Ritual and Symbolic Communication in Medieval Hungary under the Árpád Dynasty
Leiden, Brill, 2016, ISBN: 9789004314672; 224pp.; Price: £85.00
St Catharine's College, University of Cambridge
Date accessed: 30 May, 2023
Dušan Zupka draws on the rich scholarship of medieval rituals and symbolic communication produced by medievalists working mainly on western European material, and endeavours to show that the same types of ritual communication existed in Árpád-age Hungary. In the introduction, he provides a good overview of the scholarship first in the humanities (mentioning Catherine Bell, Jack Goody and others), and then in medieval studies, mainly focusing on German- and English-language literature. Chapters then discuss ‘rituals of power and symbols of monarchy’ (inauguration rituals, coronation and crown wearing, girding with a sword, and rituals emphasizing royal majesty); rituals of reconciliation in the settlement of disputes internally and with foreign rulers, the adventus regis, and greeting rituals during meetings between rulers. Reflections on ritual communication as a coherent system close the book. As the topics show, the volume is above all about royalty, rather than medieval society as a whole.
Each chapter starts with a short summary of the topic’s existing scholarship on medieval Europe generally, which is then followed by the analysis of the Hungarian cases. Often there is not very much, and a few times, next to nothing, on the given topic in the Hungarian sources. For example, the section on court festivities and royal majesty (pp. 55–61) offers only one case of gift-giving based on Hungarian sources, while another Hungarian account is relevant to depictions of strengthening royal power, but is unrelated to court festivities. The incorporation of ‘rituals and rules of public communication’ (p. 184) from experiences abroad by kings of Hungary is not substantiated, merely asserted. It is, of course, a logical possibility; but concrete evidence seems not to exist beyond the fact of these rulers’ foreign travels and ties.
Throughout, existing scholarship on the Hungarian material is incorporated patchily. Hungarian medievalists have produced vast amounts of work on each of the individual components drawn together in this book. Yet that rich scholarship mostly appears only via translations into western languages, and very few works in Hungarian are used; even when their titles appear in the bibliography, it is rare for arguments drawn from work in Hungarian to feature in the analysis. While Hungarian historians on the whole are quite good at publishing their work at least in article form in western languages, crucial books in Hungarian should have been consulted. Thus, for example, Ágnes Kurcz’s book on chivalry (1) is not used at all, even though it discusses girding with a sword. Another example is András Mező’s book Patrocíniumok a középkori Magyarországon.(2) It gives detailed information on church dedications and offers a clue as to why St Martin may have been substituted for St George at Mogyoród (Zupka mentions this on p. 67, n. 131 as a mere error): it may have been in literary imitation of the foundation of Pannonhalma. Why does a footnote (p. 64, n. 120) mention only modern Slovak editions of the hagiographic literature on medieval Hungarian kings, when a voluminous literature, including excellent editions of the original Latin texts (and English translations) exists?
Elsewhere, arguments from the literature are repeated without critical evaluation, which results in speculation, presented as fact. For example, the claim that the ‘royal crown remained in Orseolo’s hands’ (p. 90) after the battle of Ménfő cannot be substantiated, and was a mere hypothesis of Deér. The interpretation is based on the discrepancy between two sources: Bonizo of Sutri mentioned only the lance, while Gregory VII mentioned both crown and lance as sent to Rome by Henry III. We can build many hypotheses, but cannot affirm that Bonizo is definitely giving us the historical truth. It is less than helpful to omit the detailed discussion of the medieval source-base, and relay the modern hypothesis as a statement about reality. On the other hand, the assertion that the lance ‘rather than being merely part of the royal insignia’ ‘was a symbol of the German monarch’s military victory’ (p. 90) is entirely misleading, since this is one of the rare cases when very good contemporary numismatic and pictorial evidence shows that the lance was one of the main pieces of the royal regalia under Stephen I.
The author clearly signals his own aims in the book: ‘to provide deeper insight into the complex of ritual communication and deconstruct its logic and structure while, at the same time, interpreting its significance and the role it played in medieval European society. Equal emphasis will be placed upon and attention paid to the way rituals were depicted in contemporary sources, and to the way they were interpreted and used by medieval authors ... This study will therefore focus on the role of rituals in political events in conjunction with the way these events were depicted in contemporary texts’ (p. 3).
