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Gesta Hungarorum
The Deeds of the Hungarians

by Simon of Kéza

Edited and translated by
László Veszprémy and Frank Schaer,
both in the Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, and
with an introduction by Jenő Szűcs.

"This handsome volume is a useful addition to the steadily growing number of works pretaining to East-Central Europe..." - Medieval Review

Simon of Kéza was a court cleric of the Hungarian King, Ladislas IV (1272-1290). He travelled extensively in Italy, France and Germany and culled the epic and poetic material from a broad range of readings.

Written between 1282-1285, the Gesta Hungarorum is an ingenious and imaginative historical fiction of prehistory, medieval history and contemporary social history. The author divides Hungarian history into two periods: Hunnish-Hungarian prehistory and Hungarian history, giving a division which persisted in Hungary up to the beginnings of modern historiography.

Simon of Kéza provides a vivid retelling of the well known Attila stories, using such lively prose as - ".the battle lasted for 15 days on end, Csaba's army received such a crushing defeat that very few of the Huns or the sons of Attila survived, the river Danube from Sicambria as far as the city of Potentia was swollen with blood and for several days neither men nor animals could drink the water."

The book is also significant because of the author's legal-theoretical framework of corporate self government and constitutional law, inspired by French and Italian sources and practice, which made this chronicle become an integral part of Hungarian historiography.

"...das Konzept der neuen Publikationsreihe besteht darin, in freier Auswahl mittelalterliche historiographische Texte des östlichen Mitteleuropa in der Quellensprache (in der Regel Latein) zusammen mit einer englischen Übersetzung zu publizieren, wobei der lateinische Text der Fassung der besten vorliegenden Edition folgt. Begleitet werden die Ausgaben von ausführlichen Einleitungen, die den Autor und die Quelle vorstellen, sowie erläuternden Anmerkungen." - Zeitschrift für Osteuropa-Forschung

1999
236 pages
ISBN 978-963-9116-31-3 cloth $49.95 / €42.95 / Ł37.00


Central European Medieval Texts Series, Volume I
Editors: János M. Bak, Urszula Borkowska, Giles Constable, Gábor Klaniczay
ISSN 1419-7782

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