[Table of Contents] [Previous] [Next] [Footnotes] [References] [HMK Home] The Daco-Roman Legend


Transylvanian Fiefs of Vlach (Rumanian) Voivods;

Rumanian Cultic Places

In the 13th-16th centuries, the voivods of neighboring Wallachia (Havaselve) and Moldavia were vassals of the Hungarian king, sometimes also of the Transylvanian vajda, with shorter or longer interruptions. (Transylvania, before it developed into a Principality, was governed by Hungarian royal clerks, vajda-s [voivods]). In the Feudal System the lord gave an estate to his vassal who enjoyed the benefits of it as long as he fulfilled the obligations of the relationship. The feudal lord was counting on the vassal's services in peace, as well as in wartime. The vassal was obliged to give military service in addition to the mandatory hospitality and taxes, paid mainly in agricultural products and animals.

We have to survey the contemporary history of Wallachia and Moldavia to get more information about the allegiance between the Vlach voivods and the Hungarian kings.

The Mongol invasion in 1241 basically changed the political conditions in south eastern Europe. The Tatars entrenched themselves in the western and north-western coastal districts of the Black Sea, in the former principality of Kiev, in Moldavia, and in the eastern territories of the second Bulgarian Empire. They swept away the Cumanians, and destroyed most of Hungary. After they settled down in the territories mentioned, they kept raiding their neighbors, Hungarians and Vlachs alike [68].

Béla IV. tried to keep the Mongols far from the borders of Hungary. In Transylvania, he reorganized the Székely borderguard units. He built strong fortresses, and made efforts to strengthen the southern borders. In Szörény, the power of the bán (warden of the southern approaches of Hungary) proved to be weak in keeping the Tatars away. That is why the king donated the Banate of Szörény,20 with its neighboring territories, to the Johannite Order of Knights, and considered the whole of Wallachia to be his fief. The papacy agreed with the Hungarian king's southern expansion. With the Hungarian expansion, the Pope cherished the hope of further Roman-Catholic gains.

The Turk menace, however, approached. The Turks secured a firm foothold on the Balkan Peninsula, and also endangered the security of Wallachia. The voivods of Wallachia built up family ties and friendly relationships with the Bulgarian and Serb rulers. The Turk expansion could have been stopped only by the South Eastern European people's collaboration. The Papacy and the Hungarian foreign policy - influenced by religious considerations - supporting it, were obstacles of such unity.

Louis the Great's Romanizing foreign policy on the Balkans, with the unquestionable intention towards the political influence behind it, brought only sham results. With his campaigns he only weakened the people of the Balkans and made it easier for the Turks to expand towards the yet free Balkan states, as well as towards Hungary.

Greek-Orthodoxism successfully resisted the Hungarian Romanization. In 1359 the first Greek-Orthodox arch-bishopry was founded in Wallachia. The Greek Kritopulos Hiakintos was named the head of this, and he called himself the archbishop of Ungro-Vlachia, i.e. of Wallachia. The foundation of the first Wallachian archbishopric was soon followed by the establishment of the Greek-Orthodox episcopacy of Szörény. Orthodox monastery buildings were constructed. Abbay Nicodim, who immigrated from Serbia to Wallachia, founded the monastery of Vodi_a and later the famous monastery of Tismana.

In the 13th century, the northern part of the other Vlach province, Moldavia developed as part of the principality of Kiev. Later it belonged to the sphere of the principality of Galicia. The Mongols subjugated most of the Russians. Moldavia was also under Mongol dominance, from where the Tatars often broke into and robbed throughout the Transylvanian cities.

In 1345, Louis the Great, whose reign made possible the country's military strengthening, cleaned Moldavia of the Mongols. When the Tatars were ousted, the King organized a military border zone for the defense of Transylvania. The center of the new frontier zone was Baia. Drago_, the voivod of Máramaros, who participated in the fighting, was placed at the head of it. He was the first voivod of Moldavia under the federal authority of the Hungarian King. Moldavia lived under such authority until 1359, when voivod Bogdan came into power. Bogdan ousted voivod Balk, vassal of the Hungarian King and founded the first independent Vlach principality.

