Krisztina Rábai

Krisztina Rábai is an historian, medievalist, classical philologist and curator of old and rare prints, who earned her Ph. D. in history at the University of Szeged (2013; summa cum laude).

She conducts her research on historical source editions (Hungarian related charters from the 14th century, and Jagiellonian royal accounts from the 15th-16th centuries), auxiliary historical sciences (paleography, diplomatic, filigranology, codicology, sigillography), paper history, and the history of medicine (her main interest is hereditary syphilis as recorded in the written sources of the 15th and 16th century).

Since 2008 she has been researching and teaching at the University of Szeged where she is a member of the editorial board of one of the most important medieval research projects recently carried out in Hungary – the so-called 'Angevin Archives' (Anjou-kori Oklevétár: Documenta res Hungaricas tempore regum Andegavensium illustrantia 1301–1387). She has been teaching mostly auxiliary historical sciences (in Hungarian and in English), and medical Latin language (in English) at the University of Szeged.

In 2016 and 2017, she has held a temporary position as a research fellow at the Silesian University in Opava on two occasions and at the University of Hradec Králové. Also she has had the opportunity to learn more about curatorial practice through a CERL (Consortium of European Research Libraries) internship in the National Library of Scotland.  This involved elaborating its incunabula collection according to the requirements of MEI (Material Evidence in Incunabula). She has recently completed the task of incorporating the incunabula of Somogyi City Library (Szeged) into MEI, and she also works on the incunabula collection of the Benedictine Abbey Library in Broumov, which includes around 180 items. Besides these activities, Dr. Rábai has benefited from a number of further research grants and fellowships, together with short visits as invited lecturer to such countries as Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Great Britain, Italy and Lithuania. She has also participated in conferences all over Europe.

In the last 15 years, she has been working in the field of Jagiellonian research. Her studies focus on the accounts of the third generation of the Jagiellonian-dynasty, sons of Casimir IV and Elisabeth of  Habsburg. Her research efforts have resulted in the publishing of many articles and also of Hungarian translations and editions of account books. These include the main account, and also the auxiliary account of Sigismund Jagiellon (Jagelló Zsigmond herceg udvarának számadáskönyve (1504-1507): The Court Account Book of Sigismund Jagiellon (1504-1507), Szeged, 2014, 460pp.; Mezi periferií a centrem jagellonského světa. Registrum dvořanů knížete a krále Zikmunda I. Jagellonského z let 1493-1510, Opava, 2015, 412pp. edited in collaboration with Petr Kozák, within the frame of 'Slezsko: Paměť – identita – region' (2011-2015, MKO/DF) project).

Research project: The Usage and Acquisition of Paper in the Jagiellonian Courts (1492-1507)

Krisztina’s recent research has been related to the field of historical source edition, paper history and watermark studies, in connection with a well-defined group of sources, the royal court accounts of the third generation of Jagiellonians (Wladyslaw, John Albert, Alexander, Sigismund) issued between 1492 and 1507, between the coronation of John Albert and the coronation of Sigismund. Both the main and auxiliary volumes document the everyday income and expenditure of princely and royal courts. The registers concerned are mostly preserved in Warsaw in the Central Archives of Historical Records (Archiwum Główne Akt Dawnych) among the archival material of the royal treasury (Archiwum Skarbu Koronnego) with other account books (Rachunki królewskie); there is only one exception, the account of Wladyslaw, the Bohemian-Hungarian king, which is in the collection of the National Széchényi Library in Budapest.

A major part of the project is the investigation of material evidence, i.e. the analysis and comparison of watermarks visible on the paper of the accounts (altogether 19 volumes). The main questions to be answered are: where did the paper come from? Did the Jagiellonian courts use the same quality of paper from the same paper mill(s)? Was there a direct connection with a paper mill or with a merchant or with a special trading group which was responsible for the satisfactory paper supply to these royal courts?

Textual information can also provide evidence of paper purchasing. Among the purposes of this project is the edition of one of John Albert's main accounts, which may provide some more information about purchasing and using paper in the royal court (Registrum extraditorum pro serenissimo domino Johanne Alberto rege Poloniae per Jacobum de Schidlowyecz vicethezaurarium. 1493-1497; approx. 178 fol.). Relying on the editions of the examined registers, paper research can obtain information about the quantity, the quality and the usage of the paper. The first paper mills on the territories controlled by the members of the Jagiellonian dynasty were established at the end of the 15th and the beginning of the 16th centuries (Wrocław 1475, Świdnica cc. 1490, Prądnik Czerwony 1491, Prague 1499, Nysa and Mogiła cc. 1500). Is it possible to detect the usage of local paper products either via material evidence or through textual information? Many questions arise - and will hopefully be answered - by the proposed research project.

Dates of stay: 01 March 2019 - 31 July 2019