Several country houses built in Transdanubia (western Hungary) in the early modern age, in the 16-17th centuries are still extant, though most are massively rebuilt. The original state of a mansion can be learnt from archeological investigations, old depictions as well as written sources, particularly inventories. Many of these from the leading aristocratic family archives have been studied by researchers, but the majority are still unpublished. They do not suffice for the perfect reconstruction of the original state of the layout (topography) of the buildings, but their high number allow for statistical inferences to be made about certain general characteristics of usage, furnishing, interrelation of building sections. Constant items in the inventories are: the gate, gatehouse, courtyard, “palace”, the latter including the audience chamber, rooms, staircase, etc. Only the inventories provide a glimpse of the one-time furnishing: lots of tapestries, pictures, carpets, pieces of furniture made these mansions liveable. The sources touch on the gardens in quite some detail, too. This comprehensive paper is closely tied to the author’s earlier published volumes inventorying the country houses (with source publications), and summarizes several decades of research, practical experience and archival investigations within the scope of monument protection.
Márton Padányi Bíró led the diocese of Veszprém from 1745 to 1762. Earlier he was the deputy to the sickly bishop Ádám Acsády and the head of the chapter supporting the bishop. His aristocratic patron during his ecclesiastic career was chancellor of the Habsburg and the Hungarian court, Count Lajos Batthyány. As the charter issued by King Stephen I in 1009 proves, the diocese of Veszprém was one of the largest, and was still in the mid-18th century. It spread from the large curve of the Danube in the north to the Drava separating the country from Croatia in the south. From 1541 to the end of the 17th century the area belonged to the Ottoman Empire. Since remaining Hungary never acknowledged this officially, it was constantly a battlefield. The territory of the diocese got largely depopulated, the ecclesiastic organization with the buildings perished. Reconstruction could not begin before the end of the 17th century and could only make slow progress for the extensive destruction. The re-organization of the diocesan structure was begun by Márton Bíró’s predecessors. In the surviving and re-populated villages, they reorganized the parishes and the construction of church also began, partly supported by the diocese and in greater part by the landowners in their private estates. Márton Bíró took part in the construction spree as bishop Acsády’s deputy and a member of the Veszprém chapter, rebuilding several ruined medieval churches. Since the middle ages the seat of the diocese was Veszprém, but at that time it was mainly inhabited by Protestants. As Bíró was not on good terms with them, he shifted his seat to Sümeg not far away on the northern shore of the Balaton, to another ancient centre of the diocese. Thus, for several decades, the small town at the foot of the medieval castle where the bishop’s predecessors lived during the 150 years of Turkish occupation became the centre from where he organized and controlled the construction of churches and parishes in his diocese the size of half Pannonia.
The monumental project required building specialists in the first place. Bíró settled masons, carpenters and other artisans the constructions needed in Sümeg. If the necessary workers were not at hand, he borrowed some, particularly stone carvers, from the squires. He also contracted painters, sculptors and other artists of nationwide renown from larger cities, Győr, Sopron, even Buda. To decorate the interior of the Sümeg parish church he had built, master builder who planned his buildings and supervised their construction was Paul Mojser, who arrived from South German or Austrian areas probably via Győr and settled in Sümeg. In addition, other brick-layers, carpenters, brick-makers, tilers, blacksmiths, locksmiths, joiners settled also in Sümeg, as well as painters, stone carvers, sculptors, stuccoists from Veszprém, Kőszeg, Keszthely, Pápa, Pest and Zirc were involved in the completion of churches, parish and farm buildings. The employed artisans included Maulbertsch’s colleagues Andreas Brugger who had come with him from Vienna and painters Valentin Krautham who died in Sümeg in 1758 and his pupil Johann Peckl. The latter bought a house and settled in Sümeg, where he received the commissions from squires to decorate different churches all over Pannonia.
In addition to ecclesiastic buildings the bishop had secular buildings, first of all his own residence, built in Sümeg. The mansion, together with the outhouses, stables, granary, workshops for the craftsmen, were erected by the building specialists working on the churches. In addition, he also had dwellings for the overseers, school, schoolmaster’s house and pub built. Starting with the bishop’s mansion, all buildings were planned by Mojser and built by the artisans of Sümeg, Keszthely and Veszprém. The interiors were decorated by artists and craftsmen borrowed from other locations. It is also possible that some rooms of the mansion were adorned by Maulbertsch’s frescoes.
With the death of Márton Bíró the leading role of Sümeg declined. His successor bishop Ignác Koller restored the seat of the diocese to Veszprém where he had the still extant palace built by one of the most famous architects of his age, Jakab Fellner.
A kora újkori, 16–17. századi levéltári forrásanyag, mind az írott, mind a képi források, lehetővé teszik, hogy felvázolható legyen — elsősorban a Királyi Magyarország területén — a kastélyépítkezések folyamata. Az a gyakorlat, amelynek során az építési engedély beszerzésétől, a tervezésen át, a kivitelezésig bonyolították az építkezést. A felhasznált forrásanyag lehetőséget teremt, hogy néhány általánosítható megfigyelést tegyünk, ám nyilvánvalóan további forrás- és épületkutatásra van szükség ahhoz, hogy tovább formálhassuk, gondolhassuk a 16–17. századi kastélyok építéstörténetét. A rövid tanulmány elsősorban az építkezések hogyanjára és mikéntjére kíván koncentrálni, miközben az írott forrásanyagból felsejlik egy összetettebb kép a korszak művelődés-, technika- és gazdaságtörténetéről, valamint mentalitástörténetéről.