Kolduló barátok - gazdálkodó szerzetesek. Koldulórendi gazdálkodás a késő középkori Magyarországon

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2018

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Budapest, Martin Opitz, 2018

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With the exception of the Carmelites, the medieval Kingdom of Hungary was home to the largest and earliest provinces of the mendicant orders in East Central Europe, that is Hungary, Austria, the Bohemian Kingdom, and Poland combined. Around the year 1500, 44 percent of mendicant friars (over 50 percent of mendicant and Pauline friars) of this region lived in Hungary, while the proportion of the kingdom's population was only about 37 per cent of the region's entire population. Unlike in Western and Southern Europe, written evidence about the orders' economic activity in East Central Europe is fragmentary and most of the preserved
data comes from the period after 1450. Nevertheless, the examination of the surviving sources yields a fairly comprehensive picture of the diachronic development of the economic aspects of the orders' operation in the kingdom. Whereas the existence and spread of these orders were determined by religious, political and ideological factors, the economic landscape was shaped by their social networks and the country's economic activity. More specifically, the economy of the orders themselves developed along different strategies, in accordance with the
social and economic environment. The changing environment resulted in the continuous adjustment and transformation of mendicant economy and management, too.
A flexible approach to possession and the adaptivity of management were the most important assets of mendicant economy. Until the very end of the Middle Ages, the basic income of the communities was generated from alms, however, the understanding what "alms" entailed was rather complex. It included bequests, begging, supplications, testaments, pro anima donations and - according to the interpretation of the society surrounding them - even temporary possession of real estates or revenues. In this system, the more or less stable possession of real estate served to attenuate the instability of alms. The estates included mills, fish-ponds, vineyards, granges and sometimes even tenant plots. This also means that the mendicant friaries' real estate did not necessarily comprise of long-term possessions, although there were friaries which held onto certain parts of their estate for several centuries. This model was more or less common for all mendicant orders (63 out of 118 had some sort of real estate or regular income), only the Observant Franciscans rejected completely the possession of real estate and large-scale regular income. Regular income was generated from rent
collected after urban buildings, and eventually tolls and salt privileges. In a few cases, friaries were granted financial capital. Another important facet of mendicant economy was their attitudes to using money. While both Conventual and Observant Franciscans preferred donations in kind, the other orders preferred alms in cash - the Dominicans, for example, can be seen to have favoured money well into the late Middle Ages. This difference in attitudes is also reflected in wills and in the other types of donations.
Mendicant estate management underwent perhaps the greatest changes over the centuries. The persons involved potentially included the local superior (prior or guardian), the leadership of the province, the patron and the steward, often embroiled in complicated relationships, which makes it hard to interpret the surviving sources. Due to the late medieval
reforms of the mendicant orders, the involvement of lay agents increased in the early sixteenth century, a tendency especially prominent in the Franciscan order.
Finally, since alms always played an important role in the economy of the mendicant orders, the social network surrounding the friars was of primary importance, too. The urban character of these orders - as it has been discussed by Jacques LeGoff and many other scholars after him - was less pronounced in medieval Hungary. Instead, the support of the
lesser nobility and of the inhabitants of the market towns was decisive. There were, however, differences between the orders in this respect as well, the Dominicans being the most urban and the Austin Hermits the most rural order. The Observant Franciscans seem to have had the
best contacts to the nobility, but it was not exclusive.