How did the best Hungarian universities get their names?
Hungary’s higher education boasts many famous universities. Not all of these universities are like the Budapest University of Technology; most of them bear the names of famous Hungarian persons. The names of Kálmán Kandó, Ignaz Semmelweis, Loránd Eötvös, Saint Stephen and Péter Pázmány all belong to different higher education institutions. But who are these institutions named after?
St. Stephen I.
He was the last Grand Prince of the Hungarians and the first King of Hungary. He was born by the pagan name Vajk. He was the first member of his family who became a devout Christian. After his father Géza died, he had to fight for the throne. He defeated his relative Koppány. He was crowned on 25 December 1000 or 1 January 1001 with a crown sent by Pope Sylvester II. Stephen established at least one archbishopric, six bishoprics and three Benedictine monasteries, leading the Church in Hungary to develop independently from the archbishops of the Roman Empire. He encouraged the spread of Christianity. He reformed the system of local administration. Hungary enjoyed a lasting period of peace during his reign. He was one of the most influential persons of Hungarian history. He died on 15 August 1038. He was buried in his new basilica, built in Székesfehérvár.
Kálmán Kandó was a Hungarian engineer, the inventor of the phase converter. He studied mechanical engineering at the Budapest Technical University. After his military service, he travelled to France and worked there. He developed a completely new design-calculation procedure. This made it possible to produce economic AC traction motors. He was a pioneer in the development of AC electric railway traction. Many modern electric trains work on the same three-phase high tension AC principle. In 2001, he received the posthumous Hungarian Heritage Award. In Budapest, the former Kandó Kálmán Electrical Engineering College, which is now part of the University of Óbuda, also bore his name.
Loránd Eötvös was a Hungarian physicist. He is mostly remembered for his work on gravitation and surface tension, and the invention of the torsion pendulum. He was born in 1848. He studied law, then switched to physics. He became a university professor in Budapest. He played a leading part in Hungarian science for almost half a century. His weak equivalence principle plays a prominent role in relativity theory, and Albert Einstein cited the Eötvös experiment in 1916. Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest bears his name.
Péter Pázmány was a Hungarian Jesuit, a philosopher, theologian, cardinal pulpit orator and statesman. He was one of the most influential figures in the Counter-Reformation. His most important legacy is his creation of the Hungarian literary language. He was born in 1570. He went through his novitiate at Kraków, then studied philosophy in Vienna and theology in Rome. Pázmány was the soul of the Catholic renewal in Hungary. Pázmány, as the head of the Hungarian Catholic Church, used everything that could to stand in the way of the expansion and weakening of Protestantism, which had become influential at the expense of his church.
Ignaz Phillipp Semmelweis was a Hungarian physician and scientist. He is most known as an early pioneer of antiseptic procedures. He is the “saviour of mothers”. Semmelweis discovered that the incidence of puerperal fever could be drastically cut by the use of hand disinfection in obstetrical clinics. This kind of fever was quite frequent in the 19th century. Ignaz Semmelweis proposed the practise of washing hands with chlorinated lime solutions. This looks quite obvious, but back then, Semmelweis’s observations were against the established scientific and medical opinions. Semmelweis’s practise earned widespread acceptance only years after his death. On November 7, 1969, the Budapest Medical University was named after him.