One of the most interesting links between Welsh and Hungarian culture is The Bards of Wales: the legend of 500 bards, executed in Montgomery in 1277, and a very-well-known Hungarian poem telling their story.
The year 2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of the writer of the poem, one of Hungary's greatest poets, János Arany. The legend of the Welsh bards, thanks to this famous writing, is a story that every Hungarian learns by heart in school. The poem has been translated to English and Welsh, and also Welsh composer Karl Jenkins wrote a cantata based on it in 2011, but it is still barely known in the United Kingdom. To commemorate the anniversary of our great poet and to highlight this unique cultural link between Wales and Hungary, the Hungarian Cultural Centre organised a spectacular event in Cardiff on the 21st October 2017. A short, animated audio-visual projection mapping initiated telling the story of the bards on the beautiful facade of the centrally located St John the Baptist Church.
According to the legend, King Edward I executed 500 Welsh bards for failing to sing his praises at a banquet in Montgomery Castle in 1277. Arany saw parallels between the story of the bards and the situation in Hungary at his time. In 1857 when Emperor of Austria Franz Joseph toured Hungary and it was suggested that his visit should be commemorated by a poem. Arany was a well-liked poet who had translated Shakespeare, but together with his fellow writers he refused to compose poems in praise of the head of a hated regime. Instead he wrote the epic ballad 'A Walesi Bárdok' (The Bards of Wales) for private circulation, publishing it only in 1863, disguised as a translation of an old English ballad in order to bypass the Austrian censors.