THE DACO-ROMAN LEGEND
Churches of the Árpádian Age
Assembled by János Gyurkó
The following documentation was written independently from Árpád Kosztin's work; it nevertheless supports his statements.
The following Appendix contains the list of the Hungarian Medieval (10th‑13th Century) Churches located in the territories annexed by Rumania in 1920. We do not know any early Christian (Roman or Germanic) cultic places from the era before the Árpád's conquest of Hungary, because these places vanished without leaving a trace behind, in the storms of the Great Migrations.
The conversion of Hungarians to Christianity started right in Transylvania in the 10th Century. The first bishop of Hungary, Hierotheos – who had been brought to Transylvania from Constantinople by Gyula, – was working there around 950 AD. The Greek‑Orthodox Catholicism did not take root in Hungary. The Orthodox Church had lost most of its Hungarian followers by the end of the 13th Century.
Géza, the ruling prince, called Western missionaries to the country in 972. The conversion work was expanded under the rule of his son, Saint Stephen. The first Hungarian king ordered “...every tenth village to build a church...” (decem ville ecclesiam edificent)
Most of the churches, being built after the enactment of the law, were made out of wood or other non-durable material, and have long since disappeared. This explains the low number of the relics from the 10th‑11th centuries. Not only the village churches of lesser importance, but also several well-known, important buildings were made of perishable materials. The Benedictine Abbey of Szentjobb (Sîniob), where Saint Stephen's right hand was protected from 1083 until the 15th Century, was still a wood building in the 11th century.
At the end of the Árpádian Age, excluding Croatia and Slavonia, there were 10,000 ‑ 11, 000 villages in Hungary. Two thirds of them had a church. It is the peculiarity of the era in question, that sculpture and painting did not yet exist independently from architecture. That is why the whole spatial art can be discovered by studying the historic sacred buildings. The border areas of Hungary are very important in the history of art. Under the Turkish rule, the relics of the Medieval culture almost totally vanished in Central Hungary, but the remnants of historical centres can still be found in upper Northern Hungary (presently in Slovakia), Transylvania, and in the western border zone where the scale of devastation was much smaller. The territories detached from Hungary happen to be the richest in ancient buildings, ruins and relics. Since the loss of the territories in the Trianon Peace Treaty in 1920, Hungarian medieval research has been struggling with outrageous artificial obstacles.
Hungarian historians are often forced to discover the truth behind the unscientific phantasmagorias of the neighboring countries' historians, since they usually do not have the opportunity of local excavations. The best example was the Jesus Chapel at Székelyudvarhely. M. Beldie, Rumanian historian, found a coin of Ferdinand I, beside a basement wall. On the basis of this find, she stated in a paper that the building originated from the 16th Century. The small chapel was in Gyárosfalva, a village that no longer exists. In the 16th Century, this settlement0 was already in its declining period, and the tax list of 1567 found only two(!) households capable of paying tax. It is unimaginable that such a weak, disintegrating community would have undertaken church building. Moreover, such quatrefoil plan chapels are known from the 12th‑13th centuries, – that in Székely-udvarhely would be the only one from the 16th century.
In the following list only those relics are listed, from which there is some kind of positive material (we can call it physical), architectural data. Churches mentioned only in documents or contemporary written sources, are left out of the catalogue, because they would have enlarged the size of the book without providing significant data for the history of architecture. Like any other collection, this cannot be complete and perfect either. Since a large part of the subject matter was attained from the literature, it should be augmented with local research.
The examination of the village churches often brings surprising results. The fact that a building that originated from the 19th century contains Medieval parts comes to light only at the time when the covering plaster is removed. This is probably true also in the case of those Transylvanian churches which are considered to have been built in modern times. Systematical protection of monuments and historical architectural excavations has not existed in Rumania since 1977. New findings and observations, being discovered during renovation of local churches, do not get published in the technical journals. The number of discovered or identified Medieval Transylvanian churches would significantly grow if systematic research could be carried out.
Papal tithe collectors rambled all over Hungary between 1332 and 1337. They collected taxes to provide enough money to restart the Crusades to the Holy Land. From their surviving accounts, it can be concluded that they found approximately 1,000 parishes in Eastern Hungary. This high number indicates that the Eastern part of the country was rebuilt during the couple of decades following the Tatar attacks. Rumanian historiography has also misinterpreted these data. In his work titled Ce este Transilvania?(What is Transylvania?) – in the Hungarian translation Mit jelent Erdély? (1984), Stefan Pascu, academician, wrote on the basis of the Papal tithe collector's list, that in the 13th century two thirds of Eastern‑Hungary's population were already Rumanian. (p. 60)
The author accepted that the places, listed by the tithe collectors with Roman‑Catholic parishes, had been populated mainly by Hungarians and Germans. He assumed, however, that only Rumanian Orthodox population lived in every other village. The basis of this distortion was that Pascu did not pay attention to the out-parishes, on the lowest level of the Church organization, which did not have a priest. The organization on the lowest level of the Church was the same as today. Thus, almost every parish had one or two out-parishes belonging to it, where, in many cases, a church also existed. At the end of the Árpádian Age (1301), approximately 2,000 churches existed on the territories in question. Since the devastation caused by the Turks in central Hungary were much more severe than that in Transylvania, the ratio of the surviving and known relics should be higher in Transylvania than in other parts of the country – so far it is, however, even lower.
