R. Varga


101-107 A.D.-The Roman Emperor Trajan conquered Dacia. Part of ancient Dacia encompassed present day Transylvania (Erdély). In 271 A.D., after only 170 years of occupation, the Roman Emperor Aurelian evacuated the province. In 271, Transylvania was occupied by the Goths until they were swept away by the Huns in 376.

Romanians claim that they are the descendants of Romanized Dacians, and base their present claim to Transylvania on that assertion. This is referred to as the Daco-Roman theory of continuity. No written records from 271, until after the Magyars (Hungarians) arrived in 896 survived from this period, fueling a heated debate between Hungarians and Romanians on this issue. The probability of such a survival, in light of the numerous "barbarian" invasions of following centuries is remote. Linguists have also established that all pre-Magyar place names in Transylvania are Slavic, except for a few river names where no linguistic heritage can be detected.


Additionally, the Latin dialect the Romanian language derives from indicates that its evolution occurred in the western Balkans, not Dacia. 1 The Romanian language itself, contains 3800 words of Slavic origin, 2600 words of Latin origin, as well as hundreds of words of Albanian origin. Romanian is also similar to Albanian morphology and phonology and includes derivatives of Albanian words that denote body parts, kinship, plants and animals and, most significantly, shepherd words. Many of these words linguists tell us, are the most stable and unchanging over time. Also of interest is that Romanian contains no substratum of words of Dac origin. One would think that after only 170 years of Roman occupation, as well as the continued existence of a free, un-Latinized Dac community (up until about the fourth century), that Romanian would have an abundance of Dac words. Romanian also lacks any words of Old German origin, which is significant because the presence of the Goths and the Gepidae in Transylvania. All this points to Romanian origins in the western Balkans, and not Transylvania.


There are no religious artifacts, inscriptions, or even household utensils that support the contentions of the Daco-Roman Continuity Theory. Additionally, in the former Roman towns, archaeology shows that there was a radical change after the Roman evacuation. Advanced building techniques were no longer used, buildings were no longer constructed from stone or brick, and no new monuments or inscriptions were made. It is also interesting that for a half century after the Romans left Britain, habitation continued in many former Roman towns, and new buildings were erected. As for the cemetaries in the region, there exists a clear discontinuity of burial customs after the Roman evacuation.


The Daco-Roman Theory of Continuity is not a valid historical theory of Romanian origins , but instead serves as an ideology that has been used to 1. claim Transylvania for Romania, 2. provide a justification for the ethnic cleansing of Hungarians in Transylvania, and 3. to distract Romanians ( by presenting Hungarians as intruders) from pressing internal problems.



4th-5th Century A.D. -The Huns arrived in the Carpathian Basin. Originally from Scythia, or the Turanian plain, the Huns established an empire in the Carpathian Basin under the leadership of their great King, Attila. Far from being the cruel and ruthless conqueror depicted in western history books, Attila was known among his own people, and allied peoples in his tribal confederation (including Germanic tribes), as "Good King Attila". Actually, Attila's bad reputation can be attributed to the Christian propaganda of the time. Byzantine delegates to the court of Attila were amazed by his modesty; they reported that Attila, in the midst of great feasts, ate only from a wooden plate and drank from a wooden goblet.2

The Sékely people are among the oldest cultures to inhabit the Carpathian Basin. The origin of the Székelys is fascinating, and a matter of historical controversy. Traditional scholarly accounts of Székely origins state that the Székelys were Huns, who later adopted the Hungarian language (Magyar), while other Scholars believe that the Székelys were a contingent of Hungarians (Magyars), that accompanied Attila to the Carpathian Basin. Recent archaeological finds among the Ugar people in Eastern Turkestan seem to give credence to ancient Magyar legends which state that the Magyars are direct descendants of the Huns.

Székely legends about their own origin state that after Attila died and his empire disintegrated, Attila's youngest and favorite son Ernák (Prince Csaba), led them to safety in Transylvania, then returned to the east. Ernák did indeed take the main body of Huns back to Scythia, more specifically, to the region between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea where the remaining Hunnic peoples, merged with the ancestors of the Magyars (Hungarians).

This Hun-Magyar connection is also remembered in one of the best known Hungarian folk tales, "The Legend of the White Stag" This legend describes how the two sons of Nimrod, Hunor and Magor, chased a white stag into a new land. There they married the Kings two daughters. The descendants of Hunor became the Huns, while the descendants of Magor became the Magyars.


