|Transylvania - The Roots of Ethnic Conflict|
The last 200 years have witnessed the emergence of modern nationalism and certain exclusivist demands on the loyalties of the inhabitants of most states of the world. The peoples of Transylvania are no exception. The linkage that was created between the conception of nationality and the conception of state was henceforth an important guidepost in the thinking of Rumanians, Hungarians, and Germans, as well as of the smaller nationality groups who inhabit Transylvania. The nineteenth century, in particular, saw the beginning of the assertion of differing, and even conflicting, interpretations of national destiny. Although the previous centuries had already established the basic patterns of the respective national cultures and their coexistence in Transylvania, the reigns of Joseph II (1780--90) and Leopold II (1790--92) accentuated the differences on a political level: Joseph II by trying to impose German as the official language of the empire, his brother by actively playing off the nationalities against one another to consolidate Habsburg centralization. International events, particularly the revolution in France, also added to the tensions between the nationalities by popularizing both the concept of popular sovereignty and the rightness of nationalistic sentiments.
In Transylvania, the Rumanian peasant rising of 1784 is perhaps the first hint of things to come. It is followed shortly, on a much higher plane, by the submission of the two Supplexes to the Habsburg rulers (1790, 1792) and by the ever increasing Hungarian demand that Transylvania and royal Hungary be reunited.
Joseph Held's study on the Horea-Closca-Crisan rising reflects the changing mood in the relations of the Transylvanian nations. Although this was a classic peasant revolt, with mainly socioeconomic causes, its timing and its combination with discontent in the Orthodox Christian fold (composed overwhelmingly of Rumanians) makes it a manifestation of early ethnic Rumanian "nationalism." The Held analysis provides a balanced description of the causes for unrest, a profile of the traits and motives of the leaders, and finally a succinct summary of the consequences.
Sixty-five years of development in "national consciousness" took place between 1784 and 1848. This continued to increase the emotional and psychological distance among Rumanians, Hungarians, and Germans.
Consequently, when the Revolution of 1848--49 swept through the Habsburg empire, the inhabitants of Transylvania found themselves on opposite sides in the struggle. Istvan Deak's study focuses on this struggle. He does not trace the process of polarization, but seeks instead to answer some basic questions about this event and the longterm effect it had on interethnic relations. In its sweep, the essay links the past to present realities. At the same time, it points out that the real winners and losers of the struggle were not determined on the battlefield.
Paul Bõdy's essay attempts to bridge a larger slice of time in the evolution of Rumanian-Hungarian relations. Its focus is not on one traumatic event, but on the intellectual developments that provided the framework for Rumanian-Hungarian contacts between 1840 and 1870. Bõdy's concern is to present the efforts of reconciliation in spite of 1784 and 1848--49.
The reflections of Edsel Walter Stroup and S. B. Vardy address the same historical events and questions as Held, Deak, and Bõdy. However, they take issue with some of the preceding interpretations and draw different conclusions about some of the points raised.
Together, these essays portray the political confrontations of the peoples of Transylvania. They also reveal that nationalist orientations were reaffirmed rather than restrained by the experiences of the late eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries. Thus, when the next opportunity for confrontation occurs in 1918--20, the results are again characterized by nationalist exclusivism.