There are two fundamental methodological problems here, given the nature of the Hungarian source material. The vast majority of cases analysed in the book can only be known from one single source, usually one that was written centuries after the purported events it depicts. Even when some of the basic political events themselves can be known from other, more contemporary texts, the only source for the supposed associated rituals is usually a single, much later chronicle, very often the Illuminated Chronicle, and a few times, the so-called Hungarian-Polish Chronicle. This means that it is impossible, outside the realm of guesswork, to compare ritual events with their depiction and interpretation, since all we have is one, late textual account; information about the supposed ritual event is provided by the same author who also supplies the depiction and interpretation.
Secondly, a rather cavalier attitude of mentioning, but dismissing or not drawing any consequences from, concerns about the dating of textual evidence occurs regularly, for example regarding the hagiographical Life of St Gerard (Gellért) and several chronicles. One cannot use the narrative sources uncritically, and assume that, for example, a 14th-century composition provides reliable accounts of 11th- and 12th-century (alleged) events. Zupka suggests that ‘Even if individual details of a surviving account may not have adhered strictly to the facts, the way they depicted the ritual framework within which the events occurred certainly had to conform to contemporary custom’. Only thus ‘could their authors have expected to be believed by their readers’ (p. 181). This common-sense approach that medieval people knew about these rituals, therefore textual representations could not diverge very much from reality is not a firm enough basis for scholarship: the potential 14th-century audience at the Angevin royal court cannot be taken as a yardstick to measure 11th-century events. A 14th-century author may indeed present a story that is plausible to his contemporary audience. Yet that story is no basis at all for inferences about supposed rituals surrounding events that took place centuries before.
A critical evaluation of the primary sources should have been cental to this study. Zupka claims that ‘one of the main sources for the Árpád era is the Hungarian Chronicle preserved in its 14th-century version, known as the Chronica Hungarorum or the Illuminated Chronicle. The composition, dating and reliability of this source is much debated. However, it is generally recognized by both Hungarian and non-Hungarian historiography that it relies on older versions, which are considered to be a trustworthy source for the 11th and 12th centuries also’ (p. 4–5). This text constitutes Zupka’s main primary source, and therefore the ‘trustworthiness’ of the text for earlier centuries would be a key question, to be investigated rather than assumed. First of all, different compositions from the 14th century, divided into two families of chronicles (the family of the Chronicle of Buda and that of the Illuminated Chronicle) exist, with somewhat different versions of the text; details of authorship are debated in scholarship.(3) Secondly, the now mostly antiquated research tradition on the 14th-century chronicle compositions badly needs revision. Assumptions about the 14th-century text incorporating material written earlier in many instances rest on nothing more than wishful thinking. The 14th-century chronicles were created in the context of the Angevin takeover of royal power in Hungary, rather than as trustworthy records of the Árpád era.
Further, as its name suggests, the text of the Illuminated Chronicle is accompanied by lavish images. Yet these images are unfortunately used as mere illustrations in this book, rather than as source material to be analysed, although they often convey their own interpretation of events they depict. Compare, for example, the text cited on p. 124 with the image on p. 125 of the adventus of Henry IV and Solomon. While the text of the Chronicle (and the commentary by Zupka) stresses the welcome afforded to Solomon by the clergy and people, the illuminator instead emphasized the army’s arrival, with no clerics or people in sight, depicting Henry’s grasp on Solomon’s wrist as he leads Solomon into the city, while in his other hand holding the crown that is to be Solomon’s; in addition, Henry and his army wear armour, while Solomon does not. The image suggests a negative interpretation that Solomon is a mere underling, whose position is entirely based on Henry’s goodwill. In any case, these images are not illustrations for Árpád-era history, but statements about the past in an Angevin context.
