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George Pray

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Abbot, canon, librarian of the University library of Buda, and important Hungarian historian, b. at Ersekujvár, 11 Sept., 1723; died in Pesth, 23 Sept., 1801. His family came from the Tyrol. He studied in Pozsony, entered the Society of Jesus in 1745, spent two years in the Jesuit college (St. Ann's) in Vienna, and completed his higher studies at Nagy-Szombat. He taught at Nagy-Varád, Trencsén, Nagy-Szombat, and Pozsony. In 1754 he was ordained and continued teaching in Rozsnyó and in the Theresianum at Vienna, where he was professor of political science, and, at the same time, tutor to the princesses of Salm. He was professor in Györ (1758), Nagy-Szombat (1759), and Buda (1760), where, among other subjects, he lectured on moral theology. At the suppression of the Jesuits (1773), he went to the Archdiocese of Gran, and Maria Theresa appointed him imperial historiographer, with a yearly income of 400 florins. When the University of Nagy-Szombat was transferred to Pesth (1777), Pray was given charge of the library ; he resigned this position in 1780, but resumed it in 1784. During this year he surrendered his manuscripts and collection of documents to the university library for a life annuity of 400 florins. He became canon in Grosswardein (1790), and was sent by the chapter as its representative to the Hungarian Reichstag. Later he became Abbott of Tormowa. His literary activity embraced the history of Hungary, especially the early centuries, the history of the Catholic church in Hungary, and editing the sources of Hungarian history. He was the first to draw attention to the oldest coherent text in the Hungarian language, "Oratio funebris", dating probably from 1199, which was called after him "The Pray-codex". Among his works may be mentioned: "Annales veteres Hunnorum Avarorum et Hungarorum, 210 ad 997" (Vienna, 1761); "Annales regum Hungariæ, 997-1564" (5 vols., Vienna, 1763-70); "Vita S. Elizabethæ" (Vienna, 1770); "Specimen Hierarchiæ Hungariæ" (2 vols., Presburg, 1776-9).


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