The outlines of the peasant revolt of 1784--85 in Transylvania are not very difficult to establish. Unrest was endemic in the southern portions of the province, where the mountains harbored fugitives and various highwaymen who periodically raided the traveling merchants. On January 3, 1784, Emperor Joseph II ordered a trial census of the peasantry for the purpose of signing them up for the border forces as auxiliary militiamen. This created a great deal of hope, especially among the Rumanian peasants of the Abrudbánya (Abrud, Gross-Schlatten) region, that they would be freed of their feudal obligations once they had joined the army. During the summer, however, royal agents were sent to calm the unrest among the peasants by assuring them that they would have to continue serving their lords and fulfilling their obligations to them. Obviously these agents were not believed; in late October or early November, open revolt began at the Zalatna (Zlatna) estate of the treasury, spreading to the adjoining mining districts, then into Hunyad and Krassó-Szörény counties. By the end of the month, peasants armed themselves against the lords in some villages of the Maros River valley. The unrest spread throughout the province. After some initial hesitation, the imperial authorities decided to intervene and sent regular troops against the rebellious people. They successfully suppressed the revolt by early December. The leaders were betrayed to the authorities by some Rumanian peasants and were caught later in the month; they were interrogated in January, 1785, and with one exception (who either committed suicide or died of some unknown cause) were executed in February in the presence of representatives of a large number of villages. Their bodies (including that of the one who died in jail) were quartered and put on exhibit in various regions of the province in order to provide an example for future rebels. The causes of the unrest were then explored by the royal commission, who placed the blame partly on inept royal officials but mainly upon the shoulders of a recalcitrant Hungarian nobility for their alleged sabotage
of imperial reforms intended for the rationalization of the administration of Transylvania. The revolt did for the Rumanians of Transylvania what the massacre of Mádéfalva had done for the Székelys in 1764, namely, it brought home to them the realization that their conationals across the Transylvanian borders probably constituted a better guarantee of their well-being than did the existing institutions of the Habsburg state. In this way the unsuccessful revolt became a powerful catalyst of early Rumanian nationalism.
Peasant revolts in Europe's feudal age followed a recognizable pattern. Part of this pattern concerned peasant beliefs that too many innovations --- usually in the form of new tax regulations --- were destroying a formerly "better" or even "freer" way of life. Revolts of this nature usually began when improvements in peasant life were promised but not delivered by the authorities, creating expectations that the authorities never really intended to fulfill. It usually seemed to the peasantry that royal intentions to improve their lot were being sabotaged by "bad advisors" at court or by the local nobility; they perceived that their foe was not the royal authority but rather its underlings.
The leadership of peasant uprisings usually came from various social strata, and only a few of the leaders were peasants themselves. Most often the leaders were disgruntled petty noblemen or priests, or even craftsmen from nearby cities or towns, and sometimes discharged soldiers. The often indiscriminate looting and burning that accompanied peasant disturbances as well as the attacks on villages and individual peasants who refused to join the rebellion resulted in the gradual loss of support for the peasant warriors among their own social class and the isolation of the rebels from the most satisfied elements in peasant society. The demands of the rebellious peasants were usually too particularistic --- centering mainly on the solution to some local problem --- to attract universal societal support.
Many such peasant revolts occurred from the fourteenth through the eighteenth centuries, most notable among them the English rising of 1381, the movement of the French Touchin in the late fourteenth century, the peasant rising of Bábolna in 1437--38 in Transylvania, the Hungarian rebellion of György Dózsa in 1514, the Karinthian peasant revolt of 1515, the great German peasant war of 1525--26, and the French, Russian, and Chinese risings of the seventeenth century. The Horea-Closca revolt of 1784--85 represented a late wave of these classic peasant movements.
This last uprising displayed many elements of classic peasant revolts. These included unfulfilled expectations for the abolition of feudal obligations, for a possibly freer life for the peasants as militiamen in
the border regiments, and for the general betterment of life for the entire peasantry. An added feature that made the short-lived uprising so significant, foreshadowing later popular movements in Eastern Europe, was the issue of an early Rumanian nationalism. There was also the problem of religious discrimination against Orthodox Christians in Transylvania, the majority of whom belonged to the ethnically Rumanian population.
To be sure, we cannot as yet speak in terms of a modern-day national consciousness dominating the thinking and aspirations of the Transylvanian Rumanian peasants who made up the bulk of the warriors in 1784; but the fact was that they regarded the nobility, whose majority happened to be Hungarian, as the chief agents of their oppression. At the same time, since the geographic boundaries of the Rumanian language roughly corresponded to the boundaries of the Orthodox faith in Transylvania, the common opponents of the faith and of nationality appeared to be the non-Orthodox, Roman Catholic, or Protestant Hungarians as a whole.
