The letters of György Lippay, bishop of Veszprém, Eger and archbishop of Esztergom to Hungarian aristocrats and nobles (1635–1665)

vol. 1
Péter Tusor

PÉTER TUSOR, The letters of György Lippay, bishop of Veszprém, Eger and archbishop of Esztergom to Hungarian aristocrats and nobles (1635–1665) (CST I/1), Budapest 2015. liv + 544 p. + 9 suppl. (facsimiles, map)


The volume that is a completion of a former collection of sources was provided with professional note apparatus, redacted and published as a supplement of the original Impetus-program. It contains altogether 448 letters that were written by György Lippay either as the Hungarian court chancellor of Vienna (1635–1642) or as the primate of Hungary (1642–1666) to the Palatines, to the Judges of the Royal Court, to the district captain-generals, etc. These allow an insight into the details of the dual exercise of power shared by the orders and the monarch in the middle third of the 17th century.


In addition, they illustrate through what kind of transmissions the governance of the country took place from the centre in Vienna, what the role of the leaders of the ecclesiastical order was in it and how their relation to the leaders of the “status saecularis” was. It is also presented what were the difficulties and pitfalls of the operation of this complex system (particularly as regards the fluctuating relationship of the primate and the Palatine, the two poles of the orders). The techniques that were used for ensuring the operability and making occasionally quick and efficient decisions can be learnt from them as well. Furthermore, the process of disintegration of the system that was formed at the beginning of the 17th century and was consolidated under the archbishoprics of Péter Pázmány – in which besides the Palatine the archbishop of Esztergom as the primate of Hungary played an unavoidable role in the governing of the Kingdom –, took place in the 1650–1660s and caused by the forming Habsburg absolutism, can be followed up.


The letters written as chancellor or primate contain essential information about the imperial court. As regards government history we can find a lot of important data on the role of the Hungarian governing bodies, the Hungarian Court Chancery, the Chamber of Pozsony and there are hints at the Hungarian Council in them. The preparation of the Diets is also an often recurring theme. From the numerous documents concerning the policy towards Transylvania can be outlined that Lippay despite all his efforts did not manage to replace Pázmány in the relations with György Rákóczy I.


Along with the political and government history aspects the military history dimension of the volume is also determining. In the source-material the ecclesiastical subject is actually secondary. The letters reveal the Hungarian prelate’s extremely diverse and complex system of social relations starting out from the contacts of legal and representational nature deriving from his social and official role to his relations of personal, friendly nature or to those of right the opposite. From these documents besides the historical role and relations of their writer we can also ascertain personal data and curiosities about him.