2017-06-09 12:09:19 UTC
For a long time historians believed that the first wife of Kalman, king
of Hungary (d 1116) was named "Busilla". She was a daughter of Roger I,
most probably by his second wife, Eremburge of Mortain.
This was from the error of a 14th-century Italian translator of an
11th-century chronicle, who misread the word "puella" and mistook this
for the lady's name. The original account, by Geoffrey Malaterra, did
not give her name.
In 1963 Walter Holtzmann pointed out the problem and explained how it
came about. In 1964 Holtzmann's explanation was accurately related for
Hungarian readers by Elemér Mályusz. Neither of them suggested a name
for the lady, contenting themselves with noting that she was not called
However, in 1968 Szabolcs de Vajay invented the name Felicia for her,
with a false explanation that he repeated in 1972 - according to him
(citing only Holtzmann, who had said nothing of the kind), her name was
supposedly given in a Siciilian diploma written in Greek as "Eleutheria"
(it wasn't). Vajay then asserted, wrongly, that the Latin form of
Eleutheria was "Felicia" (eleutheria means freedom, not felicity that is
usually 'eutuchia'), and that this was the lady's name. He sought to
justify his bogus claim by analogy with Felicia of Roucy (the second
wife of Sancho IV of Aragon), who he said was close to the Sicilian
ruler's family (in fact she was a sister-in-law of one of the Hungarian
queen's many first cousins).
The alleged Greek diploma giving the lady's name as "Eleutheria" was
actually a genealogy of the Hauteville family by the 17th-century
Sicilian historian Rocco Pirri, and he gave the name as "Busilla or
Elateria", not by any means the same as "Eleutheria". Pirri cited two
16th-century works, and as Holtzmann had noted the first of these gave
no name while the second gave only "Busilla".
So Vajay had managed to turn yet another repetition of the old mistake
into a new one of his own imagination. Unfortunately his authority has
been accepted without question by many historians, and the baseless
"Felicia" is now taken into the historical canon as the anonymous