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TOPIC: The Saxons of Siebenbürgen (Transylvania)

The Saxons of Siebenbürgen (Transylvania) 10 Jun 2014 08:44 #1

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1. The Region: Land and People

1.1. Geography

Atlantean and satellite maps of eastern Europe show the topography of Transylvania as a clearly definable geographic region. It is comparable with a natural fortress, a mountainous region almost completely barrier-like enclosed by the East and South Carpathians and the Transylvanian West Mountains, sheltering the Transylvanian Depression in the centre. This Transylvanian Basin or Plateau is partitioned by three rivers, the Mures, Olsul and Somesu (Mieresch, Alt/Olt, Somesch), all tributaries of the Danube.

The arched Carpathian Mountain Range is an extension of the Alps of Central Europe through the West Carpathians with the Beskid Mts. and the Tatras. It is also the transition to the Balkan Mountains of South Eastern Europe through the "Porta Orientalis" (Temesch-Cerna-Fault). The region is separated from the Black Sea plains and the Eurasian steppe by the East Carpathians, from the Romanian lower land by the South Carpathians (Transylvanian Alps) and from the great Hungarian Plains by the Transylvanian West Mountains (Muntii Apuseni). The Carpathians therefore, not only separate distinct geographical regions but also link the regions commonly known as Eastern, Central and Southeastern Europe, regions which differed greatly in their diverse cultural development throughout history.

The East Carpathians, with Pietrosul Rodnei as the highest peak at 2303 metres, are divided into three parallel mountain ranges: a westerly range of volcanic origin (the Oas Mtn., Gutâi Mtn., Tiblesului Mtn., Câlimani/Kelemen Mtn., Gurghiului/Görgény Mtn., Haghitei/Hargitta Mtn.), the main range of crystalline structure (Marmarosch Mtn., Rodna Mtn., Borgo Mtn.) and an easterly and southeasterly range (from Ciucului/Csík-Mountains to the Hohenstein and Postávarul/Schuler). Saddle-like depressions and gorges, expanding to river valleys, allow relatively easy crossing of mountain passes like Tihuta (Borgo), Oituz (Oitoz) and Predeal-Prahova. They all became important traffic routes. The East-Carpathians also separate the climatic zones of the Atlantic, the Continental and the Baltic provinces.

The South Carpathians with Moldoveanul as the highest peak at 2544 metres, form a rather uniform crystalline mountain range. It is sectioned by the Bran (Törzburger) Pass, the Red Tower Pass (Pasul Turnu Rosu / Roter-Turm Pass) and by the Meri-Lainici Pass in the massive Bucegi Mtn. (Butschetsch) with Piatra Craiului (Königstein), Transylvanian Mts. or Fâgârasului (Fogarascher) Mts. with Cozia Mtn., Parângului (Paring) Mtn. with Cibinului (Zibins) Mts. and Sebesului (Mühlbacher) Mts. and Godeanu Mtn. with Retezatului (Retezat) Mountain. High peaks and the traces of glaciers (moraines, lakes) of the "Fogarascher" and the "Retezat" justify the description as "Transylvanian Alps".

The Transylvanian Westmountains (West Carpathian Mts.), also called Apuseni Mts. stretch from the Mures (Mieresch) to the Somesu (Somesch, Hun. Szamos) and separate Transylvania from the Hungarian Lowlands. Its central section peaks with the Curcubáta (1849 m) consisting of crystallite shale and granite. Of great economic importance for centuries has been the southeasterly section, the Metaliferi Mts. (Siebenbürgisches Erzgebirge/Transylvanian Ore Mts.) which is of volcanic origin and rich in precious metals. It is the so called golden square, located between Baia de Aries (Offenburg), Zlatna (Kleinschlatten), Sâcârâmb and Caraci. The Westmountains, very rugged but mostly below 1000 metres in height, are today a popular and much visited destination by tourists because of the scenic formations with steep peaks, canyons and caves.

Dense forests cover the Carpathians. Regardless from which direction a visitor enters Transylvania, the land is surrounded by forests, it lies beyond the forests (Latin: trans silva; hence Transylvania). The forests enclosing mountains are the origin of the Latin, Hungarian and Romanian names Transsilvania, Erdély, Ardeal. Surely the creator of the name was the royal Hungarian chancellery.

The transition between the Carpathians and the Transylvanian Highlands is a wreath of peripheral depressions, among them the Depresiuena Odorhei (Oderhellener Senke), the Fâgârs (Fogarascher), the Cibinului (Zibins), also called Depresiuena Subiului (Hermannstädter Senke) and the Apoldu de Sus (Großpold). Large salt deposits are found in some of these depressions and in the Somesu High Country. For thousands of years these deposits have been mined near "Salzdorf", "Salzmarkt", Turda (Thorenburg), Ocna Sibiului (Salzburg) and Praid. Since salt deposits were not found in the Hungarian Lowlands and in the Balkan Peninsula the Transylvanian finds were already in high demand in prehistoric times.

The Transylvanian Highlands are in the centre of the country, with hills and mountains ranging in height between 300 metres and 800 metres.