The territory of Moldavia became in this period well defined. The international trade played a very important role in its strengthening. The Hungarian King as well as the Polish King was interested in the security of such trade. The tax income and material interest, related to such commerce, made understandable the ambitions of the Hungarian and Polish kings toward the feudal reign of Moldavia.

Since Poland could enforce its influence because of its geographical location, those in power in Moldavia soon recognized the suzerainity rights of the Polish king. The rulers of Moldavia protected themselves with the well tested methods of Wallachia against the Romanizing ambitions of the Polish kings. They, like the Wallachian rulers, organized the Greek-Orthodox Church. The first monastery was built with the financial assistance of the ruler Peter Mu_at (1375-1391) in Neam_. The construction was carried out by the monks of the Serbian Archbishop, Nicodim, who had already established the basis of the cloistered life in Wallachia. [69]

In both voivodships, the Vlach leadership helped with the organization of the Greek-Orthodox Church against the spread of Catholicism, and the political influence of the Hungarian and Polish kings, for the defense of their country's independence. They spared neither their monetary nor political assistance. In exchange and recognition, the Church rendered strong assistance against the discordant feudal aspirations and popular movements.

The kenezships and voivodships were united by Basarab, who was already in 1324 "the only voivod and ruler of all Wallachia". He also occupied the Banate of Szörény. He came into conflict with King Robert Charles, who had been the suzerain of his and had supported his wars against the Mongols. The king started a military campaign against Basarab, but was badly beaten in 1330, near the village of Posada. Even though the castle of Sz_rény remained in Hungarian hands, Basarab's victory ensured the Wallachian independence.

A couple of years later, Basarab could not do anything but join the Hungarian king again, due to the looming Mongol danger. After the death of King Robert Charles, the feudal relationship was restored with the kings' successor, Louis the Great.

During the times of Basarab's grandson, Vladislav, the Hungarian-Wallachian relationship further improved. The king gave the castle of Sz_rény to Vladislav and donated the estates of Transylvanian Fogaras and Omlás. Vladislav recognized the Hungarian king as his suzerain. At the cost of feudal relationship, the Wallachian reigning prince, even as vassal of the king, gained a foothold into the Eastern part of Hungarian Transylvania with his household; nobles, serfs and slaves.

The development of both principalities was markedly hindered by the Turk advancement and conquests. Almost immediately after the establishment of the states, the fight against the Turk conquests begun.

After their victorious battle of Rigómez_ (Kosovo-polje) in 1389, the Turks meant the most immediate danger to Wallachia, whose voivod was Mircea cel B_trân (Old Mircea). In 1394, a large Turkish army begun to conquer Wallachia under the leadership of Sultan Bajazid. Mircea could not defeat the Turks, but repulsed them in the famous battle of Rovine. Mircea withdrew and escaped to Transylvania, where he formed an alliance with Zsigmond of Luxembourg (1368-1437, Hungarian king from 1387) in Brassó to push back the Turks. Under the terms of the treaty, Mircea recognized Zsigmond and the Hungarian kings in general, as his suzerain.

In the meantime, the Turks annexed Wallachia and enthroned a pro-Turk voivod. Zsigmond, fulfilling the conditions of the treaty, hastened to the help of Mircea. They together defeated the pro-Turk voivod in 1395. Mircea regained his throne.

King Zsigmond gathered an army of crusaders in 1396. He tried to oust the Turks from the Balkan Peninsula, but was badly defeated at Nikápoly34. Mircea pulled back his troops north of the Danube and prepared himself to fend off the Turk attack. He was successful. He defeated the Turks two times, in 1397 and 1400.