The so-called Hungarian-Polish Chronicle is also used as a ‘reliable’ source; a mere mention, buried in a footnote (p. 150, n. 33) divulges that there is any ‘controversy about the reliability’ of this work, without giving any details. Such a formulation is an understatement. Of this Chronicle’s critical edition by Béla Karácsonyi and (contested) analysis by Ryszard Grzesik (Kronika węgiersko-polska: Z dziejów polsko-węgierskich kontaktów kulturalnych w średniowieczu (4)), only the first appears in the bibliography, and neither are used to inform Zupka’s analysis. (Nor are recent articles by Lesław Spychała or Judit Csákó cited). It should be mentioned that the chronicle’s dating (perhaps the 1230s, or the second half of the 13th century) and authorship continue to be debated. The ‘reliability’ of the chronicle is such that it borrows from the hagiographical Life of Stephen, and fanciful inventions of its author abound. The medieval writer invented a Polish mother for Stephen I, and turned Levente, Peter and Béla into the sons of Stephen I by an invented first wife who predeceased him. (In reality, Stephen died without any surviving male heir, and these supposed ‘sons’ were Stephen’s nephew Peter Orseolo, while the other two, who were indeed brothers, were members of another branch of the dynasty, Stephen’s first cousins once removed.) According to the chronicler, Stephen’s childless widow hatched an evil plot to give the throne to her own brother. To enumerate the problems with the short chronicle would produce a longer text than the original medieval one. In light of all this, one may well query the confident assertion that Stephen I and Bolesław I’s ‘ceremonial meeting combined with reconciliation is well known from the following account in the Hungarian-Polish Chronicle’ (p. 148). By no means can the account (narrated in detail as a real event by Zupka) be taken as a truthful representation of events at the very beginning of the 11th century; it is merely a description of a supposed meeting and the ritual that, in the eyes of the 13th-century author, would have been correct for such a meeting.
The acknowledgement in the conclusion that ‘it is the ritual patterns of symbolic communication, rather than the historical authenticity of individual events that lend themselves to examination’ (p. 181) sits oddly with repeated affirmations in the book that suggest the veracity of the accounts. Thus, for example, ‘King Solomon also underwent a genuine Festkrönung’ (p. 44) or ‘The meeting that took place in 1001 in Esztergom and was recorded in the Hungarian-Polish Chronicle’ (p. 71), or the pretender Boris ‘made use of emotional techniques’ (p. 114). Engagement with questions of authenticity and the justification of the study of ritual even lead to a puzzling comparison in the conclusion: ‘Historians commonly cite sources brimming with accounts of miracles without questioning their credibility’ (p. 181). Most medievalists who study hagiography today are not exactly prone to credulity in terms of the ‘reality’ of the miracles. Trying to assess authenticity, it should not be assumed (as it is for example on p. 163) that eyewitnesses necessarily produce reliable accounts.
Where one can compare different accounts (the sources themselves are external to Hungary), one can see the different emphases of the authors, such as the accounts in the Historia Ierosolimitana and the Historia Vie Hierosolimitane on the encounter between Godfrey of Bouillon and King Coloman as the armies travelled towards their destination during the first crusade (pp. 164–6). Trying to create a smooth narrative from sources that are often contradictory is not a good idea. Thus on p. 93 we find a narrative of Pope Leo IX’s intervention that omits material coming from a conflicting contemporary account; details for those interested can be found in Béla Zsolt Szakács, ‘Leo IX, Hungary and early reform architecture’.(5)
There are other anachronisms in the use of toponyms. Cities that are in the modern state of Slovakia are given their modern Slovak name, at best with an indication of historical names in the first instance when the town appears in the text, but not always. This even results in bizarre contradictions between the text and the material in the notes: we learn that Pope Leo IX arrived in Bratislava, based on two medieval sources, one of which calls the city Poson, and the other, Preslawaspurch (p. 93). Why is a name, Bratislava, created in the 19th century and in official use since the 20th, used for a medieval town? Moreover, such a choice of terminology is inconsistent when it comes to other towns that are not in modern Slovakia. Thus we learn that the Regestrum Varadinense comes from Oradea (p. 63), the Romanian name of historical Varadinum, Várad, Großwardein, but on p. 43, Marosvár’s modern name is given as Csanád (Nagycsanád, today Cenad, Romania). More puzzling is a distinction between Hungarian and Magyar found in the conclusion; ‘throughout Hungarian and later specifically Magyar history’ (p. 191). One would not say ‘throughout French and later specifically Français history’, and this is the equivalent. It would, of course, be entirely appropriate to emphasize that the historical kingdom of Hungary consisted of a large variety of people, speaking different languages, and was very different from the modern Hungarian state, which is presumably what the author was trying to say.