6th - 8th Centuries -After the disintegration of Attila's empire, Transylvania was inhabited by the remnants of various Hunnic peoples brought by Attila, and a Germanic tribe, the Gepids. No major power was able to exert control over the region for any great length of time. That is until the Avars, who came from Scythia, established an empire there. By 568, the Avars under the capable leadership of their Kagan, Bajan, established in the Carpathian Basin an empire that lasted for 250 years.3 The Avars, however, would meet their demise with the rise of Charlemagne's Frankish empire. After a fierce seven year war which lasted from 796-803 A.D., the Avars were defeated, and a bountiful horde of Avar gold was looted by Charlemagne and taken to Aachen (greatly enriching Charlemagne and his empire). Some remnants of the Avars fled to the Caucasus Mountain region, while others stayed in the Carpathian Basin, eventually merging with the local population.

Some scholars believe that the Avars held such significant numbers of Magyar tribes in their midst, that their conquest of the Carpathian Basin established the Magyars in the region before 896 A.D. Known as the Dual Conquest Theory, they offer tantalizing evidence that the earlier Avar conquest of the Carpathian Basin, and the Magyar conquest of 896, were the first and second waves, respectively, of a conquest of the Carpathian Basin by the ancestors of today's Hungarians.


9th Century -The seven Magyar (Hungarian) tribes under the leadership of Árpád, conquered the Carpathian Basin. They defeated the Bulgars who had installed themselves in Transylvania, with Árpád's own son Levente, leading the campaign (Levente would lose his life fighting the Bulgars). Upon their arrival, the Hungarians found a country sparsely populated, with remnants of earlier Hunnish and Avar peoples, as well as some Slavs. The Teri-i- Üngürüsz Chronicle indicates that the Magyars spoke the same language of the people they encountered in their new homeland. 4

The Magyars also shared in common with the earlier settlers, the runic (rovás) writing system, with archaeological finds indicating that literacy existed among a large portion of the population.5 When the Magyars arrived in the Carpathian Basin, they assimilated earlier groups of settlers.



9th and 10th Century- Hungarian Royal authority was consolidated in Transylvania. Under King, later Saint, Stephen, Christianity was adopted. Stephen was opposed in this endeavor by his uncle Kopphány, on dynastic, religious, and political grounds. Koppány was supported by Gyula, the Chieftain of Transylvania. Koppány's uprising failed, and Koppány was executed, his body quartered, and sent to the four corners of the kingdom as a warning against any future uprisings. The first Roman Catholic Bishopric was then founded in Transylvania. 6 One very unfortunate aspect of the nation's conversion to Christianity was that Stephen, in his zeal to convert the Magyars, destroyed all that was considered pagan, including the ancient Hun-Székely-Magyar runic(rovás) system of writing, as well as other irreplaceable cultural artifacts.7 It was during Stephan's reign that the Székelys would be employed as frontier guardsmen in Transylvania.


12th Century- The Saxons, (or more accurately, Germans from the Rhineland) settled in Transylvania. The historic Hungarian, Székely, and Saxon nations living in Transylvania were granted special privileges by Hungarian kings. They enjoyed internal self-government under counts representing royal authority.8


13th Century- The 1241 Mongol invasion depopulated parts of Hungary, including Transylvania. An influx of newer ethnic groups occurred, including the Romanians in Transylvania who were referred to in written records as poor Vlach (Wallachian) shepherds.9 King Béla IV rebuilt Hungary. The growth of the Transylvanian towns such as Kolozsvár, Gyulafehérvár, and Várad were contemporaneous to this era.10


14th Century- Feudalism, which was late in coming to Transylvania, was consolidated there.11


15th Century- János Hunyadi was born in Kolozsvár, the unofficial capital of Transylvania.12 Hunyadi, a Hungarian nobleman and soldier, went on to become Voivode of Transylvania and Governor of Hungary. Known throughout Europe as the "scourge of the Turks", Hunyadi defeated a massive Turkish force at Nándorfehérvár (Belgrade). Pope Calixtus III called Hungary, "The shield of Christianity" and issued a papal Bull decreeing that the Church bells be rung daily at noon for a Christian victory. The noon ringing of the bells continues to this day in commemoration of his victory.

This was also the era of Vlad Tepes, or Vlad Dracul, the Wallachian Voivode who impaled 20,000 thousand Turkish prisoners of war. Far from being the nationalist hero Romanians make him out to be, Dracul betrayed a multi-ethnic Christian force led by Hunyadi during the 1448 battle of Kossovo, going over to the side of the Turks, and costing the Christians the battle.13 Bram Stoker's Dracula would be based in part on the memory of Vlad Dracul, whose blood-thirsty exploits were shocking even to his contemporaries in the middle ages.

Hunyadi's son, Mátyás Hunyadi, (also known as Matthias Corvinus), became one of Hungary's greatest Kings. Responsible for spreading Renaissance ideas throughout his kingdom, Matthias issued a Code of laws, founded a university in Pozsony (Bratislava) and a library in Buda, the Corvina. He was known to the general population as "Matthias the Just".


