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«De manibus Valachorum scismaticorum ... »

Romanians and Power in the Mediaeval Kingdom of Hungary- The Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries

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Ioan-Aurel Pop

The medieval history of the Romanians in the Hungarian kingdom still represents one of the most delicate subjects in European history. This book is the product of more than thirty years of research, and thus provides new and balanced insights into that history, revealing both the rise and the decline of communities and individuals, as well as the diversity of these borderlands of Christian Europe.

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4. The others and power: ethnicities and religions in mediaeval Hungary and Transylvania (Up until the fourteenth century)

Extract

4.1. Preliminaries Historians, among others, usually conceive of or imagine mediaeval Hungary as a monolithically Catholic country, as a bastion of the western faith and as an outpost of European resistance against foreign attacks, which were most- ly “pagan”, but also “schismatic”. This alleged religious and confessional homogeneity was often translated onto an ethnic level as well, so much so that Saint Stephen’s Kingdom appears to have been inhabited by an over- whelming majority of Hungarians and ruled by the “mediaeval Magyar na- tion”, which could easily dominate–through gentle methods–the small groups of Slavs, Germans and Romanians that purportedly only lived in the peripheral regions. This image is, however, the result of an intense effort of forming and consolidating the modern Hungarian nation that was made throughout the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries. Beyond its con- crete results, this effort produced the cliché of a Hungary that was glorious, powerful, solid and uniform, and that had been formed as such in age-old times or almost instantaneously, during the period of the great King Ste- phen the Saint (1000-1038). Modern national and nationalist ideology con- stantly reinforced the image of Hungary as a homogeneous or nearly homo- geneous country. This led to the Hungarians being depicted as “civilisers of the Carpathian Basin”, as the depositories of a superior culture and civilisa- tion, and as the common denominator to which all the “minorities” aspired, in their desire to become integrated in and melt with the “welcoming Hun- garian homeland”. Naturally,...

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