Taking the sources as reliable narratives, and fitting their stories into a generic framework composed of research on medieval European rituals in the end obfuscates both the specificity of some of the Hungarian material, and the historical interest of the texts. Stories such as a crown wearing, where a rival for the throne places the crown on a king’s head, or the choice between sword and crown proposed to a potential heir to the throne, should be analysed for the ways in which they deviate from general patterns of rituals, rather than be taken as a confirmation of what we already know. Ultimately, the historical questions about the purpose and meaning of the representations in these medieval sources are largely left unanswered in the book.
- Ágnes Kurcz, Lovagi kultúra Magyarországon a 13-14. században (Budapest, 1988).Back to (1)
- András Mező, Patrocíniumok a középkori Magyarországon (Budapest, 2003).Back to (2)
- For an English summary of the issues, see my chapter ‘Historical Writing in Central Europe (Bohemia, Hungary, Poland), c.950–1400’ in The Oxford History of Historical Writing, vol 2., 400-1400, eds. Sarah Foot and Chase F. Robinson (Oxford, 2012), pp. 312–27.Back to (3)
- Ryszard Grzesik, Kronika węgiersko-polska: Z dziejów polsko-węgierskich kontaktów kulturalnych w średniowieczu, (Poznań, 1999).Back to (4)
- Béla Zsolt Szakács, ‘Leo IX, Hungary and early reform architecture’, La Reliquia del sangre di Cristo: Mantova, l’Italia e l’Europa al tempo di Leone IX, ed. G. M. Cantarella and A. Calzona (Verona, 2012), pp. 561–72.Back to (5)
In Anthony Grafton´s The Footnote one finds the classic example of a reviewer's work: ´many critics have responded much as a slow-footed fullback responds in a hard-fought soccer match to the evasive tactics of a fast-moving striker. Just kick the legs out from under your opponents – show that they have misread, or misinterpreted the documents – and you need not bother to refute their arguments´. These are precisely the tactics Nora Berend has used in her merciless attack on my book.
Berend's review is manipulative in almost all its points. In showing the alleged weakness of my methodology Berend deliberately focuses on the few examples which are disputable and offer multiple readings, and neglects the vast majority of examples based on numerous accounts preserved in both Hungarian and non-Hungarian sources, where my arguments stand on firm ground. Although Berend states that ʻarguments from the literature are repeated without critical evaluationʼ, while giving only one example of this vice (Peter Orseolo´s lance handed over to German King Henry III in 1045 – and unfortunately for her a poorly -picked example), in fact it proves nothing at all. Berend's claim ʻthe assertion that the lance ‘ʻrather than being merely part of the royal insignia’ʼ ʻ‘was a symbol of the German monarch’s military victory’ʼ is entirely misleadingʼ is a sign of her failure to understand my arguments. In my book I never questioned the lance being part of the royal insignia of Hungarian kings (although Berend´s argument based on evidence from the time of St Stephen is not a persuasive one). I only mention the alternative that the lance sent from Hungary to Rome after the victorious battle at Menfő (1044) could have been a sign of military success. This interpretation is based both on contemporary sources (Annales Altahenses maiores; Bonizo episcopus Sutriensis Liber ad amicum), and on modern scholarship (J. Deér, J. Bák). It is true I cannot prove with certainty that the royal crown remained in the hands of Peter Orseolo. On the other hand Berend cannot prove the opposite. What I provided was the most plausible interpretation of these extremely unclear and problematic events in Árpád history. To base her whole critique on one single example (which has been studied without conclusion for generations) is really a biased approach from Berend.
This approach is also applied in description of my use of the primary sources. Berend adopts the tactics of the slow-footed fullback from Grafton´s aforementioned quote and claims that ʻthe only source for the supposed associated rituals is usually a single, much later chronicle, very often the Illuminated Chronicle, and a few times, the so-called Hungarian-Polish Chronicleʼ, ´the vast majority of cases analysed in the book can only be known from one single source´ and ´this text constitutes Zupka´s main primary source´. This is, of course, anything but true. Why does the reviewer omit the repeated examples drawn from Historia Salonitana, Master Rogerius Carmen Miserabile, Hungarian Anonymous, Simon of Keza, Cosmas of Prague, Canon of Vyšehrad, Chronicon Aulae Regiae, Annales Altahenses maiores, Gallus Anonymous, Herimannus Augiensis monachi Chronicon (only to give a handful of examples), and many more contemporary sources describing the events from their own present or from their recent past? All these sources are used continuously in the book, being the first-hand source of information on the events described, or giving a counterweight to the versions preserved in the Hungarian chronicle of the 14th century. In face of these facts, Berend´s hypotheses about my absolute dependency on the 14th century Hungarian Chronicle will not stand. How can Berend omit this vast corpus of sources? In total I have used a hundred primary sources, volumes and editions, including chronicles, annals, legends, treatises, laws, letters, and charters. Why does Berend want the reader to believe I worked only with two or three (additionally very dubious) of them?