When exploring the issues in Transylvania in 1784, we will want to know more, first of all, about the social conditions of the population as a whole; this will help us understand the bases of peasant grievances. We will also want to explore the leadership of the revolt, to find out who the peasant leaders really were, what goals were set by them, and what the short-term and long-range consequences of their movement were. In a short essay such as this, the author does not intend to provide a more detailed description of the actual course of events than the short account above but will concentrate on these questions, being fully aware of the tentative nature of the answers provided by the available sources.
THE SOCIAL ISSUES
By the late eighteenth century, the population of Transylvania, now part of the Habsburg Empire but administered separately from Hungary, was 1.45 million inhabitants. In comparison with the situation a century before, this figure represented the doubling of the population. However, the increase was only partly the result of natural growth; most of it came from immigration, largely from the Danubian Principalities, consisting mainly of Rumanian peasants. There was also a reverse movement of Hungarians, especially Székelys, leaving Transylvania for the Moldavian lands. Consequently, by the mid-eighteenth century, over half, or fifty-five percent, of the population were ethnically Rumanian; about thirty percent were Hungarian, another
ten percent were Saxons, while the rest were South Slavs. One peculiarity of the social composition of the population was the fact that only about 52,000 people lived in the cities and towns, while the rest resided in villages. This pointed to an important social characteristic that was to plague the entire region for the next two centuries, namely, the fact that it lacked an urban middle class.
Accordingly, the two economically, politically, and socially important branches of society consisted of the nobility and the peasantry. The nobility made up an unusually large segment of the population --- close to ten percent --- including women and children. The majority of the nobles were ethnically Hungarian, although there were many Rumanian noblemen, and a narrow stratum of Saxon patricians may also be considered in this category. But the nobility as such was not a homogeneous stratum. About 260 of the richest, most powerful families were the so-called magnates, possessing the largest estates in the province, dominating practically every facet of social life in Transylvania. The rest of the nobility lived under more modest conditions, sometimes not very different from those of the peasantry.
The policies of the Habsburg administration in Transylvania were openly exploitative, representing an early colonial regime, throughout the entire eighteenth century. These policies were devised to syphon off the wealth of the province through a system of tariffs and taxes, regardless of the consequences of such policies on the economic base that was already strained by the population increase. In order to be able to derive the maximum income from Transylvania for the royal treasury, the administration's first task appeared to be to free the peasants from landlord control --- and from the accompanying feudal obligations paid to the nobility. It was at this point that the interests of the peasantry and the royal representatives seemed to coincide. But this was only apparent. In fact, the Habsburg rulers were not that much interested in easing the burdens of the peasants; they simply wanted to free them from landlord control in order to have them exploited by the state. These policies, of course, ran directly counter to the very survival of the nobility as a social group.
In comparison with the life style of similar social groups in Hungary proper and in the Austrian crownlands, the Transylvanian nobles were poor indeed. With the exception of the magnates, their sole means of survival as nobles depended upon the services and obligations rendered by the serfs. In order to increase their income and "catch up" with the nobility of the rest of the Habsburg Empire, many Transylvanian nobles (following the example of their fellow nobles elsewhere in the Habsburg lands) gradually altered peasant obligations until, during
the second half of the eighteenth century, the peasants' burdens were considerably increased. What was especially injurious was the steep increase in the number of days required of the peasants to work on their lord's land; by the second half of the century, most of the workweek of peasants was spent on the robot, leaving them little time to work their own plots. While the Habsburg administration tried by various means to lower the peasants' obligations to the nobility, the nobles naturally resisted these efforts as a direct attack upon their lifestyle and social status, and tried to achieve just the opposite.