G. D. Teutsch wrote the following in History of the Transylvanian Saxons, 1st edition, Kronstadt 1858, p. 3-4 ("Hervorhebungen von Teutsch"):

" Nestled in the east section of the Austrian Empire, friendly Highlands rise from the Hungarian Plains. Small in size but rich in beauty and nature’s treasures. In size not much more than 1100 "quartered miles" (approx.61,000 sqkm). Meeting Hungary’s northern mountainous wall it is surrounded by mighty mountain chains, the Carpathians. Far across the land one can see mountain peaks and pinnacles covered with blinding snow reaching high into the blue sky. Only a few passes are opening towards the noon sun to the lands of the lower Danube and towards the morning sun to the wide Slavic flatlands of Russia. As if God himself placed the land at the border of occidental culture, as a strong fortress ... Originating at the high alpine borders, rows of mountain ranges mostly majestically crowned with forests, cross the land in all directions. The land hides salt and precious metals of all kind in surprising abundance. From the iron which shields life to the gold that corrupts it. Innumerable thermal and mineral springs flow from earth’s bosom, creeks and rivers beautify and water the land everywhere. On sunny slopes the grape glows and the sumptuous fruit tree blooms. Wheat fields wave in the valleys, wild animals roam the forests, domesticated animals are in abundance. This is the land of Transylvania and should the people lack something, it’s mostly their own fault...."

The topography of Transylvania has been shaped and is characterized by its streams. The rivers are all tributaries of the Danube. The Danube, originating in the Black Forest and flowing to the Black Sea connects the peoples like a "highway, ... as sine qua non Europas. Code of cultural diversity. Artery of the continent. Historic River. River of time. River of Culture. Chain, which connects peoples.." as the Hungarian author Péter Esterházy wrote. (Footnote1)

Transylvania's longest river, the Mures (Mieresch, 776 km), originates in the East Carpathians, flows through Central Transylvania from east to west, accepts the Aries (Ariesch, Gold River) south of Turda (Thorenburg) which flows from the Munti Codru-Moma (Weistgebirgen), and is joined by the Tirnava (Kokel) north of Alba-Iulia (Karlsburg, Hung. Gyulafehérvár). At Blaj (Blasendorf) the Tirnava (Kokel) branches into its main tributaries, the Tirnava Micà and Tirnave Mare ("Große-" and "Kleine Kokel"). The Mures leaves Transylvania at a gorge between the South Carpathians and the Transylvanian West Mountains (West Carpathiam Mts.) and joins the Tisza river (Theiß) in Szeged west of Makó (Hungary) which flows south joining the Danube.

The Mures (Mieresch/Muresul) divides Transylvania into a northern region with the "Somesu Highlands", the "Nösnerland", the Transylvanian Moor (Siebenbürgische Heide) and the Zona Reghinului (Reener Ländchen), and into a southern region with the Tirnava (Kokel) -, Harbach-, Hamlescher and Zekesch- High Country, which mostly carry the names of rivers and are divided by high ridges. The Podisul (high lands) Târnavelor region (Zwischenkokelgebiet) is especially suited for wine. Its western section is, therefore, also known as Wine Country (Weinland). Natural gas in this region is of great economic importance today. In the Transylvanian Highlands one must distinguish between the "Unterwald" (near Sebes Alba/Mühlbach), the Tara Hategului (Hatzeger Land), the "Old Land" ("Alte Land" near Hermannstadt/Sibiu), the Tara Fâgârasului region (Fogarascher Land/ Senke) and the Haferland (near Rupea/Reps) as geographic units. Also to mention are the Great Innercarpathian Depressions, the Tara Bârsei (Burzenland north of Kronstadt/Brasov - Covasna, in the Carpathian Bend) and the Trei Scaune (Three Chairs/Drei Stühle near St. Georgen), the Csík and Gyergyó at the base of the East Carpathians.

The source of the Olt (Alt, 699 km) also lies in the Eastern Carpathian Mountains. It flows through Southern Transylvania, the "Kronstädter Becken" (Covasna Depression) and the Tara Fâgârasului (Fogarascher Senke, Altland, Brasov). It is filled by numerous clear mountain creeks from the South Carpathian Mts. Main feeding rivers are the Hârtibacui (Harbach) and the Zibin. The Olt cuts through the Transylvanian Alps, leaves Transylvania at the Red Tower Pass (Pasu Turnu Rosu/Roten-Turm-Paß) and flows near Turnu Magurele in Wallachia into the Danube.

The Somesu (Somesch/Samosch, 345 km) collects the waters of Northern Transylvania for the Tisza river (Theiß). The Somesu Mare (Große Somesch, 119 km) has the Pârâul Sieu (Schogener Bach) as main feeder originating in the East Carpathians with the Bistrita (Bistritz) river. The Somesu Mare (Große Somesch) unites near Dej (Deesch, Dés) with the Somesu Mic (Kleinen Somesch, 166km). It originates in the Transylvanian West Mountains and flows through the Podisul Transilvaniei (Siebenbürger Heide).

Transylvania can be described as an independent geographic unit within the Carpathian-Danube region. Through the Carpathians it is equally bonded with the Occident and the Orient. It is like a fortress created by nature. With the gate-like passages created by the Mures (Mieresch) and Somesu (Somesch) rivers and the low ridges of the western mountains it is by nature more accessible and open to the west to where the most important traffic routes run.

The climate is moderate continental: cold winters, mild spring, a warm summer and the beautiful Transylvanian autumn. Approximately 2500 species of plants assigned to the central European category flourish here of which 68 grow only in Transylvania (Königsteinnelke, Siebenbürgischer Steinbrech etc.). Roughly 40% of the region is covered with forests. Rich resources of fish and game characterize the fauna. Agriculture is at home in the river valleys and the high country. Livestock is raised in the mountainous regions.



"The truth must be repeated over and over again,
because error is repeatedly preached among us, not
only by individuals, but by the masses. In periodicals
and cyclopaedias, in schools and universities; every-
where, in fact, error prevails, and is quite easy in the
feeling that it has a decided majority on its side."

