Context of Székely Land

The Székely Land or Szeklerland (Hungarian: Székelyföld, pronounced [ˈseːkɛjføld], Székely runes: 𐲥𐳋𐳓𐳉𐳗𐳌𐳖𐳞𐳇; Romanian: Ținutul Secuiesc and sometimes Secuimea; German: Szeklerland; Latin: Terra Siculorum) is a historic and ethnographic area in today Romania, inhabited mainly by Székelys, a subgroup of Hungarians. Its cultural centre is the city of Târgu Mureș (Marosvásárhely), the largest settlement in the region.

Székelys (or Szeklers) live in the valleys and hills of the Eastern Carpathian Mountains, corresponding mostly to the present-day Harghita, Covasna, and parts of Mureș counties in Romania.

Originally, the name Székel...Read more

The Székely Land or Szeklerland (Hungarian: Székelyföld, pronounced [ˈseːkɛjføld], Székely runes: 𐲥𐳋𐳓𐳉𐳗𐳌𐳖𐳞𐳇; Romanian: Ținutul Secuiesc and sometimes Secuimea; German: Szeklerland; Latin: Terra Siculorum) is a historic and ethnographic area in today Romania, inhabited mainly by Székelys, a subgroup of Hungarians. Its cultural centre is the city of Târgu Mureș (Marosvásárhely), the largest settlement in the region.

Székelys (or Szeklers) live in the valleys and hills of the Eastern Carpathian Mountains, corresponding mostly to the present-day Harghita, Covasna, and parts of Mureș counties in Romania.

Originally, the name Székely Land denoted the territories of a number of autonomous Székely seats within Transylvania. The self-governing Székely seats had their own administrative system, and existed as legal entities from medieval times until the 1870s. The privileges of the Székely and Saxon seats were abolished and seats were replaced with counties in 1876.

Along with Transylvania and eastern parts of Hungary proper, the Székely Land became a part of Romania in 1920, in accordance with the Treaty of Trianon. In August 1940, as a consequence of the Second Vienna Award, northern territories of Transylvania, including the Székely Land, were returned to Hungary. Northern Transylvania came under the control of Soviet and Romanian forces in 1944, and were confirmed as part of Romania by the Paris Peace Treaties signed after World War II.

Under the name Magyar Autonomous Region, with Târgu-Mureș as capital, parts of the Székely Land enjoyed a certain level of autonomy between 8 September 1952 and 16 February 1968.

There are territorial autonomy initiatives with the aim to obtain self-governance for this region within Romania.

More about Székely Land

    The Székely flag flown in Kurultáj in 2014
    The ancient period

    Transylvania was populated by Thracian peoples in the First Iron Age. The area received a large influx of Scythians from the East in the first half of the first millennium BC. The Celts appeared in Transylvania in the La Tène period (c. 4th century BC).

    ...Read more
    The Székely flag flown in Kurultáj in 2014
    The ancient period

    Transylvania was populated by Thracian peoples in the First Iron Age. The area received a large influx of Scythians from the East in the first half of the first millennium BC. The Celts appeared in Transylvania in the La Tène period (c. 4th century BC).

    Dacian culture presence in southeastern Transylvania is marked by discoveries such as the flagship hoard Sâncrăieni (Harghita county) or Dacian fortresses in Covasna county (Cetatea Zânelor) or Jigodin (Harghita county).

    Dacian Kingdom led by Decebal the Romanian ancestors, was taken after two wars, in 106 AD by the Roman Empire under the emperor Trajan, who began organizing the new Roman province of Dacia. Southeastern Transylvania was included in the provinces of Dacia Porolissensis, Dacia Apulensis and Meuse and fortified with numerous camps such as those at Inlăceni ( Praetoria Augusta) and Sânpaul (Harghita county) Breţcu (Angustia) and Oltenia (Covasna county) or Brâncoveneşti and Călugăreni (Mureș county).

    After the fall of Roman Dacia, the present-day territory of the Székely Land became part of the Thervingi kingdom "Gutthiuda". The migration of the Huns from the east pressured most of the German tribes to leave. In the Battle of Nedao the East Germanic Gepids defeated the Huns and founded Gepidia in the territory of present-day Transylvania. This marked the end of the Hunnic Empire.

    The medieval period

    The territory of the Székely Land was part of the Avar Khaganate[citation needed]. During this period, Avar and Slavic groups migrated into Transylvania[citation needed]. From around 900 to 1526 the area was under the direct control of the Hungarian state[citation needed]. The Székelys presumably settled in Transylvania in the 12th century from present day Bihar and Bihor counties[citation needed].

