Mikó Árpád szerk.: "Magnificat anima mea Dominum" M S Mester vizitáció-képe és egykori selmecbányai főoltára (A Magyar Nemzeti Galéria kiadványai 1997/1)
TANULMÁNYOK / ESSAYS - POSZLER GYÖRGYI: Selmecbánya és a Mária-templom főoltára
GYÖRGYI POSZLER SELMECBÁNYA AND THE HIGH ALTAR OF THE CHURCH OF THE VIRGIN MARY Selmecbánya (Schemnitz, Banská Stiavnica) was among the three largest of the seven mining towns of Lower Hungary, the other two being Besztercebánya (Neusohl, Banská Bystrica) and Körmöcbánya (Kremnitz, Kremnica). Its foundation in the thirteenth century was associated with the relocation of the Saxon population to this area. The thirteenth-century core of the town was made up by the old castle built on the hill, complete with church, cemetery and ossarium. The planned construction of the part of the town in the valley took place following the earthquake of 1443, when this least damaged area became the centre of bourgeois prosperity. The main square and the long main street (Ring) was then lined with the houses of the wealthy Ringbürgers (cives circulares), i.e. the burghers living along Ring Square. The social hierarchy in Selmecbánya was no different from that of the other mining towns. It was the fully entitled burghers endowed with the privileges who reserved for themselves the privileges of the landlord and who controlled the mining industry. They also controlled the town government, as the major town officials - the magistrate, the notary, the mine master (Bergmeister), along with the other members of the socalled inner council - were elected from their ranks. Originally, their main interest was associated with the mining industry. In the fifteenth century, however, largely in consequence to the deepening of mines which pushed up the costs of production, the industry failed to yield a substantial profit. The larger part of the profit associated with the mining industry was realized in the hands of the merchants trading the mining products, rather than of the mining burghers (urburarius) themselves. As a result of various loan and credit transactions, the mining industry gradually came to be dependent on commercial capital. This drawn-out process characterized the entire fifteenth-century history of mining at Besztercebánya, which then came to a close with János Thurzó's grandiose scheme. Between 1493 and 1495 Thurzó purchased, or occasionally leased out for long terms, almost all the mining sites of the town from the heavily indebted Waldbürger family. He secured the capital necessary both for the purchase and for the following increase of production by forming a partnership with the Fuggers in accordance with an agreement signed in 1495. The course of development followed by Selmecbánya was somewhat different from Besztercebánya's. Here the industry was geared to the production of high-quality silver ore containing gold, and in this particular field Selmecbánya was by far the richest site in Hungary. In the early sixteenth century Selmecbánya's production of precious metals far exceeded that of both Besztercebánya and Körmöcbánya, alone securing more revenues for the king's treasury, than the latter two combined together. The chancellery and the mint were situated in Körmöcbánya, which meant subordination and economic subjugation for Selmecbánya. The royal monopoly on precious metals meant that the leasing of the mines, the determination of the urbura, the exchange of gold and silver and the minting of coins all came under the authority of the chancellery. At the same time, the people of Selmcebánya were also hit by the growing costs of running the mines. It was these circumstances together that led to a crisis for the mining business of the Waldbürger family at the end of the fifteenth century. The mining industry yielded so little profit at that point that the burgher families were trying to get rid of their interests in it, turning to other sources of income, including that resulting from one of their privileges, the sale of beverages. The Waldbürger family of Beszterbánya greatly profited from the establishment of Thurzó's partnership. In the fifteenth century the richest burghers emerged from the ranks of those who played an active part both in Thurzó's enterprize and in the commercial activities of the new owners. The wealthy burgher families of Besztercebánya used some of their fortune to build and furnish churches and chapels.The prominent families built chapels to be added to the parish church; they also set up funds to pay for the continuous building and furnishing of the church, the construction of which began in 1483. Two donations stand out in specific, each in the amount of 1000 Forints, which Mihály Königsberger bequested on the church in 1503: one was to pay for the copper-plate roof for the sanctuary, and the other to cover the costs of the church's high altar.