~ J. W. v. Goethe

Johannes Lang "The Hollow World Theory" Blog
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The Saxons of Siebenbürgen (Transylvania) 12 Jun 2014 19:00 #2

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1.2. Population and Ancient History

Fertile arable lands and pastures, rich natural resources (salt, precious metals and "red metals") and a favourable geographic location at the junction of west-east and north-south trading routes offer commendable conditions for economic development.

Geographic location and natural riches entice a turbulent political history. Repeatedly peoples of different cultures moved through the mountain passes, the gates of the Carpathian barrier and through the valleys of the rivers Somesu, Mures and Olt, searching for new lands to settle in. Transylvania didn’t experience one period where one single culture or ethnic identity dominated.





1.2.1. Prehistoric Era

Transylvania had been populated during the prehistoric time. Although no written evidence has been found of this period, archaeological finds like rough stone tools and bones in the caves of the Orâstiei Mts. (Brooser Berge) and at the Pazul Buzâu (Bodsau-Pass) bear evidence of humans during the early stone age. Their main source of food came from hunting and fishing. People slowly moved into the Transylvanian Highlands after glaciers receded during the middle stone age. They settled mainly at river terraces and lakes, developed agriculture and stock-herding but maintained hunting and fishing. This Proto-Mediterranean population created a relatively homogeneous Starcevo-Cris (Kreisch) culture.

During the late stone age, accompanied by climatic warming, new tribes with refined tools entered Transylvania. People of various cultures moved to the region: The representatives of the Vin_a-Turda_ culture (Ritz ceramics, later painted ceramics) traveled from the Balkan peninsula through the Banat along the Mures river, From Moldavia through the east Carpathians came the people of the Cucuteni culture (the "line-ribbon-ceramics" who developed the painting of ceramics to its peak). From the Romanian Low-Lands via Brasov (Burzenland) came the creators of the Glina culture to South Transylvania. Their traces are identified as "Schneckenbergkultur". These people lived at higher elevations in settlements secured by terraces. In addition to agriculture, the spelt (Speltz/ Dinkel), an ancient type of wheat, was widely spread. Animal stock and hunting supplied the required foundation for survival. There is archaeological evidence of mining salt and gold.

The Indo-Europeanizing began during the copper era. The Wietenberg culture of the bronze period was predominantly influenced by the greater Thracians. They had advanced to the Balkan peninsula at the beginning of 2000 B.C. The new Indo-Germanic Wietenberg population was actively mining gold and copper. They also produced bronze and as crafts and trades people, obtained foodstuff mainly through trade. Close trade relations, most likely based on the Transylvanian gold and salt resources, existed with the Mycenaean cultures also dated at the 17th to 13th century B.C.

At the end of the 14th century B.C., the burial mounds (Hügelgräber) spread from the south and west. Evidence of their culture was found in the areas of Hermannstadt (Sibiu) and in the Transylvanian Moorland (Siebenbürger Heide). The Wietenberg people retreated to the mountains and to the north, to the Somesu (Somesch) river, to the Marmarosch and the Northern Carpathians. Both groups became victims of a pastoral nomadic tribe entering the region from the steppe of the east. They most likely spoke Old-Iranian and were the founders of the Transylvanian Noua culture.

With the Gáva culture new conquerors arrived around 1000 B.C. and merged with the locals. The Gáva people lived in fortified settlements and agriculture was of little importance. They were more involved with hunting and bronze crafts. Characteristic was their ceramic craft, inside red, on the outside black shining bulging ceramic (Buckelkeramik). They were closely related with the Dacians and Getae people which belonged to the Indo-Germanic family of the Thracians.

During the iron age, approximately at the beginning of 1000 B.C. the Indo-Germanic people began to separate ethnically and geographically in this region. For the first time the name of a people living in Transylvania has been historically recorded. The Greek historian Herodotus reported of the Agathyrsen who lived at the Mures. They joined the Persian king Dareios in his battle against the Skythians in 513 B.C. Herodotus emphasized their gold ornaments and mentions women communes or group relationships with women having several husbands. He also mentioned Spargapeithes, a king who most probably lived during the middle of the 5th century B.C. The Agathyrsen supplied neighbouring regions with metal works (mirrors, quiver and more). Aristoteles last mentioned these people in the 4th century B.C. with praise for their strict laws. During the 3rd century B.C. in addition to the Agathyrsae the name of Dacian "Kotiner" surfaced. Tacitus, a Roman historian (A.D. 100) reported on their iron ore mining.
"The truth must be repeated over and over again,
because error is repeatedly preached among us, not
only by individuals, but by the masses. In periodicals
and cyclopaedias, in schools and universities; every-
where, in fact, error prevails, and is quite easy in the
feeling that it has a decided majority on its side."

~ J. W. v. Goethe

Johannes Lang "The Hollow World Theory" Blog
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The Saxons of Siebenbürgen (Transylvania) 17 Jun 2014 09:39 #3

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Fiery battle scene between the Roman and Dacian armies, Trajan's Column, Rome, Image detail


1.2.2. Dacians and Romans

In the late Iron Age (La Téne-Period), 4th and 3rd centuries B.C., especially Greek sources mentioned the Getae. Herodotus described them as the "bravest and most righteous" among the Thracians. They evolved and became powerful under the emperor Dromichaites in what is today’s Walachia. He allied with the Skythians about 290 B.C. and defeated a Greek-Macedonian army. Mention of the North-Thracians living in Transylvania was made by the Romans. They were called Dacians in Roman history sources.

