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Transylvania ( or ; ; , see also other denominations) is a historical region in the central part of Romaniamarker. Bounded on the east and south by the Carpathian mountain rangemarker, historical Transylvania extended in the west to the Apuseni Mountainsmarker; however, the term frequently encompasses not only Transylvania proper, but also the historical regions of Crişana, Maramureş, and Banat.

Transylvania was once the nucleus of the Kingdom of Dacia (82 BC–106 AD). In 106 AD the Roman Empire conquered the territory and after that its wealth was systematically exploited. After the Roman legions withdrew in 271 AD, it was overrun by a succession of tribes, which subjected it to various influences. During this time areas of it were under the control of the Visigoths, Huns, Gepids, Avars and Bulgars. Thereafter the Romanized Dacian inhabitants either moved into the mountains and preserved their culture or migrated southward. It is likely that elements of the mixed Daco–Roman populationheld out in Transylvania. There is an ongoing scholarly debate over the population of Transylvania before the Hungarian conquest (see Origin of the Romanians).

The Magyars conquered the area at the end of the 9th century and firmly established their control over it in 1003, when their king Stephen I, according to legend, defeated the native prince entitled or named Gyula. Between 1003 and 1526, Transylvania was a voivodeship of the Kingdom of Hungary, led by a voivod appointed by the Hungarian King. After the Battle of Mohácsmarker in 1526 Transylvania became effectively an independent principality ruled primarily by Calvinist Hungarian princes. Afterward, in 1566, Hungary was divided between the Habsburgs and the Turks, with the Transylvanian principality maintaining autonomy as an Ottoman subject.

The Habsburgs acquired the territory shortly after the Battle of Vienna in 1683. The Habsburgs, however, recognized theHungarian sovereignty over Transylvania, while the Transylvanians recognized the suzerainty of the Habsburg emperor Leopold I (1687), and the region was officially attached to the Habsburg Empire, separated in all but name from Habsburg controlled HungaryPaul Lendvai, Ann Major. “The Hungarians: A Thousand Years of Victory in Defeat” C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 2003, page 146; and subjected to the direct rule of the emperor’s governors. In 1699 the Turks legally conceded their loss of Transylvania in the Treaty of Karlowitz; however, anti-Habsburg elements within the principality only submitted to the emperor in the 1711 Peace of Szatmár. After the Ausgleich of 1867 the region was fully reabsorbed into Hungary as a part of the newly established Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Following defeat in World War I, Austria-Hungary began to disintegrate. The ethnic Romanian majority elected representatives, who then proclaimed union with Romaniamarker on December 1, 1918. In 1920, the Allies confirmed the union in the Treaty of Trianon. Hungary protested against the detach, as over 1,600,000 Hungarian people were living in the area in question, mainly in Szekler Land of Eastern Transylvania, and along the newly created border, which was drawn through areas with Hungarian majority. In August 1940, in the midst of World War II, Hungary regained about 40% of Transylvania by the Vienna Award, with the aid of Germany and Italy. The territory, however, reverted to Romania in 1945; this was confirmed in the 1947 Paris Peace Treaties.

In distant regions, Transylvania is also often associated with Dracula (Bram Stoker's novel and its film adaptations), and the horror genre in general, while in countries of Central and Eastern Europe the region is known for the scenic beauty of its Carpathianmarker landscape and its rich history.


  • Transylvania was first referred to in a Medieval Latin document in 1075 as ultra silvam, meaning "beyond the forest" (ultra (+accusative) meaning "beyond" or "on the far side of" and the accusative case of sylva (sylvam) meaning "wood or forest"). Transylvania, with an alternative Latin prepositional prefix, means "on the other side of the woods". Hungarian historians claim that the Medieval Latin form Ultrasylvania, later Transylvania, was a direct translation from the Hungarian form Erdő-elve (not the Hungarian was derived from the Latin).
  • The German name Siebenbürgen means "seven fortresses", after the seven (ethnic German) Transylvanian Saxons' cities in the region (Kronstadtmarker, Schäßburgmarker, Mediaschmarker, Hermannstadtmarker, Mühlbachmarker, Bistritzmarker and Klausenburgmarker). This is also the origin of many other languages' names for the region, such as the Polish Siedmiogród.
  • The Hungarian form Erdély was first mentioned in the 12th century Gesta Hungarorum as "Erdeuleu".
  • The first known occurrence of the Romanian name Ardeal appeared in a document in 1432 as Ardeliu.


In its early history, the territory of Transylvania belonged to a variety of empires and states, including Dacia, the Roman Empire, the Hun Empire and the Gepid Kingdom. There were also periods when autonomous political entities arose under the control of the Byzantine and the Bulgarian Empire.

