. Both the Twelfth night and the eastern play had its equivalent in Hungarian folk tradition: one is the Star-pass, the other is the Jesus-search at Easter dawn.

The Pray codex, which contains the Funeral Oration and Prayer, is a few decades younger than the Codex Albensis. Its notes from the end of the 12th century, beginning of the 13th century already present readable scores written on staves. These are the first relics of Hungarian music-writing which have survived. It is rather special since it adopted continuous line sketching from German neuma-writing, and the ability to indicate the pitch from French and German note signs. These were united into a new and compact type of music writing. The systematic combination of different influences could not happen by chance; it must have been created at the same time and in connection with the above-mentioned liturgic reform.

Other musical influences

There is concrete historical data about the fact the Hungarian musical life kept pace with European development in the age of Béla III. The king sent his court clergyman, Elvinus, to Paris to study the new style of liturgic songs there and he was supposed to bring it to Hungary. This new style meant the new period of sequence-poetry, which was booming in the Augustine monastery near Paris, and it was connected to Adam Szentviktori. The movements of the St Ladislaus office, composed in Várad after 1192, reflect the traces of this influence, especially the hymn of the office and the sequence of the mass. The 13th century is the period of the offices of Hungarian saints, and the development of song-series composed in their honour. An unknown poet-composer modified some movements of the songs of St Elisabeth - which originated from Germany - to the office of St Emeric, and the office of King Stephen was completed into a whole cycle around 1280.

Unbroken note sources did not survive apart from some fragments due to the historical troubles of the century. The Árpád-age Missale Notatum (a service book supplemented with notes) is an exception, which was made in Zagreb in the middle of the century and is now kept in Güssing. At the same time this is the first example of the difference between the rite of the archbishopric of Kalocsa-Bács - founded in the 12th century - and the archbishopric of Esztergom.

Music life in the monasteries

It is certain that the first western missionaries came to Hungary equipped with liturgic books containing musical notation. (For example, the Pannonhalma library records from the end of the 11th century enlisted several service books, which contained notes.) However, liturgic music life practised in monasteries - with a few exceptions - usually followed the liturgic traditions and musical practise of the western parent-monastery of the order. In some cases - as in the case of Benedictine monks, who played an important role in the first wave of conversion - the musical traditions of the monastery might have been adjusted to local Hungarian practice (presumably because of the shortening of the missionary period). While two of the early Hungarian sources of notes are of Benedictine origin (the St Margaret Sacramentarium and the Pray codex), in the case of the Cistercians and the Premontreans, who were settled down with the king's support, there are no musical relics.

The Benedictine, similarly to the two begging orders of the 13th century, the Franciscans and the Dominicans, more or less followed the example of their Western-European centers, thus they were rather exceptional in respect to education and music. This is also reflected in their music-writing, which used a collection of signs differing from Hungarian notation illustrated with drawings; for example the so-called quadrate writing of the Dominicans and the Franciscans. At the same time they also had a great influence on Hungarian intellectual life: in pastoral activities the Franciscans were significant (they will be the spreaders of singing in the native language in the following centuries), while the Dominicans played a big role in the booming of intellectual life - since they founded a college in Buda and organised a lot of study-tours abroad.

The highly educated saint of the Dominicans, St Thomas Aquinas, who summarised medieval theology, used his influence with the Pope in 1270 to get a permission for canon Özséb to found a new order, which was supposed to be named after their patron saint, Hermit St Paul (which was the one and only Hungarian founding in the history of monastic orders). The Paulian adopted the liturgic regulations and melody variants of Esztergom, and were very eager to preserve them as the "emblem" of the order till the end of the Middle Ages - longer than Esztergom did.

The Dominicans were the spiritual pastors of nunneries and associations of lonely widowers, the so-called "begina communities". The 13th-century manuscript containing the Old Hungarian Lament of Mary - which may have been made for begina-pastoral activities - originated from such an environment. While the Funeral Oration and Prayer, which is a hundred years younger, meant the beginning of Hungarian artistic prose, the Lament was the beginning of Hungarian literature in verse. It is still doubted whether it was a poem to sing or a translation for a deeper understanding. The model, the original Latin poem, is the work of Gottfrid Szentviktori (Geoffroi around 1194), the learned poet of the St Victor abbey near Paris, entitled "Planctus ante nescia".

The Latin Planctus developed from the sequentia-literature of Szentviktor concerning both its language, poetic form and its musical composition. It will be quite influential in Europe, it is sung with various melodies. The Hungarian text variant is approximately half as long as the original one, and it was recomposed in a briefer version, "which we can consider a marvellous translation and at the same time the first and most beautiful Hungarian poem. It is a worthly overture of Hungarian lyrics, which was booming for centuries to come..." (L. Dobszay).