The Dacians developed fortresses with embankments and stone walls in the 3rd to 1st centuries B.C. as defense against the Celts. Under king Burebista, 1st century B.C., who reigned for almost four decades, the Dacians had developed the defense system and warfare to such a high degree, that it became a challenge to the neighbouring Roman Empire which had advanced to the Danube. Burebista was able to unite the Dacians north of the Danube, creating an empire stretching from the Northern Carpathians to the Black Sea.

The ruler was flanked by a high priest who had almost royal powers, an indication of one dominant religion throughout the Dacian empire. The central sanctuary (holy relic) was located in the Broosner Mts., which most probably was also the seat of the emperor. It was defended by a number of advanced fortresses. Mining, crafts and trade were carried on in addition to agriculture and animal stock. Society was divided in socially structured layers.

Caesar’s plan to eliminate the threat of the Dacians was not realized until after his murder. In the same year (44 B.C.) Burebista was also murdered and his empire fell apart. However, the successors were able to hold Transylvania. Under Decebal (87-106 A.D.), the Dacian empire became more powerful again. He defeated a Roman legion shortly after he began to govern, but was defeated shortly thereafter near Tapae (88 A.D.). Decebal used the period of peace to expand the system of fortresses and to reorganize the army. He expanded his empire to the rivers Tisza/Tinza (Theiß) and Dnjestr without endangering the peace with the Romans.

Emperor Trajan recognized the potential danger created by this politically, economically and militarily strengthened neighbour. The gold riches were a further incentive for conquering. Although the Dacians were defeated during the first enormous attempt (101-102), they refused to be suppressed. The country was only systematically conquered (105-106) and the capital Sarmizegetusa captured after the building of a bridge across the Danube near Drobeta (Turnu Severin). The bridge was a creation of the Greco-Roman builder Appollodorus of Damascus. Decebal thrust himself unto his sword to avoid the humiliating capture.

The victory and the Dacian submission to Roman authority was celebrated effusively. The most important events of the war were captured on a victory pillar. It is a reminder of Trajan’s success until today. Dacia had become a Roman province.

Enormous efforts were required to secure and integrate the conquered territory militarily and economically. Legions and auxiliary troops were stationed in the territory. Military camps (castra) were built and the limes erected. To secure supplies, the Romans built an excellent road network. Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa became the capital of the province, Apulum the military centre. Other cities, among them the municipalities Napoca und Potaissa were founded as economic and administrative centres. Attracted were veterans, trades people, miners, and merchants who became "ex toto orbe Romano". Most settlers, often attracted with incentives, came from the Balkan Peninsula and Asia Minor. Miners were in high demand and received binding contracts. Latin became the official and colloquial everyday language. An unparalleled boom developed for the economy especially in gold production in the West Carpathian Mts. (Transylvanian Erzgebirge, predominantly in the Ampelum and Alburnus Maior). The new roads and waterways allowed trade relations with other provinces of the empire.

Transylvania became part of a political, economic and cultural community for nearly two centuries, covering great parts of Europe and remained in part active till today. Many of its citizens could state with pride :"civis Romanus sum".

Dacia, however, was from the beginning a Roman outpost, lying beyond the natural borders of the empire, often limited by large rivers to the north. Already several decades after the annex the empire had to fend off barbarian attacks. The empire was able to fight off invasions of. Quadi, Markomanni, Vandals and Sarmati in the second half of the 2nd century. The fight against the Goths, who repeatedly devastated the province invading from the north since 235, placed additional strain on the already weakened empire. Emperor Aurelius acted accordingly in 271. He renunciated Dacia, withdrew from the strategically exposed province and entrenched along the Danube.

Historians differ greatly on the evacuation of Dacia. Under the influence of political considerations in Romania, proof of a historic right for Transylvania was favoured. Therefore, resettling of all inhabitants is questioned. Some historians are convinced no romanized population remained after 271 in Transylvania. Others maintain the thesis of a Dacia-Roman continuity.

After the 3rd century, a gap exists in the documented history of Transylvania, spanning several centuries. Archaeological evidence is also scarce. Therefore, there is little evidence to resolve this controversy. One can only assume that the cities and larger garrisons were evacuated and therefore the Roman urban life came to an end in Transylvania. However, it appears proven that part of the "vulgar-Latin" speaking population and mostly christianized Dacia-Roman population continued to flourish in smaller remote communities. Some finds dating from the 4th to 7th centuries (evidence of early Christianity, Roman coins, sections of Latin inscriptions like the "Donarium of Birthälm", and others) provide sufficient evidence. This population was, however, decimated through the centuries. Their wooden tools and buildings rotted and became untraceable by archaeologists.

Too often have historic facts been misinterpreted to suit a political purpose. One can only hope the discussions about the continuity or discontinuity of the population in Transylvania during the post Roman era are elevated to a scientific factual plane in the future, especially in the context of the futile historic arguments for territorial claims


"The truth must be repeated over and over again,
because error is repeatedly preached among us, not
only by individuals, but by the masses. In periodicals
and cyclopaedias, in schools and universities; every-
where, in fact, error prevails, and is quite easy in the
feeling that it has a decided majority on its side."

~ J. W. v. Goethe

Johannes Lang "The Hollow World Theory" Blog
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The Saxons of Siebenbürgen (Transylvania) 18 Jun 2014 21:06 #4

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1.2.3. Period of Mass Folk Migrations (Barbarian Migrations)

Rome left the provinces of Dacia to their fate.



Dacian Draco as from Trajan's Column



The new Bitdefender antivirus logo showcasing the Dacian Draco


Over a period of seven centuries Germanic, Asian and Slavic tribes entered Transylvania in succession during their migration from east to west and from north to south. Attracted also by the salt deposits necessary for animal stock, they remained for some time in Transylvania.

