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  • 1 Középkori és Kora Újkori Magyar Történeti Tanszék, ELTE, Budapest
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The so-called holy crown of Hungary has been one of the most important elements in early modern Hungarian political thought, which resulted in countless images from medieval till modern times. This article treats the connection between the various crown images and descriptions of the exterior of the crown and the change of the political meaning of the crown between 1572 and 1665. Using a constructivist method of research, an attempt is made to answer the question of how the crown was depicted in art, what was the function and meaning of this depiction, how this image and function of the crown changed, and how this change can be explained. The focus of the author is on the political developments around 1608 in Hungary, in which the crown, its meaning and image played a dominant role. The function of the crown changed between 1572 and 1608 from a symbol of legitimacy of royal Habsburg power to that of the political claims of the estates of the Kingdom of Hungary. This can be observed in the work of István Illésházy, Elias Berger, János Jessenius, Lucas Kilian, Wolfgang Kilian, Péter Révay, Christoph Lackner, Márton Schödel, Hieronymus Ortelius and others. The change of use, image and meaning of the crown can be explained by the “visual turn”, which according to Peter Burke occurred in the beginning of the 17th century. The attention of historians of that period was drawn to artefacts and images of the past which were used as sources of political legitimacy and incorporated in political thought. The change of the image and meaning of the crown in Hungary was thus a part of a European development in the history of art and political thought.