Saturday 31 March 2012

Count Istvan Bitto de Sarosfa et Nadasd

Count Istvan Bitto

It was usually the exception, rather than the rule, for members of the lower landowning nobility to rise up into important kingdom-wide positions of power. Their affairs and problems were of a local nature, and usually they felt satisfied with their economic and political positions in county administration. Furthermore, the upper stratas of power were jealously occuppied by the magnates, who did all they could to exclude other parts of society and to force the government of the kingdom on their (often hapless) children.

For Bratislava County nobility, the times of exceptional social climbing occurred during the 16th and 17th centuries; those turbulent times were witness to the Esterhazys, Nadasdys, Illeshazys, and Palffys rise from minor Bratislava nobility to unimaginable wealth and splendour.

In the 19th century, only a few members of Bratislava county nobility rose up high enough to join the ranks of the at most dozen most powerful men in the kingdom. One of these was Istvan Bitto of Sarosfa and Nadasd. He was born in 1822 in Sarosfa (now Blatna na Ostrove), a village the family owned since the middle ages, situated in the wealthy and fertile Rye Island (Csallokoz). His mother was Julianna Nagy, and his father, Benjamin Bitto, was viscount of Bratislava County.

As with so many members of the lower nobility, Bitto studied law and entered the legal civil service. He began his career in Moson County, adjacent to Bratislava County on its south side. Bitto was taken up in the events of 1848, and he joined the Hungarian revolutionaries. He was even made a member of parliament.

The joy did not last long. The revolution was brutally suppressed, and Bitto fled the country, returning only in 1851. He gained the trust of Istvan Deak, and thanks to him he became a member in the newly created Hungarian government, as member of the Liberal Party.

 After the compromise with Austria Bittó was the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives between 1869 and 1872. He served as justice minister in the government of Count Lonyay from 1871 to 1872. On 1 March 1874 he was appointed by King Francis Joseph prime minister. He held this office only until 2 From March 1875 when he was replaced by Baron Wenckheim. In the era of Coloman Tisza (1875–1890) he was one of the few former liberal oppositionists (he was the only Prime Minister who later joined to the opposition). From 1899 until his death Bittó was a member of the House of Magnates.

In 1875, Istvan Bitto and his wife were painted by the famous Hungarian portrait painter, Miklos Barabas.

Members of he Bitto family still live in the region of the old Bratislava County.

A few related websites

There are plenty of Hungarian genealogy websites on the internet. I thought however that I would post links to those websites which directly concern the nobility of Bratislava County.

Nemeth de Nyek Family

Csuthy de Csuth Family

Bogyay de Nagymad et Varbogya Family

Thursday 22 March 2012

Karatsony von Hodos

The name of this ancient noble family morphed many times during the centuries. The family was known as Karaczun, Karaczon, Karachon, Karachun, Karacsony, Karatsony, Karatsonyi, or Karacsonyi. The word Karacsony means "Christmas" in Hungarian, and so is a relatively common name. However, the Karacsony family of Hodos was one of the oldest in Bratislava County.

Hodos, now Vydrany, is a village in the Csallokoz in Bratislava County, and falls within the district of Dunajska Streda (Dunaszerdahely). It appears that in the earliest times it was property of the Castle of Bratislava - but as so often happened with these villages, the warriors who settled there changed into the hereditary landowing nobility. The Vermes and the Hodossy families are thought of as having descended from these original landowners, and so is the Karacsony family.

The Karacsony of Hodos had a fruitful history in the middle ages, as Ivan Nagy's Magyarorszag Csaladai testifies; plenty of names have been recorded in legal land disputes based around Hodos. Nagy Ivan records the archival mentions in 1295 of Nicolaus and Karachon, the sons of Bulchu. From then on, legal disputes around land ownership abound, involving such interesting and important characters as Nicholaus Esterhazy or the 15th century Hungarian Palatine Michael Orszagh of Guth.

Arms of the House of Orszagh, of the Genus Guth

The progression of this family from relative wealth and power to decline and loss of land ownership is a typical story of the ancient middle nobility of Hungary, which attempted to navigate the double dangers of inadequate inheritance laws and the expansive tendencies of the great magnates hungry for land.

The Karacsony family moved to Rethe (now Reca), a village near Szencz (now Senec) in Pozsony County, in the 17th century. However the family never forgot its place of origin and has kept 'de Hodos', 'von Hodos', but most frequently 'hodosi' as a predicate well into the 20th century.

Of more recent members of the family, Karoly Karatsonyi de Hodos was an infantry officer, who in 1859 received from Emperor Franz Josef a letter confirming his pensioned status, ending his career as Major in the 34th Austro-Hungarian infantry regiment the "Prince Regent of Prussia". In the 1920s and 1930s, hodosi Karacsony Sandor was Royal Chief Forestry Advisor of Hungary.

A certain element of celebrity has recently touched the family name, after Lena Meyer-Landruth won the Eurovision song contest for Germany in 2010. Her grandmother was Hanna Karatsony von Hodos, whose husband Andreas Meyer-Landruth was a distinguished Cold War diplomat. Though the gossip columns abound with mentiones of Lena Meyer-Landruth's Hungarian heritage, it may come as a surprise to some that this family is from a village in Slovakia.

As with many ancient Hungarian families, the Karacsony of Hodos never seemed to have received a patent of arms, and therefore they do not have an 'official' coat of arms. However, as all nobles, they used seals engraved with a coat of arms, almost certainly self-designed. The Karacsony seals contain typical noble attributes, such as arms holding swords, celestical bodies, or hussars.