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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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11. “Within their true, right and ancient boundaries”: The grounds of the Romanian knezes’ and nobles’ landholding rights

Extract

In the first written documents about the Romanians in Hungary, knezes ap- peared as landowners either without any motivation or with the explanation that they and their ancestors had been masters of old (ab antiquo). The rea- son why such explanations appeared in these writs was usually the interven- tion of an external authority, for the purpose of regulating land ownership, usurping these lands, appropriating or countering the appropriation inten- tions of other masters. Officially, landholding in the Kingdom of Hungary was usually justified in the documents through the holders’ merits, and these merits resided in the “loyal services” of a military nature they had rendered to the king and the “holy crown”. After decades and even centuries of similar experiences and after becoming familiar with the landholding mechanisms in Hungary and Transylvania, many of the Romanians’ leaders had adapted to these re- quirements–where it was still possible. It is known that the fundamental purpose of any feudal lord was armed battle, war, in various forms. The Romanian knezes (as feudal lords) were also attested as bellatores, or fight- ers for defending or expanding their domains, being sometimes integrated within political-military ensembles of the voivodate type. After the Hungari- an domination was imposed towards the east, in the Banat, Partium and Transylvania, and especially after the thorough organisation of the king- dom’s institutions, the knezes learned quickly–those who still could and who had not acquired, from very early on, an individual feudal lord above them–to put their...

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