Manufacturing a Past for the Present

Forgery and Authenticity in Medievalist Texts and Objects in Nineteenth-Century Europe


In search of specific national traditions nineteenth-century artists and scholars did not shy of manipulating texts and objects or even outright manufacturing them. The essays edited by János M. Bak, Patrick J. Geary and Gábor Klaniczay explore the various artifacts from outright forgeries to fruits of poetic phantasy, while also discussing the volatile notion of authenticity and the multiple claims for it in the age.

Contributors include: Pavlína Rychterová, Péter Dávidházi, Pertti Anttonen, László Szörényi, János M. Bak, Nóra Berend, Benedek Láng, Igor P. Medvedev, Dan D.Y. Shapira, János György Szilágyi, Cristina La Rocca, Giedrė Mickūnaitė, Johan Hegardt and Sándor Radnóti.
Restricted Access


EUR €121.00USD $160.00

Biographical Note

János M. Bak is Professor Emeritus of Medieval History at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver and Central European University, Budapest. He published extensively on medieval rulership, laws, symbology of power; his most recent volume is Studying Rulers and their Subjects (Variorum, 2010).
Patrick J. Geary is Professor of Medieval European History at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He has published numerous books and essays on medieval social and cultural history including The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe (Princeton, 2002).
Gábor Klaniczay is Professor of Medieval Studies at the Central European University, Budapest. He has published numerous books and essays on the historical anthropology of Christianity, including Holy Rulers and Blessed Princesses: Dynastic Cults in Medieval Central Europe (Cambridge, 2002).

Table of contents

Acknowledgements ... vii
The Long Shadow of Ossian. Editors' Preface ... viii
List of Figures ... xxv
Notes on Contributors ... xxviii


1 The Manuscripts of Grünberg and Königinhof: Romantic Lies about the Glorious Past of the Czech Nation ... 3
Pavlína Rychterová

2 To Authenticate a Manuscript: The Case of Toldy and Hanka, Hermeneutically Reconsidered ... 31
Péter Dávidházi

3 The Kalevala and the Authenticity Debate ... 56
Pertti Anttonen

4 János Arany’s Csaba Trilogy and Arnold Ipolyi’s Hungarian Mythology ... 81
László Szörényi

5 From the Anonymous Gesta to the Flight of Zalán by Vörösmarty ... 96
János M. Bak


6 Forging the Cuman Law, Forging an Identity ... 109
Nora Berend

7 Invented Middle Ages in Nineteenth-century Hungary. The Forgeries of Sámuel Literáti Nemes ... 129
Benedek Láng

8 Excellent Scholar—Excellent Forger: The Case of Karl Benedict Hase ... 144
Igor P. Medvedev

9 On Firkowicz, Forgeries and Forging Jewish Identities ... 156
Dan D. Y. Shapira


10 Wisest is Time: Ancient Vase Forgeries ... 173
János György Szilágyi

11 Agilulf, “The Nonexistent Knight” and the Forging of the Italian “Germanic” Past ... 224
Cristina La Rocca

12 Imagining the Real: Material Evidence and Participatory Past in Nineteenth-Century Lithuania ... 267
Giedrė Mickūnaitė

13 Time Stopped. The Open-air Museum Skansen of Artur Hazelius ... 287
Johan Hegardt

14 The New York Cloisters: A Forgery? ... 307
Sándor Radnóti

Index of Proper Names ... 317


These essays are intended both for modern historians, medievalists, and scholars of nationalism as well as for a wider public interested in understanding the origins of modern nationalist ideology.