This is a nice book for a person who has a deep interest in the nation of Hungary. I fit that bill…..my grandparents on my Father’s side were immigrants in the early part of the 20th century. The family story is that they met on the boat coming here, settled in Cleveland, married and moved to West Virginia where grandfather could enter the coal mining business. Sounds good to me! I also collect the stamps of Hungary.
The book was written before the Crown was returned after the fall of the Soviet Union so it is incomplete in that sense.
The strength of the book is the detailed historical story of the Crown and how it came to mean so much to the people of Hungary. The history is informative and well written. Enjoyed it.
What was quite surprising about the book was the degree to which the Hungarians have a long history of Democratic institutions. This part of the Hungarian heritage goes back to the original Hun tribes and the way that they chose their leaders. There is something in the tradition called the “Treaty of Blood” that I find myself in great sympathy with: when they elected a king, they mingled their blood in a cup and all drank from it to confirm their allegiance. Long before other peoples, they had something of a representative democracy, something that they held onto thru all the crises and disasters. The tradition of a parliament goes a long time back….rather amazing to me. In 1524, these words were spoken and written by the great lawyer Stephen Werboczy:
“I am obliged to dispense justice to every man without personal favour and cannot deny it to any one who seeks it from me, even if he be a Jew or a Gipsy, so long as he is one of the subjects of the Holy Crown of the Kingdom.”
The Crown, bestowed upon the King Saint Stephen by the Pope in the year 1000 became the spiritual heart of the nation. The king was the head and the people became the body and they were all subject to the Holy Crown. In all the annals of peoples on the Earth, there is no comparable relationship between a people and the crown.
Speaking of the First World War, the author writes: “It is a sad commentary on the events of those days that Hungarian troops stood everywhere on enemy territory and yet they lost the war.” This has special meaning in my life.
There was a time that I desperately needed to know how an honorable people dealt with the defeat of their soldiers in war. The United States in 1969 was not an honorable nation. Some of its citizens spat on me while I was in uniform. My mind turned to the nations who had lost wars in the past and by some miracle, I found these stamps in my collection….they are classified as “semi-postal” issues, which means that a part of the proceeds went to benefit the returning soldiers. Study them well…..this is not the America I returned to.
These are stamps produced by a people who understood….who respected….who loved. I shed many tears over these stamps.