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Revue Pamiatky a múzeá – Summary 1/2006

Civitas munita. The privilege to fortify in medieval

By the 14th century, the construction
of fortifications around medieval Hungarian towns had become an important
impulse for urban development. At the end of the Middle Ages, bricked city walls
were still rare, especially outside the highest category of royal (free) and
mining towns (Bratislava’s area under the castle called Podhradie, Banská
Štiavnica, Nitra, Trnava, Košice, Levoča and Podolínec).
Fortifications represented a country’s defensive
power, and, therefore, Hungarian monarchs, especially from the time of Anjou
dynasty, particularly supported their construction. During their reign,
construction was begun in nine towns — Kysucké Nové Mesto, Starý Tekov,
Rimavská Sobota, Kežmarok, Bardejov, Prešov and Skalica — and by 1388, Beckov
and Nové Mesto nad Váhom had been added to the list. Not all the towns, though,
were given the privilege of building bricked walls.
Sigismund of Luxemburg introduced a system for
securing cities with walls in his Smaller Decree of 1405. As a result, Žilina
and Sabinov built their fortifications, but many other significant towns
hesitated because of the high costs. This all changed when Hussites and later
the Bratríci groups began to endanger the towns. Then Krupina and Kremnica, as
well as Trenčín, built walls, but only Kremnica made them of brick. Despite the
great importance of these fortifications, little specific data on their
construction and technical aspects remains.
– Sereď manor house under construction
from the
17 – 19th
The oldest reference to Šintava Castle comes from
the 12th century (1177). A description from 1423 says it was built on
a square plane and had a donjon in the middle. The Thurzos clan reconstructed it
into a renaissance fortification and the Esterházys first turned it into a
Baroque manor house, before remodelling it in a classicist style (1841).
The castle’s oldest known reconstruction plan,
from 1667, was developed as part of a strategy by marshal Hannibal Gonzaga, the
President of the Courtly Military Council in Vienna, to defend against the
Turks. A second plan for its fortification, marked in French and probably from
the first half of the 18th century, was created for military purposes
and was assumably based on an older model. Between 1760 and 1770, an unknown
cartographer drew a map of the Sereď estate, Mappa universalis totius
dominii Szerediensis,
on the orders ofŠintava estate count František
Esterházy (Esterházy Ferenc). A third plan, Plan des zum Gebrauch des
Sereder Salzamts im Jahre 1771, Pro Aerario eingelösten Terrains,
from 1780, and calls for the construction of the Imperial-Royal salt council in
Sereď. It also shows a part of the castle, a south-eastern bastion with a water
Especially artistically impressive is the plan of
the river Váh’s regulation near Sereď, from 1789, which was devised by the
county’s geometer engineer, František Böhm, while serving the Esterházys. An
1809 plan showing Sereď’s and the Váh’s surroundings, Plan der bei Szered an
der Waag angelegten Verschanzungen im Jahre 1809,
marks the military
fortified places that originated during the anti-Napoleon defense strategy. Its
unknown author made the plan to protect a specific strategic point – a passage
through the river Váh.
The last preserved historical plan is the
detailed description of the Váh’s bridgehead near Sereď from 1863-1864 (Plan
zur Detailbeschreibung des einfachen Brückenkopfes bei Szered
). Alexis
Polak created the plan for the general headquarters in Vienna. It captures quite
a lot of Sereď’s surroundings and the Váh’s river basin from Šúrovce
(Wartasur) up to Váhovce (Vágha).
Historical plans document the gradual change in an
object’s architecture from castle to manor house as it is influenced not only by
the need to protect and preserve the territory, but by the societal-political
Pezinok’s Renaissance
Petra Pospechová – Július Vavák – Peter
The construction of stony bastion fortifications
in the Small-Carpathian region during the 17th century was a
reflection of many societal and political factors. The threat of peasant
uprising, Turkish raids, the rapid development of artillery, and especially the
economic growth of Pezinok, Modra and Svätý Jur as they were granted status as
towns, were the decisive factors in the development of modern fortified
Two proclamations from the first half of the
17th century gave the right — or, in fact, the obligation — for
Pezinok’s inhabitants to build a fortification. This was the culmination of the
town’s efforts to gain the status of a free royal town. In its final form, the
fortification, which was first built as a wall-moat, enclosed its current
historical centre in a rectangular shape with two cut corners. It was built of
ten polygonal and one semi-circular bastion and three gates interconnected with
a high, stone wall with loopholes.
