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Botos László



Wallachian Settlements in Transylvania and Hungary



            The answer to the question of when and under what circumstances the Rumanians came to Transylvania is simple. The Wallachian settlements in Transylvania took place over several centuries from the thirteenth to the eighteenth century.  This is why we cannot talk of a Wallachian migration, just of intermittent settlement of groups of Wallachians.  This was not the planned conquest by a nation, but a movement of groups of people who were seeking a better life or fleeing from oppressive enemies.  Only the first group came with the permission of the Hungarian king, Endre II.(1205-1235), who employed them as border-guards, like the Pechenegs and the Saxons.  This was in 1222 in the County of Fogaras.  These incoming Wallachian shepherds did not develop a feeling of nationalism until the eighteenth century.  Hungarian documents from 1247, mention the presence of Vlachs (Wallachians) in the county of Hunyad, in the village of Hátszeg.  In 1283, in the county of Bihar, documents mention a Wallachian family.  In 1288, documents mention the presence of Wallachians near the castle of Salgó, and in the vicinity of Brassó.  In 1292 and 1293, four landowners in the county of Fehér and three in the county of Hunyad received permission to bring in Wallachians to work on their land.

            According to the archives of the Árpád Dynasty, we know of about one thousand localities in the territory of Transylvania in 1301.  Among these there were only nine villages in which some Wallachians were living.  80% of the Transylvanian Hungarian names of these one thousand villages which were recorded until 1301 have gradually been changed to Rumanian names but these Rumanian names are a distortion of the Hungarian names to sound Rumanian.  20% of the Hungarian names have become Slavicized or Germanized and only three village names are actually Rumanian.

            The Wallachians appeared for the first time in the territory of southern Transylvania after the Bulgarians and Wallachians had lost a war against Constantinople in 1208.  The Hungarian document of 1222 mentions only the forerunners of the Wallachians. We know that in 1234, they appeared in southern Transylvania in larger numbers.  The Wallachians settled on the outskirts of nine villages and not in the villages because their numbers at that time were so small.  Their small number is indicated by the Hungarian proposal of 1293, which stated that all the Wallachian people should to be settled in the valley of the Székás Creek.[1]

            The Rumanian argument that there is very little information about the Wallachians in the Middle Ages because there are very few documents from that time is questionable. As time went on and there were more documents, they were mentioned only on the borderlines, in the hidden valleys of creeks, and on the pastures on the snowy mountain slopes. There is no record of Wallachians living in the central part of the former territory of Dacia (Transylvania). 

            We know of 34 Wallachian settlements at the beginning of the thirteenth century in Transylvania.  This number is small compared to the total number of 736 known settlements.   Before 1350, there were 36 settlement names of Wallachian origin.[2]  This number is surprisingly low because, at that time in County Bihar, there was a total number of 410 settlements; in the county of Arad, 90; in Brasso, 20; in Beszterce, 26 and in Székelyföld, 190.  In the rest of the Transylvanian counties we see approximately the same proportion.   By 1404, the Wallachian settlements had increased to 95.    Of the approximately one and a half thousand villages which were settled in the 500 years following the Magyar Homecoming, whose names today are Rumanian, only 76 were originally Rumanian. 1355 were originally Hungarian and they have now become Romanized.  For many years, linguists have believed that the Wallachians, as they were coming from the south, came slowly across the western border of Transylvania and when they reached northern Transylvania, they went east to Moldavia.  But Makkai was the first to show that this is incorrect, from the timing of the establishment of the settlements.  He showed that they came from Moldavia, through the counties of Máramaros, Szilágy and Kolozs.[3]  The first Wallachian data from the county of Máramaros, was in 1326.  There was mention of Wallachians in northern Transylvania in 1331 and in the county of Kolozs in 1332.   There are data that 13 Wallachian settlements were established around the castle of Valko in the county of Szilágy which were first recorded in 1341.  We have data from 1365, in the county of Máramaros, that a vajda called Valk asked for permission to settle Wallachians in this county.  In the county of Szatmár, the first Wallachian village was formed in 1379.  In 1387, in the county of Szilágy, there were 10 Hungarian villages but in the mountainous territory of this county, in the south east, there were 12 Wallachian villages established in that year. 

            Documents mention the Wallachians on the western and eastern borderlines of Transylvania, together with the Pechenegs.  The Wallachians were settled in the unpopulated mountainous territories between Transylvania and the Hungarian Plain as border guards.  These shepherd people of the Balkans were used to the hard life in the mountains and did not mind this location.  Szőllősy mentions that they must have arrived after the Saxons were settled in this territory because many Rumanian settlement names are Rumanized forms of Saxon names.[4]  Many Wallachians were brought in from Moldavia by Hungarian farmers, in order to populate the unpopulated territories.  For the first time, in 1375, Wallachians were allowed to settle inside a Hungarian village.  Sándor Török writes that it was also characteristic of the age that, when farmers received permission to bring in Wallachians, these people were settled beside the village in a „twin” village.  This village bore the name of the original Hungarian village but was written with a Wallachian suffix. In the county of Kolozs there are three such „twin” villages. 

            The Wallachian villages which, according to the documents, were settled in Transylvania, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, are no longer in existence.  The reason for their disappearance is that the Wallachians left their winter quarters in the spring and went up into the high mountain territories with their flocks and in the autumn, they did not always return to the same spot.  Some of them were still living in tents in 1373.  In the fifteenth century they managed to establish permanent settlements, so their village names remained.[5] 

            The fifteenth century was the time when large numbers of Wallachians were brought into Transylvania.  In the previous two centuries, the settlements of Wallachians were mainly made up of nomadic Wallachians but in the fifteenth century, they became an asset to the country because they became permanent settlers.  This allowed them to increase the number of their settlements.  At this time they were settled on the property of their lords, beside the already existing Hungarian villages such as Jófő, Déva, Sólyomkő, Kővár and Gyula.  These new settlements were established in the southern, western and northern mountainous territories.  In the fifteenth century, a total of 389 Wallachian villages were established;  in the county of Hunyad, 134, and 67 high on the mountain tops.  In the north and north-west there were 109 new villages, which were mentioned in the documents.  From the remaining 79 villages, in only 27 were found a few Wallachians.

