Remaining an Outsider: An Eighteenth-Century Diary of a Hungarian Nobleman

Keywords: diary, lower nobility, eighteenth-century Hungary, mentalities


György Nagy was an eighteenth-century merchant and nobleman in the Jászság region, and his diary for the period 1759 to 1769 gives insights into his selfidentity. Even though it is not explicitly stated, the document is infused with a sense of being an outsider. This study attempts to find the bases of this sentiment using the methods of cultural psychology, and seeks to explore his particular responses to conflicts that arose in his life. Four factors can be identified which made the diary’s author an outcast: (i) Nagy came from outside the Jászság region; (ii) his university-level education and profession distinguished his lifestyle from that of the landed peasant majority; (iii) his identity as a member of lower nobility; (iv) the conjunction and combination of these circumstances all at once. It was Nagy’s ancestry which was the principal determinant his self-image and exercised the greatest influence over his decisions (loans, etc.).

Author Biography

Gábor Csikós, Hungarian Academy of Sciences – Institute of History

Gábor Csikós (1985) holds degrees in Psychology (MA) and History (MA). In 2019 he defended his Ph.D. thesis and started work at the Institute of History of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He also became a lecturer at the Psychology Institute of Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in Hungary. His research interest focuses on social history, particularly rural history. He has so far edited six volumes; one of these was Nagy György’s diary (Nemes Nagy György jászsági naplója), the source for the current study.