The Gesta Hungarorum of the Anonymous Notary of King Béla is the oldest extant The author of the Gesta, known historically as the Anonymus (always thus). The Romanians in the Anonymous Gesta Hungarorum. Truth and Fiction, Centrul de Studii Transilvane (Bibliotheca Rerum Transsilvaniae, XXXIV) Cluj-Napoca. Written between , the Gesta Hungarorum is an ingenious and imaginative historical fiction of prehistory, medieval history and contemporary social.
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Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. The Romanians in the Anonymous Gesta Hungarorum. Several historians from the older gen- erations have written remarkable works that clarified various aspects of this chapter of the Romanian Middle Ages. Hesta examples are enough to illustrate this: Dimitre Onciul and Gheorghe I.
Unlike them, now we can use many archaeological discoveries that help us know more and more hungaroum Transylvania in the early Middle Ages. This new kind of evidence is geeta the single reason for the new approach which we propose in gfsta book. The progress of the research should go further on the way traced by these historians, but with- out the gwsta and the mistakes made by some authors who believed that patriotism means to write about history without a crit- ical eye and without taking seriously into account the conclusions expressed by the opposite side.
One step was already taken with the book of Ioan- Aurel Pop, which, unlike some productions of the s, is an exam- ple of a well-balanced and well founded approach. One of these topics is the credibility that can or cannot be given to geesta most disputed historical source on the Transylvanian early Middle Ages: His Gesta Hungarorum hereafter cited as GH roused a long debate that lasted for over two centuries.
Because this work recorded the existence of the Romanians in Transylvania before the arrival of the Hungarian warriors, the his- torians who did not and still do not agree with the continuous presence of the Romanians in Transylvania tried to deny the credi- bility of this source, or at least of the chapters about the Romanians. This is one of the few cases when a problem of source criticism was transformed hesta a debate with political consequences, where both parties Romanian and Hungarian put the gsta passion in stress- ing their arguments.
Denying the credibility of GH is commonplace in the prop- aganda carried out by professional and amateur Hungarian histori- ans. Historical science cannot operate with such generalized judg- ments. A historical source is by definition subject to criticism. GH should be studied according to the usual internal and external source criticism methods.
The total rejection and the absence of any criti- cism are both erroneous. The data about the Transylvanian Romanians ruled by Gelou6 must be discussed together with those on the so-called Besta from Pannonia, because the Anonymous Notary wrote a unitary work, from which the short part about Transylvania cannot be detached. A real understanding of this text requires its study as a whole work and as a medieval source, with all that it is implied by its nature.
We are emphasizing this because hungarorym most cases the Romanian histori- ans did not study the passages about Romanians in the context of the full source. Therefore, our interpretation will discuss sometimes in considerable detail the general credibility of the source, the chronol- ogy of the events recorded in GH, and their historical and archae- ological background.
It happened that GH was published shortly before the birth of 18th century Transylvanian Romanian historiography.
The trans- lation was accompanied by an introduction, by footnotes and by the Latin original. Interwar historians enriched with some innovative ideas the studies of the previous generation. In two of his works, Gheorghe I.
He emphasized the value that such traditions can have for the historical research, if they are carefully examined and compared with other sources. Even if not all of his statements are true, the book remains a reference text for every scholar interested in the history of Hungary and Transylvania.
In the same years was published the Ph. The results were compared with the written sources, including GH. Their works contribute to a better understanding of the archaeological background of our topic.
A hingarorum study by Florin Curta questions the still unresolved prob- lems of the Transylvanian history and archaeology in the 10th cen- tury, showing the limits of the existing interpretations, including the data from GH. This means examining the reliability of the source and comparing the information recorded by the Anonymous Notary with other written sources and with the archaeological evidence. As noticed Radu R. The present English translation con- tains gezta corrections and additions.
Sincewhen the GH was published, historians expressed var- ious points of view about it, ranging from full reliability to a vehe- ment denial of its historical value. The work includes some data about the Romanians, not found in other products of the Hungarian me- dieval historiography, which were thus spared a similar question- ing Chronicon Pictum Vindobonense, Chronicon Dubnicense, Chronicon Posoniense, Hungzrorum Budense.
In fact, GH is different not only in content, but also in gezta, because it is a gesta, not a chronicle: Before the first edition, the work was mentioned in a catalogue of the Gungarorum Library of Vienna and in two books edited in and The codex was preserved in Hungadorum since the beginning of the 17 th century, but nobody knows how it was obtained.
The manuscript was offered in to the National Hungarian Library, where it is registered as Cod. It is possib- le that his name was written on the front page, but this one was not preserved.
He stated that he was a notary chancellor of the deceased King Bela ac quondam bone memorie gloriosissimi Bele regis Hungarie notarius. Brezeanu,9 the work contains pieces of information specific for the 12 th century. If we assume that GH was written after when the Byzantine Empire lost Bulgariathe mention of a duke of Bulgaria subjected to the Greek emperor would be meaningless. The residence of this duke at Belgrade Alba Bulgariae 11 is in agreement with the expansion of the duchy of Bulgaria over this area, after the disappearance of gungarorum Sirmium theme in Even the story of the war against Glad and the Byzantine Empire can be inspired from the Hungarian campaigns of, andwhich followed the same route.