            In the fifteenth century, there was a very strong Wallachian influence in the south-west territory of Transylvania, in the county of Hunyad.   In the Bánát, the Wallachians also made their appearance but the majority of the populace here was still Slav and Hungarian.  In that part of Transylvania where the Saxons lived and in the territory populated by the Szeklers, there were no Wallachians in the fifteenth century.

            In the sixteenth century, the number of  Wallachian settlements increased.  In the county of Bihar, they increased by  216 and in Arad by 165.  They were settled mainly on the lands of Belényes, Magyarcsík and Világos.  At the same time, in Transylvania, they increased by only 63.  There is a document which states that in Belényes and the neighboring area there were 10 Hungarian settlements which grew in three centuries by natural growth to 27 settlements.  This shows that the increase in Wallachian settlers is due to the immigration policy. (Török, p. 218)

            Up to now we have been talking about the Wallachians coming into the country and settling mainly in the forests, mountains, valleys of creeks and sparsely populated territories.  Later, they were brought in by landowners to settle on their lands and the borders of villages.  This plan was disturbed by the bloody involvement in war.

            Emperor Rudolf Hapsburg (1576-1608) thinned out the Szekler and Hungarian populace of Transylvania who were fighting for their independence from the Hapsburgs.  The people who lived near major highways suffered the most. In 1603, it is documented that the Hungarian populace between Karánsebes and Szászvár was entirely annihilated.  The Wallachian vajda, Radu, asked if he might settle on this depopulated area with his family.  His request was granted.  In 1664, there was another Wallachian ingress, which began the Rumanization of the Saxon lands.  This is the time when the Wallachians settled the Hungarian villages of  the Mezőség territory. (Török, p. 218) 

            The long struggle with the Turks caused the numbers of the Hungarian populace to decline.  The Hungarian populace was much diminished after these long wars but because of the ‘liberation’ by the Hapsburgs in 1686, it was almost completely annihilated.  A large part of the country became desolate and, in the empty places, the Hapsburgs settled all kinds of European adventurers, mainly Germans.  The Hapsburg goal was to weaken the Protestant German power and strengthen the power of the Hapsburgs in Hungary.  The Germans at that time were starting to overcome the bloodshed of the Thirty Years’ War and become stronger.  By settling Germans in Hungary, the Hapsburgs succeeded in weakening Germany again.  The Hapsburgs knew that foreign settlements into Hungary would change the social composition and the vitality of the Hungarian people.  In order to further their intentions of destroying the Hungarian people, they ordered that, twice a year, all the criminals and those suffering from syphilis and other venereal diseases, including prostitutes, be brought by boat on the Danube from the territories of Germany and Austria.  Emperor Leopold decorated Karaffa with the title of Field-Marshal and the title of Knight of the Golden Fleece because he did such outstanding work in carrying out his cruel orders.  In 1697, the Emperor passed a law that declared that anyone who killed a Hungarian ‘rebel’ would be rewarded with the gift of half the estate of the ‘rebel’.  As a result, many foreigners became ‘Hungarian’ aristocrats in the government of Hungary.  Leopold accepted General Kolonics’ plan to administer the territories taken from the Turks.  He proposed to apply the same rules as were in effect in Austrian territories.  He intended to annex Hungary to Austria officially and he asked the Hungarian aristocracy’s approval of his plan.  When they did not accept, Leopold retaliated by passing a law that decreed that, in order to reclaim their estates on the territories that he had taken back from the Turks, the Hungarians had to prove on paper that the land was their property.  If they did not have the papers to show their ownership, the land was confiscated.  Those who had ownership papers had to pay a heavy ‘contribution’ to get their land back.  If they did not have the money, the land was confiscated and given to foreigners.[6]

            The settlement of people from the neighboring territories into the „promised land” of Hungary had started before the Hapsburg settlements described in the previous paragraph.  When the Hungarians who lived in Western Hungary (Burgenland) either died or left their land because of hardship, their lands were taken over by Germans and Croatians.  In the north, Felvidék (Slovakia), Slovaks and Ruthenians took over the land and in the northeast, the Wallachians.

            The southern part of Hungary, which is called the Bánát, was freed from the Turkish yoke in 1718.  This territory was totally depopulated by the Turks and the Hapsburgs.  According to the Byzantine writers, in the Middle Ages, this was the most heavily populated and the richest territory of Hungary.  After 1718, there were only 700 people left in the area. 

            From the land of the Turks, the famous, rich ‘fanars[7] started out toward Hungary.  With them came the Wallachians.  They established principalities in the eastern part of the Bánát and they also came into the center of Transylvania and the edge of the Hungarian Plain.[8] 

            In summary, the Tartar invasions of Hungary in the early thirteenth century gave the Wallachians their first opportunity to enter Transylvania.  As we have seen, the first group of Wallachians appeared just before the Tartar invasion in Cumania which later became Wallachia.  This happened at the time that the Cumanians fled from the Tartars and left their territory, settling in Hungary and Bulgaria.  An opportunity presented itself to the Wallachians, when the Tartars moved out of this territory in 1241, to create a homogeneous Wallachian settlement.  The small numbers of Cumanians who remained in Cumania, the Magyars who settled there from Transylvania and the migrating groups of Bulgarians did not give any objections to the Wallachians claiming this territory for their own and calling it Wallachia.   In the beginning, the biggest obstacle to the Wallachians’ establishment of their own state was the nomadic nature of their people who did not stay in one place for any length of time.[9]

