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Imprinting Identities

Illustrated Latin-Language Histories of St. Stephen’s Kingdom (1488–1700)

Karolina Mroziewicz

The book demonstrates how illustrated printed books played an active role in identity-building processes in the Hungarian Kingdom. It shows the influence of Latin-language histories of Hungary in the areas of imagery of the Hungarian political community, visual representations of Hungarian patron saints, rulers, nobility and aristocracy. These books were and still are influential carriers of messages about the shared past. They were used as an important means of communication and as objects through which models of self- and collective identifications were imprinted. Their long afterlives, due to numerous editions, translations, adaptations and transpositions into other media, gradually unified the historical imagery, thus forming a key component for the identifications of the books’ recipients.
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Nothing made me more aware of the importance and sensitivity of personal names in identity studies than the street signs in Budapest changing before my very own eyes. Especially in the chronological and geographical scope discussed here, many local variants of names functioned in the region and found their reflection on the pages of the books studied. One of the most striking examples is that of the multilingual printing centre of Trnava (Hungarian: Nagyszombat, Latin: Tyrnavia, German: Tyrnau). In the current scholarship there is no widely accepted consensus about which form is preferable when writing in English. For the convenience of the reader, I will use the modern names of localities which can be found on contemporary maps (Brno, Székesfehérvár, Trnava) and give their English equivalents if such exist (Nuremberg, Vienna). I have avoided only place names that are strikingly anachronistic and were created in the nineteenth and twentieth century, such as Bratislava (until 1919 Slovak: Prešporok, German: Pressburg, Hungarian: Pozsony) or Budapest (which before 1873 existed as three separate cities: Óbuda, Buda and Pest), and in these cases I will refer to the Hungarian versions of the names from the era under investigation.

Personal names of historical figures also often functioned in several versions within one text, one language or one academic tradition. Today’s Matthias Corvinus (English) is Hunyadi Mátyás (Hungarian), Matei Corvin (Romanian), Matija Korvin (Croatian), Matej Korvín (Slovak), or Matyáš Korvín (Czech). Using the Latinized...

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