VOICES OF THE CHURCHES, VOICES OF THE NATIONALITIES.  Competing loyalties in the Hungarian House of Magnates (1867-1918)

UEFISCDI project number PNII-RU-TE-2014-4-1231

 

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The project will identify the means through which the political exercise and the political representation materialize in the Eastern part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, respectively in the Kingdom of Hungary.

The project’s major focus is the parliamentary level of the official political life. Owing to the fact that the majority of the monographs dealing with the Hungarian legislative institution primarily centered on the Lower Chamber, we have decided to fill this gap by analyzing the Upper House, the equivalent of the British Parliament’s House of Lords. Composed of approximately 750 members until the reform of 1885 – 350 after this date – the Upper Chamber of the Hungarian Parliament constantly included within its ranks approximately 50 members of the higher clergy. This number varied according to the vacancies of the higher ecclesiastical offices (metropolitans, bishops, and representatives of all dioceses) in Transleithania.

In view of the team members’ previous research profiles, the novelty of the proposed approach, and considering the need for an adequate thematic delineation, this ecclesiastical segment of the Upper House between 1867 and 1918 will represent the absolute reference for the envisaged project.

We will follow two major directions: one focused on a prosopographic recovery of the collective biography of the ecclesiastical elite in the Upper House, and one centered on the discourse produced by this group. The proposed project will also ascertain to what extent the political currents of the time influenced the discourse of the elite segment, both in respect to the positions that they impose, and the constraints that they introduce. These political programs – conservative, liberal, and socialist – were always aware of the problematic relation between the Church and the state.

 

The main questions the project will answer are the following:

How did the clerical elite from the Upper House of the Hungarian Parliament respond to the challenges of the late 19th and early 20th centuries?

How powerful was the temptation to politicize the clerical elite during this time?

To what extent and by what means did this group resist the ‘nationalisation of the political space’?

What were its main goals during this time?

To what extent did it enjoy freedom of choice in assuming certain positions regarding state initiatives?

Is it possible to speak of a consensus at this elite level or rather of confessional, national, or even group interests?