Korupcia v stredoveku a ranom novoveku

Corruption in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period

Perspectives of what is corruption have been changing with the development of the society and according to the shifts of its values. The study examines not only activities that were considered morally wrong and corrupted in the middle ages and early modern period, but also those forms of behaviour that started to be generally considered corrupted only later. Anachronistic as this approach might seem, it gives us better insight into the slow process of changing attitudes towards some forms of corruption.
The study concentrates on three main areas in which corruption could be studied: church, government (both central and local) and last, but not least on judiciary. Church was criticised for widespread practice of simony and nepotism of the popes. The earliest criticism of corruption in politics and government can be found in the mirrors for princes (specula principum), a kind of political writings instructing rulers on good government and appropriate behaviour. Typically, a phenomenon started to be questioned firstly as corrupted by some intellectuals only. Their views, however, had for long none or only little influence on general perceptions, let alone on changes in legislation. Judiciary was the only sphere in which general public had ever strong negative and very sensitive attitudes against corruption and the fact was reflected in several works of art depicting cruel punishments for corrupted judges.
Given the limited time space for research and with only few case studies on corruption available in the periods of question, the paper is just a concise survey or introduction to the topic rather than a thorough analysis. Due to the lack of relevant research on corruption in the historic territory of the Hungarian kingdom, the paper follows general European development, adding Hungarian examples where local sources are available and known.