Andrei Şaguna and “The Organic Statute” – I.1 A historical outline of Transylvania until the end of the seventeenth century



The very complex political, social and religious context of the nineteenth century in Transylvania, in which Andrei Şaguna performed his activity, required the presentation of some relatively detailed historiographical references that are essential to the understanding of the main theme of this work.  It was particularly important to outline the formation and evolution of the medieval confessionalized society in Transylvania[1], considering the fact that Bishop Andrei Şaguna’s most important actions were focused on overcoming the political, social and religious barriers imposed by this type of society.


I.1 A historical outline of Transylvania until the end of the seventeenth century

I.1.1 From the Dacian State up to the Reform

On the territory of Transylvania[2] – one of the three big Romanian historical provinces – there used to lay in ancient times the centre of the first state on the Romanian territories, the Dacian State. In Orăştie Mountains there is a group of fortresses, the so-called core of the Dacian State: Costeşti, Blidaru, Piatra Craivii, Feţele Albe, Băniţa, Piatra Roşie, among which the most important is Sarmisegetusa Regia, the capital.[3]

During the centuries which followed the Roman conquests, north of the Danube (first -second centuries AD) the Romanian people was shaped, a symbiosis between the native population coming from the great branch of the Thracians and the Roman conquerors.[4]

The sporadic presence of Christianity in Dacia, at least in the second century, is proved by contemporaneous church writers Tertullian and Origenes[5] and by Christian inscriptions discovered on the territory of Transylvania itself[6]. But the first who spread Christianity in the areas were Ulfilla (311-383) born of Christian parents from Cappadochia, and the Bishop Nikita of Remesiana (end of the fourth century – beginning of the fifth century). The church organization at the time was not so complex. The church language was Latin.[7]

The Dacian-Romans were Christians in the second part of the first millennium and the church organization was more developed around the Danube and more primitive in the mountain area.[8]

Between the sixth and the tenth centuries the invasions of the migrating Slavic populations took place, but the Romanian people, already formed, resisted as a people of Roman origin surrounded by Slavs.

After the Bulgarians had settled south of the Danube and become Christians, the Slavonic rite was introduced in the Church.[9] By the establishment of the two episcopal sees at Silistra and Vidin, the Romanians who lived north of the Danube were subject to those two episcopal sees out of practical needs (the ordaining of the priests) and starting with the tenth century they took over the Slavonic rite, too, which they did not abandon until the eighteenth century. The church services in Latin ended at about 900.[10]

During the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the Árpád Magyar Kingdom recently founded defeated the resistance of the local princes[11] and Transylvania passed under the Magyar rule. The Magyars, who had received Christianity from the Church of Constantinople, later embraced out of political reasons the Church of Rome. In this way, Transylvania became the most Eastern province of Western civilization and of Catholic spirituality.[12]

As a result of this political change, changes in the structure of the population took place.

The Szeklers[13] settled in the east of Transylvania, then starting with the eleventh century the south of Transylvania was colonized with Germanic populations[14] brought from Rhineland, Luxembourg and Saxony. From the very beginning, these colonists of German origin had lots of privileges offered by the Magyar royalty – their only legal authority. The lands occupied by them were later called “The Transylvanian Saxon Country” (“Sachsenland”) or “The Royal Land” (“Fundus Regius”/“Königsboden”). Their religious and political immunities strengthened by the Andreanum Diploma of 1224, under a supreme political count and a proper church leader, independent of the Catholic bishop of Transylvania.[15]

At the beginning of the thirteenth century, the Teutonic Knights were brought on the south-eastern border of Transylvania, in order to defend the borders but also with an aim to spread the Catholicism in the area.[16] Later, by the middle of the thirteenth century, in 1247, the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem settled in the western area (Drobeta-Turnu-Severin).[17] The efforts to consolidate Catholicism[18] were annulled by the Tartar-Mogul invasion of 1241-1242.[19]

During the following century – the fourteenth – the Anjou Dynasty came into power (Charles I of Hungary 1308-1342) and the Tartar danger was removed by the Russians. The monarchy centralized, Louis I (1342-1382) lead an offensive policy of expansion and made intense efforts to bring to the Catholic union peoples and populations from Hungary and the neighbouring areas.[20]

Until the Anjou kings came to power, the Romanians of Transylvania enjoyed the same rights as their new masters[21], but under the rule of these kings their situation deteriorated steadily and many of them became serfs in time. Part of the Romanians from the boundaries of Transylvania, such as Banat, Haţeg, Făgăraş and Maramureş preserved their privileged condition.[22]

At the end of the fourteenth century, Central Europe was under the threat of a new domination, not Christian either, like the Moguls’ one which lasted between 1241-1242, but much more dangerous and lasting – the Ottoman one.

