András Kubinyi: Zsigmond Jakó, the Scholar of History (p. 317-344)


            Twentieth century historiography shows a powerful tendency towards specialization in more fields and branches; this can be mostly observed in the treatment of different historical periods. The antiquity, the Middle Ages, the early modern age and successive ages are duly researched by different scholars; moreover, specialization is to be found within the selfsame periods as well. Among Hungarian historians, it is only rarely that a person specialized in the history of the age of the Árpáds should also write about the high Middle Ages. In addition, it is even more unusual to find a historian who specializes in the period both before and after the battle of Mohács. A researcher interested in more periods or various thematic fields is becoming a true curiosity: small wonder, since the basic rules of the profession impose that the historian cover virtually the whole source material and basic bibliography pertaining to his field, and even this is becoming increasingly impossible in the age of the sky-rocketing expansion and multiplication of source editions and specialized material. To these rare exceptions belongs the mentor of the researchers of the Hungarian Middle Ages and early modern age, the ninety years old Zsigmond Jakó, former professor of Cluj (Kolozsvár) university. This paper is dedicated to present the life-work of professor Jakó. Even a superficial survey of his bibliography shows clearly that, since the outset of his career, professor Jakó has devoted at least as many works to medieval studies as to the early modern age and even to the eighteenth century. Thus, he can be hardly be catalogued as an exclusive researcher of one period or another. Similarly, we can hardly say that he treated one specific theme exclusively. Nevertheless, it is clear that all the works of his monumental oeuvre are connected by two common denominators: he is interested almost exclusively in Transylvania, and respectively, that part of Hungary, which was annexed to Romania; also, he was most active in the publishing, editing, and interpretation of (historiographic) sources and relying on them in historical analysis.

            Summing up the presentation of the great scholar's vast oeuvre we can conclude that, beside his use of historical documents aiming at completeness, his choice of topics can in effect be divided into two thematic fields. The one builds upon his doctoral thesis - a research of demographic development and of the changes in the percentage of ethnicities, drawing exclusively on historical documents. He returned to this field of study in the last years and throughout his research activity, he obviously regarded his erstwhile tutor, Professor Elemér Mályusz's work as a model. The other is the issue of the intellectuals, which gave him an opportunity for clearing some issues related to cultural history, to the history of writing, to institutional history and to social history. Here, too, the influence of his tutors, Mályusz, István Hajnal and Imre Szentpétery, can be observed.