Anonymus and Master Roger
Anonymi Bele Regis Notarii Gesta Hungarorum = The Deeds of the Hungarians
In the original Latin with facing pages of English translation, this volume presents two narratives dealing with matters three centuries and more apart, yet connected. The Gesta Hungarorum by the anonymous notary is a literary composition about the mythical origins of the Hungarians and their conquest of the Carpathian Basin, up to the first grand princes in the 10th century. Master Roger's Epistola in miserabile carmen super destructione regni Hungarie per Tartaros facta is an eyewitness account of the Mongol invasion in 1241-2, beginning with an analysis of the political conditions under King Béla IV and ending with the king's return to the devastated country. Roger might have been born just about the time the Gesta was being written, and the two works could be seen as describing the beginning and end of an era in Hungary. Edited and translated by János M. Bak (emeritus Central European U., Budapest and U. of British Columbia, Vancouver) and Martyn Rady (Central European history, U. College London). Distributed in the US by Books International. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
This volume contains two very different narratives: a work of literary imagination on early Hungarian history, and an eye-witness account of the Mongol invasion of 1241/42.
An anonymous notary of King Bela of Hungary (probably Bela III, d. 1196), also Known as P dictus magister, wrote a Latin Gesta Hungarorum, (ca 1200/10), and enigmatic and much disputed work on the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin in the late ninth century, including a mythical origo gentis, and a history of the Magyars prior to the foundation of the kingdom in 1000 A.D. Additionally, he wove into it stories of heroic ancestors of the great men of his time. Anonymus (as he is commonly referred to) tried to (re)contruct the events and protagonists---including ethnic groups---of several centuries before from the names of places, rivers, and mountains of his time, assuming that these retained the memory of times past. Based on these, he presented a narrative in the style of the popular romances of the siege of Troy and the exploits of Alexander the Great, also utilizing some oral traditions and earlier chronicles. One of his major "inventions" was the inclusion of Attila the Hun into the Hungarian royal genealogy, a feature later developed into the myth of Hun-Hungarian continuity (by Simon of Keza and other chroniclers). Already translated into most Central-European languages, it is here for the first time presented in an updated Latin text with an annotated English translation.
The Italian Master Roger (born around the time the retired notary was writing his Gesta) was canon of the cathedral of Varad/Oradea when the Mongols attacked Hungary. He recorded in great detail and vivid prose his experiences, including his hiding from and falling into the hands of the "Tatars". This he prefaced by an astute observation of political conflicts in mid-thirteenth-century Hungary. His description of the events, together with those of Archdeacon Thomas of Split (CEMT 4), is the basic evidence for the horrible devastation of the country by Batu Khan's armies. The present translation is based on the editio princeps of 1488, as no manuscript has survived.
Budapest ;, New York :, Central European University Press,, 2010
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