The Turks occupied two fortresses of Mircea, the fortress of Turnu M_gurele and Giurgiu along the Danube in 1416. In spite of the new Turkish pressure, due to other pressing problems, King Zsigmond neglected his previous alliance. He used all his forces to carry out his Western plans. Mircea made a pledge to pay yearly taxes to the Turks - the independence of Wallachia ended. Turkish raids occurred more frequently along the Hungarian borders. The Turks put their hands on Fort Galambóc in 1428, and Fort Szendr_ in 1439.

The Turks now menaced also the other Vlach voivodship, Moldavia. Alexandru cel Bun (Alexander the Good, 1400-1432), and Petru Aron (1451-1457) voivods were fighting the Turks with alternating luck. Finally, voivod Aron declared Moldavia a country under the authority of the Turks. Moldavia too became the feudal principality of the Turks.

Voivod _tefan cel Mare (Stephen the Great, 1457-1505) did not resign himself to the situation. In one and a half decade, he made Moldavia one of the most important states of southeastern Europe. In his foreign policy, he aimed to ensure Hungarian and Polish help against the Turks [70]. He defeated the Turkish army with Hungarian and Polish assistance in 1475 at Vaslui, but was defeated in 1476 near R_zboieni. After his loss he marched to the north behind the line of strong Moldavian castles. Facing the united Rumanian-Hungarian army, the Sultan retreated. He even had to give up Wallachia.

Eight years later a war broke out between the Hungarian king, Mathias (1458 - 1490) and the German emperor. Mathias was forced to conclude a peace treaty with the Turks, who profiting from the occasion, immediately annexed the two big trade centers of Moldavia, the cities of Chilia and Cetatea Alb_.

Voivod Stephen was still able to destroy two Turkish armies in 1485 and 1486, but he could not achieve more significant results. The forces of Moldavia were not enough to resist the military might of the strengthened Turkish Empire. The ruling prince made efforts to establish an anti-Turk coalition. He started negotiations with king Mathias. Mathias gave him two Transylvanian forts, Csicsó and Küküll_vár, flee to in case he was defeated in a battle. Thus another Rumanian ruler, with all his household, nobles, serfs and slaves, won a foothold in the eastern part of Transylvania.

King Mathias died in 1490. The country was in decay. In spite of the Hungarian help, voivod Stephen recognized the Polish king as his feudal lord.

During the times of Stephen's descendants the Turkish pressure increased. There were twenty-six transfers of sovereignty in the principality during a hundred-year period. There were only two extraordinary persons among the rulers. Petru Rare_ (1527-1538), ally of János Szapolyai and Ioan Vod_ cel Viteaz (voivod John the Gallant), who ruled between 1572 and 1574. John liberated Br_ila in Wallachia. The Sultan, being afraid of an uprising of the Christians living south of the Danube against the Turkish rule, sent 100.000 armed men to Moldavia. After courageous fights, Voivod John was forced to capitulate. Despite the treaty, the Turks massacred the prisoners of war and killed the reigning prince. We have already have pointed out that Louis the Great donated the properties of Fogaras and Omlás to Vladislav, Wallachian Voivod. Fogaras and Sebesvár were owned by Mircea cel B_trân. On the basis of the treaty with king Mathias, the owner of Csicsóvár and Küküll_vár was Stephen the Great. Later, his successor, Petru Rare_, inherited his possessions.

The Hungarian king János I. (1526-1540) donated the entire Beszterce area with the Radna Valley to Petru Rare_, in addition to the forts of Csicsóvár and Küküll_vár. The voivod founded an Orthodox Episcopacy on his fief at Rév. The Bishops came from Moldavia, and governed this Church between 1523 and 1561. - The Rumanian Orthodox Church of Barcarozsnyó (Rum. Râ_nov) was built with the help of the Wallachian ruler in the 14th century. Mihai Viteazul (Michael the Gallant, 1593-1601) restored it.

The construction of a stone church began in Brassó in 1495, with the help of Vlad C_lug_rul, Wallachian Voivod. This church was between 1519 and 1521 enlarged with the assistance of Neagoe Basarab. Aron Vod_, Moldavian ruler, decorated its walls with frescos in 1594. The building, erected in the courtyard of the church, included the old Rumanian School. The school building replaced an older wooden structure, and was built in 1597 with the monetary help of Aron Vod_. The teaching was in Slavonic (the language of the Romanian Orthodox Church) before 1559, then it was changed to Rumanian. The building of Rumanian churches and monasteries continued in Transylvania with the help and financial assistance of the voivodes of the two Rumanian lands.

