No. 15 (2019): Diplomatenschrijvers – Schrijvende diplomaten

Published September 1, 2019




  • A Humanist Diplomat in Early 16th Century Hungary: Hieronymus Balbus

    The article investigates new sources, Western European, mainly English diplomatic reports – several being so far unknown for Hungarian scholarship, or, if known, not examined in this regard – e.g. held at the British Library Manuscript Collection to shed light on Hungarian-Ottoman relations at the eve of the fall of the “shield of Christendom”, Belgrade in 1521. The article follows the mission of Hieronymus Balbus, an Italian at the diplomatic personnel of Jagiellonian Hungary, in 1521 to the Habsburg, Tudor and Valois courts. Balbus’s diplomatic workings – through the embassy to the Emperor (Charles V in Worms and Brussels), a peace conference at Calais and Cardinal Wolsey and Henry VIII, King of England – has not been adequately seen in Hungarian historiography, and some of his letters and political activity ranging from Bruges, Worms, Calais, London and Cologne has not so far been mapped, yet new insights can be given for the understanding of Louis II’s diplomatic efforts during the stress of the siege and loss of Belgrade in 1521. The investigation is largely based on Balbus’s dispatches – which has not survived in Hungarian archival material but were preserved in the reports of English envoys of his activity, to the maker of Tudor policy, Chancellor Wolsey. The correspondence of Balbus provides valuable information on the administration of Louis II, about its relationship with the Turks and the Emperor. The leaders of Hungarian diplomacy did not lack astuteness and “had a clear picture” about the international power relations. The government experimented with alternatives, provided they did not receive any aid from the Habsburgs: they were willing to go as far as making an alliance with not only the English, but even with the Emperor’s enemies, the Valois. In 1521, despite the powerful Habsburg dominance, Hungarian foreign politics did have some room to manoeuvre.

  • Onze man in Nagasaki: De gefantaseerde diplomatieke dienst van András Jelky in Japan

    The history of András Jelky was published in German in 1779 in Vienna and in Prague. Jelky was employed by the VOC and had sailed to the Dutch East Indies, had had adventures there and built a career. According to the book from 1779, he also worked as an emissary in Japan. In this article I will discuss the topic of the Dutch-Japanese relations in the 16th to 19th century and the potential role of Jelky.

  • László Teleki, the diplomat of the Hungarian war of independence

    This paper gives an overview of the political career of László Teleki, the leading diplo­mat of the Hungarian war of independence. Based on the topics discussed in this volume, his efforts as a writer of literature will also be mentioned here, though his theatrical pieces met just modest popular acclaim. Teleki joined politics, and became a well-known and successful politician in support of reformists. Later, before the war with Austria, he was appointed to act as the ambassador of the independent Hungarian government to Paris. He had a key role in shaping Hungarian foreign policy, wanted to secure the inde­pendence of the country both during the war of independence and in emigration. This paper focuses on this latter period, when his correspondence clearly reflected his politi­cal commitment and approach, as well as changes in his personal relations.

  • Jenő Bánó: Travels of an Immigrant and his Path to Diplomacy

    This paper introduces a case study of Hungarian emigration to the Americas, which illustrates some of the general trends in migration at the turn of the century as well as a unique career path of a Hungarian immigrant in Mexico. By discussing and analyzing the life, diplomatic career, and publications of Jenő Bánó, the paper touches upon issues including the significance of travel writing in influencing migration, the use of migration propaganda, and relations between Hungary and the Americas.

  • Een groot Nederlander: J.P.Ph. Clinge Fledderus (1870-1946)

    This article dives into a part of the life and personal history of J.P.Ph. Clinge Fledderus (1870-1946), consul of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, who played a crucial role in organizing relief for Hungary in the Interbellum and the organization of the possibilities for Hungarian children to recover from the effects of post-war famine and malaise after the First World War by giving them a holiday of some months in the Netherlands. A commemorative marble plaque for him still can be found on the front of the building at the Üllői út 4 in Budapest.