In the 11th century Hungarymarker took possession of Transylvania, a territory that probably had a mixed but basically Romanian population.After the occupation the Hungarian crown encouraged immigration in order to strengthen against outside invasion. Most important was the settlement of the Szeklers and the Germans, who came in the 12th century. As a political entity, (Southern) Transylvania is mentioned from the 12th century as a county (Alba) of the Kingdom of Hungary (M. princeps ultrasilvanus - comes Bellegratae). Transylvania's seven counties were brought under the voivode's (count of Alba Iuliamarker) rule in 1263. Although Transylvania was part of the Kingdom of Hungary, it retained wide autonomous privileges and status and after 1526 became a fully autonomous principality under nominal Ottoman suzerainty.

A few centuries later, in 1688, it was added to the expanding territories of Habsburg Monarchy, then became again a part of the Kingdom of Hungary within the newly established Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1867. Since World War I, it has been part of Romaniamarker, apart from a brief period of Hungarian occupation during World War II.

Cluj-Napocamarker is today considered to be the region's spiritual capital, although Transylvania was also ruled from Alba Iuliamarker during its period as an autonomous principality within the Ottoman Empire, and from Sibiumarker, where the Habsburg governor was located from 1711 to 1848. The seat of the Transylvanian Diet was itself moved to Sibiu for some time in the 19th century.

Since medieval times, the population of the region has been a mixture of ethnic Romanians (historically known as Vlachs), Hungarians, the ethnic Hungarian Székely people, Germans (known as Saxons), Bulgarians (see Şchei, Şcheii Braşovului, Banat Bulgarians), Armenians (especially in Gherla marker, Gheorghenimarker and Tarnavenimarker), Jews and Roma (known as Gypsies or "tatars" - Tatern in Transylvanian Saxon or tătăraşi in Romanian).

The Roman province of Dacia

The Kingdom of Dacia was in existence at least as early as the beginning of the 2nd century BC when, Rubobostes, a Dacian king from the territory of present-day Transylvania, undertook the control of the Carpathian basin by defeating the Celts who previously held the power in the region.

Dacia reached its maximum extent under the rule of Burebista. The area now constituting Transylvania was the political center of the ancient Kingdom of Dacia, where several important fortified cities were built; among them was the capital Sarmizegetusa, located near the current Romanian town of Hunedoaramarker.

In 101-102 and 105-106 AD, Roman armies under the Emperor Trajan fought a series of military campaigns to subjugate the wealthy Dacian Kingdom. The Romans under Trajan succeeded by 106 to subdue the south and the center regions of Dacia. After the conquest, the Romans seized an enormous amount of wealth (the Dacian Wars were commemorated on Trajan's Columnmarker in Rome) and immediately started to exploit the Dacian gold and salt mines located in today territory of Transylvania. Roman influence was broadened by the construction of modern roads, and some existing major cities, like Sarmizegetusa and Dierna (today Orsovamarker) were made colonies. The new province was divided under Hadrian: Dacia Superior, that corresponded roughly to Transylvania and Dacia Inferior, similar to the region of South Romania (Walachia) . During Antoninus Pius (138-161) the same territory was included in the provinces Dacia Porolissensis (capital at Porolissummarker) and Dacia Apulensis (capital at Apulum, today Alba-Iulia city in Romania). The Romans built new mines, roads and forts in the province. Colonists from other Roman provinces were brought in to settle the land and found cities like Apulum (now Alba Iuliamarker), Napoca (now Cluj-Napocamarker), Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa and Aquae. During the Roman administration also Christianity entered in the current territory of Transylvania from the neighboring Roman provinces where, according to the tradition of the Romanian Orthodox Church, St. Peter preached.

Due to increasing pressure from the Visigoths, the Romans abandoned the province during the reign of the Emperor Aurelian in 271. As across much of Europe, a period of chaos and conquests followed after the collapse of Roman rule. However, as shown by the archeological research, many of the Roman cities continued to exist, building fortifications. Also Christianity survived as proved by the many artifacts discovered. Among the most famous is the donarium from Biertan (4th century) having the inscription 'Ego Zenovius votvm posui' (I, Zenovie, offered this). The territory fell under the control of the Visigoths and Carpians until they were in turn displaced and subdued by the Huns in 376, under the leadership of their infamous warlord Attila. After the disintegration of Attila's empire, the Huns were succeeded by Gepids of Eurasian Avar descent. The region was also influenced during this period by massive Slavic immigration.

At the beginning of the 9th century, Transylvania, along with eastern Pannonia, was under the control of the First Bulgarian Empire . After a brief period of Bulgarian rule, the territory, was partially under Byzantine control.

Conquest of Transylvania and integration into the Kingdom of Hungary

Based on primary sources

The presence of Romanians in Transylvania before the arrival of the Magyar tribes is mentioned in the Hungarian chronicle Gesta Hungarorum. According to this document, Transylvania was inhabited by Romanians/Vlachs and Slavs at the time of the Magyar conquest and was ruled by the Vlach prince Gelou. After Gelou was killed by the Hungarians in a battle near the River Someş, his subjects elected Tuhutum as their prince.

