September 30, 2011

Two Major Events in Alba Iulia: Changes for Romania

Below is a picture of the entrance of Michael the Brave into Alba Iulia, Transylvania in 1599. At this point, the three principalities of Moldavia, Wallchia and Transylvania were not united into the country called Romania.  During the period of a year, under his rule they were united.  After the death of Michael, Transylvania slowly became a part of the Kingdom of Hungary...

This is a picture of the delegations of 1918, when they met at Alba Iulia. This was where the many peoples of Transylvania gathered to decide what country they wanted to be a part of.  At this time, Hungary and Austria were in the process of breaking apart and the new nations would be born around them. Transylvania had a large population of Romanians and the German Saxons and they voted to unite with Romania.


As it stood, it didn't matter because for the first time since 1599-1600 they would become a part of Romania. Romania was in fact born after the retreat of the Ottoman Empire in the 1800s. Alexander John Cuza was the first Prince of Romania in 1859. In 1866 Carol I of Romania (which at that point only was Wallachia and Moldavia,) became Prince of Romania. He became King of Romania in 1881-- Transylvania was still not a part of Romania at this time.

It would join after 1919 and the Treaty of Paris.

September 26, 2011

Dracula and the Ottoman Empire

Vlad Tepes was born in Transylvania. There he would be faced with his greatest challenge. This would be the return to his principality of Wallachia. His father was in exile at the time of his birth.   One of the more famous places that Tepes would have influence in was Transylvania.

The people who ruled much of Moldovia and Wallachia and Transylvania had a different idea.

As you can see, this is the Ottoman Empire which ruled much of the Middle East and parts of Europe. Most importantly, a part of what would become Romania.  It was not until 1683, and the Battle of Vienna that the Ottoman Empire began to be pushed back by many of the European forces.  Mostly this was due to something of great value in Transylvania, its natural resources which were known since the times of the Romans.

One of the major natural resources of Transylvania is gold, but coal, and oil (which is now one of the most important resources in the world.) can be found in the mountains.  During the wars between Europe and the Ottomans, Transylvania was the easiest and shortest route to Vienna.

One of the places which King Geza needed defending in the Kingdom of Hungary was Transylvania, and one of the more famous sites, which related later to Count Dracula was Bran Castle.  This castle was not built by him or for him rather it was built as a defence by the Teutonic Knights.

September 23, 2011

Transylvania's Castles: Bran Castle And Dracula

I enjoy the castles of Transylvania.  There is so much history to them.  Bran Castle is the most famous by far, but there are many others which have histories all their own.

Of course, the other ones have just as much history and tourism value as the next, but it is more interesting to look at the history of each.  Not only that, for example, the castle which is shown in ruins was the home of Elizabeth Bathory.

Elizabeth Bathory now features in the sequel to Dracula.  She is in the book Dracula: The Un-Dead.  Still it is of interest to note that Bran Castle is not mentioned as much in this book.

At the same time, this is a boon for Transylvania and the tourism industry. More people will go to Transylvania to see these castles, and might be encouraged to see more Transylvanian castles.

September 20, 2011

The Many Castles of Transylvania, Romania

Some are ruins, such as parts of the one of the Castles of Alba Iluia, which is the first of these photos. This was the place where Michael the Brave made his entrance to the city, or might have been based upon some of the drawings of the time.  However, much of the city of Alba Ilia from the castle gate built in the Roman Era, to towers and churches are still there.

Others like Biertan are now UNESCO protected castles, and are tourist attractions.  The Romanian government promotes these castles as tourist draws, and unlike the city of Alba Iluia, where there is a strong culture of past Roman Empire, and as the capital city of the Principality of Transylvania, Biertan was a Saxon village.

Others, like Bran Castle are famous by the people who lived-- or didn't live there.  Queen Marie of Romania lived there, but not a Count Dracula.  Count Dracula was made famous by Bram Stoker, as was this castle-- Bran Castle in Transylvania.

As for others, they are ruins in a national park, and are left to fall into disrepair.  In this case, it is just as well since Elizabeth Bathory lived in these walls-- and she was a notorious serial killer.  After her death the castle remained until it was looted and burned.  After this, it became a part of the series of national parks, where endangered plants are known to be found.

These castles are of course a vital part to the history of Transylvania.

September 17, 2011

Dracula and Hungary Connection: The Hunyadi

This castle is the the image of the nearly ruined castle of the Hunyadi family.  At the height of its glory, John Hunyadi renovated it.  His son would reign as king of Hungary from 1458-1490.  The important aspect of this castle was the fact that there is the connection between the Tepes family and the Hunyadi family.