However, the situation was not the same on all noble estates. On the lands of the magnates, for instance, there was enough ploughland available for the use of the peasants, and they were permitted to till these lands for their own benefit after the fulfillment of their obligations. But the lesser nobles felt forced to exclude many peasants from lands that the latter had used for generations, as these nobles saw greater profits if they used these lands themselves. At the same time, they demanded more days of labor from the serfs. Furthermore, while the magnates were generally away from their estates most of the year, the lesser nobles were in daily contact with the serfs, who saw in them the personification of their exploitation. It must be emphasized once again that most lesser nobles were Hungarians, while a large number of serfs were ethnically Rumanian. Not only did they belong to different language groups, but to different religious denominations as well. No wonder that the fury of the revolt of 1784--85 was to be directed against the lesser nobility, i.e., the Hungarians.
There also existed a great deal of arbitrariness in peasant-landlord relations, and not only in Transylvania, but throughout the entire Habsburg Empire. The demands of the lords varied not only from province to province, but sometimes even within individual estates. This was the case not only in privately held estates, but also on lands controlled by the royal treasury, such as, for instance, the estate of Zalatna, where the spark of the revolt was eventually struck. Arbitrariness not only fostered dissatisfaction and tension in the countryside, but it seriously interfered with the orderly administration of the province, especially the collection of taxes.
Vienna realized early in the eighteenth century that no systematic taxation could be devised without the uniform regulation of landlord-peasant relations. In the views of Maria Theresa and her son, Joseph II, "enlightened rule" in the empire required the reduction or even elimination of peasant obligations to the landlords, in order to free peasant resources for the purposes of the state. Nor could the empire create a strong military organization, one that it increasingly
needed in the face of challenges from France, Prussia, and Russia, without drawing upon the masses of the peasantry for soldiers, if not for the regular army, at least for the border guards. Since the peasants were, for the most part, under the jurisdiction of the nobles, the evident aim of the enlightened absolutist Habsburg state was to transform and restrict the system of serfdom that, in these instances, seemed to have outlived its usefulness. But the stiff opposition of the nobility, centering on the county administrations that they controlled, slowed down or even sabotaged all royal attempts at reform.
The peasantry itself was divided into several social strata ethnically as well as economically. There were Rumanian peasants following the Orthodox faith, or of the Uniate church; there were also Hungarian, Saxon, and South Slav peasants living in the province, belonging to other religious denominations. They were either dominicales (tenant farmers), having a contractual relationship with their landlords, or were ordinary iobagiones (serfs), settled on and tied to the land. Although a tenant was theoretically free to move and did not need his lord's permission to get married, and his sons were free to chose a craft if they so pleased (all these restrictions were applied to the serfs), the tenant was subject to the lord's juridical and administrative authority. The Habsburg emperors tried, first of all, to set limits on the amount of peasant obligations due the landlords. Thus, Maria Theresa attempted to equalize peasant status by declaring all peasants to be free tenants. When Joseph II came to rule alone, he was determined to further reduce the weight of feudalism in his realms. Between 1783 and 1785, he not only declared all serf obligations to be abolished in Transylvania and Hungary proper (also in Bohemia and the crownlands), but also ended the age-old restrictions on marriage, on the freedom to move, and of occupation. At the same time, he issued a decree imposing a thirty percent tax on peasant incomes in lieu of the former feudal obligations. Although this was a severe demand, since the peasants possessed little cash money, the overall intentions of the emperor were interpreted by the people, especially the Rumanian peasants, as proof of his good will towards them. In turn, the nobility's opposition to the royal decrees (never cleared by the duly constituted legal authorities) was regarded by the peasants as an openly hostile act not only against the emperor but also against themselves.