Some historians consider the Gesta Hungarorum an unreliable source. For example the author thought Kende had been the father of Kurszán. In fact "kende" was a title of a Hungarian dignitary, probably the sacral ruler. It is also worth mentioning that the Gesta was written about 300 years after the Hungarians entered Transylvania. The author of Gesta also talks about Cuman people at the time of the arrival of the Hungarians in Transylvania, though their first appearance in the ancient homeland of the Hungarians (between the Lower Danube and the Don) is dated to the eleventh century.

The account of the Gesta Hungarorum is however repeated by Simon of Kéza who writes that the Vlachs remained after Attila left in Pannonia and Transylvania, and also that the Székely were settled "among the Vlachs" (sed cum Blakis) in the mountains. These words are repeated in the Chronicon Dubnicense, Chronicon Posoniense Anna Komnenos also mentions "Dacians" (Vlachs) North of the Danube in her Alexiad. Likewise, John Kinnamos writes in 1176 on the expedition of John Vatzates that there were Vlachs North of the Danube and that "it is said they are colonists arrived long ago from Italy." These statements are repeated by all humanist authors like Antonio Bonfini or Filip Callimachus who state the Vlachs were descendants of the Roman colonists in Transylvania. With the exception of Istvan Szamoskozy, it was not until the late 18th century that any historian cast doubt on the continuity of the Romanians in Dacia.

Based on Library of Congress

No written or architectural evidence bears witness to the presence of "proto-Romanians" the lands north of the Danube during the millennium after Rome's withdrawal from Dacia. However, according to the same source, when the Magyars arrived in the Carpathian Basin, they met local population and "there is little doubt that these included some Romanians who remained faithful to the Eastern Orthodox Church after the East-West Schism". Though, the Library of Congress in its country study about Hungarymarker simply points out that "Romanian and Hungarian historians disagree about the ethnicity of Transylvania's population before the Magyars' arrival".

These facts have fueled a centuries-long feud between Romanian and Hungarian historians over Transylvania.
The Romanians assert that they are the descendants of Latin-speaking Dacian peasants who remained in Transylvania after the Roman exodus, and of Slavs who lived in Transylvania's secluded valleys, forests, and mountains, and survived there during the tumult of the Dark Ages. Romanian historians explain the absence of hard evidence for their claims by pointing out that the region lacked organized administration until the twelfth century and by positing that the Mongols destroyed any existing records when they plundered the area in 1241.

Hungariansmarker assert, among other things, that the Roman population quit Dacia completely in 271, that the Romans could not have made a lasting impression on Transylvania's aboriginal population in only two centuries, and that Transylvania's Romanians descended from Balkan nomads who crossed northward over the Danube in the thirteenth century and flowed into Transylvania in any significant numbers only after Hungary opened its borders to foreigners. The Hungarians maintain that Transylvania was inhabited not by the ancestors of the Romanians but by Slavs and point out that the first mention of the Romanians' ancestors in Hungarian records, which appeared in the thirteenth century, described them as drifting herders.

The Hungarian conquest according to Gesta

At the beginning of the 9th century the Hungarian tribes were located in the north of the Black Sea. In 895 as a result of a planned 'conquest' and a massive withdrawal caused by a Bulgarian-Pecheneg attack they established in the Upper-Tisza region and Transylvania and started to expand their territories towards west only in 899. According to the Gesta Hungarorum describing among others the conquest of Transylvania, three statal structures ruled by Menumorut, Glad and Gelu, the most powerful local leaders who opposed the Magyars were encountered and defeated by the Magyars. The privileged position of these figures tended to put brakes on the normal exercise of Romanian critical historiography.

Magyars in Transylvania (10-11th century)

Gelou (Gelu in Romanian, Gyalu in Hungarian) leader of the Vlachs (ancient Romanians) and Slavs in Transylvania was ruling over the Middle part of Transylvania and had his capital at Dăbâca. He was defeated by the warriors of the Magyar chieftain Tétény (also called Töhötöm; in the original Latin: Tuhutum) sometime during the 10th century.

Glad (Bulgarian and Serbian Cyrillic: Глад) ruled over the South-West of Trabsylvania, having authority over the Slavs and Vlachs, which consisted most of the population of mentioned regions at the time. He was, according to the Gesta Hungarorum, a voivod (duke) from Bundyn (Vidin), ruler of the territory of Banat, during the 9th and 10th centuries. He also ruled part of south Transylvania, and Vidin region, and was a local governor or vassal of the First Bulgarian Empire under Bulgarian tsar Simeon. Glad was defeated by the Hungarians during the 10th century. One of his descendants, Ahtum, was a duke of Banat and the last ruler who opposed the establishment of the Hungarian Kingdom in the 11th century, but he too was defeated by the Hungarian Crown.

