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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Katherine Bethlen

b. 1700, Bonyha, Hungary; d. 1759, Fogaras, Hungary

The correct name of this person is KATA BETHLEN.

The ardent Calvinist Kata Bethlen, born into an aristocratic family of Transylvania, was forced into a Catholic marriage in 1717. When she divorced her husband in 1719, his relatives gained custody of Kata’s children to prevent her from raising them as Protestants. This ordeal is recounted in her memoir, Bethlen Kata Önéletírása (Autobiography of Kata Bethlen), written in the 1740s as a cautionary tale. Bethlen devoted her life to charitable works and the advancement of knowledge. She amassed an enormous library of literary and scientific works, founded Protestant schools, and sponsored publications such as the Magyar Athenas (Hungarian Athenas), a biographical dictionary of Hungarian scientists and their work.