    Ancient Hungarian legends suggest a connection between the Székelys and Attila's Huns[citation needed]. The origin of the Székely people is still debated. The Székely seats were the traditional self-governing territorial units of the Transylvanian Székelys during medieval times[citation needed]. (Saxons were also organised in seats.) The Seats were not part of the traditional Hungarian county system, and their inhabitants enjoyed a higher level of freedom (especially until the 18th century) than those living in the counties[citation needed].

    From the 12th and 13th centuries, the Székely Land enjoyed a considerable but varying amount of autonomy, first as a part of the Kingdom of Hungary, then inside the Principality of Transylvania[citation needed]. The autonomy was largely due to the military service the Székely provided until the beginning of the 18th century[citation needed]. The medieval Székely Land was an alliance of the seven autonomous Székely seats of Udvarhely, Csík, Maros, Sepsi, Kézdi, Orbai and Aranyos. The number of seats later decreased to five, when Sepsi, Kézdi and Orbai seats were united into one territorial unit called Háromszék (literally Three seats)[citation needed].

    The main seat was Udvarhely seat, which was also called the Principal seat (Latin: Capitalis Sedes)[1] At Székelyudvarhely (Odorheiu Secuiesc) were held many national assemblies of the Székelys[2] A known exception is the 1554 assembly, which took place at Marosvásárhely (Târgu Mureș)[3]

    Modern era

    Due to the Ottoman conquest Transylvania became a semi-independent polity. From the end of the 17th century, Transylvania became part of the Habsburg monarchy (later Austrian Empire), and governed by imperial governors.[4] In 1848 during the Hungarian revolution and freedom war it was declared the reunion of Hungary proper and Transylvania. The Austrian emperor incited the Romanians and Serbians living in Hungary and Transylvania against the Hungarians, promising them some kind of autonomy. In 1867, as a result of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise, Transylvania become again an integral part of the Kingdom of Hungary, within Austria-Hungary.

    In 1876, a general administrative reform abolished all the autonomous areas in the Kingdom of Hungary and created a unified system of counties. As a result, the autonomy of the Székely Land came to an end as well. Four counties were created in its place: Udvarhely, Háromszék, Csík, and Maros-Torda. (Only half of the territory of Maros-Torda originally belonged to the Székely Land.) The isolated Aranyosszék became a district of Torda-Aranyos county.

    In December 1918, in the wake of the First World War, Romanian delegates from throughout Transylvania voted to join the Kingdom of Romania. There was an attempt in Udvarhely to found a "Székely republic" on 9 January 1919; however, its creation was unsuccessful.[5] In 1920, by the Treaty of Trianon, Transylvania along with further territories was officially ceded to the Kingdom of Romania. The Romanian language officially replaced Hungarian in the Székely Land, but Székely county boundaries were preserved, and Székely districts were able to elect their own officials at local level and to preserve Hungarian-language education.

    After 1930, the Romanian authorities began to Romanianize the Hungarian population of the Székely Land,[6] with the presence of minorities in political life being repressed.[7] The election of Hungarians was consistently nullified.[7] The place-names were subjected to Romanianization.[7] The minority languages were excised from official life and the local authorities were mostly led by appointed ethnic Romanians.[7]

    In 1940, as a result of the Second Vienna Award, Northern Transylvania became part of Hungary again; this territory included most of the historical Székely areas. Hungarian authorities subsequently restored the pre-Trianon structure with slight modifications.[citation needed]Ion Gigurtu's antisemitic laws, the Romanian version of Nuremberg Laws, were replaced by Hungarian ones. The Jews of the Székely Land were subjected to particularly harsh treatment. These individuals had their citizenship status reviewed, many of them being detained. In Csíkszereda (Miercurea Ciuc), dozens of families were rounded up and expelled. The men in the area were drafted into forced labor battalions.[8] For example, 1,200 Jewish males of Marosvásárhely (Târgu Mureș) were conscripted between 1941 and 1944; over half died in Ukraine, Poland and Hungary.[9]

    However, despite discrimination and many casualties, most of the community lived in relative safety until the March 1944 occupation of Hungary by Nazi Germany. A conference devoted to the concentration of Jews in the Székely Land was held on 28 April 1944; it covered the counties of Csík, Háromszék, Maros-Torda and Udvarhely. The area's Jews were ghettoized in Szászrégen (Reghin), Sepsiszentgyörgy (Sfântu Gheorghe) and Marosvásárhely. Roundups began on 3 May 1944 and were completed within a week. The Hungarian authorities actively participated in the crimes of the Nazis. The Jews ghettoized at Sepsiszentgyörgy were later sent to Szászrégen, whence on 4 June 1944, 3,149 were boarded on a train bound for the Auschwitz concentration camp. Three transports left Marosvásáhely for Auschwitz: on 27 May, 30 May and 8 June 1944; altogether, they carried 7,549 Jews.[8]