            The nomadic life of the shepherds is the reason that the Wallachian-speaking peoples could not unite. The Wallachian people can be found in Greece, Bukovina, Eastern Hungary and in the Crimean Peninsula.  The Wallachians could achieve only a partial  political independence because, after the retreat of the Tartars, in 1242, the Hungarian king Béla IV. (1235-1270) annexed their territory to Hungary and gave it to the Maltese Knights to govern as a feudal territory.  The name of this territory was Ungro-Vlachia, and its vajda called himself Ungro-Vlach in the letters he sent to Greek or Bulgarian courts.  The movement of Wallachians into Hungarian territories took place by individual family decisions.  Many years passed before the Wallachians united and introduced their political demands.  Their main goal was to create a politically independent state but this did not come to reality until the second half of the nineteenth century.  We cannot talk about a separatist movement before this time.  The Wallachians’ goal in the eighteenth century was to have their people recognized as the fourth ethnic group in Transylvania, along with the Szeklers, Hungarians and Saxons. Before the French Revolution of 1789, the Wallachians could not obtain the same social status as the other groups.  The Hungarian aristocracy and the Szeklers, because of their duty to defend the country, had the right to make political decisions in Transylvania but the Hungarian serfs had no right to involve themselves in the politics of the country.   This is why the Hungarian government could not give these rights to the Wallachian people who were also serfs.  The Wallachian aristocrats were included in the Hungarian aristocracy and had the same rights and therefore they were a political factor in the decision-making.  The Wallachian serfs were in the same position as the Hungarian serfs.  In the Hapsburg Empire, no serf had the right to make political decisions.

            In order for the Wallachians to achieve the acknowledgement as a fourth ethnic group in the country, the feudal system would have had to be abolished but this was impossible under the Hapsburg oppression. 

            Here I have to mention that, after the Turks were expelled from the country, Transylvania lost its independence and became a Hapsburg possession.  In order for the abolition of serfdom to occur, the development of a bourgeois mentality and self-enrichment was needed but the opposite was occurring because of the Hapsburg oppression.  The serfs even lost the standard of living that they had originally possessed.  The Wallachian demands were the result of the Hapsburg politics.  The intention of the Hapsburgs was to unite the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches to balance the strength of the Protestant Hungarians.  Thus they came to a compromise: The Greek Orthodox Church recognized the Roman Catholic Church as an established religion and the Roman Catholic Church no longer opposed the Greek Orthodox ceremonies and the priests’ right to marry.  In 1735, the Greek Orthodox Bishop, Innocent Klein, began to preach the Daco-Roman theory and stated that, since the Wallachians were descendants of the Dacians and the Romans, and they were the ancient populace of Transylvania, they should have the same rights as the other ethnic groups.  This Daco-Roman theory, advocated by Bishop Klein, spread so much in 50 years, that it became the cause of the Transylvanian Wallachian peasant insurrection, led by Horia Closca in 1784.  A half century later, in 1848, when Transylvania was again returned to Hungary and the serfs received their emancipation as a result of the Hungarian Revolution against the Hapsburgs, all the peasants enjoyed the same freedom as the Szeklers, the Hungarians and the Saxons.  When the abolition of the feudal system came about, the majority of the Szeklers were peasants. Since all the peasants in Hungary were freed, they all became equal and the Szeklers lost their special position. In addition, because they had supported the Hungarians against the Hapsburgs in the 1848 Hungarian Revolution, they lost all their privileges and they were persecuted in their own territory where the Wallachians had more rights than they did. (Török, p. 221)

            However, the eighteenth century was especially favorable for the Wallachians to obtain an enormous part of Hungarian territory.  The Hapsburg Empress Maria Theresa, between 1769 and 1780, gave several hundred thousand cadastral holds[10] in the territory of Besztercebánya, Nagybánya and Hátszeg to the Wallachians so that they would guard the Hungarian border but the Wallachians, instead of guarding this territory, occupied it or allowed it to be occupied by the Turks.  This land donation became the foundation of the Rumanian National Treasure and started the movement that claimed more Hungarian land for the Rumanians.      

            The Wallachians obtained more land as a result of the 1848-49 Hungarian Freedom Fight.  After the Freedom Fight, the victorious Hapsburgs gave 1,615,774 cadastral holds of land to the serfs.  However, because the Hungarian serfs and peasants were fighting against the Hapsburgs, almost all of this land was given to the Wallachian serfs and very little to the Hungarian serfs. (Szőllősy, Op. Cit. p.75)

            In the Bach era after the Freedom Fight, they received more land when the Hapsburgs confiscated the land of the Hungarian aristocrats who had opposed them and gave it to the minorities, Germans, Serbs and Wallachians. 

            When the Hungarian people fought their life and death struggle against the Hapsburgs  who had tried to subdue them for centuries, the Wallachians took up arms against the Hungarians.  Why? Because for a full century they had wanted to be free of serfdom in the feudal system in Transylvania. They attacked the Hungarians in spite of the fact that the Wallachians received more than they could have expected. They did not actually want to break away from Hungary and unite with the other Wallachians.  In fact, the Wallachians living outside of Hungary did not even come to their aid.  They merely wanted to be recognized as the fourth ethnic group in Transylvania.

            Lajos Kossuth proposed that, instead of half a million Hungarian aristocrats having the political power, the nine million people in Transylvania should become a political entity.  This would have given political rights to all the non-Hungarian people.  This could not come about because the Wallachians revolted against Hungary at this time.   In Transylvania, the Wallachian threat became dangerous for the Hungarians when Wallachia and Moldavia united in 1861.   

