periodica polytechnica: Architecture, Vol. 38, No. 2 (2007)
The analysis of natural conditions is a new field in Hungarian medieval research. This field could only come into existence with the spread of new sources of research, and with the need of drawing the most realistic picture of medieval living conditions with the help of more – previously ignored – data and facts. This field of research may have a special meaning as according to sources of the age, the Carpathian Basin was one of the natural Paradises of Medieval Europe.
Many medieval travelogues mention with amazement the natural conditions of our country and the living conditions, which were much better than in most of the other European countries. These sources inform us with a witness’ authenticity of the fertile arable lands, mountains covered with woods, of rich wildlife, hiding fabulous treasures in their depth and rivers full of fish. Even the German bishop, Otto Freising, who did not mince matters with his antipathy towards Hungarians, could not get away from the experiences he obtained crossing Hungary during the Second Crusade in 1147. The following can be read in his book Acts of Caesar Friedrich I, in the chapter describing Hungary and Hungarian traditions:
”This providence, for a long time called Pannonia – since all around it is bordered by woods and mountains with a roomy land of plain in the middle, which plain is ornate of rivers and rich in woods and of various wildlife – is known as such a rich country, due to the fertility of its wonderfully flourishing lands, that it can be seen as God’s heaven or the famous Egypt.”