Prior to their withdrawal, the Romans had negotiated an agreement with the Goths, whereby Dacia remained Roman territory. A few Roman outposts remained north of the Danube. Visigoths (western Goths) settled in the southern part of Translvania, also called Tervingi (people of the forests) contrary to the Ostrogoths (eastern Goths) or Goths of the flatlands living in the Pontic steppe.

A period of political instability began lasting more than seven centuries. The Goths were able to defend their territory for approximately one century against the Gepidae, Vandals and Sarmats but could not fend off the invading Huns in 376. Pannonia became the centre during the peak of the reign under Attila (called Etzel by the Germans and Ethele by the Hungarians) (435-453). After the victory of king Ardarich over the Huns (455), German Gepidae settled for two centuries in Transylvania. The empire of the Gepidae was destroyed in 567 by the Awars and Langobards. Transylvania was now part of the Awar empire until it was destroyed by Charlemagne at the end of the 8th century.

Other people, the Petchenegs and Bulgars entered the region during the 9th and 10th centuries. Under leaders like Menoumorut, Glad or Gelou they governed in smaller and larger political units (Principalities / Knesaten and Wojwodaten).

The transit and settlement of such different and diverse peoples have formed the ethnic and cultural multiplicity in the early history of Transylvania. Their remnants, however, are sparse except for a few relics in the language and the finds in graves, or the unearthed treasures and coins which had been buried in periods of danger. It also is evidence of continued mining of precious metals and panning of gold in this region. Among the most valuable finds are the burial sites of Germanic Princes of Apahida (5th century), the treasure of Cluj-Someseni (Klausenburg-Someseni) (5th century), the Firtoscher Coins Treasure (4th -6th centuries).

The population of Transylvania during this period was surprisingly low with only 100,000 inhabitants (Footnote 2).

More durable than the reign by the Germanic and Asian horsemen was the peaceful settlement of Slavs mostly without force during the second half of the 7th century. They were not fast advancing, conquering riding nomads, but pastoral tribes which traveled slowly and settled in the land. After the disappearance of the Germanic Goths and Gepidae they almost entirely slavicized the population of Transylvania within two centuries. The toponymy of naming towns and regions reveals this.

Because of the already described sources and the political-territorial influenced argumentation regarding the "historic right" on Transylvania, the origin of Romanians in Transylvania´s historiography remains disputed.

Historian and archaeologist Kurt Horedt, who by background is not involved with the political aspects of the scientific arguments, offers a mostly non-prejudiced and sensible compromise: Withdrawing from Dacia, the Roman empire did not remove the entire population. The remaining Romans were slavicized during the 7th century. These slavicized Romans mixed with the romanized Thracians, a people of migrating shepherds in the 9th century, originating from the Balkan peninsula. The presence of these Romanians may date to the 10th century. A later migration during the 13th century is not probable. (Footnote 3).
"The truth must be repeated over and over again,
because error is repeatedly preached among us, not
only by individuals, but by the masses. In periodicals
and cyclopaedias, in schools and universities; every-
where, in fact, error prevails, and is quite easy in the
feeling that it has a decided majority on its side."

~ J. W. v. Goethe

Johannes Lang "The Hollow World Theory" Blog
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The Saxons of Siebenbürgen (Transylvania) 12 Aug 2014 12:05 #5

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1.2.4 Integration into the medieval Hungarian Kingdom

A fundamental shift of power and influence in the Danube-Carpathian region occurred at the end of the 9th century. Beginning in 895 the Finno-Hungarian Magyars took control of the Pannonian plains, migrating from the northern region of the Black Sea. To secure their new home land they conducted expeditions to the west which soon became out of hand raids and left Carolingian Western Europe in terror for half a century. The Magyars entered northern Italy as early as 898 and defeated the Bavarians under Luitpold; Duke of Bavaria in 907. In the following period they reached Otranto in the south, Spain in the southwest, Bremen in the northwest, laying waste to the lands by scorching and looting.




The Magdeburger Reiter: a tinted sandstone equestrian monument, c. 1240, traditionally intended as a portrait of Otto I and his grave in Magdeburg


Otto I permanently broke the power of the Magyars at the Battle of the Lechfeld in 955, and ended the invasions of the Hungarians.
This victory earned him the name "Otto I, the Great" (Holy Roman Emperor Otto I). His contemporaries, including the Magyars, valued the event as a victory for Christianity. As a result of the battle, Duke Géza of the Árpád dynasty was converted to Christianity and began to organize a state. Instead of confrontation they sought cooperation with the West. Christianity and Western culture began to penetrate Hungary, paganism was suppressed, and royal authority was centralized using the administrative structure of western countries as an example.




A 1457 illustration of the Battle of Lechfeld in Sigmund Meisterlin's codex about the history of Nuremberg


Géza’s son, Vajk, who at baptism received the name Stephen I, became duke in 997, was the founder of the Árpád dynasty and received formal recognition as king of Hungary in 1001. He continued the policy of his father. His wife, Giesela, a sister of the emperor Henry II, together with the advisors of Bavarian origin she brought to the country, was an important ally. Catholic Christianity could succeed against paganism and resistance supported by the eastern church of Byzantium (subsequently renamed Constantinople). The deeply religious king founded several dioceses and cloisters. For this he was canonized in 1083. The judiciary, the organization and administration, the monetary system, and the Latin documentation of the state were patterned after the Holy Roman Empire.

These efforts were honoured by Emperor Otto III and Pope Sylvester II and were expressed with the crowning of Stephen on January 1, 1001. The occidental Christian kingdom, Hungary, became a member of the Christian nations, in spirit a member of the Holy Roman Empire, though in fact independent.