Compared to Modra or Svätý Jur, Pezinok’s
fortification was extremely well-designed, which was testimony to the town’s
stronger economy. The fortifications in the above-mentioned towns gained their
final shapes almost in the same period and bore typical signs (though reduced)
of renaissance fortifications enforced in Slovakia in the 16th
Research has shown that the Pezinok fortification
integrated several elements of modern bastion fortification; many elements,
though, had been left out, which severely decreased its chances of serving as
long-term protection against a regular army. Therefore, in the end, the
fortification probably served to stop smaller divisions and marauders, which
were an inseparable part of 17th and 18th century Central
European military forces.
Towns from the Pohronie region on Johan
Adam Artner’s map
The State Central Mining Archive in Banská
Štiavnica contains a map showing the flow of the river Hron between Banská
Bystrica and Bzenica entitled Grund Riß deß Gran Fluß Von Neusohl an biß
Bszeniz Sambt allen darumb Ligenden Dorffschafften Und darein Fallenden
. The map was drawn by Johan Adam Artner on June 17, 1734, and is one
of the oldest visual displays of the Hron’s area (Pohronie) in a large scale.
Its detailed tracing of a large territory enabled the cartographer to include a
lot of information on it, which was significant at a time when the mapping
process was undergoing significant changes and society was experiencing a real
need for quality maps.
Artner’s map captures the territory in a unique
way. In the second half of the 17th century, countries were usually
portrayed on maps through a system of signs. Significant rivers created the
map’s scheme, to which towns and castles were then added. This technique was
also used in maps of smaller scales, including the Pohronie area, such as the
Hungarian maps created by Jacob von Sandrart (1664), Nicolas Sanson (ca. 1689)
and Hubert Jaillot (1696).
But Artner’s map presents Pohronie in an extended
diameter. Its central motif is the flow of the Hron, which forms the region’s
main axis. Its direct line leads from the left edge of the map to the right and
results in the river’s only north-south direction. To portray the river
sufficiently, the map’s length had to be extended by three metres. Artner then
adjusted the network of settlements, assigning them alphabetical letters in the
map’s legend.
The long, rugged part of the Hron between Banská
Bystrica and Bzenica required change in the river’s flow, and mainly in the
settlements’ locations. The map’s compass rose shows that the cardinal points
were reverted in directions north – south and east – west. Individual parts of
the map were shifted in various angles. For instance, Banská Bystrica is moved
approximately 135 degrees to the west. The captured view, therefore, shows it as
if from its southern side. The part of the Hron that flows from Radvaň to Zvolen
is shifted by 90 degrees to the west.
Artner captured mainly the most significant
settlements of the mapped territory in detail. His map features views of Banská
Bystrica and Zvolen and important objects in the towns of Radvaň and Svätý Kríž
(today’s Žiar nad Hronom). Apart from the historical German names of the towns,
castle and settlements, Artner also translated the names of other settlements
into his mother language, German, even though cartographer Samuel Mikovíni
had already used Slovak names in his records of the Pohronie
Pálffy’s reconstruction of Orava
The owners of Orava Castle were heirs of the
Thurzas’ property. The so-called Orava “komposesorát”, which was led by one of
its shareholders, managed the castle, as well as other buildings and vast lands
in the region. Wood trade was the main economy activity. In 1896, when Count
Jozef Pálffy (1853 – 1919) became the komposesorát’s 14th director,
the castle received its final arrangement in a romantic style. The late-gothic
Korvín Palace, which had been built in the second half of the 15th
century, was reconstructed and two terraces in the upper part of the courtyard
were adjusted. The reconstruction was aimed at making the entire castle complex
more accessible and giving the area a representative character. Pálffy could
draw on his family’s experience with reconstructing the castle in Austrian
Kreuzensteine. The count himself decided on the definite image of the castle as
a whole, as well as the details. Only the knight’s hall received a painting. Its
painter, Maximilian Mann from Munich, was inspired by a late-gothic painting
from the time of Matej Korvín (Mathias Corvin), which hung in the residential
This romantic reconstruction gave Orava Castle the
look it has today. However, we do not talk of a complex reconstruction that took
place, for instance, in Bojnice or Smolenice. The absence of an architect was
partially compensated by the cooperation between Orava “komposesorát” officer
František Fertsek, who designed the projects, and Count Jozef Pállfy, who
selected the final plans or reworked the individual designs.