The Serbians were defeated at Kossovopolje, in 1389. As a result of the defeat suffered by the anti-Ottoman Crusade at Nicopolis, of the year 1396, a vital interest was shown for the organization of a defensive system by the kingdom and, in 1405, Sigismund of Luxembourg (1387-1437) obliged the cities to build fortresses. It is the time when the fortified churches of Transylvania appeared. Because of the expansion, Sigismund came to entitle himself a king of the Romano-German Empire (1410-1437). In this way, Transylvania was connected to the German European world and Rome’s tendency to exert influence in the area increased.[23]

The Orthodox Romanians were not obliged to pay tithes to the Catholic Church until the fourteenth century, except the serfs who lived on the church properties. Beginning with this century, the church hierarchy claimed quitrents. This abuse was a reason why the peasants rebelled in 1437.[24]

Until the middle of the fourteenth century, all the Orthodox Romanians living north of the Danube including those of Transylvania too looked for their religious needs to the episcopal sees of Silistra and Vidin. Then, after the foundation of the Metropolitanates of Wallachia (1359) and Moldavia (1401), the Orthodox of Transylvania were under their protection, as they were nearer.[25]

During the fifteenth century, the native population of Transylvania was more and more discontented because of its social-political situation and amply protested.[26] But the protests were suppressed and the Diet[27] of 1514 decided to inaugurate a social and political union among the Magyar, Szekler and Saxon nobles, famous in history under the name Unio Trium Nationum.[28] The three nations became the political power within the state. The Romanian population was excluded from the political life, the Orthodox confession was considered schismatic and thus forbidden.

Yet, by the good offices of the Patriarchate of Constantinople as well as of the Romanian brothers from Moldavia and Wallachia, the Orthodox of Transylvania survived, having their own bishops beginning with the fourteenth century.[29] Later, episcopal centres were established at Vad, Geoagiul de Sus, Silvaş/Prislop, Alba-Iulia. “Consequently, in spite of the persecutions, the Orthodox Church of Transylvania, Banat and the Western Marches survived and even developed.”[30]

I.1.2 The Reform and its consequences in Transylvania

On August 29, 1526, the Magyars were defeated by the Ottomans at Mohács. The half eastern part of Hungary was turned into a pashalic, until the end of the seventeenth century. As they took over the Byzantine heritage in the Balkans by occupying Buda, the sultans assumed the idea of the great Hungary in central Europe under their aegis.[31] Hence Transylvania’s political status quo changed, becoming in 1541 an autonomous principality under Turkish suzerainty, the political leadership being exercised by the Magyar nobility, the princes. During the era of reigning princes (1540-1690) the Diet (Local Parliament) legislated and the prince was the head of the executive (Local Government).[32]

The three nations (Magyars, Szeklers and Saxons)[33] built new religious foundations out of the Reform, which have inflamed Transylvania for centuries. In 1543, the Diet of Cluj proclaimed the principle of religious liberty in Transylvania.[34] The Orthodox Romanians did not benefit from this law, as they had already been outlawed since 1514. After 1550, the Saxons embraced the Augsburg Lutheran Confession[35] and the Magyars embraced the Calvinism[36]; the Romanians remained for the most part Orthodox.

Out of the common religion of the three nations which had been Catholicism, three branches emerged, gradually recognized by the country Diets. The Diet of Turda recognized the Lutheranism since 1550 as religio (confessio) recepta, the Diet of Aiud proclaimed the Calvinism as a state official religion since 1564, and the Diet of Turda of 1568 recognized the Unitarian confession[37] as religio recepta.[38]

Thus, four were considered the legal confessions: the Catholic, the Lutheran, the Calvinist and the Unitarian, which will be denominated by the Latin word as receptae. The Diet of 1595 calls them like this (religiones receptae/recepta religiok). They were the confessions of the three ethnic nations: the Magyars, the Szeklers and the Saxons.

The public or political rights in Transylvania were by now conditioned by the confession. The political system was completed, finally structured on three nations and four accredited confessions. The Orthodoxy kept its own condition: a “tolerated” confession.[39]

The three Protestant confessions greatly weakened the Catholicism.[40] The Diet of Sebeş of 1556 decided to dissolve the Catholic Diocese of Alba-Iulia, followed by the secularization of the properties of the Roman Catholic Church together with the dissolution of all the dioceses and Catholic convents of Transylvania.[41] In 1567, the Roman Church disappeared as institution and confession in Transylvania, with some few exceptions. The former Catholic residence in Alba-Iulia became the political centre of Transylvania’s prince.

