Upper Hungary

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Upper Hungary is the usual English translation of two terms:

1. The older Hungarian term Felső-Magyarország (Slovak Horné Uhorsko, German: Oberungarn, literally: "Upper Hungary") officially referred to what is today approximately eastern Slovakia in the 16th-18th centuries and unofficially to all the northern parts of the Kingdom of Hungary in the 19th century.

2. The Hungarian Felvidék (Slovak Horná Zem/Horné Uhorsko; German: Oberungarn; literally "highland") had several unofficial meanings:

  • In the 19th century and part of the 18th, it was usually used:
    • to denote the mountainous northern part of the Kingdom of Hungary as opposed to the southern lowlands
    • more generally, to denote regions or territories situated at a higher altitute than the settlement of the speaker
    • as a synonym for the then-meaning of "Felső-Magyarország"
  • After WWI, the meaning in the Hungarian language was restricted to Slovakia and Carpathian Ruthenia, and after WWII to Slovakia only.


[edit] 16th - 18th centuries

The term emerged approximately after the conquest of today's Hungary by the Ottomans in the 16th century, when "Felső-Magyarország" (German: Oberungarn, Slovak: Horné Uhorsko) referred to present-day eastern Slovakia and the adjacent territories of today's Hungary and Ukraine that were not occupied by the Ottoman Empire. This terrritory formed a separate military territorial unit (the "Captaincy of Upper Hungary" (1564 – 1686) based in Kaschau/Kassa/Košice) within Royal Hungary. At that time present-day western Slovakia, and sometimes also the remaining territories of Royal Hungary to the south, were called Lower Hungary (Hungarian: Alsó-Magyarország, German: Niederungarn, Slovak: Dolné Uhorsko).

This usage occurs in many texts up to around 1800 – for example the famous mining school of Schemnitz/Selmecbánya/Banská Štiavnica in present-day central Slovakia was founded in "Lower" Hungary (not in "Upper" Hungary) in the 18th century and Pressburg (today Bratislava) was said to be in "Lower Hungary" in the late 18th century.

[edit] 17th century - early 20th century

From the end of the 17th century (in many texts however from around 1800 only) until 1918, the territory of the Kingdom of Hungary above the Tisza and the Danube, which comprised the present-day Slovakia, Carpathian Ruthenia and approximately the Hungarian counties of Nógrád, Heves and Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén was unofficially called "Upper Hungary" (Felső-Magyarország or Felvidék). Other nations used the terms "Upper Hungary" (for the upper part of the Kingdom), "Slovakia" (only for the territory predominantly inhabited by Slovaks) and "Ruthenia" (the territory predominantly inhabited by Ruthenians) in parallel. The Slovaks themselves called the territories of the Kingdom of Hungary to the south of Slovakia "Dolná zem" ("Lower Land(s)") .

In the course of the creation of Czechoslovakia at the end of WWI, Czechoslovakia originally required that all of so-called Upper Hungary be added to Czechoslovak territory (i.e. including the territory between the Tisza and present-day Slovakia). Note however that the claim was not based on the term "Upper Hungary", but on the presence of a Slovak minority living in the region.

[edit] Modern usage

After WWI, the meaning of Felvidék in the Hungarian language (Felső-Magyarország was not used anymore) was restricted to Slovakia and Carpathian Ruthenia. Today the term Felvidék is sometimes used in Hungary when speaking about Slovakia (among others by nationalists), and it is exclusively used in historical literature even when speaking about the Middle Ages. The three counties of the region that remained in Hungary after WWI, however, are never called Upper Hungary today, only Northern Hungary. Any use of the word "Felvidék" to denote modern Slovakia is considered derogatory by Slovaks, but it is sometimes used by the sizeable Hungarian minority living in the southern border-zone of Slovakia. Some of them call themselves felvidéki magyarok, i.e. Magyars of Upper Hungary.

[edit] Middle Ages

In retrospect, the term Upper Hungary is also used in the literature as an inexact translation of other (at that time Latin) earlier designations denoting approximately the same territory. These other terms were, for example, Partes Danubii septentrionales (territories to the north of the Danube) or Partes regni superiores (upper parts of the Kingdom). The actual name "upper Hungary" arose later from the latter.de:Oberungarn eo:Supra Hungarujo hu:Felvidék

Upper Hungary

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