16th Century- György Székely Dózsa led a peasant uprising in 1514 against the worsening conditions of the serfs. Dózsa would be executed in the cruelest of ways, being forced to sit on a white hot iron throne, having a glowing crown placed upon his head, and forced to hold a red hot iron scepter.

After losing the battle of Mohács in 1526, Hungary fell to the Turks. King Louis II died shortly after this battle. The Voivode of Transylvania, John Zápolya, and Ferdinand Habsburg of Austria each claimed to be king of Hungary, and engaged in a power struggle that resulted in the tripart division of the country. Ferdinand took western Hungary, while Zápolya held Transylvania. The Turks took the central part of the country. This division would last until the 18th century.

The independent principality of Transylvania was headed by elected Hungarian princes, marked by the reign of István Báthory, Prince of Transylvania, and King of Poland. Báthory is best known for his defeat of Ivan the Terrible in 1582. The Protestant Reformation, in the form of Calvinism took hold in Transylvania during this period. Additionally, Unitarianism was founded by Ferenc Dávid during this period. In 1568, the Diet (National Assembly) at Torda codified religious freedom, declaring that " everybody shall have the right to choose his own faith".14 This was the first instance in world history that a state guaranteed it's citizens religious freedom.


17th Century- This period is called the Golden Age of Transylvania. Gábor Bethlen, Prince of Transylvania, established new schools which provided a free education to the children of serfs. He also established an academy in Gyulafehérvár.15 Other notable Transylvanian rulers were István Boskai and György Rákóczi I. The Turks were finally expelled from Hungary by the end of the century.


18th Century- The Austrians defeated Prince Ferenc Rákóczi II and his kuruc freedom fighters in 1711, paving the way for Transylvania to become an Austrian province. The state of constant warfare since the 16th century had left parts of Hungary depopulated. The Austrians began a policy of resettlement in which Germans, Serbs, and Romanians were settled in traditionally Hungarian lands, such as Transylvania. This policy was intended to weaken the Magyars, whom the Austrians considered untrustworthy and rebellious.

This Austrian resettlement policy changed the ethnic composition of the Carpathian Basin. Some figures indicate that Magyars made up only 45 percent of the population in the Carpathian Basin (still a majority), and more specifically, 37 percent of Transylvania, with Romanians making up 49 percent, and the Saxons with 12 percent.16

In 1784 a bloody Wallachian peasant uprising occurred in the western mountains of Transylvania. Thousands of Hungarians were tortured, maimed and killed. The Austrian authorities put down this uprising. It was during this era that Wallachians began calling themselves "Rumanians".17

In the cultural arena, the town of Kolozsvár led the way. The first Hungarian newspaper appeared there in 1791, and the first Hungarian theatrical company was there established in 1792.18


19th Century- Linguist Sándor Körösi Csoma, known as the father of Tibetan studies in the West, gained European fame and recognition for his compilation of an English-Tibetan dictionary. Originally destined for Eastern Turkestan (Xinjiang), in search of the ancient Magyar homeland among the Uighurs, he set out for Eastern Turkestan after his Tibetan sojourn, but died of malaria in 1842. Hungarian scholars have since discovered a relationship between Hungarian folk music and the music the of the Ugars. A Buddhist Turkic people, the Ugars are closely related to the Uighurs of Eastern Turkestan. According to the Chinese historical chronicles the Uighurs are the direct descendants of the Huns. Excavations in Eastern Turkestan have also yielded archaeological objects that closely parallel those in Hungary during the conquest era. These include weapons, methods of burial, and writing systems. János Bolya, a mathematical genius, made important contributions to the study of non-Euclidean geometry.19 During the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, Lajos Kossuth led a two year war of independence against Austria which was ultimately crushed with aid from the Russian Czar. Wallachian insurgents provided aid to the Austrians.20 The Hungarians surrendered at Vilagos.

During the 19th century, the last vestiges of serfdom were finally abolished, and the Association of Museums in Transylvania was established.21 Transylvania was reunited with Hungary after the 1867 Compromise (Ausgleich) with Austria ( the two were never legally separated). The dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary was thus created. In 1872, the Bolyai University was established in Kolozsvár, followed by the Székely National Museum in 1879. The Association of Hungarian Public Education was established in 1885.22

The Daco-Roman Theory of continuity first appeared in the 19th century. The Austrians, whose policy of playing off one nationality against another in order to maintain control, readily accepted this theory. This theory had been so widely propagated that it has even appeared in western textbooks.23 Now that an "intellectual" foundation had been established, Romanians began agitating for a "Greater Romania" that would include Wallachia, Moldavia, and Transylvania. Wallachia and Moldavia were united, and in 1878, The Congress of Berlin recognized Romania as an independent kingdom.


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