Romanians and Power in the Mediaeval Kingdom of Hungary- The Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries
9. Land and power: the official landholding mechanism in the Kingdom of Hungary
Access to leadership in the Middle Ages was restricted to certain groups, from which certain individuals, deemed fit to exercise power, were recruit- ed. At both the central level and the level of the countries and provinces, the mechanism of power in the Kingdom of Hungary was linked, to an over- whelming extent, to one’s land, estate and noble origin and, from a certain period onwards, to one’s nobiliary status. The Saxons and the Szeklers did not generally have noblemen, because the Saxons and the Szeklers were usually not individual landowners, with royal letters patent granted to each and every one of them. Still, they were in power too because they pos- sessed the land legally, as communities (universitates). When some of the Saxons and the Szeklers, especially those from outlying areas of their “coun- tries”, obtained the nobiliary title, they left the ranks of their communities and entered those of universitas nobilium. The term noble was generalised only in the thirteenth century, and in the fourteenth century, the nobiliary status was made dependent upon several conditions. Among them, the ownership of land and, in a way, of the people on that land was fundamen- tal. No special efforts had been needed for the de facto land ownership. Tradition, order, customs and life’s circumstances had led to some being masters and to the others being subjects. Gradually taking possession of the Banat, Criana, Maramure, Transylvania proper, and so on, the Hungarian kings donated estates to their loyal vassals who had...
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