Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Medieval Charters from the Batthyány Family Archives enter the National Archives

Charter of King Béla IV, 1256

On August 2, 2021, it was announced at a press conference that the collection of the Hungarian National Archives had been enriched with 520 original charters, which the Hungarian state had purchased from the Batthyány family for a price of 5,6 million EUR.

This collection consists of the most important documents in the Batthyány family archives originally held at Körmend. Members of the family took these charters with them in 1945 and preserved them in Austria until now. The remainder of the archives was badly damaged when the Soviet army plundered the Batthyány mansion at Körmend. Anything saved after that event was nationalized in 1949 and has been preserved at the National Archives since (it is estimated that about 15 percent of the medieval charters were destroyed in 1945).

Görgy Rácz, deputy director of the National Archives, explained at the press conference that the newly purchased collection contains the historically most important part of the family archives and is filled with irreplaceable documents of medieval Hungarian history, as the members of the Batthyány family held high government positions for centuries.

One box of the Batthyány-charters

Most of the charters are from the three series of the old archives of the Batthyány family preserved at Körmend castle until 1945: the Memorabilia (297 diplomas) series is the most valuable historical material of the Batthyány archives from the national point of view. The new acquisition makes this former series almost complete. Here the earliest piece is King Louis the Great's charter of 1352 on the nobility of the Pechenegs in Fejér County. There are also letters from King Louis II from 1526, calling Ferenc Batthyány to battle against the Turks - dating from just a couple of weeks before the catastrophic Battle of Mohács. The other outstanding part of the collection is the so-called Heimiana or “Himfiana” series, which was the family archive of the Himfis of Döbrente, one of the most influential baronial families of the Anjou era. Their charters went to the Batthyánys, who preserved them. The documents purchased now contain 141 pieces of this series, including 11 charters from the Árpádian period and 125 from the Anjou period. The third series is Acta Antiqua (48 charters), which contains the oldest documents concerning property in the family’s ancient estate. The earliest piece in this series is the 1355 charter of King Louis the Great.

Charter with the seal of King Sigismund, 1411


The documents will now join the other part of the Batthyány family archives in the National Archives as part of the nation's cultural heritage, where they will be available for scientific research after their inventory, processing, and digitization. All the medieval charters of the Batthyány family archives already in the National Archives can be consulted in the Hungaricana database.


Source of text and photos: Hungarian National Archives, Budapest

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