Menumorut, a vassal of Byzantium ruled the lands between the River Tisza and the Ygfon Forest in the direction of Transylvania, from the Mureş river to the Someş river. He declined the request of the Magyar ruler Árpád (907) to cede his territory between the Someş river and the Meseş Mountains, and in the negotiations with the ambassadors Usubuu and Veluc of Árpád he invoked the sovereignty of the Byzantine Emperor Leo VI the Wise. The Magyars first besieged the citadel of Zotmar (Romanian: Satu Maremarker, Hungarian: Szatmár) and then Menumorut's castle in Bihar, and were able to defeat him. The Gesta Hungarorum then retells the story of Menumorut . In the second telling, he married his daughter into the Árpád dynasty. Her son Taksony, the grandson of Menumorut , became ruler of the Magyars and father of Mihály and Géza, whose son Vajk became the first King of Hungary in 1001 under the Christian baptismal name Stephen (István).The early 11th century was marked by the conflict between King Stephen I of Hungary and his uncle Gyula, the ruler of Transylvania. The Hungarian ruler was successful in these wars, and Transylvania was incorporated into the Christian Kingdom of Hungary. The Transylvanian Christian bishopric and the comitatus system were organised. By the early 11th century the ethnic Hungarian Székely were established in southeastern Transylvania as a border population of ready warriors, and in the 12th and 13th centuries, the areas in the south and northeast were settled by German colonists called Saxons. Romanians maintained control over a few autonomous regions called 'terrae': Fagaras, Amlas. Hateg, Maramures, Lapus. However, the autonomy was taken by the end of Árpád dynasty in 1301.

Medieval period

In 1241-1242, during the Mongol invasion of Europe, Transylvania was among the territories devastated by the Golden Horde. A large portion of the population perished. This was followed by a second Mongol invasion in 1285, led by Nogai Khan. To escape the deprecations, Wallachian (Romanian) settlers moved into the mountain fastness of the Carpathians. The rulers of the Kingdom of Hungary established programs of colonization in eastern and southern Hungary. Saxon Germans, Szeklers, Slavs, and Wallachians settled in the peripheral areas which had suffered so greatly from the Mongol invasion.

Diocesan division of Transylvania in the 13th century within the Kingdom of Hungary

Following this devastation, Transylvania was reorganized according to a class system of Estates, which established privileged groups (universitates) with power and influence in economic and political life, as well as along ethnic lines. The first Estate was the lay and ecclesiastic aristocracy, ethnically heterogeneous, but undergoing a process of homogenization around its Hungarian nucleus. The other Estates were Saxons, Szeklers and Romanians (or Vlachs - Universitas Valachorum), all with an ethnic and ethno-linguistic basis (Universis nobilibus, Saxonibus, Syculis et Olachis). The general assembly (congregatio generalis) of the four Estates had few genuine legislative powers in Transylvania, but it sometimes took measures regarding order in the country.

After the Decree of Turda (1366), which openly called for "to expel or to exterminate in this country malefactors belonging to any nation, especially Romanians" in Transylvania, the only possibility for Romanians to retain or access nobility was through conversion to Roman Catholicism. Some Orthodox Romanian nobles converted, being integrated in the Hungarian nobility, but the most of them declined, thus losing their status and privileges.

In some regions in the north (Maramureş) and south (Ţara Haţeguluimarker, Fagarasmarker, Banat) where Romanians formed a majority of the population, the Orthodox Romanian ruling class of nobilis kenezius (classed as lesser and middle nobility in the Kingdom as a whole) enjoyed a period of prosperity at the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 15th century, reflected in the reconstruction and decoration of some Orthodox churches. A Romanian archbishop is mentioned in 1377 in Transylvania; other Orthodox hierarchs were established in St. Michael's monastery at Feleac, near Clujmarker and Peri. Nevertheless, because of the gradual loss of a nobility of its own, Romanians were no longer able to keep their Universitas Valachorum.

A key figure to emerge in Transylvania in the first half of the 15th century was John Hunyadi/János Hunyadi/Iancu de Hunedoara, a native of Transylvania, born in a family of Romanianmarker origins. (According to the usage of Hungarian noblemen of the time, Iancu/John/János took his family name after his landed estate.) He was one of the greatest military figures of the time, being Hungarian general, voivode of Transylvania and then governor of the Kingdom of Hungary from 1446 to 1452. He was a Transylvanian noble of Romanian origin some sources indicating him as the son of Voicu/Vajk, a Romanian boyar from Wallachia though other sources are telling that his father was a native Transylvanian . Hungarian historians claim that his mother was Erzsébet Morzsinay the daughter of a Hungarian noble family.His fame was built in the effective wars of defence against the Turkish attacks, waged from 1439. With his private mercenary army John rapidly rose to the heights of power. His military campaigns against the Ottoman Empire brought him the status of Transylvanian governor in 1446 and papal recognition as the Prince of Transylvania in 1448. Continuing his military activity, he won an important victory at Belgrade in 1456, which halted the Ottomans' advance for several decades, but died shortly afterwards during an epidemic.