The military situation in the Balkan peninsula after the expulsion of the Turks from Hungary at the end of the seventeenth century demanded that the empire build up its border forces. In turn, the state needed more soldiers to man the outposts of the realm. More soldiers naturally meant the need for more money for their maintenance; this
could only be achieved through the reorganization of the empire's taxation policies and through the partial elimination of special privileges that exempted the largest group of the wealthiest inhabitants, the nobility, from the tax rolls.
As early as 1762, Maria Theresa had tried to establish a new system of border defenses in Transylvania (similar to the military border created in the Croatian lands of the empire), which led to the resistance and massacre of the free Székelys by the regular Habsburg army at Mádéfalva. On the other hand, large numbers of Rumanian serfs welcomed the establishment of border regiments, since by joining these forces they expected to gain freedom from their serf obligations. When Joseph II opened recruitment on a trial basis in 1784, the Rumanian peasants of the Beszterce (Bistritz, Bistrita) region signed up en masse, as did the male population from numerous villages near Gyulafehérvár, the capital of Transylvania, and from some villages in the Maros River valley. This only strengthened the nobles' resolve to oppose the establishment of the border regiments, since they regarded the recruitment of peasants without their permission as evidence of the high-handedness of the Habsburg state. Accordingly, they did everything in their power to stop the peasants from joining the army. At the same time, the imperial authorities became alarmed by the apparent success of their own initiative; they were surprised at the intensity of peasant response to their call and began canceling the recruitment drive.
By then, the emperor's reforms included decrees for religious toleration in Hungary and Transylvania, orders for the unification of the chancelleries of the two political entities, and the creation of new administrative districts, replacing the age-old system of county government. Joseph II also declared that ability, not birth, was to be the basis of future appointments to government offices and that German would replace Latin as the language of the administration in his domains, including Transylvania, within three years.
Many of the Rumanian peasants greeted these reforms with jubilation. At a stroke of the emperor's pen, their religion gained equal status with the other religions of Transylvania, their status as serfs had been greatly eased, and once again they were called to sign up for the border forces. They cared little about changes in the official language, which was alien to them in any case. When the administrators tried to intervene with their signing up for the army, they regarded this as a conspiracy against the emperor's orders. But long-simmering discontent did not break out into open rebellion on the lands controlled by the nobility. Actual trouble started on the estate of the treasury at Zalatna.
Peasant unrest was, of course, not a new phenomenon in Transylvania. Peasants-turned-highwaymen periodically raided villages and small towns. After each raid they withdrew into the mountains or, if the pursuit were too vigorous, they moved into Moldavia or Wallachia through the mountain passes. Entire counties were made unsafe by these highwaymen during the eighteenth century. In Arad and Zaránd counties, few merchants ventured on the open road without strong escort, and the villages paid regular tribute to the highwaymen. Nor were the robbers lacking in local sympathy. They were often considered the successors to the legendary fighters against the Turks who had freed captive peasants and took vengeance on the Muslim enemy. For many peasants, the highwaymen were now simply fighting another oppressor who happened to be either an Austrian official or a Hungarian nobleman.
Many of the bands were made up of former soldiers who had found army life too demanding and thus deserted. They were resourceful men who were thoroughly familiar with the locality in which they operated and often knew the administrators on a personal basis. In Arad County, they even captured the head of the county administration, Count András Forray, and held him for ransom and for a pledge of amnesty. Most highwaymen were ethnically Rumanian; according to some reports, entire districts were involved in their affairs, the peasants accepting and selling their loot and providing safe havens for them between raids. Some of the highwaymen were to play an important role in the revolt of 1784--85.