Located between the German and the Byzantine Empire, both claiming to be the successor of the Roman Empire, Hungary became an important factor of the east-central and southeastern European political scene. Its desire to expand in the southwest was driven to gain access to the Adriatic sea, and in the East to obtain Transylvania for its natural resources, especially for the salt needed for stock herding and for its function as a natural barrier, a bulwark against attacks from the east and southeast of the continent.

The advancement of the Magyars through Transylvania during the 10th to 12th centuries had a lasting effect on the historic development of the region, which was described from the Pannonian perspective as the "Land beyond the Forests". Taking the land of Transylvania occurred in several steps and was influenced by developing feudalism in Transylvania and by the relations with the Byzantine Empire and with the Bulgaro-Vlach Tsardom.

Initially they settled in Western Transylvania where salt deposits were or salt shipments had to be secured. This was the region at the Somesu (Kleinen Somesch), following the victory of the Hungarian general commander Tuhutum over the local duke Gelou, and the region at the central Mures under the leadership of a Gyula (prince of a clan), who selected Weißenburg for his residence. After dethroning the headstrong Gyula in 1003, St. Stephen tied this territory, defined as "very large and rich land", closer to the Hungarian monarchy. A victory over the Pechenegs (1068 near Kyrieleis) ended their short lived reign and expanded the Hungarian state to the east. King Ladislaus the Saint (1077-1095) shifted the border to the upper Mures. In the 12th century the Hungarians moved to the Olsul (Alt) but the East and South Carpathians were reached only at the beginning of the 13th century. Now all of Transylvania was part of the medieval Hungarian Kingdom.

Traces of the 10- to 40-km wide protective barriers built by the Magyars bear evidence of advances in stages. These desolate strips (Lat. indagines, Hung. Gyepü) had earth fortresses and border guard settlements at passable locations (Hung. kapuk). Many names of villages and marsh (like Kapus/Kopisch) remind even today of the border barriers. Guardians, organized armed farmers and peasants were settled at the gates to defend the borders. As a reward they received personal freedom in groups.

Among the most important border guards were the Szeklers. They were originally most likely a Turk-Clan who associated early with the Magyars. There is proof of Szekler villages on the west and east border of Hungary and in Transylvania along the protective barriers, which advanced several times during the conquest. The Szeklers reached the present settlements during the middle of the 12th century in the valleys of the East Carpathians. They have been relocated for example from the "terra Syculorum terrae Sebus" near Sebes Alba (Mühlbach) to the later Szekler centre Sepsi in the East Carpathians.

After every advancement of the border, the desolate corridor of the old abatis border remained free and became crown land. The colonization of this crown land was very important, for strategic and economic reasons. It appeared necessary to have strife and war tested settlers in this newly established forefield of the abatis border, capable to clear and cultivate the land and enter into farming, handicrafts and commerce, but also to satisfy the requirements for salt and precious metals, and develop mineral resources.

One of the first Hungarian documents which mentioned Transylvania stresses the economic importance of these settlers. King Geysa I in 1075 endowed the Benedictine cloister in Gran which he founded with the reference to "ultra silvam" the salina near Thorenburg and with half of the royal income "in loco, qui dicitur hungarice Aranas, latine autem Aureus". (Footnote 4).




Footnote 4
Diplomata Hungariae Antiquissima, vol. I. Budapest 1992, Nr. 73, S. 217f.





German wikipedia on Szekler

In 2002 around 670,000 Hungarians were living in the historic Szeklerland - most of them Szeklers - and about 407,000 Rumanians, as well as several minorities such as e.g. Roma (non-pc: Gypsies), Jews, Germans and Armenians.



Szeklers (sheklers or shekelys ?) - Origins

The origin of the Székelys has been much debated. It is now generally accepted that they are descendants of Hungarians (or of Magyarized Turkic peoples) transplanted to the eastern Carpathians to guard the frontier, their name meaning simply "frontier guards".[7] The Székelys have historically claimed descent from Attila's Huns[7] (repeated in Procopius's De bello Gothico),[7] and believed they played a special role in shaping Hungary. Ancient legends recount that a contingent of Huns remained in Transylvania, later allying with the main Hungarian army that conquered the Carpathian Basin in the 9th century. The thirteenth-century chronicler Simon of Kéza also claimed that the Székely people descended from Huns who lived in mountainous lands prior to the Hungarian conquest.[14]


[14] Kevin Brook: Jews of Khazaria, Rowman & Littlefield Publisher, UK, 2006, page 170 [1]
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The Saxons of Siebenbürgen (Transylvania) 23 Aug 2014 23:35 #6

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I like this site for physical anthropology but then its the only one i know with an extensive phot section

Here is a thread on your topic P

s1.zetaboards.com/anthroscape/topic/5591005/1/


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The Saxons of Siebenbürgen (Transylvania) 26 Aug 2014 10:55 #7

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I love the beautiful traditional costumes

PHOTOS


and the traditional songs and dances almost made me cry when I first heard and saw a Siebenbürgen Sachsen Volkstanzgruppe (folk dance group) life last year. The basic German traditions and qualities are still well alive among those people. It felt like "coming home", if you know what I mean.
"The truth must be repeated over and over again,
because error is repeatedly preached among us, not
only by individuals, but by the masses. In periodicals
and cyclopaedias, in schools and universities; every-
where, in fact, error prevails, and is quite easy in the
feeling that it has a decided majority on its side."