After the suppression of the Budai Nagy Antal-revolt in 1437, the political system was based on Unio Trium Nationum (The Union of the Three Nations). According to the Union, which was explicitly directed against serfs and other peasants, society was ruled by three privileged Estates of the nobility (mostly ethnic Hungarians), the Székelys, also an ethnic Hungarian people who primarily served as warriors, and the ethnic German, Saxon burghers.

The only possibility for Romanians to retain or access nobility in Hungarian Transylvania was through conversion to Catholicism. Some Orthodox Romanian nobles converted, becoming integrated into the Hungarian nobility. These circumstances marked the beginning of a conflict between ethnic Hungarian Catholics and ethnic Romanian Orthodox (and ethnic Romanian Greek Catholics also) in the territory of Transylvania which in some regions remains unresolved to this very day.

Transylvania as an independent principality

The 16th century in Southeastern Europe was marked by the struggle between the Muslim Ottoman Empire and the Catholic Habsburg Empire.After the Hungarian defeat at Mohacs, Hungary was divided between the Ottoman and Habsburg empires.

Principality of Transylvania
Transylvania became an Ottoman vassal state, where native princes, who paid the Turks tribute, ruled with considerable autonomy. Austrian and Turkish influences vied for supremacy for nearly two centuries.It is this period of independence and Turkish influence that contributed to Transylvania being seen as exotic in the eyes of Victorians such as Bram Stoker, whose novel Dracula was published in 1897.

Michael the Brave entering Alba Iulia

Because Transylvania was now beyond the reach of Catholic religious authority, Protestant preaching such as Lutheranism and Calvinism were able to flourish in the region. In 1568 the Edict of Turda proclaimed four religious expressions in Transylvania - Latin Rite or Eastern Rite Catholicism, Lutheranism, Calvinism and Unitarianism (Unitarian Church of Transylvania), while Eastern Orthodoxy, which was the confession of almost the entire ethnic Romanian part of the population, was proclaimed as "tolerated" (tolerata).

The Báthory, a Hungarian noble family, began to rule Transylvania as princes under the Ottomans in 1571, and briefly under Habsburg suzerainty until 1600. The latter period of their rule saw a four-sided conflict in Transylvania involving the Transylvanian Báthorys, the emerging Austrian Empiremarker, the Ottoman Empire, and the Romanian voivoideship (province) of Wallachia. This included a one year period of Romanian rule after the conquest of the territory by Wallachian voivod Michael the Brave. As he subsequently extended his rule over Moldavia, Michael the Brave unified all the territories where Romanians lived, rebuilding the mainland of the ancient Kingdom of Dacia

The Calvinist magnate of Bihar county Stephen Bocskai managed to obtain, through the Peace of Viennamarker (June 23, 1606), religious liberty and political autonomy for the region, the restoration of all confiscated estates, the repeal of all "unrighteous" judgments, as well as his own recognition as independent sovereign prince of an enlarged Transylvania. Under Bocskai's successors, most notably Gabriel Bethlen and George I Rákóczi, Transylvania passed through a golden age for many religious movements and for the arts and culture. Transylvania became one of the few European States where Roman Catholics, Calvinists, Lutherans and Unitarians lived in peace, although Orthodox Romanians continued to be denied equal recognition.

This golden age and relative independence of Transylvania ended with the reign of George II Rákóczi. The prince, coveting the Polish crown, allied with Sweden and invaded Polandmarker in spite of the Turkish Porte clearly prohibiting any military action. Rákóczi's defeat in Poland, combined with the subsequent invasions of Transylvania by the Turks and their Crimean Tatar allies, the ensuing loss of territory (most importantly, the loss of the most important Transylvanian stronghold, Oradeamarker) and diminishing manpower led to the complete subordination of Transylvania, which now became a powerless vassal of the Ottoman Empire.