Witnesses of the Hungarian history in Transylvania remain silent, many of them forever. Academician Pascu's primitive confabulation can be disproved by simply counting the listed relics in the Appendix.
70% of the early churches in the observed territories are Hungarian, while 28% are German and 2% are Rumanian. Several relics of the Hungarian population survived from the conversion period (for example Csanád.) The German immigration started in the middle of the 12th century, while Rumanians did not immigrate to Transylvania until the beginning of the 13th century, as proven also by our documentation. No Orthodox Rumanian Church built before the 13th century exists – and none ever existed – on the territory of today's Rumania.
Daco‑Roman‑Rumanian Continuity, the “two‑thousand ‑year‑old dream” vanishes in the daylight of undeniable facts.
CHURCHES OF EASTERN HUNGARY
established in the Árpád Dynasty
Hungarian name Rumanian name Built in
Geoagiu de Jos
Vinţu de Jos
Sînnicolau de Beiuş
Tiocul de Sus
Uileacu de Munte
Cetatea de Baltǎ
Rîu de Mori
Sîntana de Mureş
Sîngeorgiu de Mureş
Sîncraiu de Mureş
Apoldu de Sus
Fizeşu Gherlii Orosfaia
Pianu de Jos
Şaroş pe Tîrnava
Jucu de Jos
13th century 13th century
13th century 13th century
By Lajos Fűr
The theory of the Daco-Roman continuity, which has matured over the past several decades, has become, in Rumanian historiography, more of a doctrine than a theory. We can state that this doctrine has been elevated to the highest rank and supported by the power of the state. Numerous artifacts, which Rumanian archeologists have unearthed, are presented as irrefutable archeological evidence from the depths of the earth. Statements, which formerly were doubtful, are now proposed as absolute truth and researchers build their case on linguistic hypotheses, which are uncertain. Scholars, journalists and writers publish innumerable books on the subject of the Daco-Roman continuity. This flood of false information is fed to the Rumanian people by the mass media and the Ministry of Culture, which constantly propagates the theory throughout the state. There is a propaganda organization, which also tries to present it as a scientific doctrine in every possible language. Whether this propaganda is presented diplomatically or aggressively, the goal is the same – to make the world believe in the Daco-Roman continuity.
The Rumanians, who obtained the large territory of Transylvania at the unjust Treaty of Versailles, in 1920, at Trianon, which Lenin called: “a peace treaty by robbers”, need this theory of continuity to justify their presence in this territory. This theory, which was developed well before 1920 to try to prove that the Rumanians were present in Transylvania before the Hungarians, was used in 1920 in order for them to obtain Transylvania. After 1920, this well thought out theory has been used to retain this territory, even today. This romantic theory of Rumanian origin, which has become doctrine, no matter how it is presented in order to bolster the self-image of the Rumanians, cannot hide the fact that they have a bad conscience about the events that took place at Trianon.
In Hungary, the doctrine of the Daco-Roman continuity has not been incorporated into Hungarian historiography. It is not mentioned in their history books or in schoolbooks. For a long period of time, until quite recently, they did not even pass judgment on it. After World War II., the Hungarian people ignored it, closed their eyes to it. Why?
Between the two wars, Hungarian historiography relied on the actual historical facts and continued to disagree with the unacceptable theory of continuity. In scientific circles, it was accepted that these historical facts did not change, not even after the Second World War. In other words, it is not the historical facts that change radically, but the political circumstances. It was the political opposition that silenced the Hungarian criticism of the Rumanian theory of continuity. The Horthy regime was part of this opposition. It was not possible to openly voice criticism of the Daco-Roman theory because the unity of the Soviet Socialist republics prevented criticism which could cause a rift in their organization. These ostrich politics on the part of the Hungarians were based on the belief that the Rumanian-Hungarian and Czechoslovak-Hungarian friendship etc. were a hundred times more valuable than the mention of any kind of minority problems or the reference to any historical facts. The Hungarian Marxist historiography constantly emphasized that the Hungarian ruling classes in the past oppressed the foreign peoples in Hungary. Under such conditions, it was not possible to voice opposition to the Daco-Roman theory.
This grave-like silence was broken only between 1970 and 1980, first very quietly and later more strongly but always very subjectively. Historians, studying the history of Historic Hungary, the history of the Romans in Hungary, the Homecoming, the people migrations and the history of the Árpád Dynasty could not avoid studying the theory of the Daco-Roman continuity. The above-named eras were studied by István Bóna, Lajos Balla, Antal Bartha, István Fodor, György Györffy, Gyula Kristó and others. The results of their research contradicted those of the Rumanian historians who were writing about the same eras. Árpád Kosztin belongs among the above-named historians.