The Magyars founded a Calvinist hierarchy, and the Romanian Orthodox Church and its bishops were placed under the Calvinist superintendent’s jurisdiction.[42]

Among the Orthodox Romanians, the conquests of the Reform remained unessential, superficial and inconsistent, apart from the introduction of the Romanian language in the liturgical life, instead of the Slavonic one. In spite of the Calvinist reigning princes’ efforts, the Calvinism could not conquer the Romanian people of Transylvania, it could only succeed in detaching a group of the Romanian nobility. The Romanian aristocracy earlier “seduced” by Catholicism – because they could be raised as nobles only as Catholics -, was now taken over by Calvinism[43] – the new confession of the Magyar nobles. This process left the Orthodox Church in Transylvania without any political protection: “during the reign of the princes in Transylvania [1540-1690], the Romanian nobility was obliged to embrace the Reform, or otherwise their properties were to be confiscated; in order to avoid this danger and yet keep the old confession, the families of the Romanian nobles made an agreement, so that each family should offer a member to the Calvinist Church, avoiding the confiscation of their properties; this strategy was successful, but in time the Calvinist members got a higher social status – as they were privileged by the régime – while the ignored members of their families became simple peasants …”[44]

In 1595, the Orthodox who still long had bishops on the Transylvanian territories[45] passed under the canonical authority of the Wallachian Metropolitanate, in order to be secured the existence of the Orthodox confession and of the confessional schools. In 1638, Ilie Iorest the monk came from Wallachia, who under the recommendation of Prince George Rákóczi I (1631-1648) was elected by the priests’ synod[46] as metropolitan of Alba-Iulia. But a synod of 1643 of Alba-Iulia dismissed him, because he opposed the Calvinism. Then followed Metropolitan Simeon Ştefan (1643-1651) “a learned man, well supported by Prince Rákóczi and the Calvinist priests”[47].

The Transylvanian legal Code Approbatae constitutiones regni Transsilvaniae et partium Hungariae eidem annexarum[48]  – which comprised the acts of law voted by the Diet between 1540 and 1653 – approved by the Diet of Alba Iulia on January 23, 1653, entirely excluded the Romanians and their Orthodox confession from any political or public right, affirming once more the system of the three nations (Magyar, Szekler and Saxon) and four legal confessions (Catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist and Unitarian).

Just Metropolitan Sava Branković (1656-1680) “by his high moral and intellectual features was able to obtain several protecting measures for the Romanian clergy, coming from Prince Apaffi [Michael Apaffi I (1661-1690)].”[49]

In the second half of the seventeenth century, the Orthodox Church was already in a serious deadlock. It lacked the financial resources and the political power necessary to fulfill its own mission. Its leaders were subordinated to the Calvinist superintendent while most of the parish priests, having just a rudimentary training, lived in such terrible poverty that their condition was no better than the serfs’ living standard. Both the upper and the lower clergy sharply felt the humiliation of a tolerated schismatic people, whose stay in the country relied on the prince and estates’ willingness.[50]

Image: Map of the Romanian historical province Transylvania seen from satellite.

[1] On this topic see Joachim BAHLCKE, Arno STROHMEYER (Hrsg.), Konfessionalisierung in Ostmitteleuropa, Wirkungen des religiösen Wandels im 16. und 17. Jahrhundert in Staat, Gesellschaft und Kultur, Stuttgart 1999.

[2]  In a narrower sense, under this name is understood the territory lying between the Eastern, Southern Carpathians and Apuseni Mountains, namely Ardeal (including the Field of Transylvania). In a broader sense, Transylvania includes apart from the above mentioned territories Banat, Crişana and Maramureş. (See the map in the annex VI herein)

As historical entity named such, Transylvania exists from the Middle Age, from the time of and after its conquest by the Hungarian Kingdom. At the time, the intra-Carpathian voivodate (dukedom) that had emerged around 900-1000 and then was added to Hungary did not include Banat, Crişana and Maramureş.

After 1541, with the Hungarian Kingdom’s dissolution and the foundation of the Transylvanian principality, the latter had the double surface of the former voivodate, because it included Banat (from 1552 a part of Banat was occupied by the Ottomans) and the Western Parts (Partium). Since then Transylvania has a broader sense, referring basically to historical provinces named today: classical Transylvania or voivodate of Transylvania (intra-Carpathian zone), Banat, Crişana and Maramureş. In contemporary generally comprehension Transylvania means this latter territory. (See the map in the annex VII herein)

After Hungarian conquest, Transylvania became a multi-ethnic territory and it was named differently by the three main ethnic communities: the Romanians named it Ardeal, the Saxons called it Siebenbürgen (Latin Septemcastra), and the Hungarians Erdély. But the official name that was recognized during Middle Age and the greatest part of the modern age was Transylvania.

