Images of the History of Ethnies in the Kingdom of Hungary in Educational Texts of the 18th Century

Obrazy dejín etník Uhorska v učebných textoch 18. storočia

Emerging modern historiography was focused on the struggle against the stereotypical image of the Kingdom of Hungary which was perceived as a country of ignorance and neglected cultural life. In Protestant cultural circles the necessity to legitimize the identity of the members in the ambiance not supporting Protestantism occurred. Moreover, there was the need to prove the continuity of the previous cultural development as well. The authors of works about general history and culture of the Kingdom of Hungary and about the Protestants were motivated also by the attempt to improve the image of the country. It was exactly in those cultural circles where the ideas of the Enlightenment connected to historiography were accepted. The new thoughts shifted the perception of the historical process; it was no longer a mere suit of political changes but it was seen as the advancement of civilization. The works of Daniel Hajnóczy, Jozef Bencúr and Juraj Nagy were specific due to their realistic understanding of ethnical diversity and effort to explain and remove the animosities based on the difference in perception of the members of particular ethnicities in the Kingdom of Hungary. The authors of the examined instructive texts grounded their works not only in knowledge of the sources but also in their own observation and interpretation of their findings. The information the authors presented in their textbooks and lectures became the fixed images of the situation. The author of this study analyses argumentation content and articulates hypotheses about the possible motivation of the studied texts. The work of D. Hajnóczy Colloquia (Dialogues) documented the sensitivity about the stereotypical model of Slovaks as a subordinate ethnicity and provided the life-style picture of the lower classes. In the case of J. Bencúr's texts we can talk about overcoming the image of old Slavs as those under Hungarians' rule. However, it was based on the effort to legitimize the interests of the Habsburg Monarchy in Poland. Juraj/Jiří Nagy attempted to integrate Slavs, and Slovaks especially, into the process of promotion of civilization achievements. Nagy framed a modern concept of history based on the theses about civilization progress.