            At this time, Hungary was a part of the Hapsburg Empire, one of the great powers of Europe and therefore, in theory, it did not have to fear a small Balkan state (Wallachia).    Transylvania still kept its Hungarian character.  Every city in Transylvania was Hungarian, except for the few Saxon cities.  The Hungarian peasants lived in the central plain of the Carpathian Basin.  The lines of transportation, road and rail, were in the hands of the Hungarians.  In the eastern third of Transylvania, the Szeklers lived in a large Szekler-Hungarian unit. (Török, p.222)  

            Later, at the end of the 19th century, the Rumanians obtained more Hungarian land by buying it through their banks.  The main activity of the Rumanian Orthodox priests was to walk around the territories where the Rumanians and Hungarians lived in the same community and whenever they noticed that Hungarian farmers had financial problems, they immediately obtained money from the Rumanian banks and gave low interest loans to the Rumanian peasants to help them to buy up the Hungarian lands.  At the same time, it was almost impossible for Hungarian farmers to obtain these low-interest loans. „The liberal Hungarian government not only tolerated but even supported the Rumanian bank transactions so that they could establish more banks in Transylvania which was a part of the Hungarian Kingdom.   The bank of Nagyszeben, which was established in 1872,  over a period of 40 years was able to open 152 branches and accumulate 260,000,000 golden crowns. Each year they bought up 20,000 cadastral holds for the Rumanian peasants.” (Szőllősy, p. 76)

            The Hungarians were helpless in this situation because the anti-Hungarian politics were made in Vienna.  The Hungarian Jewish bank capitalists exploited the Hungarian people with usury, whereas the Rumanian banks helped the Rumanian peasants by giving them low-interest loans.

            The Rumanians always accuse the Hungarians of suppressing them.  This originates from the fact that the Hungarians recognized three political nations in Transylvania, the Szeklers, Saxons and Hungarians.  „In 1691, the Hapsburg Emperor Leopold published a document called Diploma in which he accepted Transylvania’s tradition of autonomy within the state of Hungary, but insisted that it was still a part of the Empire.  The Hungarian constitution is based on the acceptance of three political nations and four major religions, Catholicism, Calvinism, Lutheranism and Unitarianism with no regard for the Eastern Orthodox Church.  In this way, it is clear that the Rumanian nation suffers under a double oppression, social and national.”[11] 

            This „oppression”, if we can call it oppression, cannot be blamed on the Hungarians but on Emperor Leopold.  Hungary’s legislative branch enacted their laws, based on the concept of three nations and four religions.  Leopold reinforced this concept. The reason that the Rumanians were not considered a nation in Transylvania at the time that this concept came into effect was that they were not descendants of an ancient populace like the Szeklers, or of Daco-Roman descent, and they were not settled into Transylvania in a large group at one time like the Saxons but they came in small groups at intermittent intervals.   If they had been present in considerable numbers in Transylvania at the time of the Magyar Homecoming, like the Szeklers, the Magyars would have accepted them as another national group.  If they had come in later, as the Saxons did, in one large group, they would have been accepted as the Saxons were.  This proves that their theory of the Daco-Roman continuity is unfounded. (Szőllősy, p.77-79)

            The Hungarians deny the accusation that they oppressed the Rumanians.  It is well known that the Hungarians belong to the Turanian group of people.  In their state organization, the Turanian peoples never practiced oppression of conquered peoples.  They simply demanded obedience and loyalty and if some men showed bravery in war, all kinds of opportunities opened up for them.  They could climb to the highest rank.  The conquered people could retain their nationality, language, customs and religion.  To prove this fact, Sándor Szőllőssy says that we have only to look at the people on the Siberian Steppes.  The small, and at that time insignificant, Slav people, instead of blending into the much more numerous Turanian peoples, were able to multiply and force their Slav language onto their conquerors, the Turanians.  Look at the Ukrainians.  They were Kazars who were a Turanian people.  Now they are Slavs.  This policy of non-oppression continued among the Magyars after their Christianization with one small change.  Devotion to Christianity became the benchmark for promotion in rank instead of heroism. King István’s advice to his son to open the borders to strangers and treat them as guests became an unwritten law in Hungary.  This is probably why the small, minority peoples were able to grow into nations in the land of Hungary.  If there was minority oppression in Hungary, this did not come from the Hungarian king.  Already in the fourteenth century, King Endre III. wanted to settle the minorities into solid groups in the land of Hungary.  This is why, by the end of the fifteenth century, the national minorities had self-government.  If the Hungarians had intended to make them blend into the Hungarian people, they would have scattered them as the Rumanians do now.

            The intense Rumanian nationalism started out at about the same time as the Hungarian nationalism, after the French Revolution.  The Rumanian separatism developed under the influence of the Serbs.  This movement was supported by the Hapsburgs’ anti-Hungarian policies.

            Szőllősy states that the life of the Danubian peoples was poisoned by the government of Vienna which created a passionate hatred of the Hungarians among the minorities, although they all depended on each other, politically and economically and will continue to do so in the future.  All the cultural benefits, which the minorities received from the Hungarians, do not indicate oppression.  „The minorities received land, freedom, defense, culture and the opportunity to develop in peace.” (Szőllősy. p. 82)  They cannot deny that the Hungarian state provided them with schools in their own language for centuries. In fact, Ödön Málnási tells us that Hungary was the first country in Europe to mandate attendance at the elementary school level.[12]

            In Hungary, the establishment of the Wallachian language as the national language of the Wallachians is due to the princes of Transylvania.  Jozsef Mosolygó,  a Greek Orthodox archdeacon, writes in his study: A keleti egyház Magyarországon: „In 1643, on the advice of Geleui, Prince György Rákoczi took upon himself the task of propagating the acceptance of the Roman origins of the Wallachians. He made a law that, in the Wallachian churches, the priests were not allowed to preach in any language except Wallachian.  However, this law could not be enforced until the most important religious books were translated into the Wallachian language.  Therefore in 1648, the catechism was translated into Wallachian by István Fogarassy (a Hungarian) according to the Heidelberg catechism and published in the Wallachian language.  In the same year Fogarassy translated the New Testament into Wallachian and three years later the Psalms of David.  This is how the propagation of the Wallachian Romanization started which ended much differently than György Rákóczi expected.” (Szőllősy, p.83)