    Cf. The History of Transylvania, vol. I, 8-10.

[3] On the ancient Dacian State, its history and civilization see, e.g., Constantin DAICOVICIU, La Transylvanie dans l`Antiquité, Bucarest 1938; IDEM, Zur Inneren Geschichte Daziens, in: Studien zur Geschichte Osteuropas, Graz u.a. 1966, 9-14; Ioan GLODARIU, The History and Civilization of the Dacians (4th century BC-106 AD), in: The History of Transylvania, vol. I, 67-136; Aurel RUSTOIU, Dacia Before the Romans, in: History of Romania. Compendium, 31-58.

[4] On the Roman Province Dacia and the Dacian-Roman continuation on the former Dacian territories (a theory which was elaborated in detail by the representatives of the so-called “School of Transylvania” (“Şcoala Ardeleană”): Petru Maior, Gheorghe Şincai and Samuil Micu-Klein, in the eighteenth century) see George Ioan  BRĂTIANU, Ein Rätsel und ein Wunder der Geschichte: das rumänische Volk, München 1968 (=An enigma and a miracle of history – the Romanian people, Bucharest 1996); Constantin DAICOVICIU, Le problème de la continuité en Dacie, Bucarest 1940; IDEM, Die Herkunft des rumänischen Volkes im Lichte der neuesten Forschungen und Ausgrabungen, München 1967; Constantin DAICOVICIU,  Hadrian DAICOVICIU, Ion MICLEA, Rumänien in Frühzeit und Altertum, Wien 1970; Lucreţiu MIHĂILESCU-BÎRLIBA, Individu et société en Dacie romaine. Etude de démographie historique, Wiesbaden 2004; Coriolan Horaţiu OPREANU, The Noth-Danube Regions from the Roman Province of Dacia to the Emergence of the Romanian Language (2nd – 8th Centuries AD), in: History of Romania. Compendium, 59-132; Vasile PÂRVAN, Dacia. An outline of the early civilisations of Carpatho-Danubian countries, Cambridge 1928; Ioan PISO, Zu den Fasten Dakiens unter Trajan, in: Festschrift für Gerhard Dobesch zum 65. Geburtstag,  hrsg. von Herbert Heftner – Kurt Tomaschitz, Wien 2004, 515-519.

    The theory of the Dacian-Roman continuation though generally accepted in Romania and elsewhere, is placed under a question mark by some historians, especially Magyar ones. The opponents of this theory state that: “The archeologists have observed that in the Roman cities from Dacia, the life of the Roman kind disappeared at about 275. Most of the rural settlements became empty and after this year no one could identify any graves. […] The archeological relics do not testify the presence of the neo-Latin population north of the Danube, after the third century AD. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, the Roman influence over the European spiritual and material culture has ceased. The same could be said about the territory of the former Roman Dacia, instead of the development of a civilization of a Roman kind …” Alain DU NAY, Români şi maghiari în vârtejul istoriei, Buffalo – Toronto 2001, 2-3.

[5] Cf. M. PĂCURARIU, Geschichte der Rumänischen Orthodoxen Kirche, 17-22.

[6] It is about important inscriptions and paleo-Christian objects discovered at Biertan (Sibiu), Porolissum/Moigrad (Sălaj), Potaissa/Turda (Cluj), or in other towns of Transylvania. Cf. M. PĂCURARIU, Istoria Bisericii Ortodoxe Române, vol. 1, 96-99.

[7] Cf. Şt. METEŞ, Istoria, 22-23.

[8] “[…] towards the end of the first millennium AD Romanian Christianity was a mass phenomenon. The Christianization of the Romanians, which began with their Dacian-Roman ancestors, lasted for several centuries, because it was not imposed by the authorities as in the case of all their direct neighbours; it took place naturally, gradually, from person to person, at the same time in the various layers of the society, initially through the work of missionaries. The retreat of the Roman Empire to the south of the Danube, and then the retreat of the Byzantine Empire in favour of the Slavic states, considerably delayed the organization of the Church on the territory of ancient Dacia and the Lower Danube. Several dioceses were founded, but with great difficulty, in the territories inhabited by Romanians during the first centuries of the second millennium.” History of Romania. Compendium, 236.

