Tamás Fejér - Anikó Szász: The so-called Libri Regii Protocols of the Transylvanian Princes (p. 272-289)


The Libri Regii of the Transylvanian princes are not unknown to historical research, but their systematic and thorough study has only recently been started. The historical research at the end of the nineteenth century and at the beginning of the twentieth century proposed an especially keen focus regarding this category of sources. In their study, the authors do not undertake to answer all the questions that can be posed regarding the Libri Regii, considering that even the issues to be solved related to the source cannot be precisely formulated at this state of the research. Instead, they try to sum up the results of the research for the time being, hoping to offer a point of departure for further study.

            In the sketch offered, Fejér and Szász questioned problems concerning the Libri Regii like the name of these protocols, the rules of the selections of the documents enrolled in the Libri Regii, the chronological order of the enrolled charters and their language, and the tasks of the Chancellery administration whose duty was - among others - to copy the important charters into these books. In what follows, the authors enumerate in chronological order those Libri Regii, parts of the archives of the Chapter of Alba Iulia and the archives of the Convent of Cluj-Mănăştur which can be found today in the Hungarian National Archives and are available for research. Summarizing the history of these protocols, the two authors concluded that as far as the Libri Regii of the sixteenth century were concerned, it seems that the Báthory family inherited several volumes from the house of Szapolyai, but most of them and those of the Báthory family were lost, probably when Zsigmond Báthory burned the largest part of the princely archive, at the time of his second abdication (1598) or during the pillaging and destructions of the princely residence. Later on, in the next century, other volumes vanished to the greater loss of historiography, especially Gábor Bethlen's ninth and György Rákóczi's II. seventeenth lost volumes. In the course of time, there were several elenchi compiled for the Libri Regii. These can be of help in certain cases so as to fill in the gaps that are to be noticed in the texts of the Libri Regii damaged after 1658.

At the end of their analysis Fejér and Szász reveal the importance of the Transylvanian Libri Regii showing that, due to the fact that the same authenticity and demonstrative force was attributed to the Transylvanian protocols as to the destroyed Libri Regii of medieval Hungary, they played a decisive role in court litigations. Beside this, the authors call the readers' attention to the great variety of the contents of the Libri Regii allowing their wide usage, first of all because they are primary sources in the study of local history and the history of ethnic groups, archontology, genealogy, history of institutions, as well as legal, military, political and church history, and the history of art. Thus, the authors are convinced that they presented a group of sources which can be considered unique and fundamental sources for historical research concerning the age of the principality.