In fact while the fathers of Matthias Corvinus Hunyadi and Vlad Tepes were enemies, the sons had an uneasy truce.  The reason for this lies with the Ottoman Empire.  At this point, Hunyadi needed Tepes to protect his territory, which included Transylvania.

Bran Castle... which lies in Transylvania and close to Wallachia.
Part of this protection which the King of Hungary gave to Tepes, was the support of the Hungarian army.  The chances were strong that at this point Tepes and his brother Radu might have used the Hungarian Army to protect Wallachia-- Tepes having married into the Hunyadi family.

Once his brother was killed, Vlad would be killed in 1477.  By this time, the Hunyadi and Dracula connection was secured.  Tepes's sons from his second wife would marry into Hungarian nobility and possibly would remain in Transylvania..  This would last until 1919.

September 16, 2011

Photos of Bran Castle

These are the photos of various images of Bran Castle in Transylvania. This was built over the course of many years. The Teutonic Knights of Transylvanian began the building of the castle. The Saxons would continue this, and finally it would be in the hands of Queen Marie of Romania.

As with many things in Transylvania, there is a huge historical impact with this castle.  Even the Saxons valued it.

September 14, 2011

Russia and Transylvania in Hungary: The Revolution of 1848

1848 was the year of the Revolutions: Austria, Russia, and even Britain would feel them. 

In 1848 there was a Revolution in Austria, and it was against the Emperor who controlled much of what would become the dual Monarchy of Austria- Hungary in 1867. Hungary took total control of Transylvania, which was until that point nominally independent.

The involvement of Russia in the year of 1848 had conequences for Transylvania and the Saxons.  They provided support to the new monarch of Austria, with the understanding the man and his country were at their power.  This caused tension over time, and they would never be allies.

It would also have far more reaching consequences for the Austrian Empire since it would in the future take a more reactionary view of the populations of the Empire.

This time was important to the Saxon population, and one man in particular, Stephen Ludwig Roth, who were supportive of both Hungarians and Romanians and their rights.  They had one person who voiced that the Romanians in Transylvania should have more rights. This is when Russia intervened.  The Tsar of Russia, helped the new Emperor of Austria, Francis-Joesph maintain control of Austria.  This would change the political climate of Transylvania.

It resulted in the loss of independence and freedoms for many of the cultures because of the lack of support.  At this time there was no Romania, rather two separate principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, which would in several years, unite to become Romania.  However, the cultural makeup of Transylvania at this time was Romanian.  This was one of the causes which lead to revolt and division in the Empire.

The main person whom the Hungarians were angry with was Stephan Ludwig Roth, and his writings encouraged new German immigration to Transylvania, and more right for the Romanians of Transylvania.  After Russia's involvement in the 1848 Revolution, Roth was executed in 1849. 

A Hungarian General Bem was one of the few Hungarians who disagreed with this execution.  It was Russia who would lead Transylvania into the politics of the time.

September 11, 2011

Should Every Voice Be Heard? Politcs and Transylvania

Should each person who has a view on where and who should govern Transylvania be heard?

Should we listen to people who think that Transylvania has reason for being in Hungary or Romania, or even elsewhere?  Do people try to argue it with past events, and yet, have others argue the same point only in the opposing view.  i've had friends who lived in Hungary and also ones who live in Romania.  When it comes to Transylvania, everyone has a point of view.

Some people even go as far as to make factually incorrect points. Some will suggest historical events which others cannot verify.  Yet, they makes it sound as if they are responsible.  The reader needs to think and not be emotional.  It does not often work that way.  If a person has a connection to the land or to the politics of the country.

Should every view be heard?

Many views are important.  If people have a voice then they are allowed a say.  At the same time they need to offer facts and not feelings.  Even when they deal with legends and peoples.  Or, in this case how a feeling is changed with the lens of time.

The people who influenced Romania, such as Queen Marie.  She was instrumental in getting Transylvania as a part of the Paris Peace Accords at the end of the First World War. (She is quoted as saying we must have Transylvania.) She was an English born princess, but Marie of Edinburgh was more German and Russian in origin. (Her mother was Russian and her father, although born a British Prince, was mostly of German origin.)

Her comments about Romania are keeping with the times, she was honest about her initial dislike of Romania.  That part of her history is minimized and her efforts in the First World War are considered her legacy.

Still each thing one learns means that you can build on the knowledge and the idea that others have something to offer.  The problem is that like each person (Vlad Tepes included) has something to offer to Transylvania.