But there are also other examples of Berend's strained criticism. Hinting at the Legend of S. Gerard that preserves the famous story of Gerard´s refusal to conduct a festive coronation for King Samuel Aba, Berend attacks me saying, ʻOne cannot use the narrative sources uncritically, and assume that, for example, a 14th-century composition provides reliable accounts of 11th- and 12th-century (alleged) eventsʼ. But, do I really do that? Again, the reviewer gives a misleading example. In fact, I never wrote that the 14th-century depiction is a verbatim description of the 11th-century event. I adduce a statement from the contemporary 11th-century Annales Altahenses maiores, and then I provide a reference about the questionable nature of the Gerard legend, giving voice to those who claim its original version dates back to 12th and even to the late 11th century. It leads one to wonder what Berend's goal was when she attacked my use of St Gerard's legend as, apparently, in her own publication, she admits ʻit may and may not be a reliable sourceʼ for earlier history.
Surprisingly, when it suits her, Berend uses the Illuminated chronicle at face value, saying that ʻthe text of the Illuminated Chronicle is accompanied by lavish imagesʼ and warning that ʻthese images are not illustrations for Árpád-era history, but statements about the past in an Angevin contextʼ. She attempts to show my misunderstanding of the source by comparing the text and depiction of Solomon’s adventus with King Henry IV, although there is nothing to criticise or amend – I explicitly express in all cases that the miniatures are late 14th-century depictions of the events described. Here, again, Berend tries to criticise an error which, in fact, I have never committed.
In addition, Berend implies that ʻthe so-called Hungarian-Polish Chronicle is also used as a ‘ʻreliable’ʼ sourceʼ. The truth is I never labelled the Hungarian-Polish Chronicle as a reliable source. In the footnotes I mention clearly that ´scholarship is deeply divided...because of controversy about the reliability of the main source.´ Even more, Berend repeatedly ignores the references to most recent interpretations in the works of the leading experts on the issue, M. Homza and J. Steinhübel (perhaps because they are not Hungarians?). Berend is also wrong criticising me for not using J. Karacsonyi and R. Grzeszik's analysis and editions, saying ʻneither are used to inform Zupka’s analysisʼ. As a matter of fact, I quote them on page 152 and in the footnote 43. Considering the meeting of Stephen I of Hungary and Boleslaw I of Poland in 1001 – this was meant as a representation of a model, although Berend fails to see it.
And again, Berend is wrong when she says that I believe the Hungarian-Polish Chronicle account is ʻtaken as a truthful representation of events at the very beginning of the 11th century ʼ. What I write is that: ʻSince the authenticity and credibility of the Hungarian-Polish chronicle as a source has often been questioned we cannot regard its account of the meeting between Stephen I and Bolesław the Brave as wholly accurate. However, even if the actual course of the reconciliation might have differed from the surviving account, this kind of ritual encounter could undoubtedly have taken place in 11th-century Hungary. Several other accounts in the sources describing further encounters in this period substantiate this assertion, as we shall see in the cases that follow. Therefore the author of the Hungarian-Polish Chronicle is likely to have framed the meeting in the context of ritual actions existing in his time.ʼ
Berend believes my statement that the ritual patterns of symbolic communication, rather than the historical authenticity of individual events lend themselves to examination, ʻsits oddly with repeated affirmations in the book that suggest the veracity of the accountsʼ. Well, there is nothing odd about it at all. History, just as historiography, is not black and white. There are rules, patterns, phenomena, but that does not mean there aren´t any exceptions or deviations. Therefore it is absolutely just and sits perfectly with my main argument that in some cases we deal with events more probably depicted in their real form, just as in other cases we only have a later or idealized depiction at our disposal. This interpretation follows the current research on medieval rituals. One only has to read Buc, Koziol or Althoff, Dalewski, Weiler and Stollberg-Rilinger to better understand the arguments of my book and to be able to set it within the context of current ritual studies.
