Romanians and Power in the Mediaeval Kingdom of Hungary- The Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries
8. Transylvanian (Hungarian) feudalism or suigeneris organisation?
8. Transylvanian (Hungarian) feudalism or sui- generis organisation? The mediaeval Romanian elite in Transylvania and Hungary can be defined only within a rather broad context of diverse factors and by always paying attention to the time segment under analysis, because there occurred changes and differences in each particular space and time period. It has long been debated, among others, whether the Romanian knezes were noble- men or not. The answer to this question is not a simple yes or no. Insofar as the Romanian society is concerned, the knezes were noblemen, since, for various peoples of the Middle Ages, the nobility was defined as the elite. The Royal Decree of 1366 considered that before justice, only those knezes who had been granted royal letters patent (written deeds) for their estates could be deemed on a par with the Transylvanian noblemen. According to this document, it should be clear to everyone that the Romanian knezes were not equal in status with the noblemen in the Voivodate of Transylva- nia, except under certain circumstances and on certain conditions, extrane- ous to them and imposed by power holders that were foreign to the Roma- nian society. This was the point of view of the official power structures un- der whose authority the Transylvanian Romanians lived. However, from the perspective of the Romanian society, the knezes un- doubtedly played the role of nobility and for the Romanians they were no- ble indeed (if we accept or agree to use the term nobility for the...
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