    The Székely Land as envisaged by the autonomy supporters based on the historical Székely seats

    On 12 September 1944, the Second Vienna Award was voided by the Allied Commission through the Armistice Agreement with Romania, and the Romanian-Soviet forces seized the area in Autumn 1944; however, the Romanian administration was expelled from these territories in October due to the activities of the Romanian paramilitary groups created in the area to avenge the atrocities committed by the Hungarians against the Romanians during the Hungarian rule in Northern Transylvania.[10][11] For instance, the so-called Iuliu Maniu Guards terrorized the Székely villages, butchered the local Hungarians by axe and hatchet[1] and operated a death camp in Feldioara.[12][13][14] This paramilitary group was described as "a band of terrorist-chauvinistic criminals"[15] by the Soviets. The USSR let the Romanian authorities back to the area in March 1945,[10] and the Paris Peace Treaties officially returned Northern Transylvania to Romania.

    Following the Northern Transylvania's return to Romania after World War II, a Magyar Autonomous Region was created in 1952 under the Soviets' pressure,[16][17] which encompassed most of the land inhabited by the Székelys. In 1960, the region was renamed to Mureș-Magyar Autonomous Region. It was abolished in 1968, when Romania, following an administrative reform, returned to its traditional local administrative system based on counties. Roughly speaking, present-day Harghita County encompasses the former Udvarhely and Csík, the latter including Gyergyószék; Covasna County covers more or less the territory of the former Háromszék; and what was once Maros-Torda is mostly part of present-day Mureș County. The former Aranyosszék is today divided between Cluj and Alba counties.

    Nicolae Ceaușescu came to power in 1965. For the next couple of decades, due to the Romanianization efforts, a large number[quantify] of ethnic Romanians settled in the Székely Land.[18] Those Székely Hungarians who possessed degrees were subjected to resettlement.[18] In March 1990, the city of Târgu Mureș witnessed violent clashes between ethnic Romanian and Hungarian groups.

    After the fall of communism, many[who?] hoped that the former Magyar Autonomous Region, abolished by Nicolae Ceauşescu's regime, would soon be restored. This did not happen; however, there are Székely autonomy initiatives[19][20] and further efforts from Székely organisations to reach a higher level of self-governance for the Székely Land within Romania.

    On 4 June 2005, the Civic Forum of the Romanians of Covasna, Harghita and Mureș was founded in Miercurea Ciuc. It is an organization aimed at organizing the ethnic Romanian population in the counties that compose Székely Land.[21]

    On 2 February 2009, Romanian President Traian Băsescu met the Hungarian President László Sólyom in Budapest and discussed the issues of minority rights and regional autonomy. Băsescu stated "The Hungarian minority will never be given territorial autonomy."[22]

    In 2014, the UDMR and the Hungarian Civic Party had a joint autonomy proposal for the Székely Land, but the Szekler National Council also possessed its own suggestion.

    In 2016, Hans G. Klemm, the United States Ambassador to Romania, together with other local officials, were pictured with a Székely flag during his visit to the Székely Land. The photo was posted by the mayor of Sfântu Gheorghe on Facebook. The reactions of the politicians in Bucharest were turbulent. In a response Klemm affirmed that the only two flags that are important to him, as a diplomat, are the U.S. and the Romanian ones.[23][24][25]

    Traditional Székely Land (19th century) 

    Traditional Székely Land (19th century)

    Hungarian autonomous provinces under the Communist era 

    Hungarian autonomous provinces under the Communist era

    Present-day counties of Harghita, Covasna, and Mureș within Romania 

    Present-day counties of Harghita, Covasna, and Mureș within Romania

    Constitutional issues

    Article 1 of the Romanian Constitution defines the country as a "sovereign, independent, unitary and indivisible national state." It has often been argued[by whom?] that, as a result of this provision, any ethnic-based territorial autonomy, including that of the Székely Land, would be unconstitutional.