This source was previously ascribed to a certain Ansbertus, but now it is known that the real author was Eberhard, secretary to Emperor Frederic I. The mere mention of the bows and arrows used by Vlachs is by no means evidence for the inspiration from the work of Eberhard. It was also supposed that the description of the Hungarian inroad in Bulgaria and Greece, including the reference to Porta Wasil the Trojan Pass from c.
He simply indi- cated the well-known route by which Hungarians could reach Constantinople. The commentator of the last edition of GH also con- siders that the analogies with Historia de expeditione Friderici impe- ratoris supposed by J. It is not yet clear if the German name designates Attila or the Hungarian Duke Geza, also called Etzel, but the Anonymous Notary understood that Ecilburgu was the ancient residence of Attila. In such circumstances, we do not agree that the presence of the Blaci and Cumani in c.
The assump- tion that the name Blaci is an anachronism22 is a logical mistake, a circular argumentation: Our opinion is that the existence of the name Blaci cannot be used as an argument for the dating of the work. Another argument for the date around was drawn from the prologue. Many researchers have supposed that they were students in Paris. In fact, there is nothing in the source that can show where and when the two friends studied together.
It is possible that they were colleagues somewhere in Italy. This means that this knowledge does not necessary indicate a date after Bela III. The single solid argument for a date around remains the use of the name Ecilburgu for Buda, but even this does not exclude an earlier date. However, he wrote only about the north-western part of this land, involved in the war against Gelou.
Alba-Iulia, the residence of the bishop, is not mentioned in GH, as well as southern and eastern Transylvania. This seems to exclude Bishop Paulus of Transylvania from the list of possible authors.
For Petrus, the prepositus of Esztergom, J. Since the work presents the Bul- garians as enemies of the Hungarians, we think that this interpreta- tion is not plausible. On the other hand, there are great textual differences between GH and the account written by this Petrus, the prepositus of Esz- tergom for hungarodum, he used the form Transsilvania, gestz Ultra- silvana.
Nicolae Iorga was a supporter of this opinion,33 as well as some older historians who based their arguments on the references to the Cumans.
File:Gesta Hungarorum – Wikimedia Commons
The city of Morisena Cenad is mentioned in GH as still in existence. Because this city was destroyed during the Tartar invasion ofthe work cannot be written after this date. Finally, GH does not mention Ungaria Maior, the region discovered by the monk Julianus in near the Volga, described in the account of Ricardus The journey was inspired by the existence of some data about the Asian homeland of the Hungarians, found in a Gesta Hungarorum.
This work was sometimes identified with GH, but the latter does not include data about the survival of a Hungarian group in the homeland; the source, based on oral traditions, was another gesta.
File:Gesta Hungarorum Anonymous.jpg
He concluded that the author was a Dominican friar called Pousa, later bishop in Bosnia, active in Hungary between and Recently, a specialist in Hungarian medieval literature argued that the Ano- nymous Notary wrote the work after the reign of Bela IV, more precisely in He believed that this year, written in Arabic numer- als, is hidden in the adornment of the initial letter P, but his inter- pretation is not convincing.
The bishop was a contemporary of Bela IV, but he died before the king, in or We do not under- stand why this hypothesis was even expressed. Therefore, no theo- ry that places the author in the period following the reign Bela IV could be taken into consideration. In conclusion, we consider that the present state of the investi- gation cannot provide a final solution for the identity of the Ano- nymous Notary.
In the first edition of our work we preferred a date around for the writing of GH, without excluding other possibilities. If we accept the date after Bela II, then the identifica- tion with Paulus, bishop of Morisena, would be worthy of consid- eration. It is nevertheless true that the later dating, after Bela III, is also supported by valid arguments. In this case, the best solu- tion could be the identification proposed by G.
The prologue a letter to a friendshows the reason why the work was written: No doubt, the source is a tendentious and propagandistic work that left aside events not suitable with this exultation over the Hungarian past. For instance, the Anonymous Notary did not record the hungarogum of the Bulgarians and the Pechenegs over the Hungarians inalthough this fact explains their migration toward Pannonia and he knew about it from the work of Regino of Prum, one of the literary sources used by the Anonymous Notary see infra.
The narrative structure of the work is the following: We notice that some sequences are imbricated, while other are digres- sions from the main narrative for instance, the relation about the conquest of the land of Gelou.
We can represent the narrative struc- ture gestaa this manner: Hunyarorum is a kind of literary work, 2 but this does not mean that it is also a fiction. He emphasized the importance of this fact for the understanding of the value, but also of the limits of GH as a historical hungaeorum.
Tendentious in their content, the gestae always searched for this legitimacy into a remote past in the Biblical ages or in the Roman era. Thus, their authors were concerned with the origins of peoples, states and noble families.
The power of a medieval state was based on its oldness and on the continuity of its institutions. Consequently, the historians invoked models from the past that were able to legitimize their present.
It is obvious that, in gedta circumstances, the credibility of the gestae is low, and not necessarily because their authors were wrong, but because the oral tradition itself distorts the historical reality.