            Szőllősy, quoting from the letters of Dr. Pál Vágó, says: „Both the Catholics and the Protestants in Transylvania expressed opposition to the acceptance of the Wallachian language as the official language of the Church.  Even the Greek Orthodox Bishop of Bucharest opposed it because he was worried that there would be a unification of the churches.  His worry was not unfounded because the Greek Orthodox Church united with the Roman Catholic Church, with Cardinal Kolonics and the Jesuits in Rome, in 1689.  At that time the Wallachian language became the liturgical language of the Wallachians.  Later, the Rumanians accepted the benefit of this unification.” (Szőllősy, p. 83-84)

            The Rumanian historian, Obedinariu, wrote to Nilles about the unification of the churches: „The Romanian union was a superb idea.  Without it the Romanians would not have progressed.  Without this union, today we would be no more cultured than the Bulgarians.” (Szőllősy, p. 84)

            When the Rumanians mention Hungarian cultural oppression against them, we can refute it by quoting Dr. Gergely Moldovan, a Rumanian university professor, who states that the Rumanians had more than 3,000 Rumanian schools in Hungary. From 1857 to World War I, this number grew by more than 1500.  In this number are included 15 colleges and 15 divinity schools. (Szőllősy, p. 84-85, from the letters of Dr. Pál Vágó)

            Since the present-day Rumanians never mention the humanitarian actions of the Hungarians, we have to note the opinions that the Rumanians held in the past. They used to give credit to the Hungarians for the way they treated them but now they are silent because they are afraid to give the Hungarians the slightest grounds for their irredentist demands.

            On August 22, 1911, the Bucharest newspaper  „Universul”  wrote: „The Rumanian peasant’s life in Hungary is incomparably better than the Rumanian peasant’s life in Rumania.  In Hungary, every peasant is able to read and write and they live in healthy circumstances.”  On January 1, 1918, the Rumanian newspaper „Nemaul Romanesce” wrote: „We can establish one fact. That is that the Rumanians in Hungary live at a higher economic standard than those in Rumania.  Our peasants are much poorer, pay higher taxes and are much more uneducated than the Rumanian peasants in Hungary.”  The December, 1912, Bucharest newspaper „Adaverul” wrote: „The Romanians who live in Hungary are an enormous factor economically and culturally.  They are continually progressing.  The social and economic life of the peasants there cannot be compared to the life of the peasants in Romania.”  In 1906, a placard at the Congress of Bucharest stated that between 1850 and 1900, 109 Hungarian villages became Rumanian. (Szőllősy, p. 86) 

            After the above quotations, can we accept the anti-Hungarian accusations that the Hungarians oppressed the minorities, economically, culturally and religiously?

            Now I am going to talk about the lack of patriotism among the Hungarian feudal aristocracy.   Several factors contributed to the Rumanians’ acquisition of lands in Hungary.  We must take into account the acts of the Hungarian feudal lords and high clergy during the course of Hungarian history.  In the time of the Tartars and the Turks, foreign peoples settled in Hungary and under the Hapsburgs, Germans, Slavs, Moravians, Slovenians and Wallachians were brought into the country.  Those who became Hungarian aristocrats accepted Hungary as their country but felt no real patriotism.  There were a few very honest and valuable exceptions but most of the feudal princes, counts, barons, primates and bishops invested their enormous incomes on property in Vienna rather than in Hungary.  They did not notice the poverty of the Hungarian people.  They did not care about the future of the nation.  For them it made no difference who worked the land; they were interested only in profit.  It did not seem to matter that Hungarian lands were gradually slipping into the hands of non-Hungarians.

            Szőllősy says: „The Hungarian kings, in order to protect the value of their land and increase their income, settled foreign serfs on their own territories.  They gave the serfs territorial autonomy on the royal lands, thus ensuring their loyalty.  This was the basis of the minorities’ development of a national identity and later on their wish to break away from Hungary.  This intention was facilitated by the fact that they were settled in lands near the borders of Hungary, close to their own people on the other side of the border.” (Szőllősy, p.87)

            I would like to mention one of the many anti-Hungarian acts of the „Hungarian” aristocracy.  The biggest Transylvanian insurrection took place in 1437.  The reason for this was that the Transylvanian Roman Catholic bishop demanded that the taxes be paid not in kind but with money.  Those who could not pay with money were subjected to an inquisition and were excommunicated.  Under the leadership of János Kardos the insurrectionists secured the cities of Nagyenyed and Kolozsvár but the combined aristocratic army, reinforced by German mercenaries, defeated them.  The leaders were impaled and all the peasants in the territory of Mezőség were executed.  Wallachians were settled in their place.[13]

            I would like to make the comparison between the situation in feudal Hungary in 1437 and that of the situation in Hungary after World War I., when Hungary returned to the ancient feudal system after the short-lived Communist commune. The Compromise of 1867 between Austria and Hungary, which created the Dual-Monarchy, was the prime opportunity to initiate a land reform, to give back the land to the peasants, but this was not done. Neither was it done after World War I.  At the same time, in Rumania, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, the land which was taken from the Church and the lands which were taken from Hungary in the Treaty of Trianon were divided between the Serb, Czech, Moravian and Rumanian peasants.   These nationalistic states applied their agrarian reform to raise up their own people and obtain more land for them.  At the same time the Hungarian aristocrats’ demands went only as far as financial restitution for the lands that they had lost in the Treaty of Trianon.  This they demanded that they receive in taxes from the remaining Hungarian people.[14]

            From the above-mentioned data, we can see that the non-Hungarian feudal aristocracy was one of the causes for the growth of the minorities in Hungary.  We still have to mention the Rumanian policy of assimilation.  We have to state that the increase in Rumanian territory and the Rumanization of the minorities in Rumania always followed a definite plan.  First, the Orthodox priests worked on this policy in the villages to increase the members of their parishes; later the King and Queen and then the governments which came into power.  The leaders of the Rumanian Orthodox Church recognized very early on the destructive effects of Pan-Germanism[15] and Pan-Slavism among the peoples of the Danube Valley.  Therefore they focused their attention on this and turned it to their advantage. (Szőllősy, p. 91).  The priests led the people to believe that the Hungarians were to blame for all the hardships they endured and they secretly became supporters of Pan-Slavism.  With the support of the minorities in Transylvania, the Rumanians reached their goal - the break-up of the Monarchy and the mutilation of Hungary. 

