Hungary and the Second Crusade

Hungary and the Second Crusade

By Zsolt Hunyadi

The Second Crusade in Perspective, eds. Jason T. Roche, and Janus Møller Jensen (Turnhout: Brepols, 2008)

Introduction: The aim of the present study is to survey and analyze the role played by Hungary during the Second Crusade and through this scholarly goal it is to bridge the gap which can be observed in Hungarian historiography.

The historiography of the Crusades as far as Hungary is concerned has recently been accomplished by Attila Bárány. Bárány dedicated considerable attention to the works of Pál Gerő Bozsóky, whose contribution to the historiography of the crusades is profound, albeit somewhat sentimental and apologetic on behalf of the Church. Notwithstanding the fact that it is not a scholarly monograph in stricto sensu since there are no references given at all either to sources or other secondary works. At the same time, Bárány reflected only briefly upon the studies published by András Borosy, however, he proved to be much more objective, that is he avoided taking sides, in his appraisal of Hungary’s involvement in the crusades than Bozsóky. Bárány emphasized that Bozsóky was the first scholar to study systematically the primary sources and the secondary literature of the crusades. As a matter of fact, this is also true for Borosy. Both historians were very much aware of the basic literature on the crusades, but recent, international scholarly trends hardly affected their views. In addition, Bárány’s survey begins with the role of King Andrew II (1205–1235) during the Fifth Crusade and thus the events of the eleventh–twelfth centuries are almost completely omitted from the study.

It seems that relatively few pieces of information could be gained on the roleplayed by Hungary in the Second Crusade, either by reading contemporary (or late medieval) sources or the relevant secondary literature. Hungarian scholarship has largely neglected the crusade as a specific area of study and, partly owing to this neglect, a number of unfounded judgments have been made. At the same time, scholarly works have been published which focused on the domesticand foreign policies of rulers of the Hungarian Kingdom in the twelfth century. These works have provided unknown insights into how the kingdom was governed or at least have highlighted new scholarly approaches and perspectives that historians might employ in the future.

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