Imrich NAGY

Katedra histórie, Filozofická fakulta UMB, Tajovského 40, 974 01 Banská Bystrica; email: 



Slovak baroque scholar Matthias Bel’s (1684 – 1749) work Notitia Hungariae novae geographico-historica (Geographic – historical knowledge about new Hungary) is an unique contemporary encyclopedic summary of information not only about history and people’s life in particular Hungarian counties, but it also includes natural conditions. Overview of fauna has its irreplaceable place in the scheme of natural history of particular counties as well. It is possible to analyse the character of this information by way of example of Zvolen county description with comparison to other counties descriptions (Trenčín, Orava). Bel deals with farm animals bred for animal husbandry in one part and wild animals in the other one. These data are an interesting probe into territorial extension of some mammals in the first half of the 18th century. By way of example of different classification of some animal species, it is possible to point to contemporary taxonomy. In case of several mammal species is stated their utility – hunting – meaning together with the need of their protection. Bel’s information, especially in case of Zvolen county as his homeland is based on his own perception or local informants. Period natural history writings are relevant in minimum, since relevant authorities for Bel are antique authors (Plinius sr. Or Aristotle). Despite these facts that have caused many Bel’s mistakes and inaccuracy is his knowledge about nature an important part of general image of life conditions in Slovak area in the first half of the 18th century. It is also a suitable material for knowing begginings of scientific research in our area and finally, that is the main meaning of his work.


Keywords: Matthias Bel, Mammals, Zvolen (Zólyom) county, 18th Century, Taxonomy, Hunting and protection


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