Matyas Bel
(24. March 1684, Ocsova, Zolyom County – 29. August 1749, Bratislava)

Matyas Bel was an internationally famous scientist and polyhistor of his time. During his life he engaged in several sciences including history, linguistics, pedagogy, geography, ethnology and theology. His occupation was teacher and evangelic minister.


His main work was “Notitia Hungariae Novae Historico Geographica” (Historical an Geographical Facts of Today’s Hungary). Based on a research of nearly two decades, in this book of 4 volumes he describes 10 counties of Hungary from a historical and geographical point of view. The greater part of his work (description of 38 counties) remained unpublished. The third volume published in 1736 contained the cartographic research of Mikoviny.
He was born on the 24th of March in 1684, in Ocsova, Zolyom County. His father was a butcher of Slovakian origin. His mother was from Veszprem. Later he married a german woman, Susanna Hermann, and had 8 children. He was able to read and write in Hungarian, Slovakian and German, while he published his works in Latin.


He graduated from the Reformed Catholic School of Papa, and from 1704 to 1707 he studied theology and medicine at the University of Halle.
After graduation he became the director of the Grammar School of Bergen, near Magdeburg. From 1709 – 1713 he was a minister at Banska Bystrica, later the rector of the grammar school. He was the director of the Girl School of Bratislava from 1714 to 1719, than became a minister there for 30 years. From 1738 he also engaged in alchemy.


After the 1st volume of Notitia was published, in appreciation of his work, pope XII. Clemence awarded him with a gold medallion that had Bel’s face carved into it. He was elected as a member of the Royal Society of London, the Akademie der Wiessenschaften of Berlin, the Science Academies of Olmutz, Jena and St. Petersburg. Not long after his death he received the title of Magnum Decus Hungarie (Great Adornment of Hungary).
He died on the 29th of August 1749. His grave disappeared with the cemetery of Bratislava.
The Matej Bel Univesity at Banska Bystrica was named after him.