Romanians and Power in the Mediaeval Kingdom of Hungary- The Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries
12. “Liberties, uses, services and duties” of the knezes and of knezial villages
Highlighted above are the arguments and the evidence for which the Roma- nian knezes could be considered a class of “feudal” landholders, like the no- blemen in Hungary. They had all the attributes for this, ranging from their illustrious origin to their ownership of land (with villages and subjects) and from their judicial power to their military qualities. And still, there were a few things they lacked. First, they lacked the western Christian confession, since they were “schismatics”. Often, after 1204–as seen–the “schismatics” were treated as “heretics”, “enemies of the faith” and were fought against in various ways. A form of struggle against them was “exposure to pillage and plunder”, which could mean despoiling them of their estates, without this represent- ing a crime any longer. The threats to their quality of landowners–even when this did not actually lead to the confiscation of their villages–caused the instability of their status and relativised their belonging to the social and political elite. They also lacked the original donation from the king, be it merely formal, accompanied by a written document. At first, until the thir- teenth century, Hungarian leaders also did not have any letters patent for the estates granted to them by their kings, but the tradition had recorded these gestures of royal munificence and official public opinion considered them valid. The Romanian knezes (and voivodes) were ancient landholders, recognised only by their communities and their villages, which had gradually come under the theoretical authority of a...
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