Within the Habsburg Empire

After the defeat of the Ottomans at the Battle of Vienna in 1683, the Habsburgs gradually began to impose their rule on the formerly autonomous Transylvania. Apart from strengthening the central government and administration, the Habsburgs also promoted the Roman Catholic Church, both as a uniting force and also as an instrument to reduce the influence of the Protestant nobility. In addition, they tried to persuade Romanian Orthodox clergymen to join the Greek Catholic Church in union with Rome. As a response to this policy, several peaceful movements of the Romanian Orthodox population advocated for freedom of worship for all the Transylvanian population, most notably being the movements led by Visarion Sarai, Nicolae Oprea Miclăuş and Sofronie of Cioara. Additional Germans settled in the principality under official colonization schemes and a large number of Romanians, fleeing the Turkish rule in their own principalities, also moved in to occupy vacant lands.
The Transylvanian Principality in 1857
Administrative map of Hungary, Galicia and Transylvania in 1862

From 1711 onward, the princes of Transylvania were replaced with imperial governors and in 1765 Transylvania was declared a Grand Principality, further consolidating its special separate status within the Habsburg Empire established by the Diploma Leopoldinum in 1691. The Hungarian historiography sees this as a mere formality. Within the Habsburg-controlled Kingdom of Hungary there was a separate administrative Hungary and Transylvania.

The revolutionary year 1848 was marked by a great struggle between the Hungarians, the Romanians and the Habsburg Empire. The Magyars promised for Romanians the abolition of serfdom for their support against Austria. The Romanians rejected the offer and instead rose against the Magyar national state. Warfare erupted in November with both Romanian and Saxon troops, under Austrian command, battling the Hungarians led by the Polish born general Józef Bem in Transylvania. He carried out a sweeping offensive through Transylvania, and Avram Iancu managed to retreat to the harsh terrain of the Apuseni Mountainsmarker, mounting a guerrilla campaign on Bem's forces. After the intervention by the armies of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, Bem's army was defeated decisively at the Battle of Timişoaramarker (Temesvár, Hun.) on 9 August 1849.

Having quashed the revolution, Austria imposed a repressive regime on Hungary, ruled Transylvania directly through a military governor and granted citizenship to the Romanians.

The 300-year long special separate status came to an end by the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, which established the dual monarchy and reincorporated Transylvania into Hungarymarker. On 20 June 1867, the Diet was dissolved by royal decree, and an ordinance abrogated the legislative acts of the Cluj-Napocamarker provincial assembly. The department of the interior inherited the responsibilities of the Transylvanian Gubernium, and the government reserved the right to name Transylvania's royal magistrates as well as the Saxon bailiff of the Universitas Saxorum. Hungarian legislation also came to supersede the Austrian code of civil procedure, penal law, commercial law, and regulations for bills of exchange.

The new unity of Austria-Hungary created a process of intense Magyarization affecting Transylvania's Romanians, Szeklers and German Saxons. After the Ausgleich of 1867, when an autonomous government for the Kingdom of Hungary was formed within Austria-Hungary, the importance of Transylvania as a core territory was once again illustrated when Hungarian leaders successfully demanded and secured Transylvania's return to the Hungarian Kingdom. By the 1890s, the Hungarians government began implementing vigurous Magyarization policies in an attempt to integrate the territories of the Hungarian Kingdom. Those Magyarization policies were primarily directed at Transylvania. In an important sense, Transylvania was the historical breeding ground of Hungarian romantic nationalism. Its Magyar-led anti-Hapsburg struggles preceded the popular nationalism that emerged among the Pannonian Magyars in the early nineteenth century. Even after the revolution of 1848 and the 1867 Ausgleich separating Austria from Hungary, Transylvanian aristocrats continued to exert a high degree of power since Hungary adopted what some historians call an official nationalism.

The signers of the Transylvanian Memorandum
Although Romanians formed the majority of Transylvania's population (59%), they had not been awarded legal status as a nation. In 1892 the leaders of the Romanians of Transylvania sent a Memorandum to the Austro-Hungarian Emperor-King Franz Joseph, asking for equal ethnic rights with the Hungarians, and demanding an end to persecutions and Magyarization attempts. Franz Josef forwarded the memorandum to Budapest, and the authors were tried for "homeland betrayal" in May 1894, being sentenced to long prison terms.

Part of Romania

As Austria-Hungary disintegrated at the end of World War I, the nationalities living there proclaimed their independence from the empire. The 1228-member National Assembly of Romanians of Transylvania and Hungary, headed by leaders of Transylvania's Romanian National Party and Social Democratic Party, passed a resolution calling for unification of all Romanians in a single state on 1 December in Alba Iuliamarker. This was approved by the National Council of the Germans from Transylvania and the Council of the Danube Swabians from the Banat, on 15 December in Mediaşmarker. In response, the Hungarian General Assembly of Clujmarker reaffirmed the loyalty of Hungarians from Transylvania to Hungary on December 22, 1918. (See also: Union of Transylvania with Romania)The Treaty of Versailles placed Transylvania under the sovereignty of Romania, an ally of the Triple Entente, and the Treaty of St. Germain (1919) and the Treaty of Trianon (signed in June 1920) further elaborated the status of Transylvania and defined the new border between the states of Hungary and Romania. King Ferdinand I of Romania and Queen Maria of Romania were crowned at Alba Iulia in 1922 as King and Queen of all Romania.