Finally, we have to remember that István Báthory (1533-1586), Transylvanian ruler, founded the Orthodox Episcopacy of Gyulafehérvár. According to a decree of the Parliament, the bishop was elected by the Rumanian priests and approved by the ruler. The bishop asked - after having received the approval of the voivod - the Wallachian Orthodox bishop of Târgovi_te35 to consecrate him. The Rumanian Orthodox Bishop of Gyulafehérvár named himself, after 1577, the Archbishop of Transylvania. Every Rumanian Orthodox priest in Transylvania was placed under his authority.

In the light of these historical facts, it may be stated that the Carpathians did not make out an obstacle between the Rumanians living in Moldavia, Wallachia and Transylvania. The present day community of Rumanian historians tries to forge an argument for the theory of Vlach continuity in Transylvania from the fact that Rumanian voivods, who were in a difficult situation because of the Tatar and later the Turkish attacks, were helped by the Hungarian kings. This help included most of the time granting of temporary possession of land, in exchange for their services to the Hungarian Kingdom, and safe heaven in times of defeats and temporary setbacks. Rumanian historiography does not shrink back to degrade the two Rumanian states' voivods' well documented vassal relationship with the Transylvanian vajda-s and the Hungarian kings, to the level of "political orientation" and "wider trade relationships".

It would be enough to mention only one example to refute this concept. Voivod Mircea cel B_trân stayed in the Transylvanian city of Brassó as a refugee on March 7, 1395. He wanted to make an arrangement with his superior, the Hungarian King, Zsigmond of Luxembourg, against the Turks. He had a place to which to flee, because the Wallachian voivods have had access to the fiefs of Fogaras and Omlás for more than hundred years. In return of the use of the estates, the voivods, as vassals, had to fulfil several services to their masters. There is no other way to understand this relationship. It is possible that in retrospect, and by using todays' standards, these centuries of Hungarian-Vlach relationship made out a painful period in the history of the Rumanian people, but it cannot constitute the basis or cause for deliberate falsification of history.

Radu Popa refers to excavations in Transylvania carried out in 1964-65 (p. 7.). He states that - although the written sources do not mention Rumanian semi-autonomous kenezships and voivodships until the 13th, and especially the 14th centuries - in Máramaros, Fogaras, Bihar, Bánság and Hátszeg, a feudal Rumanian society had existed. According to Mr. Popa, the objects, discovered in the excavations gave evidence of Rumanian court chapels, and small monasteries from the 11th and 12th Centuries. The construction were supported by the Rumanian kenez families' money. In the 13th-14th centuries they were reconstructed by stone and brick like everywhere else in Europe.

Popa, however, did not give any evidence of the existence of these church centres in the 11th-12th centuries. He could not prove that such buildings had been financed by the Rumanian kenez families. He did not have any data about the names of the leaders of the church centres. He was unable to name a single place where these supposedly chapel or monastery ruins could have been found, even though he was referring to official documents. If person- and place names did not occur in those official documents - then what would they contain?

Popa's assumptions serve only one goal: to slip the origin of the cultic places built in Transylvania during the 13th and 14th centuries to the 11th-12th centuries, from which period there are no relics of Rumanian origin. He passes over the fiefs and the senior-vassal relationship between the Hungarian kings, Transylvanian vajda-s (later princes), and the Wallachian and Moldavian voivods. However, these well documented historical facts - not the allegged Dacian-Rumanian Continuity - have contributed to the ease with which the Wallachian, Moldavian and Transylvanian Rumanians were able to pass the Carpathian Mountains.

 [Table of Contents] [Previous] [Next] [Footnotes] [References] [HMK Home] The Daco-Roman Legend