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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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13. Power deprivation: Dispossessed knezes and subdued Romanian villages

Extract

Sometime in 1550, after saying that the Vlachs or Romanians were descen- ded from the Romans and called their language Romanian (rather than Wal- lachian), referring to themselves as Romanians (not Wallachians), Anton Ve- rancsics also held that the Transylvanian Romanians, who easily equalled the other inhabitants in numbers and were spread everywhere, “have no freedom, no nobility, no right of their own” (“except for a small number, liv- ing in the district of Haeg, in which Decebal’s capital is believed to have been and where, in the days of John Hunyadi, a native of that place, they proved their nobility by always tirelessly fighting in the battle against the Turks”), but “are all common people, bondsmen of the Hungarians”.1 I have been asked if at that time, people can truly be said to have had a national consciousness, if they were capable of understanding ethnic differences, and if they had aversions and affinities that hinged on language and origin. Would it not have been natural for the cited author to say that the bonds- men were the noblemen’ subjects, without adding any ethnic overtones? Questions of this type are not devoid of importance because certain fixed ideas have been inoculated in the people’s minds for entire decades now. To this day, it is often claimed that ethnicity and belonging to a nation did not matter in the Middle Ages, which is completely wrong. One could say, of course, that ethnicity and nation did not matter in the mediaeval...

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