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  • Die Bischöfe der Donaumonarchie 1804–1918: Ein amtsbiographisches Lexikon. Band I: Die röm-kath Kirchenprovinzen Gran, Kalocsa, Erlau im Königreich Ungarn ed. by Rupert Klieber
  • Robyn Dora Radway
Rupert Klieber, ed., Die Bischöfe der Donaumonarchie 1804–1918: Ein amtsbiographisches Lexikon. Band I: Die röm-kath Kirchenprovinzen Gran, Kalocsa, Erlau im Königreich Ungarn. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 2020. 661 pp.

Continuing the important work of the renowned church historian Erwin Gatz (1933–2011), Rupert Klieber and his international team of thirty-four colleagues have published the first of four planned volumes in a new biographical lexicon of the bishops of the Habsburg monarchy. This project, which grew out of the immensely important five-volume Die Bischöfe des Heiligen Römischen Reiches, fills a major gap in our understanding of the history of the Catholic Church in nineteenth-century Central Europe. The volume provides an accessible and standardized prosopography of bishops in the Kingdom of Hungary between 1804 and the fall of the monarchy in 1918. Future volumes currently in preparation will cover the Italian and Croatian territories (Volume 2), the German-speaking and north-Slavic territories (Volume 3), and the eastern borders of the monarchy (Volume 4). The present volume begins with a short introductory essay outlining some of the unique characteristics of the Catholic Church hierarchy in the Kingdom of Hungary, including the complicated practices of appointment and (sometimes nonexistent) sources of income. The introduction also explains the broad chronological arc experienced across the kingdom, from the reforms of Josephinism, through the national uprisings, Ausgleich, the Vatican council of 1870, the culture wars of the late nineteenth century, and finally the post–World War I Catholic revitalization. The biographies then follow, organized by church diocese and then chronologically. Each diocese [End Page 115] is preceded by a short historical overview and structural analysis, including a confessional breakdown of the ecclesiastical district. These framing elements help the reader navigate the biographies of 126 bishops through 169 terms of office. Each biography lists the bishop's exact dates in office and traces his career path, social background, spiritual profile, social contexts, and spheres of political activity. The entries end with a list of published works authored by the bishop, known primary sources and repositories, and relevant secondary literature. As in real life, some biographies are more colorful than others. Political posturing, financial debacles, and the occasional abuse of power appear alongside overviews of the Catholic contribution to the history of Central European publishing and public education. The editor has done a fine job bringing together scholars from Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, and Romania who have worked with material from forty-two archives. In order to avoid assigning obvious national identities to the bishops of the multiethnic region, the editor opted to render all names in German. This decision speaks to an overall attempt to present the biographies of each individual from a neutral standpoint. I commend the publisher for the inclusion of portraits and supporting visuals, which bring the men to life and deserve a separate study themselves. The captions are occasionally formatted in a way that makes them difficult to follow. Though the volume is framed by political dates, only one bishop's tenure ended with the fall of the monarchy in 1918. Thus, the volume offers an opportunity to consider how individuals negotiated the imperial/post-imperial divide. This reference work will serve as a foundation for future studies on elite networks and mobility within the Catholic Church and as an important resource for historians studying institutional continuity and change during major political ruptures.

Robyn Dora Radway
Central European University


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pp. 115-116
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