The question of identity of Transylvania in the fifteenth-sixteenth centuries
Autor: Octavian Tătar
This study is analyses and presents those social mechanisms and the features of the inner-Carpathian human and geographical space called nowadays Transylvania which have impressed the conscience of its inhabitants and that of the European scholars in the fifteenth-sixteenth centuries as something distinct, possessing a certain specificity.
A first identity element was the name of this province. The official and general name of the province was Transsylvania, a name created in the medieval Hungarian chancellery. Among the inhabitants of Transylvania in the fifteenth-sixteenth centuries, Magyars used Erdély, speakers of Saxon dialect used Siebenbürgen, while Romanian speakers emloyed Ardeal. In the cultivated circles of the Saxons was also used the term Septem castra.
A second identity element was represented by the separate political-administrative status of the province within the Hungarian kindom (up to 1541), which was characterized by two main elements: „the regime of local autonomies” and the existence of „administrative regions” corresponding to these autonomies (the Saxon area, the Szekler area, and the area of the counties).
The existence of several religious allegiances mostly after mid-sixeenth century, the multiethnic character and the rich natural resources, the notion of „the country of the four peoples”, represented further characteristic of the Transylvania’s identity in that age. Transylvania entered in the European conscience of that age with these main features whose content was strongly influenced by the subjectivity of the contemporaries.