|Stefan Pascu: A History of Transylvania|
From: David Prodan: Memorii [Memoirs], Bucharest, 1993. 297
David Prodan (1902 - 1992) was, according to Enciclopedia istoriografiei românesti [The Encyclopedy of Rumanian Historiography], red. Stefan Stefanescu, Bucharest, 1978, p. 275: "A historian of the Middle Ages, specialist of international reputation. He has made basic research on the social structure of medieval Transylvania." He was also a member of the editing committee of Istoria României, vol. III, 1964.
Prodan wrote his memoirs over a very long time, beginning in 1965 and writing the last sections in the 1980-s and early 1990's. These last sections include articles abut N. Iorga, C. Daicoviciu and Stefan Pascu. About Pascu, there is a "sketch of a portrait" (pp. 172 - 176) and "Stefan Pascu, career in sciences" (pp. 176 - 218).
We abstain from quoting Prodan's characterization of Stefan Pascu, but consider it interesting to show how he judged Pascu in his quality of a historian. We do this by quoting, in English translation, some relevant passages from Prodan's autobiography.
Stefan Pascu started his career in sciences with not less than with "The History of Transylvania" (1944), (in the same year with "Petru Cercel"), in its entire extension. If somebody begins his career in sciences with a work of synthesis, which normally should conclude it, it is clear: he lacks responsibility. The more so as the history of Transylvania was one of the most difficult subjects, and least studied.
From where comes this science? It is simple: from the special course of the history of Transylvania held by his professor Ioan Lupas for several years, certainly with the thought of [once] publishing it. It is a copy of the course made on the basis of notes taken, with a doubtful own accent (?) which should make it a "personal" work. The second trait of his début is the falsification of the work of others. Thus, the two main traits of his entire scientific career are found there from the beginning.
But we may say that this is a sin which also others have committed. The man will think about it and better himself. Nothing of that. The lack of scruples, superficiality, continues and even worsens, his basic schooling having been superficial.
After August 23, even he changed his countenance. After he first set himself up for being the secretary of Iuliu Maniu's guards, he plunged into the Social-Democratic party (p. 176 in D. Prodan's Memorii).
Pascu has accomplished the necessary change of countenance also in his science. He has even overbid this, - he was even more of a historical materialist, a revolutionary than it was necessary. In the work "Peasant revolts in Transylvania. I. The Period of the Voivodate" (1947), he discovered in the Middle Ages even more peasant revolts than have really occurred. He retained, however, superficiality. With great ease, he places in the 14th century images as follows:
"The serf was forced to work for the owner of the land 4 to 6 days a week; to give him the nineth and the tenth of the harvest, quinquagesima of the sheep; of porks and of beehives usually the half, other gifts [daruri] three times a year etc." (p. 176).
Prodan states that the reference given by Pascu about these circumstances does not contain anything about the question. But Pascu reiterates these assertions on the following (13.) page:
"When their land was not taken away from them, the serfs were exposed to extremely harsh fiscal (!) (emphasis added) obligations. The serf was forced to work for the feudal lord 4 to 6 days a week; he was also forced to give the landlord the gift of land (terragium), then a nineth and a tenth part of his harvest (nona and decima); a sheep with lamb out of fifty (quinquagesima ovium) half of the porks and the beehives and other gifts three times a year" (now according to A. Kurz, Magazin, II, p. 368). One looks after there; it is the text of the second agreement with the peasants in 1437. Nothing but the payment of 1 Florin, three gifts, one day of work a year, the trial of the serf.
Flagrant confusions between fiscal, feudal, and pertaining to the Church, which continue also in the rest, severe anachronisms across centuries, for which the student of grade 2 is failed without mercy (p. 177).
In Din Istoria Transilvaniei [About the History of Transylvania], 1st edition, p. 187, Pascu wrote:
"In the foundry of guns in Alba Iulia, 204 smiths, 47 locksmiths, 84 carpenters, 80 wheel wrights, and about 1300 auxiliary workers worked in 1645 - 1646." What a factory in that age! And in seven months, only 10 large guns were made! Considering this production, what could so many smiths, locksmiths, carpenters, wheelwrights, so many auxiliary workers do? Going to the source, we find that there were so many working days achieved by the smiths, locksmiths, carpenters, etc. toghether! (p. 179).
Prodan shows in detail, with many examples, that Pascu's presentation of the obligations of the peasants as well as the demographical situation of Transylvania is full of mistakes, miscalculations, and inconsistencies, making his results and conclusions largely worthless.
About Pascu's assertion that the Hungarian name of Transylvania (Erdély) is a translation from Latin (Ultrasilva, Transsilva) (Voievodatul Transilvaniei, I, p. 21, see above, p. 46), Prodan is of the following opinion:
How - the Hungarians, when they came, have named it in Latin and then, later, they translated it for themselves in order to understand it, into Hungarian! From where comes this monstruosity? Simply from the appearance in the chronicles, which were written in the Latin language, of the Latin name first and only later the appearance of the Hungarian name. This happened also with Siebenbürgen, translated (by the Saxons) from Septem Castra (p. 22) (Prodan 179).
Pascu writes about the ethnic structure of Transylvania in Voievodatul Transilvaniei. From Prodan's comments on this section we quote the following:
The effort to reconstruct "The Ethnic Structure of Transylvania" is praiseworthy, something very difficult for the historian with the help of existing documents. Nothing is more difficult than to quantify the population and then it is even more difficult to state the proportion of the nations. We appreciate all efforts, with the condition that it must be, just because of this, as correct as possible.
The work tries to achieve this with "statistical" and "documentary", "ethno- toponymic", "onomastic or antroponymic", and "toponymic" arguments, and reaches the conclusion: In view of these ethno-demographic realities, could an objective investigator question the absolute majority of the Rumanians in entire Transylvania and their great majority in very numerous regions?
The data are conclusive even if fragmentary, as they were preserved or as they are known. Very good! If the demonstration would be invulnerable. But God forbid a specialist examination! (p. 202).
In the following, Prodan shows how Pascu argues: he translates the Hungarian name of a number of villages into Rumanian and writes these names with capital letters, giving the impression that they in reality could have been named in that way, e.g. Hungarian Aranymezo: "Cîmpul Aurit" (the real name being Babeni), Hungarian Egerbegy: "Sorecani" (real name: Tamasesti; Pascu's name is erroneously based on the word egér "mouse", but it is éger "alder"); Hungarian Nagylak: Rumanian Lacul Mare (Hungarian lak "dwelling", not lake!), Hungarian Árpás: Grînari (but Hungarian árpa "barley", not wheat) etc. (pp. 203-204).
Writing about how Pascu treats the toponymy of Transylvania, Prodan remarks:
Only a personal assertion, of great significance: "the names of many villages derive from personal names. Those with the suffix esti [...] are of Thracian origin and so are also those with the suffixes ni." Maybe the Thracians named them as we have them before they were Rumanians!? (p. 203).
uses without any scruples the absence of a historical criticism [in Communist Rumania], the weak knowledge by our historians of the history of Transylvania, the immunity assured by his offices, the fear among people, ... (p. 206, emphasis by Prodan).
is today the most often quoted Rumanian historian; he has succeeded to imprint the stigma of shame of his ethics far and wide, degrading with his level an entire historiography.
Such a performance is only possible in the conditions of our times, with our lack of control, with our lamentable ethics. Certainly, our Hungarian colleagues jubilate, with fits of laughter, on such a performance of Rumanian historiography (p. 209).
|Stefan Pascu: A History of Transylvania|