Monday, 1 June 2015

Fertod

Just before leaving Gyor disaster struck, the computer gave up, I did panic. Usually I am happy if I can find the characters on the keyboard, let alone fix something, but the hotels are booked so I just go and hope it will all work out. 

The next two nights I stayed in small towns and could not get any useful advice. I was getting desperate as I was approaching Fertod, the region Hungary's two best known family's the Esterhazy and Szechenyi resided in. The hotel's manager recommended the local computer expert as very helpful. I took my Sony laptop to his workshop and three hours later I picked up my working computer in exchange for 2000 Hungarian Forint($10 Australian). A good start to my visit to Fertod.
The Esterhazy's of the minor nobility can thank Miklos the first 1583-1645 who married two rich widows (not at the same time) and sided with the Habsburgs against Transylvania for which he received the title of count. Miklos the second 1714-1790 assured the family name will be renowned, then he celebrated his inheritance of 600,000 acres  and the dukedom by commissioning the Fertod palace in 1762, completed in 1776.  The family name is also remembered for patronizing great musicians, notably Joseph Haydn who worked at Fertod from 1762-1790 Franz Schubert and Franz Liszt.
The legacy of the Szechenyi family is somewhat different to the Esterhazy's. Count Szechenyi Ferenc inherited the property at Nagycenk. In 1767 he was highly educated and loved his library of over 6000 books and various collections, in 1802 he gifted it all to the nation establishing the Hungarian National Museum.
After his death his son Istvan inherited the property and following in his fathers foot steps in 1825 he gifted 1 year's income of his estate to help establish the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He was appointed to develop Hungary's infrastructure. He initiated regulating the rivers (increasing cultivable land by 25-percent), introducing steamships on the Danube and lake Balaton.  Initiated the building of the Chain Bridge to connect Buda and Pest. Obsessed with modernization he upgraded his home, introducing his friends to never before seen technology, gas lights, bathrooms and flush toilets.
After the failure of the 1848 revolution he had a nervous breakdown blaming himself for the disaster. After his recovery he returned to writing but continual harassment by the political police led him to suicide in 1860. He was declared The Greatest Hungarian and he remains so to this day.

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