The problems of the estate of Zalatna were not new either, and they reflected peasant discontent in a microcosm. The administrators of the estate pressed the peasants for more and more days of labor. At the same time, they were involved in a scheme to deprive the treasury of some of its income from the estate, a scheme discovered during 1784. After the scandal, the administrators were replaced by new ones, who tried to press the peasants to fulfill their obligations to the estate in order to erase the memory of the past. Another problem was that the peasants were forbidden to clear forest lands for cultivation, since the trees were needed for the mines administered by the estate. Given contemporary agrarian techniques and an expanding population, the peasants did need more land; their interests, thus, clashed sharply with those of the estate. The estate also demanded higher taxes from its serfs for the support of the ever-expanding population of officials and of the village judges who served both the estate and the county authorities. A long-standing peasant grievance came to the fore in early 1784, when the peasants protested the authorities' discriminatory practices
against the Orthodox faith. This had already caused a minor disturbance at the estate in the 1740s.
Yet, the immediate cause of the outbreak was a seemingly insignificant dispute over peasant innkeeping rights. Such disputes were, naturally, inherent in the system of serfdom. These rights were included in patents originally issued by the Princes Báthory of Transylvania in the sixteenth century, but were gradually forgotten and disregarded. In 1784, the estate leased innkeeping rights to certain merchants. When copies of the original patents were found and submitted by the peasants to the governor of the estate, they were told that their rights were no longer valid and that the estate was entitled to lease the innkeeping privileges to whomever it chose. This argument was accepted by the county administration.
Nicola-Vasilii Urs, nicknamed Hora (Horea) for his strong voice, was born around 1730 in Zaránd County. He is called a serf by all sources, but he certainly was not an ordinary peasant. He was actually a carpenter by trade; according to the customs of the time, he travelled a great deal, seeking work and becoming well-acquainted with conditions of life among the simple people. By the time he appeared on the scene, he was regarded as spokesman for the Rumanian peasants at the Zalatna estate and was considered a troublemaker by the officials. It seems that he remained a great traveler; sources maintain that he visited Vienna four times, each time seeking and gaining an audience with the emperor --- an unlikely possibility --- requesting imperial help against the exploitation of the peasants by the estate officials and the Hungarian nobles.
It would be well to reiterate that Horea was not a peasant in the ordinary sense of the term; he did not make his living by tilling the soil or raising animals. Despite the undoubtedly broader perspective that he gained during his travels, he failed to grasp the full meaning of imperial policies in Transylvania. He was absolutely, if naively, convinced that the running conflict of the emperor with the nobility placed the ruler in the same camp with the peasants. He expected imperial approval --- if not outright, direct support --- in the coming peasant uprising against the "common enemy." He believed that the emperor's sympathies were strong enough to stay the hands of local military commanders at least until the peasants succeeded in eliminating the influence of the Hungarian nobles from the Transylvanian province once and for all.
Ion Oarga, or Closca, was a serf from the village of Carpinis, located near Abrudbánya. He was seventeen years Horea's junior when the uprising began. He was loyal to Horea to the very end; their friendship may have begun (and became cemented) during Horea's journeys to Vienna, on which Closca probably accompanied him. He was the most likely author of the document presenting peasant demands during the uprising. Although we know very little of Closca's life, he certainly did not appear to have been just another ordinary peasant of the eighteenth century either.
Giurgu Marcu, called Crisan, the third leader of the peasant uprising, was a former professional soldier. We do not know if he was discharged from the army or if he simply deserted; we only know that he was about Horea's age. He was the military organizer of the uprising, an excellent tactician, and a sharp-eyed strategist. It was probably Crisan who organized the distribution and movement of the peasant forces during the uprising; he foresaw that only through simultaneous attacks in various regions could the uprising gain enough momentum for success. We know that he, too, was originally from Zaránd County, but there is little else in the documents about his earlier life.
The nineteen-year-old son of Nicola-Vasilii Urs, Ion Horea, was the fourth major leader of the revolt. He worked closely with Closca at the outbreak of the uprising, but he gained an independent command as the fighting progressed. However, he was nicknamed after his father; this shows that he did not have enough time to assume a separate identity and, thus, remained the least important of the four leaders of the uprising.