    The Supreme Council of National Defence of Romania declared that an autonomy of the so-called Székely Land would be unconstitutional.[26]

    ^ Pascu, Ștefan (1972). Voievodatul Transilvaniei. Vol. 4 (2nd ed.). Cluj: Dacia. ISBN 973-35-0005-4. ^ ""capitalis sedes" – Cutare Google". Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 10 August 2015. ^ Balogh, Judit (2005). A székely nemesség kialakulásának folyamata a 17. század első felében (PDF) (in Hungarian). Kolozsvár: Erdélyi Múzeum-Egyesület. ISBN 973-8231-48-5. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2013-10-29. ^ "Transylvania". Encyclopædia Britannica. Archived from the original on 2015-04-20. Retrieved 2008-06-26. ^ Zoltán, Szász, ed. (2002). History of Transylvania. Vol. 3: From 1830 to 1919. Atlantic Research and Publications. p. 784. ISBN 0-88033-497-5. Archived from the original on 2021-07-21. ^ Sándor Bíró, The Nationalities Problem in Transylvania, 1867–1940: A Social History of the Romanian Minority Under Hungarian Rule, 1867–1918 and of the Hungarian Minority Under Romanian Rule, 1918–1940, Social Science Monographs, 1992, p. 486. ^ a b c d Mandelbaum, Michael, ed. (2000). The New European Diasporas: National Minorities and Conflict in Eastern Europe. New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press. p. 33. ^ a b The Holocaust in Northern Transylvania (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-11-08., part of the Final Report of the International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania, at the Yad Vashem site ^ Spector, Shmuel, ed. (2001). "Targu-Mures". The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust. This period is well known for the atrocities committed by the Hungarian army which, when it entered Romania, massacred the Romanians and Saxons indiscriminately, and there are writings and evidence explaining and showing genocide. Vol. 3: Seredina-Buda - Z. New York, New York: New York University Press. p. 1289. ISBN 0-8147-9378-9. ^ a b Brubaker, Rogers; Feischmidt, Margit; Fox, Jon; Grancea, Liana (2006). Nationalist Politics and Everyday Ethnicity in a Transylvanian Town. Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. 80. ^ Holly Case (5 May 2009). Between States: The Transylvanian Question and the European Idea during World War II. Stanford University Press. pp. 285–. ISBN 978-0-8047-8755-0. ^ FBIS Daily Report: East Europe, Issues 159–169, Issues 159–169, The Service, 1988, p. 6 ^ The New Hungarian Quarterly, Volumes 31–32, Corvina Press, 1990, p. 34 ^ "Magyar civilek internálása 1944 őszén Romániában, Hungarian Civilians' Relocation in the Autumn of 1944 in Romania. The Death Camp from Feldioara in the Collective Memory)" Archived 2019-01-30 at the Wayback Machine, Hungarians from Transylvania in Soviet Captivity between 1945 and 1953 – Lectures, Exhibitions at Sapientia University – ^ Bogdan C. Iacob, History of Communism in Europe vol. 3 / 2012, Zeta Books, 2012, p. 53 ^ Nicolae Edroiu, Vasile Pușcaș, The Hungarians of Romania, Fundația Culturală Română, 1996, p. 27 ^ Plural Societies, Volume 18, Foundation for the Study of Plural Societies., 1988, p. 71 ^ a b Ingrid Piller, Linguistic Diversity and Social Justice: An Introduction to Applied Sociolinguistics, Oxford University Press, 2016, p. 101 ^ Kulish, Nicholas (2008-04-07). "Kosovo's Actions Hearten a Hungarian Enclave". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2013-05-24. Retrieved 2008-04-08. ^ Manifesto of the Szekely Assembly ^ "A fost înființat Forumul Civic al Românilor din Harghita și Covasna". Basilica News Agency (in Romanian). 4 June 2005. ^ "World protests back Székely autonomy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-17. Retrieved 10 August 2015. ^ "Romania: US Ambassador in Minority Group Flag Controversy". abcnews. 14 September 2016. Archived from the original on 19 September 2016. Retrieved 19 September 2016. ^ AGERPRES. "US Embassy: Klemm ambassador to all of Romania; MAE: Visiting diplomats need to consider." Archived from the original on 2016-09-23. Retrieved 2016-09-22. ^ "New reactions in row over photo showing American ambassador holding Szekely flag: We were not "dishonest" with ambassador U.S Ambassador, says Sfantu Gheorghe Mayor". 16 September 2016. Archived from the original on 23 September 2016. Retrieved 22 September 2016. ^ "Proiectul de autonomie a "Ţinutului secuiesc" – iniţiativă separatistă sau un pas pe calea unei reale autonomii locale". BBC. BBC. Archived from the original on 21 December 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
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