Her children, for example did not do much to help Romania, however her grandson, King Michael of Romania, is starting to have his voice heard in the context of Romania.

Should every voice in politics be heard?  In this case, there are many who should not, only because they represent a very small minority of the country.  They should have every right to have their voices heard during elections.

September 9, 2011

Dracula and Brasov: Vlad Tepes and Bran Castle

This town has a lot of "Dracula" influence.  Brasov also had Vlad Tepes influence.  It is something about the area which makes people want to go there.  Most of the reason lies with the fact that Bran Castle is close to the city of Brasov.

It is also the connection to Dracula.  In fact Bran Castle is viewed as being the main Castle associated with Count Dracula.  If you have read some of Dracula by Bram Stoker, he send Jonathan Harker to Bistritz.

This is not as close to Brasov as some might think.. but the point is that it is Brasov is close to where Bran Castle is.

September 6, 2011

Queen Marie of Romania, National Delgations and Transylvania.

Queen Marie of Romania
Queen Marie of Romania.  

Transylvania was important to many people in 1919. 

It was a part of the Kingdom of Hungary before the end of the Great War-- or the First World War-- but with a vote by the people and one impressive woman the land became a part of Romania. This impressive woman was Queen Marie of Romania.

She would go with a delegation to the Paris Peace Talks, knowing that her country was the "underdog" since it had signed a peace agreement before with Germany and then went back to the

She was not crowned until 1922 in the city of Alba Iulia, found in the newly gained territory of Transylvania, but she became Queen in 1914, on the death of King Carol I a pro-German King.  This was before Romania entered the War on the side of Britain, France and Russia.

 map of Hungary pre- 1919
Hungary with Transylvania

National delegation which voted on uniting Transylvania to Romania.  

A map of the Balkans with Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary shown. 
As you can see, Romania did gain a lot of Territory.  Not only Transylvania but also Bessarbia, and the Banat.  This was important to the prestige of the Romania Royal Family.  Many considered Marie to be the reason the territory was gained and not lost to another country.

This royal couple would be beloved, and they had hoped this goodwill would continue long after their reign, however their eldest son gave up the throne to marry several times.  King Carol II attitude towards Romania was complex at best.  Queen Marie would be the one who would focus her energies on building relations between Romania and the world. This is why Queen Marie is in many people's minds a legend.

September 3, 2011

Vlad Tepes and Michael The Brave: Why Did One Become Dracula

Vlad Tepes and Michael the Brave were two men in and around the same time frame who wanted what was best for Transylvania.  yet, when all is said and done, most people look upon Michael the Brave more highly than Vlad Tepes.

One became Dracula and one united what would become Greater Romania in 1919. One can argue that in many ways their view was personal power.  These days Dracula is the money maker for Transylvania, so it can also be argued that since he has made money for Romania, then he is better.  Except that does not answer what he became Dracula in Stoker's Novel.

Still, it would mean that at the time of Michael's ascension as Grand Prince of Transylvania he wanted to unite the three main Principalities of the region and it was against the dangers of invasion and danger from The Turks of the time. At least one can argue he did want what was best for Transylvania.  If he had lived longer, history might have given us a better answer.

This is partly why he is not Dracula and Tepes formed teh basis for teh famous novel by Stoker.

September 1, 2011

Does Everyone Want is best for Transylvania?

I think that these two photos explain in a way the idea of what Transylvania means to so many people who have lived in the land or who have moved to it, or still live in that part of Romania. The idea that Transylvania was a part of Hungary or of Romania does not really matter in the end. Rather it is the idea, that Transylvania is a part of the Balkans. It has a unique history, and one which most people can not object to where their homelands are without extreme violence.
This photo shows that these three men made a choice for Transylvania. Although the majority of the population who lived in Transylvania after the Second World War were Romanians, most of the population before that times were ethnic Romanians. Stalin and Churchill have a lot to do with Transylvania.

This asks the questions does everyone want what is best for Transylvania?

In a sense, yes people who live there want what is best, but I would argue that people who have not lived there might be unsure, or unaware of the reasons for bitterness about Transylvania.  One can even argue that the Romans and Dacian began this conflict so many centuries ago.

This is a map of Transylvania which is older, but the map below it shows the ethnic population of Transylvania while it was a part of  the Kingdom of Hungary in 1886.  Note that the light blues are Romanians, and the Pinks are Hungarian.  The Yellow is German.

It is interesting to see this and something which needs to be taken into account when one discusses Transylvania.  If this means that Transylvania is a part of Romania, it should be because of the population that lived there bears this out.  In the 1886 map it shows that there was and is a strong Romanian population there.