According to Berend ʻexisting scholarship on the Hungarian material is incorporated patchilyʼ. There are two cardinal problems with this point. First of all why does Berend believe I should rely only on the work of Hungarian medievalists? Anyone can write on the history of Hungary (do only French write about France, Germans about Germany, and so on?). The medieval Kingdom of Hungary was a multiethnic and multilingual state, home to different ethnicities and peoples. The Hungarian Middle Ages are therefore common historical heritage and they represent the scholarly focus of academics from numerous nations and language areas (Romanians, Croatians, Serbians, Slovaks, Germans, etc.) and they have the same right to scrutinize their common history. A work written by a Serb, Romanian or Slovak is as good as the one written by a Hungarian. The fact I chose a German, Slovak, or Czech author because I believe their treatment of a certain issue is better or that it better fits the overall argument cannot be counted against me. Another aspect the reviewer fails to see is that the topic has never been treated in one volume; that being one of the main goals of my publication. For this purpose some regional aspects were left out, as I was trying to focus on a more global, overall picture.
The second problem is that the scope of the series within which the book has been published and the readership of the book made me cite most of the works (where possible) in western languages – there is no point in giving the readers references to editions in languages they do not read, and which are in most cases absolutely inaccessible to western scholars. In addition, Berend reminds me that ʻcrucial books in Hungarian should have been consultedʻ, but surprisingly, alongside Ágnes Kurcz’s book on chivalry, recommends also a work of extremely small relevance for the goal of the book, as it is not significant for the discussion and interpretation of the main arguments (András Mező’s book Patrocíniumok a középkori Magyarországon). This seems to be a strained attempt to look for weaknesses where there are none to be found. In another place Berend rejects my alleged unconvincing interpretation, while her argument is at least flimsy, as she starts her correction with ´it may have been´.
Very puzzling is Berend´s contemplation of the well-known and well-established distinction between Hungarian and Magyar. Berend, coming from a Hungarian environment, must be aware of the nuances arising. Her example of French/Français misses the point and only confuses the reader with an inappropriate and puzzling parallel. To compare the Hungarian and French case is mixing apples with pears and does not help to understand the problem at all. Berend´s kind attempt to explain what I wanted to say only shows her misunderstanding of my argumentation. My point was to make a clear distinction between Hungarian (i.e. pre 1918) and Magyar (i.e. post 1918) history and historiography, which was substantially different in its nature, composition, language and focus. This issue, obvious and self-evident for scholars from Central Europe, but largely unknown to scholars in Western Europe and the US, needs to be clarified in a volume dealing with Central European, and especially Hungarian history (the same distinction works also in other languages: hongrois/magyar in French; ungarisch/magyar in German; uherský/maďarský in Czech, etc.).
In her conclusion Berend attacks my book as one that ʻobfuscates both the specificity of some of the Hungarian material, and the historical interest of the textsʼ. Giving an example of the festive-coronation (not a crown wearing as Berend incorrectly states) by a political opponent and the symbolic choice between the crown and the sword (i.e. kingdom and duchy), Berend fails to see that I treated these events as anecdotal, modelled representation of the ritualised communication of the era as captured by the contemporary sources. Maybe, after a second reading of the reviewed book, Berend might realise that, in most cases, she criticised things which are not present in the book.
To sum up, the same rituals, events and political encounters which I examined in the book are being treated in the same or a similar way by prominent scholars of ritual and political communication in medieval Europe, such as Gerd Althoff, or Zbigniew Dalewski. They also appear in works of most of the Hungarian medievalists, whose presence in my book was so sought after by Berend in her review, and also in those of non-Hungarian scholars. To name only the most important ones: Gábor Klaniczay, Pál Engel, Gyula Kristó, Gábor Varga, János Bak, Zoltán Kosztolnyik, Dániel Bagi, Gergély Kiss, Márta Font, Ján Steinhübel, Vincent Múcska, Wolfgang Ziegler, Martin Rady, and many more could be added. All of them base their interpretations on the information from the Hungarian Chronicle of the 14th Century.
Berend even scores an own goal by criticizing my use of the Hungarian Chronicle of the 14th century, as she cites the same source freely in all her major publications! She uses the Hungarian Chronicle to support her arguments in her political history of Hungary, as well as for the cultural history, and she quotes it also for the Christianization of the Central European realms. When it suits her she argues that a certain event was recorded in the eleventh century chronicle and then later inserted in the 14 century version! But she does not allow this for rituals. So, in Berend´s argumentation, it is absolutely appropriate to use these sources and the events preserved in them when writing political, social or cultural history, but this is not allowed in a book on ritual and public communication.