[9] The Byzantine Liturgy in the Slavonic language was brought to Bulgaria at the end of the ninth century, by the apprentices of the Saints Cyril and Methodius and enjoyed full development in the tenth century, in the cultural centre Preslav. It was introduced in the Romanian Church before the conquest of Transylvania by the Hungarian feudal régime. Cf. M. PĂCURARIU, Istoria Bisericii Ortodoxe Române, vol. 1, 192.

[10] Cf. Şt. METEŞ, Istoria, 28.

[11] During the ninth-tenth centuries in Transylvania there used to be several political principalities (“countries”) about which the written documents mention those of Banat lead by Glad, of Crişana lead by Menumorout and of the Plateau of Transylvania lead by Gelou, the Romanian (Blacus). Cf. The History of Transylvania, vol. I, 204-209; History of Romania. Compendium, 140-142.

[12] The Magyars, who were of Finno-Ugric origin coming from the East-Asia, settled in 896 in the centre of Europe. The Magyar medieval state was born around the year 1000, in the Pannonic Field, supported by the Roman German Empire and included, little by little (mainly by violence) up to the fourteenth century, huge territories lying between the Middle Danube and the Adriatic Sea and from Forest Carpathians up to Sava river. Different populations were included in this kingdom which had an apostolic mission, such as Slovaks, Ruthenians, Croatians, Serbians, Romanians, Bulgarians, Germans, Szeklers, Petchenegs, Armenians, Dalmatians, Italians. In order to justify the oppression and inclusion of so many peoples “the theory of the Holy Crown”, a group of hegemony and religious élite ideology was invented. The Hungarian Kingdom was an advanced pawn of the papacy, a state which under the pretext of the apostolic mission constantly aimed at expanding its border lines up to the Black Sea through the Romanian principalities towards Bulgaria, Serbia and the Russian-Ukrainian world. The success appeared completely consolidated after 1204 when, formally, after the conquest of Constantinople by “the Latins”, the Western world had come to rule over the Byzantine world. At that moment, from the papal point of view “the schism” was cut off by force and Europe seemed to be united. Everything was an illusion, because after fifty years (1204-1261), what was later called the Eastern Roman Empire collapsed. Around the thirteenth century, out of the confrontation between the West and the East for the Eastern European space and for the Balkans, a third competitor was successful, namely the Mogul Empire. Cf. I.-A. POP, Europa Centrală-între hegemonii şi rivalităţi, 368.

    The Magyars became Christians around the year 1000, basically in the Western rite (after a shy Eastern prologue); they oscillated for two centuries between Rome and Byzantium and included in their vast kingdom a numerous Orthodox population. About 600 Orthodox monasteries and hermitages are recorded in Hungary before the Mongolian invasion, as compared to only 200 Catholic ones, and at about 1380 a third of the inhabitants of the kingdom were considered to belong to the Western religious rite, which was reckoned as a great success. The rest were of a great majority Orthodox, plus a small number of Muslims, Mosaics, Bogomils etc. Cf. Şt. METEŞ, Istoria, 29-31; History of Romania. Compendium, 238-239.

[13] Resulting from a mixture of various ethnic elements like Turkish, Oriental and Hungarian, the Szeklers (Siculi) were already a Hungarian-speaking population when they settled in Transylvania. Cf. The History of Transylvania, vol. I, 212-213; History of Romania. Compendium, 161et seq.

[14] See History of Romania. Compendium, 162 et seqq.

[15] Cf. I. PUŞCARIU, Notiţe, 131; The History of Transylvania, Vol. I, 213-224, 230-231.

    A special peculiarity of the Hungarian Kingdom was the granting of privileges to different ethnic groups like: Szeklers, Cumans, Saxons and Zips. All this is related to the state consolidation activity carried out by the Magyar kings, whose major interest was to have the country inhabited, to explore its economic resources and the military defense. In Transylvania, the Saxons have benefited from the most lasting system of privileges.

    A fundamental importance in the creation of the Saxon autonomy was held by Andreanum Diploma of 1224 so called, by the Saxon historiography, “The Golden Charter” (“Goldener Freibrief”). The Diploma contained the colonizing right best elaborated and the biggest ever granted to Western colonists in Central and Eastern Europe.