The ethnogenesis of every people has unavoidable basic pillars. The writers of the early Chronicles and Gesta wrote about this ethnogenesis. Even more historians were occupied with this subject in the Renaissance period and the Age of Humanism. At that time, in the 16th century, a Hungarian work dealt with the first mention of the Roman origin of the Rumanians in Transylvania. According to this work, the chronicles of two Rumanian principalities mentioned this subject and offered a new explanation as a basis for the Daco-Roman theory.
Finally, in the 18th century, Bishop Micu-Klein, developed the Daco-Roman theory into a wider and well-worked thesis. () His work did not receive acclaim until the next century. The Daco-Roman theory began to spread among smaller groups and slowly gained momentum. It began to make waves among the priesthood, the intelligentsia and politicians. Thus it became a characteristic element of the national identity.
It is understandable because, in the 18th century, the rebirth of nationalism began in Europe and, in the 19th century, on the wings of romanticism, it rose higher and higher and expanded to the Rumanian version of nationalism and historical continuity.
The knowledge of one’s origin is one of the bases of modern national consciousness. The Daco-Roman theory appears to be scientifically based and has become the Rumanian ethnogenesis. Therefore it is not unimportant from where a people originates. If people wish to establish a nation, they search for forefathers that they can look up to and they try to determine the time from which they can date their origin. In light of this, we should examine, for example, the centuries-old belief in the Hun-Magyar origin. We should use the same standards to judge the Daco-Roman continuity, since this theory is connected with the land of Transylvania and the heroic Dacians who lived there. The Rumanians state that they are descended from the Dacians() and the world conquering Romans. According to this, the Rumanian people have lived on both sides of the Carpathian Mountains for millennia. In other words: they have continuously lived in that land in which they must establish the unified Rumanian state and once it has been established they must protect and defend it forever.
What does this state sponsored theory advocate, which is declared to be irrefutable? It simply advocates that the Rumanians are the direct descendents of the Dacians. The state of Dacia, established in AD. 105-106, under the rule of King Decebal, () was later occupied by the legions of Emperor Traianus. (Trajan) () Dacia, just like Pannonia, was annexed to the Roman Empire. The Roman rule came to an end in A.D. 271 and, according to the theory of Daco-Roman continuity, the conquered Dacians mingled with the victorious Romans and their language became latinized. The Dacian people, who adopted a new language, survived centuries of people migrations and opposed the conquering Magyars and the oppression of the Hungarian aristocratic landowners. This romanized ethnic group survived more than a millennium without establishing an independent state and they were able to preserve their identity without leaving any visible traces or remains to prove this.
Is it possible to imagine that, after the fall of the Roman Empire, and during the time of the strengthening of Christianity in the Hungarian Kingdom in the Middle Ages, whose influence spread far and wide, for a whole millennium there was no written evidence of the romanized Dacian people, who supposedly lived continuously in Transylvania and died there?
Árpád Kosztin researches this romantic theory of ethnogenesis and disproves it, page by page. In order to understand Kosztin’s arguments we need to know that Hungarian historians, up to now, have tried to refute this theory by studying archeological findings and contemporary written documents, using comparative linguistics to support their studies. Unfortunately they failed to research the existence of the cultic places of the Dacians. Kosztin recognized the lack of this research and this, in itself, should be acknowledged to be of scientific importance. Árpád Kosztin, with reason, emphasized that, from the point of view of continuity, it is very important, even imperative to study the existence or non-existence of these cultic places. He found plenty of material in the Rumanian and Hungarian historical written documents to help him in his research. The question was whether any traces of the Christian Dacians could be found from the centuries after the Romans withdrew from Dacia, because the Rumanian historiography states that the Dacian people became Christian in the 4th and 5th centuries. If it were true, that the romanized Dacian populace lived there continuously, even in the time of the people migration, then, when the Magyars arrived in 896, they should have found Christian cultic places in Transylvania and Havasalföld.
The author painstakingly researched the actual dates of foundation of churches, looking for such buildings established by the romanized Dacians, but he found none.
It is not possible to prove that, in the first few centuries after the Magyar Homecoming, even the Rumanians, who practiced the Greek Orthodox Christianity, built churches and cultic places. The first Rumanian Greek Orthodox cultic places appeared in the 13th and 14th centuries. It is only from this time that the romanized Vlach people slowly moved north from the Balkan Peninsula, crossed the Carpathians and arrived in Transylvania. The objective research of the author can be seen in his examination of the later centuries of the Middle Ages. He closes his research by presenting the terrible oppression of the Turkish era.
This work by Árpád Kosztin offers the Transylvanian readers useful information because at present the fate of the minorities in Transylvania has become more and more difficult. The author respects the historical facts, which support the theory of the Hungarian presence in the Carpathian Basin. This well researched work is based on objective evidence.
() Micu-Klein (1696-1768) was a Greek-Orthodox bishop from Transylvania who was very familiar with the history of Rumania. He was a bishop from 1728 to 1745.
() The Dacians, who were descended from the Tracians, claimed as their homeland one part of Transylvania and Havasalföld. This land became a Roman province between 106 and 271.
() Decebal – King of Dacia in the time of Emperors Domicianus and Traianus.
() Marcus Ulpius Traianus (A.D. 53-117) became Roman Emperor in A.D. 98. In A.D. 106, he conquered Dacia and made it a province of Rome.