The new regime's objective became to effectively Romanianize Transylvania in a social-political fashion, after centuries of Hungarian rule. The regime's goal was to create a Romanian middle and upper class that would assume power in all fields. The Hungarian language was expunged from official life that it solely occupied before, and all place-names were Romanianized. About 197,000 Transylvanian Hungarians fled to Hungary between 1918 and 1922, and a further group of 169,000 emigrated over the remainder of the interwar period. In 1930, Romanians formed the majority of the Transylvanian population (58.2%, up from 53.8% in 1910), while Magyars (26.7%, down from 31.6% in 1910), Germans (9.8%) and Jews (3.2%) were minority groups. The expropriation of the estates of Magyar magnates, the distribution of the lands to the Romanian peasants, and the policy of cultural Romanianization that followed were major causes of friction between Hungary and Romania.

In August 1940, the second Vienna Award granted the northern half of Transylvania to Hungarymarker. After the Treaty of Paris (1947), at the end of World War II, the territory was returned to Romaniamarker. The post-WWII borders with Hungarymarker, agreed on at the Treaty of Paris, were identical with those set out in 1920.

After World War II and especially after the fall of Communism, Transylvania lost almost all of the German-speaking population, most of them left for Germany.

After the Romanian Revolution of 1989, a Hungarian minority group is pressing for greater autonomy in the Szekler Region (the counties of Harghitamarker and Covasnamarker and part of Mures County) where its members outnumber Romanians. There have been tensions in Transylvania between Romanians and ethnic Hungarians who want autonomy. The Hungarians said they were the target of attacks by Romanian politicians and news organizations. They say the aim is to forcibly assimilate the Hungarian minority of 1.43 million people, or 6.6% the Romanian population. Romanians chided the Hungarians for refusing to integrate and in some cases for their ignorance of the Romanian language.

In 1996 Romania and Hungary signed a Basic Treaty on Understanding, Cooperation, and Good-Neighborliness, one of the aims being protection and development of ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious identity of the Hungarian minority in Romania and the Romanian minority in Hungary receiving good feedback from US and EU members in the context of NATO enlargement.
Hungarian minority in Transylvania
In 2003, the Szekler National Council was founded - a local Hungarian group with autonomy as its stated goal. Unlike the Kosovars, the Szeklers are asking for autonomy within Romania rather than complete independence, leaving foreign policy and national defense in the hands of the government in Bucharest.

A new and more radical organization, the Hungarian Civic Party, has risen to challenge the establishment Hungarian party and has advocated for the autonomy of the Szekler region. The Hungarian politician, László Tőkés, one of the party leaders, is pressing for greater autonomy, saying that Romanian and Hungarian authorities have to reach an agreement regarding the statute of the Hungarian community, the Szeckler county respectively.

However, relations between Romania and Hungary have improved significantly. The governments of Hungary and Romania held their second annual joint session in 2006. The main objective is convergence of Hungarian and Romanian National Development Plans. In particular they are keen to increase co-operation aimed at improving their absorption capacity of EU funds and to ensure development in line with EU standards. The two countries are also working closely on policies to promote the welfare of ethnic Romanians living in Hungary and ethnic Magyar (Hungarians) in Romania.

Geography and ethnography

Romanian ethnographic regions (Transylvania-red; Maramureş-blue; Sǎtmar-green; Crişana-yellow; Banat-purple)
Hungarian ethnographic regions (King's Pass - yellow; Western Transylvania - green; Eastern Transylvania - blue)
The Transylvanian plateau, 300 to 500 metres (1,000-1,600 feet) high, is drained by the Mureş, Someş, Criş, and Olt rivers, as well as other tributaries of the Danube. This core of historical Transylvania roughly corresponds with nine counties of modern Romania. Other areas to the west and north, which also united with Romania in 1918 (inside the border established by peace treaties in 1919-20), are since that time widely considered part of Transylvania.

See also Administrative divisions of the Kingdom of Hungary. In common reference, the Western border of Transylvania has come to be identified with the present Romanianmarker-Hungarianmarker border, settled in the Treaty of Trianon, although geographically the two are not identical.

Administrative divisions

The historical region granted to Romania in 1920 covered 23 counties including nearly 102,200 km² (102,787 - 103,093 in Hungarian sources and 102,200 in contemporary Romanian documents) now due to the several administrative reorganisations Transylvania covers 16 present-day counties (Romanian: judeţ) which include nearly 99,837 km² of central and northwest Romania. The 16 counties are:

The most populous cities are:


Historical definitions of Transylvania vary geographically. The 2002 Romanian census classified Transylvania as the entire region of Romaniamarker west of the Carpathiansmarker. This region has a population of 7,221,733, with a large Romanian majority (75.9%). There are also sizeable Hungarian (20%), Roma (3.3%), German (0.7%) and Serb (0.1%) communities. The ethnic Hungarian population of Transylvania, largely composed of Székely, form a majority in the counties of Covasna and Harghitamarker.

