The history of Harghitean regions

The role of the region throughout history

The past with its rich material and historical events has remained the source of the researches demanded by remembrance.

The objects of the palaeolithic (Stone Age, 100,000-40,000 B.C.). The presence of man here approximatively 50,000 years ago is proved by the flint implements found at the Katalin Bath of Miercurea-Ciuc. But the archeological foundings from later eras: Bronze Age, Iron Age, the time of the Hungarian settlement are represented in great number at our scientific institutes, at the exhibition and special stores of the museums.

But the recorded, continuous history of the county begins with the settlement of the Szekler people here. The first written records to be found are the papal registrations of the 16th century tax-paying according to settlements

In the 12-13th centuries, the Szeklers settled down in the countries near the Carpathians fulfilled frontier defence tasks for centuries, both when they voluntarily undertook them and when they were compelled to do it.

Since their settling down, the Szeklers lived in independent, autonomous clan-communities made up according to a self-organized military order. Their settlements were the "tens" out of which the villages were formed. Parts of the larger villages are still called "tens". Some of these could also become independent settlements. The period of their transformation is not known. The Seats were formed by the community of the villages. (Eg. Aranyos Seat, Trei Scaune Seat, Odorhei Seat), of which administratively annexed areas were called Affiliated Seats (e.g. Casinu and Cristur Affiliated Seats belonged to Ciuc, respectively to Odorhei). The seats were directed by captains. Every seat went to war under the leadership of their captain to the prince's or the appointed commander's battalion. One of the vice-captains, then captains of Ciuc Seat was count Ferenc Hidvégi Mikó, who had the castle of Miercurea-Ciuc built. The highest forum for settling debates was the Seat Court then the Government Court.

This independent order ceased to exist when Transylvania fell under Austrian supremacy. Since then, the Szeklers had to acieve the same tasks, but without their freedoms. This is witnessed by the SICULICIDIUM monument of Siculeni erected in commemoration of the massacre in 1764. Two hundred people of Ciuc- and Trei Scaune rebelled against the reorganization of the border army and in defence of their freedoms, were slaughtered by the imperial army. Many of the inhabitants fled to Moldova, forming Szekler colonies, villages (Andrásfalva, Hadikfalva, Istensegíts). The population moved to Bácska later on.

The "tens", villages used to have their own forest-, pasture- and agricultural area divided among the population according to rank order, this being the commonage. Following the Tartar invasions, the private property became widespread, and the less well-off Szekler families were almost made serfs.

Their defencelesness in opposition to the government, their laws regulable and acknowledged only inside made the Szekler communities reserved and stiff.

This reservedness is one of the negative consequences of the age of the Habsburg empire. From 1764, the fate of the Szekler student depended on whether his village was part of the new military institute or not. The villages of Mures and Odorhei seats did not fall into this category, thus the youth here could continue their studies freely, helped also by the Reformation widespread in the region. Therefore, schools here could flourish as opposed to those of Gheorgheni, Ciuc and Casinu seats where young people could leave their villages only with the permission of the military authorities extending their control even over family life.

The impediment standing in the way of any kinds of studies in the southeastern part of Szeklerland as opposed to the other countries of Transylvania was therefore its century-lasting oppressedness.

A characteristic of the Szekler communities was their preparedness for self-defence, their members being able to assimilate to their own community and to treat influences coming from outside. Naturally, this state was not of the same strength and efficiency everywhere, even if they were capable of forming their self-supporting organizations on the basis of civil initiatives.

Ever bitter periods followed in the history of the Szeklers causing mass-emigration. There were less fewer intellectuals and artists than physical workers among the emigrants. Even thus, many intellectuals tried to find their fortune in the world. The majority did not return home and except some very few cases they did not even influence their native land. Those who did, did it as the outstanding representatives of the universal (Hungarian) culture and science.