            The Orthodox Church always counted as Rumanian children of mixed marriages where one partner was Rumanian, and counted the family as a Rumanian family.   In this way countless Hungarians were included in the Rumanian census.  This distortion was supported by the Catholic Church too because they held the view that it was better if the person was married to an Orthodox Catholic Rumanian than to a Protestant Hungarian.  Besides this we can mention that the Hungarian people had a facility for learning languages and an over-zealous politeness.   It became a Hungarian custom that if a single Rumanian came to a group of Hungarians, out of politeness, they all spoke Rumanian. Their patriotism may have been weak because it was underemphasized by the Catholic Church, whereas the primary goal of the Orthodox  priests was to encourage the Rumanian people to be nationalistic. (Szőllősy, p. 93)

            While the Wallachians were in a minority in Transylvania, they saw that the Saxon people had their own autonomy.  Therefore they advocated that autonomy was the only just solution for the problem of the minorities.  However, when they achieved their goal with intrigue and bribery and the help of the victors of World War I., the Rumanians immediately adopted the ideals of the French national state and instituted them in their government program.  They immediately abandoned the idea of self-determination of the minorities and governed the country as if only the Rumanian people lived there and no other nationality.  Already in 1923, they declared: „ The Rumanian kingdom is unified, and indivisible.  It is a national state and every Rumanian enjoys, without any distinction, racial and linguistic freedom, freedom of conscience and upbringing, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly which the law secures.”[16]   All these rights applied only to those who were Rumanian by birth. 

            According to the declaration of Prime Minister George Bratianu of Rumania:  „We regard every minority as Rumanian.” (Szőllősy, p. 94)  This policy of assimilating the minorities has resulted in the majority of the population becoming Rumanized.  Since 1920, the nationalistic, chauvinistic Rumanians have conducted a policy of suppressing the minorities, whereas in Hungary, under a more humane regime, the minorities have enjoyed their freedom for centuries. The Rumanian state should not have regarded the French idea of a national state as their own governmental program.  The Hungarian state could have done that centuries ago but, for a millennium, the Hungarians developed a national spirit and culture, with the minority groups as loyal Hungarians.  These groups were united under the Holy Crown.   Belonging to the Hungarian nation was an individual decision.  Only this old concept of Hungarian government could secure for every citizen the freedom that every man needs.  This freedom continued until the subversive agitators, the Hapsburgs, Pan-Slavists and Pan-Germanists appeared in Hungary.  Socialist Rumania has a minority program which has suppressed the minorities to a greater extent than the pre-war chauvinism ever did.

            On May 2, 1848, at the Balázsfalvy Assembly, the Rumanians stated: „The Rumanian people do not wish to suppress other peoples.”. . . „They acknowledge the mutual respect and sincerely intend to maintain it.”  . . . „The Rumanian nation does not intend to rule over other nations.”  . . . „They wish to give equal rights to all nationalities.” (Szőllősy, p. 95-96)  We know, from 1923 on, how sincerely they meant „equal rights to all nationalities”.   Socialist Rumania closed down the Bolyai University at Kolozsvár, the high school at Nagyvárad and Marosvásárhely, the teacher’s college at Nagyvárad and did not allow the Hungarian schools at Bonyhád, Hosszúfalu, Erdőd, Farkaslak, Gyergyóújfalu, Gyergyószentmiklos, Brassó, Kibéd, Mártonos and Vajdahunyad to open.  Many Hungarian high schools were transformed into Rumanian trade-schools.  All parochial schools became state-owned even the famous College of Nagyenyed.[17]

            The leaders of the Communist Hungarian government, who were of foreign origin and Soviet citizens, never raised their voices against the oppression of the nearly two million Hungarians living in Rumania. 

            Szőllősy gives examples of Rumanian atrocities against Hungarians. „Rumanian agents shot to death a Roman Catholic priest who was celebrating Mass in Balázsfalva because he did not accept the Greek Orthodox religion.”[18]  In Rumania, many Hungarians were imprisoned or transported to unknown locations and many were killed. This was accepted in Rumania as a method of getting rid of the Hungarians.  

            According to a reliable source, the Rumanians gathered 16,000 Hungarian families and took them by train to unknown locations.[19]  Artur K. Tompa, a seventy-year-old Hungarian priest, was nailed to the door of his church at Kend Ilona. Oltanea, the leader of the Rumanian Maniu organization, gathered 400 wealthy Hungarian peasants and had their heads chopped off by axe on a tree trunk.[20] 

            I could give many more horrible examples but I will refrain from doing so.  However I must give one final example.  Seeing all these brutal anti-Hungarian acts, the Soviet army, which was no friend to the Hungarians, finally had to step in and stop these atrocities.  At Csíkszereda, the Soviet Major Szocsin was shot to death by the Rumanians as he tried to stop these brutalities.[21]   The Maniu organization made an arrangement to transport 4000 Hungarian intellectuals, the entire body of the Seminary at Kolozsvár, to the Soviet Union.  They all froze to death in the forests of the Ural Mountains.[22] 