The percentage of Romanian majority has increased since the union of Transylvania with Romania after World War I in 1918 (the 1910 Census indicates a total population of 5,262,495, Romanians 53.8%; Hungarians 31.6%; Germans 10.7%), it should be noted however that the number of Hungarians grew at twice the rate of the overall population, mostly due to pre-WWI policies of Magyarization.

The expropriation of the estates of Magyar magnates, the distribution of the lands to the Romanian peasants, and the policy of cultural Romanianization that followed the Treaty of Trianon were major causes of friction between Hungary and Romania. Other factors include the emigration of non-Romanian peoples, assimilation and internal migration within Romania (estimates show that between 1945 and 1977, some 630,000 people moved from the Old Kingdom to Transylvania, and 280,000 from Transylvania to the Old Kingdom, most notably to Bucharestmarker).


Transylvania is rich in mineral resources, notably lignite, iron, lead, manganese, gold, copper, natural gas, salt and sulfur.

There are large iron and steel, chemical, and textile industries. Stock raising, agriculture, wine production and fruit growing are important occupations. Timber is another valuable resource.

Transylvania accounts for around 35% of Romania's GDP, and has a GDP per capita (PPP) of around $11,500, around 10% higher than the Romanian average.

Tourist attractions

Historical coat of arms of Transylvania

The historical arms of Transylvania (1659).
The first heraldic representations of Transylvania date from the 16th century. One of the predominant early symbols of Transylvania was the coat of arms of Sibiumarker city. In 1596 Levinus Hulsius created a coat of arms for the imperial province of Transylvania, consisting of a shield party per fess, with a rising eagle in the upper field and seven hills with towers on top in the lower field. He published it in his work "Chronologia", issued in Nurnbergmarker the same year. The seal from 1597 of Sigismund Bathory, prince of Transylvania, reproduced the new coat of arms with some slight changes: in the upper field the eagle was flanked by a sun and a moon and in the lower field the hills were replaced by simple towers.

The seal of Michael the Brave from 1600 depicts the territory of the former Dacian kingdom: Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania:
  • The black eagle (Wallachia)
  • The aurochs's head (Moldavia)
  • The seven hills (Transylvania).
  • Over the hills there were two rampant lions affrotns, supporting the trunk of a tree, as a symbol of the reunited Dacian kingdom.

The Diet of 1659 codified the representation of the privileged nations in Transylvania's coat of arms. It depicted a black turul on a blue background, representing the nobility, a Sun and the Moon representing the Székelys, and seven red towers on a yellow background representing the seven fortified cities of the Transylvanian Saxons. The red dividing band was originally not part of the coat of arms.

Currently, unlike the counties included in it, the region of Transylvania does not have its own official coat of arms. Nonetheless, the historical coat of arms is currently present in the coat of arms of Romania, alongside the traditional coats of arms of the rest of Romanian's historical regions.

File:TransilvaniaSigilium1550.png|Coat of arms of Transylvania in 1550, identical to the one of Sibiu cityFile:LHulsiusTransilvania.png|Coat of arms of Transylvania, as created by Levinus Hulsius in 1596File:SigismundBathory1597.jpg|Coat of arms of Sigismund Bathory from 1597, including the arms of TransylvaniaFile:Stema Mihai Viteazul.jpg|Coat of arms of Michael the Brave, ruler of Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldova, 1600


image:CJROothodox.jpg|Orthodox Cathedralmarker in Cluj-NapocamarkerImage:Bran Castle.jpg|Bran Castlemarkerimage:Biserica neagra 1.JPG|Black Church in Braşovmarkerimage:Centru bv.JPG|Braşov Council Square (Piaţa Sfatului)image:CJROcatholic.jpg|Catholic Church in Cluj-Napocamarkerimage:Sibiu.jpg|View of SibiumarkerImage:Sighişoara clock tower.jpg|Sighişoaramarker clock towerImage:Sighisoara IMG 5624.jpg|View of Sighişoaramarker

Transylvania in fiction

Following the publication of Emily Gerard's The Land Beyond the Forest (1888), Bram Stoker wrote his gothic horror novel Dracula in 1897, using Transylvania as a setting. Due to the success of the latter work, Transylvania became associated in the English-speaking world with vampires. Since then it has been represented in fiction and literature as a land of mystery and magic. For example, in Paulo Coelho's novel The Witch of Portobello, the main character, Sherine Khalil, is described as a Transylvanian orphan with a Romani mother, in an effort to add to the character's exotic mystique. The so-called Transylvanian trilogy of historical novels by Miklos Banffy, The Writing on the Wall, is an extended treatment of the 19th and early 20th century social and political history of the country.


Further reading

External links

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