The first Franciscans arrived in Hungary from the German province and in 1239 the independent Hungarian province (Provincia Hungariae) was formed, which belonged to the Conventual Franciscans but in 1517 it joined the Observant Franciscans (Provinciae S. Mariae). However, the Observant Franciscans settled on the southern part of the country in the first half of the 15th century and at first they were members of the Bosnian Vicaria. Later, in 1448 an independent Vicaria Hungariae separated from it, which later formed a province (Provincia SS. Salvatoris). As a result of the Ottoman occupation and the Reformation, by the end of the 16th century Franciscan friars lived in just a few Houses of each province. At the same time, along the Danube under Ottoman occupation Croat (Bosnian) Franciscan missionaries worked. After the expulsion of the Ottomans all three provinces, as well as the Province of St. Ladislaus in Croatia, which became independent in 1665, tried to populate the old and new convents. In 1729 the Transylvanian Custody of the Salvatorians formed a province named after St. Stephen and in 1757 the Province of St. John Capistrano was formed from the convents of the Bosnian Franciscans in Hungary.
After uniting the different branches of the Franciscan Order in 1897, Pope Leo XIII reorganized the provinces in Hungary in 1900. The Capistran and the Salvatorian Provinces were united under the name of St. John Capistrano but the Transylvanian (formerly Bulgarian Franciscan) houses of the Capistrans were given to the Transylvanian Province of St. Stephen, and the houses of the Salvatorians, which were in the western part of Upper Hungary, were given to the Province of the Virgin Mary. The convents of the Province of St. Ladislaus in Hungary were divided between the Capistrans and the Marians.
Under the Communist dictatorship, after 1950 only the Province of St. John Capistran was allowed to function with reduced number of friars; their task was to maintain grammar schools in Esztergom and Szentendre. These restrictions were abolished in 1989, after the collapse of the dictatorship. The Marian Province was restored and the Capistrans could also return to their old convents. In 2006 the two Hungarian provinces were united under the name of Magna Domina Hungarorum Province.
All Hungarian Franciscan provinces and convents had their own archives and their most precious treasures were the different manuscript chronicles.
The old archives of the Marian provincials were in Pozsony (Bratislava) and remained there after the Trianon Peace Treaty as well; today the records are held in the State Archives of Bratislava (Státny archív v Bratislave). After the 1950 dissolution the newer records, which were stored in Pest, were saved and transferred to the National Archives of Hungary by István Bakács (P 233). Simultaneously, the surviving records of the other houses were also transferred to state archives. Before 1950 the records of the Capistran Province were kept in two places. The older documents were kept in Gyöngyös, among them the archives of the Salvatorian provincials, abolished in 1900. The newer records, together with the older records of the Capistran Province, were kept in the Buda Convent. The Buda Archives remained in the hands of the order all along but in Gyöngyös the friars hid the most valuable records in the convent in 1949/1950 and these were found in 1998 only. After the nationalization another part of the documents was taken in by the Heves County Archives but in 1969 Imre Soós, director of the archives returned it to the Capistran Province.
At this time the Hungarian Franciscan Archives was created in its present form and successfully collected a number of records, which escaped the nationalization, from the inheritance of the friars and from other places. It meant that the Archives kept a lot of incomplete fonds from different Houses, and the other pieces of these fonds were in county archives. For this reason after the change of regime, from 1995 the archives started the recovery of the nationalized documents and the unification of the fonds. By 2004 each document of the Capistran Province that had been in state archives was returned to the order. After the 2008 unification of the two Hungarian Provinces, the recovery of the nationalized documents of the Houses of the former Marian Province was also started. The classification is in progress but about certain archival units more detailed archival aids are available.
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