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.
This study deals with the use of the Holy Crown of Hungary in Hungarian revolts and Habsburg representation between 1604 and 1611. It describes how the meaning of the crown suddenly changed after 1604 and how this meaning was spread across the borders of Hungary. The focus is on the use of the crown in the propaganda of King Matthias II at the time of his crowning as King of Bohemia in 1611. This is a rare example of the use of the Hungarian crown in the political legitimation of a ruler in another country outside Hungary, but it has a special ideological background. This use is an aspect of the history of the crown that has been overlooked to this day.