~ J. W. v. Goethe

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The Saxons of Siebenbürgen (Transylvania) 16 Jan 2015 20:32 #8

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2. The Migration and Settlement of the Transylvanian Saxons

2.1. The Hungarian Crown of King Stephen as "Host"

The immense task to defend and develop the new territories was beyond the capabilities of the Magyars with their relatively small population. Qualified border settlers were not available in sufficient numbers. Often they were displaced groups from the steppe of Southern Russia. A shortage of skilled trades people, especially for mining, became apparent. The Magyars realized, as the founder of the nation St. Stephen reminded his son Emmerich in a "Libellus de institutione morum", "immigrating guests of various languages and customs bring different teachings and weapons. They decorate and uplift all regions and the royal court...because an empire with only one language and one law is weak and transient".. (Footnote 5).

Such guests ("hospites") had to be recruited with winning promises. Owning land was especially attractive in medieval times. The crown land (fundus regius) of the former desolate corridor of the old abatis border was made available. Privileges were also sought. These included rights which the guests were used to and "brought in their bones". However, it had to include rights beyond that to entice people to take the risk and settle in a region a thousand kilometres from their home land. Personal freedom, freedom of movement, permissiveness were magical words which gave promise of higher personal rank, security and better advancement. The Hungarian government made these promises and the promises were honored over centuries. Included in the constitution of the medieval Hungarian Kingdom of King Andrew II (he issued the Golden Bull, sometimes called the Hungarian Magna Charta in 1222) was the guarantee to guests of all nationalities (Footnote 6).

Especially King Geysa II (1141-1162) was successful in attracting German and Flemish farmers, trades people and lower nobility. They settled in Zips, today’s Slovakia, and in Transylvania.

Their colonization was part of an extensive European movement to develop land. It originated in economically developed regions where the population had increased rapidly. The movement entered history as settlements of Germans in the East. People who were disadvantaged by law of succession had the chance to secure land in underpopulated forested areas which could be developed through clearing. The increasing suppression of the rural population by feudal landowners encouraged others to follow the call of a far away land. Attractive were not only the prospects of owning land and personal freedom, but also independent judicature and choice of priests, tax freedom for many years, and the absence of homage.

The medieval German Southeast Colonization occurred in Hungary peacefully and not through conquering land. The king himself invited the colonists to his land.
"The truth must be repeated over and over again,
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and cyclopaedias, in schools and universities; every-
where, in fact, error prevails, and is quite easy in the
feeling that it has a decided majority on its side."

~ J. W. v. Goethe

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The Saxons of Siebenbürgen (Transylvania) 08 Sep 2015 13:05 #9

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^ No, I don't. This is about the Saxons of Siebenbürgen. But crusaders travelled through the country and also settled there, yes.




2.2. Origin of the Transylvanian Saxons


Transylvanian-Saxon historians, over a long period, diligently tried to establish the origin of the settlers who had followed the invitation of King Geysa II (Géza II of Hungary) to come to Transylvania. The result is disappointing and is proof only of an incorrect starting point. Historians are in agreement on one thing: emigration did not originate from a clearly definable region nor did it occur in substantially large numbers at only one time.

This is why the migration was not really noticed. Documents describing the event are not available. Only three reports mention persons moving during this period from the Lower Rhine region (Niederrhein and from the Wetterau region) to Hungary: Anselm of Braz in the Lütticher Land, Burgvogt von Logne (1103), Hezelo near Merkstein, (Footnote 7) in 1148; during the reign of King Geysa II, and a few residents from Oppoldishusen, mentioned as fleeing to Hungary not before 1313. It is questionable if they did in fact emigrate to Transylvania. Also questionable is the relationship of the "first Transylvanian Saxons" in conjunction with the names of the towns in their home region: Broos, Hetzeldorf, Groß- and Kleinpold or Trappold. However, it was not entirely unusual to name settlements in Transylvania after their founders (knights distributing colonial land, similar to "Lokatoren" in Silesia), for example, Hermannstadt. Its namesake could have been a "maior hospitum" similar to the Hermann mentioned in the southwest Hungarian Fünfkirchen (Pécs) in 1181.

Documents written not before the last decade of the 12th century by the Hungarian Court, the Transylvanian Wojwode (royal governor, or voivode), the papal chancellery and the Transylvanian Bishopric, very seldom mention the new settlers, and their place of origin only vaguely. "The King's guest settlers beyond the forests" are mentioned in very general terms. The "ecclesia Theutonicorum Ultrasilvanorum" was spoken of in 1191, and the "priores Flandrenses" during 1192-1196. The name "Saxones" surfaced in 1206. After this time it was commonly used in the documents of the chancellery and defines the Germanic Transylvanians (Siebenbürger) to this day.

However, all individuals possessing privileges that were negotiated by Saxon miners were called Saxons during Medieval Hungary, regardless in which region they lived: Bosnia, Zips (Slovakia) or Transylvania. These tradesmen were in short supply and were desperately needed to mine the natural resources. The Miners Rights, guaranteed to attract these workers and as an enticement to remain, contain an entire catalog of privileges which all colonists of Medieval Hungary could demand: personal freedom, entitlement to inherit land, self administration and judiciary, religious autonomy with free selection of priests, controlled and, therefore, predictable taxes, and other obligations. "Saxon" was, therefore, a synonym for a legal status, a status with privileges, and not, if at all, a name of origin.

Research of the specific dialect spoken by the Transylvanian Saxons could not establish any correlation with an emigration from Saxony. Similarities with the "Letzelburger Platt", a Mosel-Franconian dialect encouraged researchers to identify this as the place of origin. However, Bavarian, North and Middle German influences have also been proven. Additional confusion arises with a thesis of a parallel but independent development of two isolated languages in the west and southwest of Europe, one in Luxembourg, the other in Transylvania.