            As war reparations, the Rumanians were supposed to send slave labor to Soviet Russia.  Instead of Rumanians, they sent Hungarians and Germans, with the knowledge that they would never return.    They sent approximately 15,000 Hungarian and Szekler prisoners of war to build the Danube canal.  The hard labor, the hot and cold temperatures, the lack of drinking water, dysentery, typhus,  living in the open and in mud huts and no medical attention, all contributed to their decimation.  There were no burials or headstones,  only ditches and lime for the dead.[23]

            It looks as if even the Soviet soldiers found the Rumanian brutality too much to take, just as Hugh Seton-Watson, the English historian, did in the following quotation: „The Rumanian Communists wish to erase nationalism in the country but, at the same time, just like their Czech counterparts, they are much more chauvinistic than the nationalists before World War I.   The Rumanian policeman or tax collector has hardly given up the custom of watching the Hungarians with suspicion.  The official propaganda of the government advocates the cessation of the persecution of the minorities but the persecution continues.  The ideology of the Communist regime and the political oppression give birth to nationalism.  The Hungarian peasants may not be persecuted because they are Hungarians but they are persecuted because they are ‘kulaks’ (wealthy peasants) or because they are Catholics or simply because they are „reactionary”.[24] 

            Sima Horea, a Rumanian Socialist, gives his opinion of the policy of the Rumanians: . . .

 „It is not the interest of the Rumanian people which directs the politics of  Rumania but the momentary compliance with the foreign interests.  The direction of their politics came not from Bucharest but from London, Paris or Moscow.  The Rumanian foreign policy came into the hands of a rotten clique with a foreign mentality who took upon themselves the task of guiding the nation.  Between the two World Wars, our governments jumped here and there in their political views.  They followed the interests of the English and French when these groups were dominant but when it looked as if the Germans were winning, they forgot their former allegiances and dived head first into the German camp.  They offered all the country’s treasures and all its manpower to help the Germans but in the end they did not give anything.  The most important thing for them was to show their servitude to the new rulers of Europe but when the Russian soldiers reached the River Moldova, the Rumanians repeated their gesture of servitude.  They threw themselves as prey to the new lords, without any conditions.” . . . „The Bolschevik Moloch was not satisfied with the treasures of the country and the bloody sacrifices but threw away the traitors like a squeezed lemon.”[25]

            After this Sima Horea emphasized that in the future the Rumanians have to place the government of the country in the hands of people who serve the interest of the Rumanian people.

            I have already mentioned Pan-Germanism but I did not explain it.  Pan-Germanism or the Völkisch theory advocates the mutual origin, language, culture, fate, and a mutual homeland, which is Germany.  Anywhere the Germans settle, they always regard Germany as their fatherland.  „To be German is not to forget, abroad or at home, that they are one blood and one tribe, and this remains true even if they are politically separated.”[26]  This means that wherever a German settles, that land is the possession of Germany.  This theory awakened in the intruders and „hospes” (guests) in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy their national consciousness and their drive to separate. This caused the many centuries-old peaceful coexistence in Hungarian territory to disintegrate. This theory was the precedent for the theories of Pan-Slavism and Pan-Romanism. 

            Szőllősy states: „Pan-Slavism is an endeavor similar to Pan-Germanism, in that it intends to unify all Slav people into one empire.” (p.110)

            According to the Russian Czar, Peter the Great, the Russian people’s future destiny was to rule over the whole of Europe.  Five hundred Bulgarian students were enrolled in Russian universities to learn about Pan-Slavism.  The effect of this was felt during the Hungarian Freedom Fight of 1848 against Austria, when the minorities, instigated by the Hapsburgs, demanded to separate from Hungary.  This separatist movement progressed quickly without much opposition and in 1920, at the Treaty of Trianon, gained the support of the leaders who, with their extremely limited knowledge of history, accepted the falsified ethnographic statistical data, historical and geographical data of the Czechs, Serbs and Rumanians.  They accepted the Daco-Roman Theory of the origin of the Rumanians and the propaganda of the Czech historian, Palaczky, that the Hungarians of Finno-Ugric origins had stood in the way of the unification of the northern and Southern Slavs for more than a thousand years.  Frantisek Palacky stated that they were constantly causing unrest in the Carpathian Basin.  The Freemasons used the disintegrating effect of the Pan-Slavic movement to their benefit.  Already in 1890, a map appeared in the Christmas issue of the English review „The Truth”.  The publisher of this review was Henry Labouchers, a high-ranking Freemason.  This review was displayed in the library of the museum of the London suburb of Collingdale.  On this map could be seen the countries of the future Europe.  It names Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Austria, Spain and Russia as republics.  Germany, Poland, Austria, and Spain were at that time all monarchies.    Only Hungary was missing from the map because at that time they had already divided the country.[27]  According to this map, Rumania would have the more valuable part of Hungary: Transylvania and the Kőrős River territories.  Ödön Málnási writes:  „When Woodrow Wilson came to Europe he knew nothing of the history of Europe but when he left, he complained that everybody lied to him.”[28]  Lloyd George also was of the same opinion when he said: „Wilson’s knowledge of the power structure of the European countries was not even on the level of the common man.  That is why he deferred to the more knowledgeable Masaryk and sealed the fate of all of Europe, including the Monarchy and Hungary.”[29]  

            When the French foreign minister, Pichon, in the name of France, made a dishonorable agreement with Edward Benes to create a Czech government, Benes had no power to agree.  He was just an emigrant lawyer.[30]  At the time of the Peace Conference, there was a well-organized Czech-Serb-Rumanian clique which gathered at the London home of Seton Watson.  They planned how they were going to present their speeches against the Hungarian delegation so that they would be united in their attack.  As a result of these meetings, these politicians and experts, Benes, Bratianiu, Veznic, Tardieu, and Seton Watson disregarded Wilson’s Fourteen Points.  The French Foreign Office at the Quai D’Orsay could not free itself from the influence of this group.  The Hungarian delegation was excluded from the discussions at the Peace Conference.  They were not allowed to speak and the decisions were made without them.[31]   Those who took part in the Conference received considerable rewards.  The French General Berthelot, on October 24, 1922, received the lands of a Hungarian aristocrat.  Seton Watson received the professorship that Masaryk used to have at the University of London.[32]  This is a shame not only for the people who received the gifts but from the government which allowed this to happen.  At the negotiations at the Peace Conference after World War I. and World War II., Paris became the world capital of bribery.  French politics were guided by the politicians and writers who could be easily bribed.  The press was paid by Prague, Moscow, Bucharest and Belgrade. (Szőllősy, p. 117.)