    Along history, the Saxons persistently clung to privileges, which can be proved by the fact that the Hungarian kings and Transylvanian princes consolidated 22 times the Saxon privileges. Because the kings were interested in providing stability to the Saxon community, which paid substantial taxes and played an important part in defending the southern borders of Transylvania, their rights were gradually extended. Thus, in 1486, King Matthias Corvinus (1458-1490) passed a Diploma which strengthened the privileges of the Andreanum for all the Saxons living in the Transylvanian area of the kingdom (universorum Saxonum nostrorum partium regni nostri Transsilvanorum) and extended them over the entire kingdom (Königsboden). He created the Saxon National University (Universitas Saxonum, Sachsische Nationsuniversität), which for some centuries established the framework of the Saxons’ life on the privileged territories, joining them in one single legal and administrative unit.

    The Saxons and other layers’ privileges were jeopardized by Habsburg Emperor Joseph II’s reforms, who wished to crush the foundations of the class differences. In 1784 he dissolved the National University and confiscated its fortune for the Fisk. The University and the Saxon privileges were legally re-established only in 1790, when Joseph II withdrew his reforms. The National University and its administrative and legal system were maintained with small interruption (1848-1849, 1849-1860) until 1876. Cf. S. VOGEL,  Autonomia săsească în Transilvania, 11-12.

    See also Franz ZIMMERMANN, Carl WERNER (Hrsg.), Urkundenbuch zur Geschichte der Deutschen in Siebenbürgen, 3 Bde., Hermanstadt 1892-1902, reprinted at Hildesheim 2008.

[16] Cf. The History of Transylvania, vol. I, 224-225; History of Romania. Compendium, 171 et seq.

[17] Cf. The History of Transylvania, vol. I, 228.

[18] “The ecclesiastical Orthodox structures of Transylvania were subject to strong pressures from the official Catholic Church. Under these circumstances, the Orthodox diocese of the country ruled by Knez Bâlea’s sons ended its activity after 1205. Thus, the three Catholic dioceses founded in the 11th and the 12th century at Cenad, Oradea and Alba Iulia increased their authority and consequently their fortunes.” History of Romania. Compendium, 204.

[19] The Mogul-Tartar borders urged by the challenge of the Catholic Western world, headed to Europe in 1236, and between 1241-1242 conquered and occupied, among others, Poland, the incipient Romanian States and Hungary. From different reasons – including those related to the response to the invaders given by the Polish, Magyars, Romanians, Germans, Szeklers etc. – “the Mogul order” did not last, but “The Gold Horde” has been a threat for the Eastern Europe over some centuries. The Tartars’ invasion and threat discouraged and even stopped for some time the expansion of the Magyar influence south and east of Carpathians, a fact which allowed a faster growth of the Orthodox states in the area. Cf. The History of Transylvania, vol. I, 225-227; History of Romania. Compendium, 173 et seqq.

[20] In spite of the fact that shortly after the conquest of Constantinople by “Latins”, during the fourth Crusade (1204), the Hungarian Catholic archbishop of Kalocsa demanded the pope to place the Orthodox Eparchy in Crişana under his jurisdiction, “there are also other Orthodox Romanian bishoprics and even archbishoprics attested in Transylvania in the 14th-16th centuries, with a precarious organization, barely managing to survive.” History of Romania. Compendium, 238.

    King Louis I inaugurated in the year 1366 a tougher religious policy towards the Orthodox Romanians, the Orthodox confession was outlawed and the Romanians excluded from the country’s political life. The nobility unanimously demanded that the king “destroy” and “annihilate” the Romanians of Transylvania. Cf. M. PĂCURARIU, Istoria Bisericii Ortodoxe Române, vol. 1, 287; History of Romania. Compendium, 230, 238, 258.

    In comparison with such a hostile attitude of the Catholic Magyars towards the Orthodox Romanians in Transylvania, some Orthodox Romanian princes of Moldavia and Wallachia supported the other confessions, too. Thus, Alexandru cel Bun (1400-1432) of Moldavia “supported the foundation of an Armenian metropolitan Church (1401) in Suceava; he also supported the ancient Catholic diocese of Siret (created in 1371), as well as the new Catholic diocese of Baia (1405-1413); he provided shelter and protection to the Hussites arriving in Moldavia, etc. In 1381, another Catholic diocese was created, this time at Argeş, in Wallachia.” History of Romania. Compendium, 237.

[21] Although conquered by the Magyar feudal state, Transylvania went on being a principality with a relatively large autonomy.

[22] Cf. Şt. METEŞ, Istoria, 33.

[23] On December 5, 1428, as a result of the Franciscan monks’ insistencies, the king took measures based on religious criteria against the Orthodox inhabitants from such districts as Caransebeş, Mehadia and Haţeg. Cf. M. PĂCURARIU, Istoria Bisericii Ortodoxe Române, vol. 1, 287-288.