There was a sizeable contingent of soldiers and highwaymen --- about 150 or so out of 4,000--5,000 fighters --- who made up the second echelon of the leadership of the peasant troops. They provided the tactical know-how for the insurgent army, teaching the peasants the swift, organized movements that characterized their type of warfare. Their major problem was the poor armament of their troops. As long as they faced only the frightened and disorganized nobility, they had an easy and victorious campaign; however, as soon as they had to contend with the troops of the regular army, their fighting spirit quickly disappeared.
The demands of the insurgents were formulated as the revolt progressed. At first, in the white heat of hatreds that accumulated over the years, the only desire of the peasants was to kill the nobles, burn their castles or houses together with the documents of peasant servitude, and carry away as much of the nobles' property as could be found. However, after the initial fury of the revolt was spent, Horea and
Closca proceeded to formulate more precise --- if simplistic --- aims that, they seemed to believe, corresponded to the ideas of the reform-minded emperor.
The demands were few and to the point. First of all, the peasants asked for the abolition of the privileges of the nobility. This meant that the peasants were no longer to be required to provide a living for the noblemen. However, mindful that the nobles would need a way to make a living, they suggested, perhaps somewhat naively, that the nobles be given positions in the imperial bureaucracy as suited their individual abilities. This way the emperor's declaration about ability as the basis for office would have been fulfilled. The next demand was the confiscation of all noble estates and their distribution among the peasantry. Finally, the last demand argued that the nobility, no longer being in a privileged position, should be required to pay state taxes, as were the rest of the population. By this, the public burdens would be distributed more evenly among the population. In plain language, the Rumanian peasants wanted political equality and land reform; if fulfilled, these demands would have automatically taken care of local grievances and ended serfdom in Transylvania in fact as well as in theory.
These demands also reflected the influence of the European Enlightenment as it filtered down from the royal court through the provincial administrators to the peasantry. If Joseph II really wanted to rationalize his administration, so the peasants seemed to reason, and if the major obstacle in his way was the resistance of the nobility, the peasants would not only eliminate this obstacle by force, but would make sure that the emperor would have enough men to choose from to upgrade his bureaucracy. If he were anxious to establish an equitable system of taxation, the peasants would help him in this endeavor by making all people equal. The demand for land reform reflected the conviction that land, the basis of all wealth and security in that age, should be shared among those who could derive the greatest benefits from it.
The immediate consequences of the revolt were not as severe as could be expected or as the nobility wanted them to be. Despite the hundreds of noble families indiscriminately massacred by the insurgents, the retributions were comparatively mild. It was true that about thirty-seven men were executed in a most barbaric manner (though not at all unusual in that "enlightened" age) by the authorities to instill in future would-be revolutionaries fear of the power of the state. But
the commission set up by Joseph II to examine the causes of the revolt suggested leniency towards ordinary participants, freeing many of them and commuting the sentences of others. Joseph II believed that the royal administration of Transylvania was at least partly to be blamed for the uprising, and he also maintained that, had his reforms been executed without obstruction by the nobility, the revolt could have been avoided. Accordingly, the emperor urged the Transylvanian administrators to proceed with the execution of royal decrees without further delay as the best guarantee of the social peace of the province.
But the long-range consequences of the uprising were more serious. They included the intangible but certainly greater consciousness of national hatreds and suspicion between Rumanians and Hungarians in general. Just as the Rumanian peasants and their spokesmen after the uprising, the Orthodox priests, and the emerging Rumanian intellectual class transferred their hatred of the Hungarian nobility to all Hungarians regardless of class, so the Hungarians reciprocated. Both peoples were to enter an age of strident, jingoistic nationalism. The ideologues of each nation were eventually to deny the other nation's right to existence. The struggle for national supremacy in Transylvania was to be buttressed by all sorts of myths and outright lies, usually based on the primitive argument of "who was there first," as if ethnic groups who have lived on a territory for nearly a millennium could ever be regarded by anyone as "newcomers."
|Transylvania - The Roots of Ethnic Conflict|