17th century thesis sheets of Hungarian students in Central Europe
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In the 17th-18th centuries, multiplied graphic works - thesis sheets - were made for the ceremonial examinations of the students at the universities. The 17th century history of thesis sheets ordered by Hungarian students actually only spans half a century because the first thesis sheet of Hungarian students was published in 1654. The first thesis sheet was issued by the university of Nagyszombat and dedicated to a young Hungarian aristocrat, Pál Esterházy, whose theme is the Esterházy family's struggle against the Ottomans. The relationship between the Vienna court and the Hungarian nobility deteriorated in the years following the peace of Vasvár of 1664, which was highly detrimental to Hungary. The personal delegate of Emperor Leopold I represented him at the exams and handed over the Emperor's award to the candidates. Such an exam was a special favour, and only one to three students earned the right to sit for it a year in the imperial capital in the 17th century. The Hungarian candidates were offspring of the most notable families of counts and barons. The first Hungarian student to take such an examination was baron István Koháry. The genre of the thesis sheet sensitively responded to the change in the relation between the Habsburg rule and the Hungarian estates around 1680. In 1681 the pro-Habsburg Pál Esterházy was elected Palatine, and this was the decade in which the Ottomans were driven out of Hungary and Buda was liberated. The Hungarian nobility, though not regaining their earlier influence, remained a decisive factor in the region to be reckoned with by the central power. From the onset of the 18th century the practice of having personal, individual thesis sheets characterizing the previous fifty years or so gradually changed. They were replaced by mostly ready-made thesis sheets marketed by the Augsburg print publishers. Though the 18th century thesis sheets, similarly to their 17th century counterparts, are among the top achievements of multiplied graphic art in Augsburg and reveal a lot about the artistic colloquial of the age and the artistic argumentation used by the Jesuits and other monastic orders, what was lost in many of the 18th century specimens of the genre was the personalness that characterized the 17th century pieces and that lent the beginnings of baroque its unsurpassable dynamism.
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