Newer historical studies of liturgies based on medieval Transylvanian liturgy books show parallels with the Church province Cologne, but also with the Magdeburg area. This could confirm the assumption that the migrants had a temporary stay at the Elbe and Saale or they were disappointed participants of the Second Crusade in 1147.

Archaeologists assumed, based on finds of the so called gray ceramic, that a larger number of settlers emigrated from Middle Germany to Northern Transylvania. A cult vessel found near Schellenberg shows similarities with a jug from Riethnordhausen in Thuringia and has been connected with crafts of a Hildesheimer workshop. The Franconian architecture of Transylvanian Saxon houses and the architecture of South German churches point to a different place of origin, just like the similarities of a motive of a picture on a headstone found in Heltau near Hermannstadt and one found in Faha near Trier.

Without a doubt, among the settlers were not only Germans, be they Teutonici from Southern Germany or Saxons from Middle and Northern Germany but also Romanic people from the western regions of the then German Empire. One of the earliest documents on Transylvanian Saxons points at Flandrenses who had at least two independent settler groups.

These came from an economically highly developed region of the empire, where during the 11th and 12th centuries shortage of land was overcome through intensive planning and building of dike systems. Cities were developed through the textile industry and trade. Many knights of the first crusade came from here. It is undisputed that Flandrenses played an important role in the German East-Migration.

Latins, settlers of Romanic-Walloon origin, were also represented. For example, Johannes Latinus, who arrived as knight but also as one of the first Transylvanian merchants, Gräf Gyan from Salzburg who frightened the bishop of Weißenburg, or Magister Gocelinus, who presented Michelsberg to the Cistercian abbey Kerz. Also to be mentioned is the name of the town Walldorf (villa Latina, "Wallonendorf", town of Walloons) and villa Barbant or Barbantina, a name which brings to mind Brabant in Belgium.

Based on the described and often contradictory research results, answers to the question of the origin of Transylvanian Saxons cannot be considered as final. An incontestable clarification cannot be expected since it is probable that the colonists of different religions and ethnic background came in small groups from all regions of the then empire and grew, once in Transylvania, into a group with its own distinct identity, with German language and culture. In any event, their number was negligibly small and has been estimated at 520 families, approximately 2600 persons
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only by individuals, but by the masses. In periodicals
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where, in fact, error prevails, and is quite easy in the
feeling that it has a decided majority on its side."

~ J. W. v. Goethe

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The Saxons of Siebenbürgen (Transylvania) 27 Jul 2017 10:58 #10

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2.3. Progression of the Settlement

2.3.1. Beginning



During the period of the first two crusades (1096-1099 and 1147-1149), moving by land through Pannonia across the Balkan Peninsula and Asia Minor to the holy land, people of the West became aware of Hungary as an enticing land. Praised by the timely German Chronicler and Bishop Otto von Freising as "God's Paradise", one can only speculate about an immediate effect of the crusades on the emigration from the Empire to Medieval Hungary. And, without a doubt, the crusaders did not travel through Transylvania.

During the second crusade in the year 1147, King Conrad III came with his army through Hungary. King Geysa (Géza) II (1141-1162), who governed during this period and in 1224 issued the document of privileges "Guarantee of Freedom" (Freibrief) for the Transylvanian Saxons, deserves the credit for inviting "German guests". In 1911, 850 years after his reign began, a memorial was held at the Frankfurt Paulskirche to commemorate among other things, the settlement of Transylvanian Saxons. The organizers were aware of the fact that this celebration at this time is not an accurate but merely a symbolic, although probable, date. (Footnote 8)

At his coronation, Geysa was only eleven years old. His mother Ilona as his guardian and her Serbian brother Belos were governing the country. In 1141 the relations with the Empire were good. The engagement of Geysa's younger sister, Sophie, with the four year old crown prince, Heinrich, was to strengthen the bond between the Staufern and the Árpád dynasties and as a result, during that time German settlers were welcome in Hungary.

This engagement was annulled some years later by the Germans. It was an affront which led to an armed conflict in 1146 between the Empire and Hungary and made a settler program impossible.


Shortly after Geysa II took over the reign, probably in July of 1147, he met with the crusader Conrad III who traveled through Hungary at the time. An agreement concerning the settler program to Transylvania may have been reached at this opportunity. The chronicles of this meeting mention not only the hospitality of the Hungarians but also the disputes with the at times violent Germans. One year later, in 1148, Hezelo von Merkstein made arrangements to sell his house because he was emigrating to Hungary. It is not known if he made it all the way to Transylvania.

After 1148 German-Hungarian relations worsened. After the death of Conrad II a war almost started. It was not a good time to attract colonists from the Empire. A closer Hungarian-German cooperation began in 1158 when a Hungarian delegation offered to assist Emperor Frederick Barbarossa in his planned war campaign with Italy. Maybe the issue of settlers was also agreed upon. After the end of 1159, German-Hungarian relations turned frosty again, since Geysa strengthened his contacts with Pope Alexander III and the French King Ludwig VII. Both were avowed enemies of Barbarossa. The Hungarian king died in 1162, only 31 years of age. The colonizing of the Transylvanian Saxons is, among his achievements, of historic magnitude. But the emigration required the cooperation and approval of the ruler of their homeland. Therefore, only relatively brief periods were favourable and could be considered for the migration.

.
"The truth must be repeated over and over again,
because error is repeatedly preached among us, not
only by individuals, but by the masses. In periodicals
and cyclopaedias, in schools and universities; every-
where, in fact, error prevails, and is quite easy in the
feeling that it has a decided majority on its side."

~ J. W. v. Goethe

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