[24] Cf. M. PĂCURARIU, Istoria Bisericii Ortodoxe Române, vol. 1, 288; The History of Transylvania, vol. I, 230.

[25] Cf. Şt. METEŞ, Istoria, 35-38.

    “Through the foundation of these metropolitan Churches that were autonomous, and connected to Constantinople, not only was the Romanians affiliation to the Orthodox rite made definitive, but the international legitimacy of the Romanian states was also gained. The Romanians’ – a people rooted in the Western Roman tradition and speaking a neo-Latin language – orientation towards Orthodox rite (as well as towards the Old Church Slavonic) was not a ‘historical catastrophe’ as some historians defined it, it was just a natural evolution in a world situated at the point of contact between West and East, at a time when the light of the faith came symbolically from Byzantium and from Rome.” History of Romania. Compendium, 236-237.

[26] The most famous protest was the rebellion of Bobâlna of 1437-1438. See History of Romania. Compendium, 258-259.

[27] The Diet/Country Assembly/Local Parliament (Landtag) and the National Government (Gubernium) were the most important constitutional institutions in Transylvania. The Diet was an important indicator of Transylvania’s autonomy.

    The Local Parliament began with irregular meetings of nobles who assembled together to discuss certain common problems and their solution. Such meetings were already taking place in the second half of the thirteenth century (1291). There took place at least elf meetings of the Diet in the fourteenth  century, 28 meetings in the fifteenth century and ten in the sixteenth century, until 1540.

    During the era of reigning princes (1540-1690), the Local Parliament practised legislation, the prince being the head of the executive.

    During the era of the Austrian reign (1688-1868), the Diet only met if summoned by the Sovereign.

    Cf. R. KUTSCHERA, Landtag und Gubernium, 12 et seqq., 370.

[28] The act of the first union was a result of the peasant uprising of 1437 and it was aimed against the peasants. The meanings of the union were an internal social and class one, and an external one, of defense against the Turks. In the union text of 1437, the word “nation” does not appear. The fraternal union (fraternam unionem) is made by the Nobles, Siculi/Szeklers and Saxons. The union partners are called parties. We find these three partners entitled “nations” in the Diet text from 1506 of Sighişoara. The decisions are taken by the three nations (tres nationes) Nobiles videlicent, Siculi and Saxons. If the Siculi and Saxons wanted from the very beginning an ethnic meaning, the Nobles included in the beginning Romanians and Magyars too. But, in time, this “nation” became ethnic, because there were raised as nobles only Magyars of the Catholic faith. Hence “the leaders, the flower of the Romanian nobility passed to the Latin Law [confession] of the Hungarian state” (Şt. METEŞ, Istoria, 44). When the principality was established (1541) the notion of “three races” became final. The three nations are: the Magyar nobility, the Szeklers and the Saxons. They gradually settled the boundaries of their own territories within the country and divided the country in three parts: the Magyar nobility took the Counties, the Szeklers the Szeklers’ Land (Terra Siculorum) and the Saxons the Royal Land (Fundus Regius/Königsboden). The nobles’ nation was organized in counties and the Szeklers and the Saxons in residences or seats. The counties, residences and cities took part in the Diet by their representatives. Cf. The History of Transylvania, vol. I, 257-266; R. KUTSCHERA, Landtag und Gubernium, 13-15; History of Romania. Compendium, 258-260.

    For the political-administrative organization of the three nations of Transylvania until 1869 (1876) see the annex IX herein.

[29] Cf. Şt. METEŞ, Istoria, 52-60; The History of Transylvania, vol. I, 269; History of Romania. Compendium, 238.

[30] History of Romania. Compendium, 239.

[31] Cf. I.-A. POP, Europa Centrală – între hegemonii şi rivalităţi, 569.

[32] Cf. R. KUTSCHERA, Landtag und Gubernium, 15.

[33] More on the three nations of Transylvania and their political and administrative organization see at R. KUTSCHERA, Landtag und Gubernium, 20-50. See also the annex IX herein.

[34] Cf. M. PĂCURARIU, Istoria Bisericii Ortodoxe Române, vol. 1, 497.

[35] The greatest propagandist of the Lutheran doctrine among the Saxons in Transylvania was Johannes Honterus (1498-1549) from Braşov, owner of a printing house where Luther’s works were published. See Harald ZIMMERMANN, Johannes Honterus. Der siebenbürgische Humanist und Reformator, Bonn 1998.