            The French fear of the Germans also contributed to Rumania’s annexation of Transylvania.  Instead of trying to find a solution and come to an agreement with the Germans who were on the same cultural level, the French asked a power outside of Europe, Russia, for help.  They had previously done this after the defeat at Sedan in 1870.  They did not notice that, under the pretext of helping them, Russia always moved closer to the center of Europe. This anti-German feeling on the part of the French led Clemenceau and Tardieu to the decisions they made at Trianon.  It also played a part in  the punishment of Hungary after World War II.  Szőllősy says that the French wanted the Hungarians to be punished because they fought to the last man on the side of the Germans against the Allied Forces. (p. 119)

            The press encouraged this anti-German attitude among the French people.  They did not mention the fact that Hungary had no other choice than to defend herself from the Russian, Rumanian and Slav invasions.

            The bribed press writes of the new situation that was created at Trianon.  „The liberated people (Slovaks, Serbs and Rumanians) rule all the minorities, and although the latter have demands, they have no rights in any case.  Thus nobody can deny the obvious progress that has come out of this liberation.  Although there are some problems, there is no reason for further insurrections, and we can state without hypocrisy that the new borders of Europe are undeniably better than the old in regard to the minority rights.”[33]

            The French politicians and intelligentsia like Leon Noel, Charles Roux, Bernard Lauvergne, and the editor of the newspaper Le Monde, Beuve-Mery, all agreed on the treatment of the minorities.  Beuve-Mery questioned whether this was a final enough solution for the half million Hungarians which the Rumanians had remaining in their territory.   The young French politician, Descotes simply advised a Czechization of the Hungarians remaining in Czechoslovakia.[34]  Here we can see a high level of hypocrisy.  France, in the past, objected that the Hungarians insisted that their language, which was the official language of the state, was to be studied in the schools of the minorities, along with the language of the minority.  These liberal views come from the same country that created the slogan: Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.



[1] Török, Sándor, Településtörténeti  tanulmányok és határproblémák  a Kárpátmedencében, Astor Park, Florida, 1973, p. 215;  Urkundenbuch zur Geschichte der Deutschen in Siebenburgen I. 193

[2] Ibid. p. 215; Knieza, István: Magyarország népei 11. században.

[3] Ibid. p. 216; Deér-Gardy: Magyarok és Románok, Budapest, 1943

[4] Szőllősy, Sándor: Ez az igazság. Erdély a román nép és protektorai, London, 1968, p.72

[5] Török: Op.Cit.  p.217; Jakó, Zsigmond

[6] Botos, László: The Homeland Reclaimed, p. 235-236

[7] The „fanars” were rich princes from the Fanar district of Constantinople.

[8] Török: Op.Cit. p. 219; Egyetemi tankönyv, Budapest, 1962, Magyarország Története 1526-1790, p. 397

[9] Török: Op.Cit.  p. 219; Gunda, Béla: Erdélyi pásztorvándorlások Budapest 1941 and Dr. Karl, János: Földrajzi tényezők szerepe Erdély népeinek megtelepedésében, Budapest, 1944

[10] A „cadastral hold” is a measure of land, equal to 1.42 acres.

[11] Szőllősy: Op.Cit. p. 77. Erdélyi Története, Rumanian Government Publication. p. 222

[12] Málnássy, Ödön: Magyar nemzet őszinte története, Munich, 1959

[13] Szőllősy: Op. Cit. p. 88; Málnási Ődőn: Op. Cit. p. 43.

[14] Málnási, Ödön: Op. Cit. P. 152-153

[15] Pan-Germanism is a movement to unite all people of German origin wherever they may live.

[16] Szőllősy: Op. Cit. p. 94; Asztalos, Miklós: A korszerű nemzet eszme

[17] Ibid. p. 96. Amerikai Magyar Népszava. Jan.9. 1948

[18] Ibid. p. 97; Iránytű, April 22, 1949

[19] Ibid. p. 98. Hungaria,  Sept.14,  1951

[20] Ibid. p. 98. Kronika, July, 1951

[21] Ibid. p. 98. Hungaria, Sept. 14, 1951

[22] Ibid. p. 98. Kronika, July, 1951

[23] Ibid. p. 99. Hungaria, Sept. 14, 1951

[24] Ibid. p. 101. Hungaria, Sept.7, 1951

[25] Ibid. p. 102; Horea, Sima, Nyugati Magyarság, May-June 1953

[26] Ibid. p. 109; Asztalos, Miklós: A korszerü nemzet eszme; from Constantin Noepel, a Jesuit priest

[27] Ibid. p. 112. László, Endre: A Zsidókról, 1947

[28] Ibid. p. 114; Málnási, Ődőn: Ország Veszejtés, p.29)

[29] Ibid. p. 114; Málnási, Op. Cit.  p. 7

[30] Ibid. p. 115, Málnási,  Op. Cit. p. 12-13

[31] Ibid. p. 115, Málnási, p. 25

[32] Ibid: p. 117; Málnási, p. 30

[33] Ibid. p. 119; Baráth, Tibor: A Dunataj államszerkezete francia szemléletben

[34] Ibid. p. 121; Baráth, Op. Cit.