In an exploration of the life and customs of the Hungarian nobility, this book compares historical reality and legal literature on the example of one noble kindred the Elefánthy kindred from northern Hungary (present-day Slovakia). The author begins by outlining the customary laws regarding noble status, inheritance and marriage, as summarized in the famous code of Stephen Werböczy (1514). He then compares these norms with the documentary evidence and establishes the fact that the legal literature differs in regard to social mobility and kindred solidarity.
With this frame of reference in mind, the fate of the Elefánthy family is traced through several generations, enabling the author to make some general statistical statements on inheritance, the rise and fall of various branches, marriage strategies, and the "survival skills" of the kindred. In his summary, the author outlines some of the major avenues for further research, including the peculiar Hungarian form of retainership (familiaritas), and the relationships between noble families and between the nobility and local communities.
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: The Tripartitum and reality
Chapter 3: The Elefánthy kindred
Chapter 4: Epilogue