Géza Hegyi: Rodna and the Rodna Valley in the Middle Ages (1241-1469/1475). History of a Dominion and of a Settlement (p. 22-49)


This study tries to present the history of a highland region of Transylvania, its political-administrative and ethno-demographical evolution till its unification with the Saxon autonomous district of Bistriţa (Beszterce/Bistritz). Primarily there have been areas with different juridical status in this region. The first mentioned from among them as Rodna (Radna) was a mining town with thousands of German (maybe Bavarian) inhabitants, who had their own autonomous institutions (magistrate, priest, inn, prison, market-place, mills, gold and silver mines, etc.), based on the local law-book from around 1270. The town, together with the Saxon district of Bistriţa, was the possession of Hungarian queens, that's why it was exempted from the authority of shires and organized as a county (comitatus - ispánság), ruled by a comes (ispán) appointed by the royal family. They should not be mistaken for the members of the Radnai family, similarly wearing the comes title: they were in fact the local leaders of the German community, named gräve-geréb. Apart from Rodna, the settlements of Rodna Valley (being serf villages, too), lay in the territory of Inner-Solnoc County. In 1334 we can find here only eight villages. Their names suggest the presence of a very sparse Slavic and Hungarian population. The landowners of this estate were the previously-mentioned Radnai family, but as the author of the study shows, in the mid-fourteenth century, forced by other nobles and due to some economical needs, they lost their domains and the family has disappeared. Around 1378 the Rodna Valley fell to the king and has been joined with the royal domain of Rodna. This united domain was governed by the Szekler ispán, their castellans and officials. In Hegyi's view, due to the despotic local government of castellan Prokop (around 1400), most of the villages from the valley became depopulated. This process was followed by the repeated, but unsuccessful attempts of the Szekler ispáns to bring colonists here. If the decline of the valley was due to its depopulation, the author of this study considers that probably the decline of the town was caused by the exhaustion of the mines. Another period in the history of the Rodna domain was that between 1440 and 1460, when it belonged to the Jakcs of Coşeiu family. As Hegyi points out very well, the short period of landowning of the Jakcs family is very important due to the demographical and topographical information given by a charter from 1450, relating the division of the estate among the members of the family. Analyzing the number of the houses of the domain and the names of he inhabitants, Hegyi concludes that the Jakcs family succeeded to re-settle the region but with Romanians, a fact which changed the ethnic composition of the Rodna domain. Besides this, new villages with Romanian colonists appeared. The last period of Rodna treated by Hegyi is that of the integration into the district of Bistriţa. It seems that the authority of Bistriţa between 1469 and 1498 had a good effect on Rodna. At least, the increased number of the documents of the survived archive of Bistriţa suggests a changed situation: the population increased, the Saxon patricians from Bistriţa and noblemen in possession of capital took the silver and gold mines on lease, and restarted the production.

            In his study divided into five parts, Géza Hegyi presented the medieval history of one of the most important dominion in Transylvania, Rodna. Besides a well documented settlement-history, the author managed to offer an overview concerning the demographic and ethnic changes of the inhabitants, changes which were due to different political and social causes. Thus, Hegyi grasped "the history in motion".