The intention to also reconstruct the upper castle
in the same style never happened. According to its maximalist conception, it
would affect the entire citadel, which was supposed to stand out more thanks to
the dominant stair tower, half-cylindrical tower with a courtyard gallery, and
the so-called chapel. The object, situated highest on the castle rock and
traditionally, but unreasonably, considered a chapel, was to be made accessible
by an effective staircase.
gunsmiths in city’s society
Gun-makers were specialised craftsmen at the
beginning of the 15th century. They not only produced guns but also
verified their quality and efficiency. In most European towns, they produced
guns in their own workshops and employed workers. There were several such
centres in Slovakia, for example in Košice, Spišská Nová Ves, Gelnica, Kežmarok,
Levoča and Bratislava, where the earliest record of a gun-maker active in our
territory comes from (1414).
Compared to gun production centres where the
gun-makers had their own workshops, in 15th century Bratislava, they
worked at places owned by the town. The craftsmen were city employees and
received regular weekly wages. The city also paid for their materials,
manufacturing tools, and work help. In the 15th century, there were
23 gun-makers working for the town, many from abroad, such as Jan from Brno in
1434 and Jan Frosh from Regensburg in 1481.
Fear of Turkish invasion and the consequent
protection of the country were especially pressing in the 16th
century. Between 1501 and 1512, six gun-makers worked for the town. Their wages
varied widely, from around 16 toliars (talers) in 1526 and 1527 to 13 toliars in
1535. After 1564, there are no entries in the county’s books on payments to the
gun masters. It seems that the gun workshop then ceased to exist as a town
facility. Gun-makers were substituted with armourers, who took over gun repairs.
At this time, the gun-makers founded a joint guild with locksmiths, watchmakers
and coil makers in 1571. In the 17th century, gunstock makers
separated out and established their own guild in 1661. Bratislava, along with
Vienna, became a significant centre of gun production in the 18th
century and a training ground for future masters.
Tinker’s craft in arts
The tinker’s craft of hand-binding wire
probably originated 300 years ago to ease the material and existential problems
for people inhabiting the southern foothills of Javorníky and the Kysuce region.
Later it spread to northern Spiš. Tinkers had steadily become globetrotters.
They caught the attention of artists, writers and music composers not only with
their shabby appearance, vagabond lifestyle, and unconventional behaviour, but
also with their use of wire. In many neighbouring countries, the tinkers became
identified with the Slovak nation, which made these craftsmen one of its symbols
– first abroad and then, around the first half of the 19th century,
also at home.
Around 230 artistic works with tinker themes can
be found in collections across Slovakia. Artists active during the national
revival remember these craftsmen for being an important national-revival aspect.
Peter Michal Bohúň painted them in clothes with national colours. They personify
the ideal and morally clean representatives of the nation. The work of the
second artist of the founding Slovak national-oriented painting duo, Jozef
Božetech Klemens, maps the changing social structure of tinkers in the second
half of the 19th century. He set the figures into a mountainous
landscape, during which time this landscape style had a deeper justification in
the work of artists connected to the ideas of national revival – natural
surrounding was thought to be the important factor that formed people’s and
nation’s characters.
The works of Hungarians, Austrians, Germans, the
English, the French and especially Czechs reflect a different approach to
tinkers when compared to local artists. They perceived them as a bizarre motif
and set them in genre scenes. Foreign artists of the Classical and Romantic
periods liked to idealise the tinkers’ appearance, which contrasted with their
realistically painted clothes. Only the second half of the 19th
century brought a more realistic picture of them. Capturing the problems of
their everyday life culminated in the works of late 19th and early
20th century Czech painters. Portrait dominated the Czech style and
social issues came more to the foreground (e.g. Rudolf Uherek); motifs became
more sentimental (Jozef Stalmach, Mikoláš Aleš). The social accent in the
authentic pictures of the people standing on the verge of modern society was
also evident in the work of local artists at the start of the 20th
century. Such tendency is best represented in the number of studies by Ladislav
Medňanský (László Mednyánszky).
The tinker motif also resonated in the Slovak
modern artistic style. Along with farmers, shepherds, woodcutters and outlaws,
artists perceived the tinker as one of the themes that depicted the individual
character of Slovak folk culture and history. A polarity between the traditional
motif and the modern artistic image often accompanied their works. Those
principles were best evident in the 1930s and 1940s, when the conflict between
tradition and modernization grew, and by which the handwork of the tinkers
shifted more to the verge of social interest. Miloš Alexander Bazovský
specifically captured the crises of these craftsmen.