Obituary: Kalman Benda

Kalman Benda, historian: born Nagyvarad (Oradea) 27 November 1913; married 1941 Maria Szabo; died Budapest 13 March 1994.

KALMAN BENDA was one of the most productive and versatile of Hungarian historians.

Born in 1913 in Nagyvarad (now Oradea, in Romania), Benda was educated in Budapest where he won a scholarship in the prestigious Eotvos College of Peter Pazmany University. He studied history and geography and completed his education abroad, first in Vienna and Berlin and later at the Sorbonne (1937-38). After a period of military service he first worked for the Hungarian Ministry of Education (1941- 42) and then as researcher in the Pal Teleki Institute.

After the Second World War, Benda became Deputy Director of the Institute of Historical Research but in 1949 he lost his post for political reasons. For a number of years he had no permanent work and only in 1953 did he find a position in a diocese of the Hungarian Reformed (Calvinist) Church where he held the post of Archivist. For a short time he regained his old post in the Institute of Historical Research (1957-58) and even after his subsequent demotion he was attached to the Institute for a number of years to follow. In 1980 he became Director to the Raday Collection of the Hungarian Reformed Church in Budapest. In 1989 he was a co- founder of the Hungarian section of the League for Human Rights; last year he was elected Rector of the new Gaspar Karoli Protestant University and he was also on the editorial board of various Hungarian reviews (Szazadok, Historia, Confessio).

Benda's first research interest was the connection between Protestantism and Hungarian national awareness in the 16th to 18th centuries. It was reflected in his book A magyar nemzeti hivatastudat tortencie (The History of the Hungarian Nation's Awareness of its Mission) which came out in 1937, but it was his book on the 16th-century Hungarian nobleman and Prince of Transylvania Istvan Rocskai (1942) that established his reputation. After the Second World War he spent many years working on the history of the Martinovics plot and the Hungarian Jacobin Movement, the result of which were the three-volume collection A magyar jakobinusok iratai (Papers of the Hungarian Jacobins, 1952- 57) and the study A magyar jakobinus mozgalom tortenete (History of the Hungarian Jacobin Movement, 1957). Equally important was Benda's publication of the papers of the 18th-century Hungarian statesman and diplomat Pal Raday, Raday Pal iratai Vols I-II (1955-61). This was followed by another book devoted to Hungarian personalities of the Enlightenment, Emberbarat vagy hazafi (Philanthrope or Patriot, 1978) and by a four-volume edition, an indispensable source for students of Hungarian history, Magyarorszag torteneti kronologiaja (The Historical Chronology of Hungary, volumes I to IV, 1981-82).

Benda's resumed his earlier research interest in the 1980s and produced the volume Habsburg abszolutizmus es magyar rendi ellenallas a XVI-XVII szazadban (Habsburg Absolutism and the Resistance of the Hungarian Estates in the 16th-17th century, 1984). He was also known to have worked on documents concerning 17th-century Hungarian Diets, a collection of which is yet to be

published.

Benda's interest in the linguistic heritage of past centuries was documented by his editorial work on Moldvai csango-magyar okmanytar, volumes I-II (Csango Hungarian Documents from Moldavia, 1989). A member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences since 1989, he was later elected head of its Philosophical and Historical Section.

Benda, while a conscientious and hardworking scholar, was also an amiable and engaging person. He led an active life even in his old age and his death was unexpected: returning from a visit to Paris he had a fatal heart-attack at Budapest airport.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?