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Doctoral defense of Katalin Pataki

Defense Image
Tuesday, June 2, 2020, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Due to the extraordinary measures introduced by CEU in regard to the Covid-19 virus situation, the doctoral defense will take place on-line. For further information, contact Margaretha Boockmann, PhD coordinator (




The dissertation examines the question how the personnel of monasteries was surveyed and managed by secular authorities in the Habsburg realms, and particularly in the Hungarian Kingdom during the reign of Maria Theresa and Joseph II between 1750 and 1790. By focusing on the formation of administrative practices that enabled more and more detailed and comprehensive record keeping about the capacities of individual monks and nuns, the dissertation investigates the impact of Maria Theresa’s and Joseph II’s church policies both on the Habsburg imperial and the Catholic ecclesiastical governmental structures. The dissertation explores how they succeeded in or fell short of creating a “rank and file” personnel of the church that could have been able to put into practice their vision of a “well-ordered” state and church, and, ultimately, of a well-governed society.

Instead of marking the starting point of imperial uniformity with largely identical legal texts issued on the same day or with minor delay in the central lands by Joseph II, the dissertation emphasizes the synchronicity of developing bureaucratic structures in the various Habsburg domains from the 1750s, when both the blueprints of discursive patterns and administrative structures started taking shape on an imperial scale.

It was the preparation of the law of amortization from 1750 – and the design of its later amendments – that first considered individuals as economic factors: while it intended to put a halt on the accumulation of mortmain properties, it also recognized the act of taking monastic vows as an occasion when a “dowry” or expected heritage was offered to the convent from which the expenses of the sustenance of the new member could be covered fully or partially for a lifetime. By the end of the 1760s, the costs and potential benefits of sustaining individual monks and nuns became the subject of extensive inquiries and both ecclesiastical and secular authorities were instructed to submit detailed reports according to predesigned questionnaires. Thus, the preconditions of preparing policies on the basis of previously gathered information were established and the main characteristics of the “monastic landscape” had been explored.

 By focusing on the reports of a widening network of experts and officials, the dissertation demonstrates that the period after 1786 can be characterized rather with the intensification of the control over monasteries as new governmental and record keeping techniques made individuals visible for the state in great detail



Examination Committee
Gábor Klaniczay – Chair (Department of Medieval Studies, CEU)
László Kontler– supervisor (Department of History, CEU)
József Laszlovszky – CEU internal member (Department of Medieval Studies, CEU)
András Forgó – external member (University of Pécs, Pécs)
Veronika Čapská – external reader (Charles University, Prague)


The doctoral dissertation is available for inspection. Should you wish to access it, please contact Margaretha Boockmann (