About Ferenc Mádl

(Bánd, 1931- Budapest, 2011)

Scholar, university professor of law, member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Minister without portfolio and later Minister of Culture and Public Education in the first two conservative cabinets between 1990-1994. President of Hungary between 2000-2005.   

Early years

Ferenc Mádl was born into a peasant family with several children. He completed elementary school in Bánd and Szentkirályszabadja, and secondary school in city of Veszprém. Between 1951-1955 he studied law in Pécs (University of Pécs), then in Budapest (Eötvös Loránd University). In 1955 he graduated with honors. During his university years he worked as a manual worker and also did his military service.

After graduating he worked in the courts of law and moved to the Office of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1956.

Researcher at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and at the Institute for Legal Studies

Ferenc Mádl began to become interested in scientific work even as an undergraduate. As a student in Pécs, one of his studies on public administration’s responsibility predicted his outstanding legal skills for his teachers.

During his one and a half decade (1956-1971) at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, he assisted the work of the Department No. 2. in various positions, and from 1958 he was involved in the researches at the Institute for Legal Studies of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Many of his former teachers and mentors worked there, he was especially close to Professor Endre Nizsalovszky and Professor Gyula Eörsi.

During the decades he progressed steadily on the ladder of scientific career. He defended his PhD-thesis in 1964, he received the DSc in 1974. He became a correspondent member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1987 and a regular member in 1993. He was a member of several Hungarian and foreign scientific societies and the honorary doctor of various universities (including both University of Pécs and Eötvös Loránd University). During his career he received numerous national and foreign medals and awards.

Scholar and Professor of Law

Ferenc Mádl studied at the Faculté Internationale de Droit Comparé in Strasbourg between 1961 and 1963, and after his graduation he started doing Hungarian comparative law research.

Professor Mádl’s research topics covered various areas of civil law, international law, European economic integration law, and comparative law. Although he was already a regular lecturer as a researcher both home and abroad, Ferenc Mádl began his teaching career at Eötvös Loránd University of Budapest in 1967. He was associate professor from 1971, university professor from 1975 and head of the newly established Department of International Private Law from 1985.

In addition to teaching, he was involved in university administration, including being deputy rector for research from 1974 to 1977. 

Public activities

In fact, Ferenc Mádl appeared on the field of public life in the 1970s with his appointment as deputy rector. From one of the leading figures of the Hungarian scientific life became the member of the first freely elected government in the early 1990s. Finally he was elected the President of the Hungarian Republic in 2000.


Ferenc Mádl passed away in Budapest in 2011. His grave is in the Fiume Road Cemetery. A memorial plaque (2014) and a statue (2016) have been unveiled in his native village. The Research Institute of the Hungarian Ministry of Justice (Ferenc Mádl Institute for Comparative Law) named after him in 2019.

Selected publications

  • A deliktuális felelősség a társadalom és a jog fejlődésének történetében(1964)
  • Az Európai Gazdasági Közösség joga(1974)
  • Összehasonlító nemzetközi magánjog– A nemzetközi gazdasági kapcsolatok joga (1978)
  • Magyar nemzetközi magánjog és a nemzetközi gazdasági kapcsolatok joga(co-authored with Professor Lajos Vékás, several editions between 1981–2012)
  • Állam és gazdaság – Forradalom a jog útján a közép- és kelet-európai országokban(1997)