Department of Hungarian Legal and Political History

Eötvös Loránd University
Faculty of Law
Department of Hungarian Legal and Political History

Head of Department: Prof. Dr. Barna Mezey
H-1053 Budapest, Egyetem tér 1-3.
Tel.:/Fax.: +36-1-411-6518
Desk officer of the Department: Ágnes Magyariné Horváth


Teaching of the history of law and state as a university subject begun in 1855. The first lectures on the history of law of the German Empire were kept by Gustav Wenzel, and later on this discipline of science became the history of the universal European law. The first professor of the history of Hungarian law became Imre Hajnik in 1872. There were two departments of history of law at that time: the Department of the History of Universal and Comparative Law and the Department of Hungarian Legal and Political History.

History of Hungarian Constitutional Law, and History of Hungarian Law were taught by the Department of Hungarian Legal and Political History. The research topics of the Department were the History of Hungarian Criminal Law and Prison Matters, the Evolution of the Justice Policy, the Development of the Law of Transylvania, the Development of Constitutional Law in the Middle-age, Codification of the Historical Law, Models of Parliamentarism, and the Development of Hungarian Constitutional Law and Hungarian Public Law.

The educational task of the Department nowadays is to establish professionally the legal education, and to give an overview of the prehistory of construction and terminology of the branches of law by teaching the main historical tendencies of Hungarian law. It teaches the features and the traditional elements of the Hungarian legal culture for the finalists. It acquaints the students of the politology course with the Hungarian parlamentarism and the history of the Parliament, in the framework of the history of European parlamentarism.

The main research profile of the Department of Hungarian Legal and Political History is the historical development of the Hungarian legal institutions with special regard to the development of law of the neighbouring countries and Europe. There are 8 staff members at the Department, with single research programmes: Kinga Bódiné Beliznai (Hungarian law of marriage, legal symbols), Gergely Gosztonyi (history of media law and the actual questions of its legislation), Attila Horváth (history of commercial law, the legal systems in dictatorship), György Képes (the impact of the law of the US on Hungary), Gábor Máthé (public administration and the rule of law), Barna Mezey (development of law of enforcement), Mihály T. Révész (freedoms, civil rights, law of the press) Levente Völgyesi (history of the ecclesiastical law, law of monument protection). The history of parlamentarism and the place of legal symbols in the history of law are the common research tendencies at the Department. Next to the staff members, there are 25 visiting lecturers at the Department: attorneys at law, historians, archivists, judges and other scientists.

Main subjects at the Department:

  • The History of Hungarian Constitution
  • The History of Hungarian Law
  • The History of European Constitutions and Parliamentarism
  • Research topics at the Department:

  • The History of Hungarian Criminal Law and Prisons
  • The Evolution of Justice Policy in Hungary
  • The Evolution of Constitution and Law in Transylvania
  • Instances of Codification in the Hungarian Legislative History
  • Historical Patterns and Contemporary Models of Parliamentarism
  • The Soviet Constitutional Model and the Evolution of Hungarian Constitutional Law in the 1950s
  • Historical Foundations of the Hungarian Private Law
  • Historical Study of the Symbols of Law
  • The History of Parliamentarism in Hungary with Special Reference to European Influences

    HAS - ELTE Legal history Research Group

    The Legal history Research Group of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (HAS) operates at the Department of Hungarian Legal and Political History of ELTE. This HAS-ELTE Research Group is the sole supported program in Hungary among the researches of history of Hungarian law. The research theme of this group rests on comparative regional analysis, summarized under the title ‘Regions-parlamentarism-rule of law’ put into the framework of the development of the constitutions in the 19th-20th century. (In the framework of the following sub-topics: Parliaments, parties, parlamentarism; Europe - regions - national states; Enactment - European legal practice – instances of codification in Hungary).

    The members of the group do research on the topic of the divided parlamentarism, the relation of the European and national institutions, the realization of the rule of law on European and national level. The aim of the research group is the concentration of the researches of the history of Hungarian law, next to the organization of scientific conferences, informal relations and publication of volumes.

    The results of the work of the research group were published in several non-series volumes. Its regular proceedings are the Jogtörténeti Szemle (in Hungarian), the Ungarische Rechtshistoriker (in German) and the Rechtsgeschicgtliche Vorträge/Lectures on Legal History (in German and in English).

    The head of the research group is Lajos Izsák, its team consists of Attila Barna, Dóra Frey, András Karácsony, Gábor Máthé, István Stipta and Zoltán Szente.