[36] The centre of spreading of the Calvinist doctrine in Transylvania was Cluj, the most important propagandist being Heltai Gáspár (1510?-1574?) from Sibiu, who became a Magyar preacher at Cluj. See Edith SZEGEDI, Die Reformation in Klausenburg, in: Konfessionsbildung und Konfessionskultur in Siebenbürgen in der Frühen Neuzeit, hrsg. von Volker Leppin – Ulrich A. Wien, Stuttgart 2005, 77-88.

[37] The Unitarianism or Antitrinitarism was preached among the Magyars of Transylvania by Ferenc Dávid (1510-1579) and Giovanni Georgio Biandrata (1515-1588). Cf. V. LEPPIN, Siebenbürgen, 10.

[38] Cf. M. PĂCURARIU, Istoria Bisericii Ortodoxe Române, vol. 1, 497; V. LEPPIN, Siebenbürgen, 11-12.

[39] In spite of the bad condition of the Orthodox Romanians, it is very important to underline the fact that: “In Siebenbürgen entstand am frühesten in Europa eine staatsrechtlich verankerte Toleranz mit dem Nebeneinander von vier Konfessionen.” Mihály BUCSAY, Das Toleranzpatent in der reformierten Kirche Altungarns, in: Peter F. BARTON ed., Im Lichte der Toleranz. Aufsätze zur Toleranzgesetzgebung des 18. Jahrhunderts in den Reichen Joseph II., ihren Voraussetzungen und ihren Folgen, Wien 1981, 59-104 here 64.

[40] “The Catholic Church was powerful in Transylvania not so much because of the number of its followers, but because of the vast domains of the bishoprics and monasteries and because of the important role played in society by the attestation places (loca credibilia). This was the case of the ‘chapters’ (in the bishoprics) and the ‘convents’ (in the monasteries), which had the role of present-day notary offices, authenticating documents and transactions, etc.” History of Romania. Compendium, 238.

[41] Cf. M. PĂCURARIU, Istoria Bisericii Ortodoxe Române, vol. 1, 498.

[42] The first Calvinist superintendent for the Romanians was appointed in 1566. Cf. Şt. METEŞ, Istoria, 74.

[43] A Lutheran propaganda of the Saxons among the Romanians was out of question. Cf. Şt. METEŞ, Istoria, 72.

[44] I. PUŞCARIU, Notiţe, 34-35.

[45] It is known St. Hierarch Ghelasie of Râmeţi from fourteenth century, even a metropolitan at Feleac, by the end of the fifteenth century. Cf. M. PĂCURARIU, Istoria Bisericii Ortodoxe Române, vol. 1, 296-299; History of Romania. Compendium, 240.

    See also Radu MÂRZA, Die orthodoxe Kirche der Rumänen aus Siebenbürgen: Konfession und Politik im 16. Jahrhundert, in: Konfessionsbildung und Konfessionskultur in Siebenbürgen in der Frühen Neuzeit, hrsg. von Volker Leppin – Ulrich A. Wien, Stuttgart 2005, 179-190.

[46] The right of the Romanian Orthodox priests of Transylvania to elect their bishops had been established by the law passed by the Diet of Turda on October 21, 1579. Cf. Il. PUŞCARIU, Metropolia, 12; Şt. METEŞ, Istoria, 87. See also I. LUPAŞ, Istoria bisericească a românilor ardeleni, 153.

[47] P. GÂRBOVICEANU, Andreiu Şaguna, 500.

    Prince George Rákóczi I connected Metropolitan Simeon Ştefan’s confirmation, in 1643, to a law containing fifteen articles, among which some were favourable to the Orthodox Romanians, such as: the introduction of the Romanian language in the divine services, the annual obligatory synod, the election of protopopes, the compulsory canonical visits. Cf. Il. PUŞCARIU, Metropolia, 13.

[48] There is also another later legal Code of Transylvania, approved in 1669: Compilatae constitutiones regni Transsilvaniae eidem annexarum, which comprised all acts of law voted by the Transylvanian Diet in 1654-1669. More on this subject at K. ZACH, Politische Ursachen und Motive der Konfessionalisierung in Siebenbürgen, 57-65. A German translation from both Codes in: G[eorg] D[aniel] TEUTSCH, Urkundenbuch der Evangelischen Landeskirche A.B. in Siebenbürgen, Erster Theil, Hermannstadt 1862, 117 et seqq., 141 et seqq. See also Constituţiile Aprobate ale Transilvaniei 1653, edited by Alexandru Herlea, Cluj-Napoca 1997.

[49] P. GÂRBOVICEANU, Andreiu Şaguna, 501.

[50] Cf. K. HITCHINS, Orthodoxy and Nationality, 2.


mihaela.stan December 13, 2016 Drept si Religie