Another strange feature of Berend´s review is its aim and motivation. In all likelihood Berend chose to review my book only because it speaks about medieval Hungary and works with (also) Hungarian sources. Berend has shown no interest in rituals, symbols and political communication. Therefore her review completely neglects the main goals and arguments of the work in question. She pays absolutely no attention to its main arguments, the detailed interpretations and deconstruction of the traditional narratives. Tacitly Berend ignores the introduction which for the first time sets the Hungarian Árpádian political culture within the general scholarship on political and symbolic communication. Also, she seriously neglects the chapter devoted to the theoretical concepts and methodological approaches used for the scrutiny. It is precisely in these opening chapters that I explain my approach, motivation and goals. In these passages I also deal with the question of the sources, their reliability and the possibilities of their use for my work. I also provide an overview of the literature and the most important voices in the debate over the Hungarian narrative sources for the Árpád-dynasty era. Berend also fails to assess or evaluate the main arguments and interpretations provided in the cardinal sections of the book, i.e., the settlements of disputes and reconciliation rituals, the welcoming ceremonies attached to the adventus regis ritual, and the numerous and various rites accompanying the meetings of rulers. All of these main arguments remain unexamined in Berend´s patchy review. The few mentions (always connected to the nature of the sources used) are simply not enough. Skimming on the surface, and entrenched in her contemplation on the nature of the sources used, Berend is unable to provide opinion or judgement on the essential parts of the book. To conclude, I will help myself again with a quotation from Anthony Grafton´s The Footnote, when speaking about Leopold von Ranke´s response to a ruthless critique of his first book: I write ´for those who want to find, but not for those who look in order not to find.´
 Grafton, Anthony. The Footnote. A curious history. Cambridge (Mass.): Harvard University Press, 1997, p. 16.
 ´However, here too, no later coronation ceremony or any other occasion of royal presentation mentions a lance among the insignia. Actually, a lance, but clearly another one, features in the description of Emperor Henry´s investing King Peter of Hungary, as his vassal, with a golden lance´. BAK, János M. “Holy Lance, Holy Crown, Holy Dexter: Sanctity of Insignia in Medieval East Central Europe.” In Studying Medieval Rulers and Their Subjects. Farnham: Ashgate Variorum, 2010, p. 58.
 ZUPKA, Dušan. Ritual and Symbolic Communication in Medieval Hungary under the Árpád Dynasty (1000 - 1301) Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2016, p. 42, 48, 62, 110, 126, 127, 129, 131, 132, 133, 154.
 Ibidem, p. 56, 57, 134.
 Ibidem, p. 107, 108, 109.
 Ibidem, p. 50, 64, 73, 82, 124.
 Ibidem, p. 60, 62, 97, 100, 155, 160, 163, 175, 193.
 Ibidem, p. 60, 155, 160, 174, 175.
 Ibidem, p. 42, 59, 175.
 Ibidem, p. 1, 2, 40, 41, 43, 56, 73, 76, 87, 88, 90, 93, 112, 123, 124, 141.
 Ibidem, p. 66, 100, 136, 141, 142, 152, 153, 154, 156, 159, 161, 193.
 Ibidem, p. 76, 87, 88, 89, 91, 92, 93, 111.
 Marsina, Richard. “Stredoveké uhorské rozprávacie pramene a slovenské dejiny,” Zborník Slovenského národného múzea, 78 (História 24) (1984), pp. 167-193.
 ʻWhether the Legenda was written in the thirteenth or fourteenth century, or in the twelfth century, containing information from eleventh-century sources or local traditions, and was then rewritten in the fourteenth century is debated: it may or may not be a reliable source of information on Ajtony.ʼ Berend, Nora (ed.) Christianization and the Rise of Christian Monarchy. Scandinavia, Central Europe and Rus’ c. 900-1200. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007, p. 330.
 ZUPKA, Ritual and symbolic communication, p. 150.
 Uhorsko-poľská kronika. Nedocenený prameň k dejinám strednej Európy, ed. Martin Homza. Bratislava 2009; Steinhübel, Ján. Nitrianske kniežatstvo. Bratislava: Veda, 2004.
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