  • Nicholas Roosevelt in A Front Row Seat: Hungary in the 1930s As Reflected in the Memoirs of an American Diplomat

    As Nicholas Roosevelt put it in the foreword of his memoirs a “combination of circum­stances gave [him] the front row seat at numerous important […] events in Europe during the interwar period,” which made it possible for him to “study history in the making” both as a journalist working for acknowledged dailies of the time, such as The New York Times and The New York Herald Tribune, and as a diplomat who served at various European posts in Europe including Hungary between 1930 and 1933. Due to both of these positions Hungarians considered Roosevelt a highly influential person, who could possibly air and expose Hungary’s situation in the international community after World War I, and help further the revision of the Treaty of Trianon. Drawing on his memoirs, diplomatic exchanges, as well as a selection of his newspaper and magazine articles, the essay proposes to reflect on how Roosevelt viewed Hungary, and whether his various forms of written narratives could have any effect and exert any influence in this regard.

  • A Historian in the Service of the Foreign Office: C. A. Macartney (1895-1978) and his writings on Hungary

    This study is focusing on the life of C.A. Macartney as a diplomat and a historian especially on his writings on Hungary and the Hungarian history. The importance of this point goes back to the fact that he published a good number of books and articles on Hungary between the period of 1926 and 1978. It has been proved that this very rich publication activity of him basically influenced the attitudes of the English-speaking intellectual world towards Hungary and the Hungarians. In the life of Macartney the career as a diplomat and his so-called graphomaniac historian activity were closely connected. Although he was an expert of modern Hungarian history and worked for the British Foreign Office as a member of the Foreign Office Research Department (FORD) during WWII years, he also had a very well-grounded knowledge on the history of Austria and the Habsburg Empire. With his diplomatic activity and historical skill Macartney inspired generations of English-speaking historians, intellectuals and decision-makers in the subject of Hungary and the Hungarians. This fact well indicates the long-term importance and influence of C. A. Macartney as a pro-Hungarian historian and diplomat.

  • 1956 at Ten and Beethoven’s Tenth: Edward Alexander and Hungary, 1965-66

    This article looks at Edward Alexander, an American diplomat who served in Hungary between 1965 and 1969, and his various writings. An Armenian-American man of letters, Alexander served in psychological warfare in World War II, then joined cold war radios and later the Foreign Service. Our focus is on the years 1965-67, when he served as Press and Cultural Affairs Officer at the Budapest Legation. Available sources include his official diplomatic reports, his rather large Hungarian state security file, a lifetime interview conducted under the aegis of the State Department in the late 1980s, a book on Armenian history, and a semi-autobiographical intelligence thriller he penned in 2000. These sources allow for a complex evaluation of his performance in Hungary and of his writing skills on account of his attempt to fictionalize his own exploits.

  • Een postkoloniale spagaat : Een publieke rede in de VN en een geheim telex¬bericht Albert Helman als diplomaat

    Albert Helman, pseudonym of Surinamese Lou Lichtveld (1903-1996), was a prominent writer of the Dutch-Caribbean. Around 1960 he decided to opt for a job as a diplomat at the Netherlands embassy in Washington and the United Nations in New York. Since his native country, Suriname, was still a part of the Netherlands, it could not lead its own foreign policy. Lichtveld advised the government in Suriname, but worked along the lines of the Foreign Department of The Netherlands in The Hague. This position was extremely complicated: we see him struggling with his loyalties when he has to present the Dutch standpoint in the UN in the case of the apartheid-policy in South-Africa.

  • Allemaal Gelogen: Feit en fictie in Bougainville (1981) van F. Springer

    In this article I briefly introduce the Dutch diplomat and author Carel Jan Schneider (Batavia 1932-Den Haag 2011) and his literary work. Under his pseudonym F. Springer he published fourteen books: novels and short stories. His work has been translated into French, German, Thai, Danish, Bulgarian, Slovak and Japanese. In 1995 Springer was awarded the prestigious Constantijn Huygens Prize for his complete works of fiction.

    In my article I will touch upon the following questions: did Schneider’s profession as a diplomat influence his way of writing and to what extent are fact and fiction interwoven in his work?


About the authors