Secular musical life and folk music

Besides liturgic, church music there must have been a rich secular and folk musical life, although only a few indirect written documents and the results of comparative folk music refer to this. One of the famous cases is that of Bishop Gerald, who in the course of his travels - together with his companion, Walther - heard a servant girl singing while winding her hand-mill during the night. The bishop called this - jocularly by a scientific term - Symphonia Hungarorum, the symphony of the Hungarians (the word "symphony" meant assonance here, according to the original Greek meaning).

The unknown chronicler, Anonymus mentioned the singers reciting epic songs, who were respected guests both among common people and at the festive banquets of the royal court. Musicians playing musical instruments (brass and percussion) also hightened the level of entertainment at the royal court, just as the famous troubadours and minnesängers (Gaucelm Faidit, Peire Vidal, Neidhardt von Reuenthal, Walter von der Vogelweide) paying a visit there.

Earlier styles survived and became richer in Hungarian folk music: for example, the richest variants of minstrel songs date back to the Árpád age, some of which were almost real cycles - the personality of Stephen, the first martyr and that of King Stephen are mixed in them. The versification of recitative styles might have started then, and later they might have been transformed into songs as well. The development of psalmodic variants originated from dirges. (A later example of these is the Lament of Mary from the Brasso region.) The enrichment of Hungarian folk traditions was brought about partly by the stabilisation of settlement structures and partly by meeting the music of the neighbouring people: in some cases a concrete parallel could be drawn between traditional Hungarian melody variants and European music.

Zoltán Kodály, for example, found a 13th-century Spanish melody, which was quite similar to a Hungarian wedding song - Do not fall asleep... [Ne aludj el...]. (Both of them were traditional melodies of a dawn-song that troubadours sang to their lovers.) Another Hungarian wedding song (I Was A-travelling Through Hills and Valleys [Hegyen-völgyön járogatok vala]) had an even closer equivalent recalling the conductus (Solvitur in libro Salomonis...) - a song accompanying marching - of a 12th-century French liturgic drama (the so-called Daniel-play). "Behind the melodies of weddings, match-makings, and other melodies of Midsummer Night, which are related to match-making, there is an early medieval European background" (L. Dobszay). The flourishing of these, however, dates back to the late Middle Ages.


The art of dance in the age of the Árpád dynasty

Local and foreign sources which refer to dance at the age of the Árpád dynasty are quite scanty and at the same time rather manyfold. The expressions musica sacra, musica aulika, musica bellica and musica profana refer to the fields of medieval culture where music played an important role. Dance did not yet have such a social position, sophisticated genres and forms as music had. The ideas sacred dance, court dance, war dance and profane dance, however, are capable of expressing contemporary dance phenomena - through the close relationship between music and the art of dance.

Sacred dances

Dancing at sacred places (in temples, cemeteries, tombs of saints) was a general tradition in the early centuries of Christianity. According to the Roman ecclesiastic writer, Tertullian, Christians, for example, performed canticums and hymns accompanied by dancing at the turn of the 2nd-3rd centuries. Biblical dance scenes became the theme of sacred dances, and representations on sacred objects became widely used symbols. For a Christian, as with music and poetry, dance was the means of approaching God. According to a general belief, dance was the saint activity of angels, and the souls of sinners repented their sins in Hell in ecstatic dances, too.

With time the Christian Church saw a big danger in the ritual dances of newly christened peoples, which were firstly given a place in the order of the service, at the vigils of great celebrations and at services performed during these celebrations. They were considered profane and rude, but according to people who practised them, they were the same sacred dances as the circular dances of the early Christians. Almost all the outstanding church fathers left a written document in which they banned the practice of profane dances. Among the resolutions of universal and local ecclesiastical synods we can find many, which banned dances and performances of professional entertainers (joculators) till the end of the Middle Ages. The resolutions of the 1198 synod in Paris, the 1215 synod in Rome and the 1279 synod in Buda, for example, were similar concerning this topic.

According to the 46th resolution of the Buda synod "priests should not tolerate people dancing in cemeteries, or inside churches, because according to St Augustine one should rather hoe or plough during feasts than dance". In concert with the sources it seems that when Christianity became general in Hungary, the church turned away from dances as they considered dance the Devil's work - under the influence of medieval mythic thinkers. From among Hungarian relics, which prohibited dancing, St Gerald's meditation - written between 1001 and 1004 - is worth mentioning. In this he protests against the bad habits of priests, who like hunting, carrying in lawsuits, and the performances of joculators (entertainers, who played music and danced). In King Coloman's time the 1100 synod at Esztergom had to punish the priests participating in "festive banquets" because of their debauched behaviour.

