The history of Harghitean regions

Historical retrospection

The history of the county was shaped by the Szeklers in the period of when its constituting parts were independent administrative units as well as when these belonged to somewhere else, up to the last section of the modern era. The Seats participated in the historical events either joining their forces, or turning against one another. Here we only mention the most important events.

The history of Ciuc and Odorhei seats are interwoven with the general history of the Szekler people. The szeklers of these seats participated in every significant battles of the Hungarian kings.

The function of the Szeklers among the noble families - the primors - was inheritable. They were followed by the families "with horse" - primipiili - , lower in rank and having a smaller property and the less rich ones, the "foot-men" - pixidarii.

The Szeklers' participation was significant in the battle against the Kuns, fact proved by the later creation of the frescos illustrating King Saint László in many of the churches here, the most complete one being to be seen in Mugeni.

The rebuilding of several churches in Gothic style started in the middle of the 15th century, having the purpose to defend them against the Turkish attackers. The massive towers appeared in this period.

The Szeklers also served the knight king, Zsigmond as well. He gave Casinu the right to form an independent Seat, in 1397. (The formation of the Seats took place between 1366-1427.)

"János Hunyadi loved the Szeklers very much..." He had the Sumuleu church rebuilt and the monastery renovated.

Mátyás King ordered a registration - lustrum - at the Szeklers. In 1475, he sent 5,000 Szeklers to help Stefan cel Mare, voivod of Moldova.

King Ulászló II called the Szeklers for a meeting in Odorhei because they complained about the unrightful taxes imposed on them by István Báthori, prince of Transylvania. This meeting was the highest legislative forum of the Szeklers.

In 1558, at the national meeting at Turda and Alba Iulia, taxes were imposed on the Szekler people. Therefore, in 1562 they rebelled against János Zsigmond. The rebellion was suppressed. After this started the division into comitats of the Szeklers.

In the meantime the Reformation had got strong Transylvaniawide and it also spread in Odorhei Seat significantly. It could not gain ground in Ciuc and Gheorgheni seats, although János Zsigmond wanted to convert them by force in 1567. The Szeklers of Gheorgheni and Ciuc, led by István, priest of Joseni fought the army of the prince on Whit Saturday. The Pentecost Pilgrimage, though changed in character, is made in commemoration of this event.

At the death of János Zsigmond, the starving Szeklers to Teius in arms, but the new Transylvanian prince did not solve their problems either. The rebelling Szeklers then resigned and when Báthori was made king of Poland, many of them followed him in the Russian campaigns.

The next prince of Transylvania promising the common Szeklers to give them back their ancient freedoms in exchange of their fighting with the Turkish was Zsigmond Bátori, who fulfilled his promises. Among others,the serfs of Odorhei and Ciuc seats were given back their rights.

Zsigmond was succeeded by Endre Báthori cardinal. After the battle fought with Mihai Voda, the prince feeding towards Poland was murdered in Sandominic by Szeklers of Ciuc.

Zsigmond Báthori, István Bocskai and Gábor Bethlen Transilvanian princes restored the rights of the common Szeklers. By the time of the latter one, the increasing Szekler army made them capable to play an important play in its fights.

György Rákóczi I. also reinforced these rights for the Szeklers who appeared then as nobles in the registration also containing the order of the 'lófos' and common Szeklers.

György Rákóczi II. favoured the Ciuc Szekler people. He reinforced the rights of the only guild, that of the bootmaker's and he also increased the number of the Szekler noblemen. In 1657, the Szeklers helped him in his fight for the Polish crown, fact retaliated with an avenging campaign in 1661 by the Turkish Porte.

In August 1690, the Szeklers fought next to the Kuruts troops of Imre Thököly. With their help, the Kuruts leader defeated the imperial army in Transylvania.

In 1691, with the issuing the "Diploma Leopoldinum", Transylvania became part of the Habsburg Empire. The Seats did only have the right to name its government officials and captains, the decisions being made by the Gubernium (the chief government seat).

In 1694, Crimian Tartars invaded Ciuc through the Ghimes Pass and raided, burnt down the whole Upper Ciuc, taking the inhabitants captives; in the same year, Imre Thököly became prince of Transylvania with the help of the Turks.

In 1700, the empire imposed taxes on Szeklerland again - out of the compulsory taxes, the part of Ciuc was 17%, that of Odorhei 22%.

The armies of Ciuc and Odorhei supporting the Kuruts of Ferenc Rákóczi II. were defeated in 1704. In July, Ferenc Rákóczi II. became prince of Transylvania; the Szeklers had to join the empire, but in 1706, the Kuruts 'registered' the Szekler army again; Rákóczi's insurrection gradully lost its force and the real supremacy of the Habsburgs began. Imperial headquarters were created everywhere. In 1710, General Steinwille came to Ciuc, who made the Mikó Castle rebuilt into its present form.

The age of the Habsburg supremacy, besides the unpleasant events, also brought material increase, for example what regards church-building. Almost all the churches of Ciuc and Odorhei were rebuilt in Baroque style and new one s were built in the style suitable to the age.

When Maria Theresa ascended the throne the Szeklers received the event full of hope, but their real problems were not solved by this.

In 1749, Maria Theresa reinforced the rights of the Franciscan printing house of Sumuleu;

The most important event of the age was the organization of the Szekler border regiment, ordered in 1762 by Maria Theresa. The declared purposes were the defence of the eastern frontiers from invasions, the oppression of smuggling and the prevention from bringing in the plague. The unsaid purpose was the deployment of the Szekler army in the western wars of the empire. The Szeklers' objections delayed the organization process. They protested against the foreign military service, the German command and the fact that they could not regain their ancient freedom in exchange of their service. The Szeklers of Ciuc and Trei Scaune rebelled against this: their rebellion ended up in a bloody massacre on 5th January 1764, when the Austrian soldiers slaughtered the defenceless inhabitants.

Under the reign of Joseph II, the united county of Ciuc and Odorhei was formed on the seat meeting held on 11-12 October 1784.

In 1819, an order was issued referring to the building of a stone-road from Miercurea-Ciuc towards Sandominic and Odorhei.

The greatest event of the 19th century in the region was the 1848-49 war of independence.

Although the difficult situation mentioned before legally ceased for ever following the war of independence, the Szeklers were not relieved. The two periods meant almost two centuries resulting in a significant backwardness compared with the other parts of Transylvania, although this period included the age of dualism with its huge economic rhythm bringing about European-level development to the parts belonging to the independent Hungarian kingdom of the monarchy. But the Szeklers having suffered in the fetters of the forced border-army almost missed this possibility as well.

And this long period was followed by the Trianon Peace Treaty that closed World War I and created a new Eastern European political situation, which is still valid today.