Because of the series of bans, dances gradually disappeared from churches during the Middle Ages. However, the fashion of representing Biblical dances survived according to the sources. One of the most beautiful Hungarian examples from the age of the Árpád dynasty is the two pictures of the Monomachos crown made of partitioned enamel. These probably show Prophet Mirjam's triumphal dance after crossing the Red Sea. It is a Byzantine work; King Monomachos presented it to King Géza II in the 1070s. The bronze plate representing different musicians and a woman, who is in an acrobatic pose, was also made in Byzantine. On the basis of international parallels this woman probably represents the Biblical Salome. The same figure can be seen on the gates and capitals of several Western-European churches (for example, in the St Zeno church in Verona from the 11th century).

The representation of the dance of the angels was a popular topic in ecclesiastical art for centuries. Byzantine church father, St Basil the Great, had already written in the 4th century that the main activity of angels in Heaven is dancing (tripodium), which he considers a model to be followed on earth, too. Such a case is not known in Hungary from the age of the Árpád dynasty, but on the basis of European parallels it is likely that once it existed. Unfortunately none of the medieval Hungarian illustrated books (Illustrated legends, the Nekcse Bible, Illustrated Chronicle) contain representations of sacred or Biblical dances, while King David's dance in front of the ark, David's (who defeated Goliat) greeting with dances and the dance of angels in Heaven appeared several times in 12th-13th-century Western-European codices.

Court dances

The medieval fashion for collective dances was the proof of a European cultural unit, which was taking shape then. It started in the West and spread throughout the continent. In the background there was the specific way of life and culture of the European nobility, the so-called court life, in which dances played an essential role. Besides court poetry and music dance also helped to separate nobility sharply from the layer of peasants and the middle classes, and create a separate culture. The best well-known dance was the round dance, which originally consisted of a women's round dance accompanied by singing and a walking pair dance, processing in a circle, which was accompanied by musical instruments. In the course of time these two parts came nearer to each other concerning their characteristic features, so the former one could be danced in pairs, accompanied by musical instruments, and later both were supplemented with new, faster, leaping dances.

The conditions of court culture had developed in Hungary by the 13th century: royal court with a permanent residence, balanced power conditions and intensive international relations. In the time between the reign of Béla III and Sigismund, the Hungarian royal court was highly respected, it was the meeting place of rulers. Hungarian kings got into kinship with ruling families, who owned the richest courts (centers of knights) in Europe. The visits paid by rulers, family celebrations, coronations, receptions of ministers, international negotiations took place according to the rules of court (knight) services, where fights, tournaments, banquets, hunts, dances and other forms of entertainment were essential.

War dances

A note from the 10th century referring to the plundering Hungarians - the St Gallen adventure described in the Ekkehard chronicle - said that the warriors started a triumphal feast in the monastery yard and "they performed an ecstatic dance in front of their leaders". Later Anonymus's Gesta mentioned - when writing about the Conquest of the Carpathian Basin by the Hungarians - that after successful battles Árpád's warriors had feasts: for example, at the occupation of the Nyír regions "the warriors had great happiness in their hearts and having a feast each of them was very proud of his success". When he described the 20-day feast held after taking over Etzilburg (Óbuda) - which was supposed to be the Hun king, Attila's town -, which they occupied without any fighting, he coloured the stories with the knightly pathos of his age. These references might cover a pantomime-like dance-play, which can still be found in the folklore of Asian peoples. The scanty sources mentioning these early war dances may be the disappearing elements of many-folded, rich historic traditions.

Profane dances

The medieval church considered everything profane which was outside the borders of consecrated religious life and was not reconcilable with the disciplines and ideas of the Christian church. Thus several elements of traditional culture found in the Carpathian Basin and brought from the East (heroic songs, ritual dances, cultic services) stayed outside this circle just as the performance of dancers, singers and musicians, who recalled the memories of ancient Roman and Byzantine (maybe Eastern) cultures. There is exact data about the places of settlements and possessions of joculators, chroniclers, minstrels (professional entertainers) often mentioned in Hungarian sources, but we do not know much about the pieces of work created by them.

On the basis of the sources they seem to be a special social layer including people of different origin and various social positions. Many of them settled down and served the king or noblemen, others were wandering through Europe earning their living by entertaining people. Secular and ecclesiastical dignitaries, priests, monks, citizens of towns and even villeins raised their claims for their services. Skillful entertainers had to be able to improvise poems, perform acrobatic exercises, play musical instruments, sing and dance alike in the 12th-13th centuries.

In the absence of sources the traditional dances of Hungarian common people living in the age of the Árpád dynasty can still be reconstructed from historical sources of later ages and 19th-20th century folk dances. On the basis of comparative historical and folklore researches it seems that in this period of time dance, music, drama, games and sports were closely related to one another in the traditional culture; both in rites and outside rites, in sacred and profane environment alike. When describing the wedding of Árpád's son, Zolta, held at the turn of the 12-13th centuries, Anonymus used the verb "ludere" (play). In Hungarian sources the word "rave" also appeared. The word "dance" referring uniformly only to art of rhythmic movements was under development in this age in Europe, and as an international loan word it appeared in Hungary only in the middle of the 14th century.

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