Reformation in Poland Reformation in Hungary

The Reformation in Transylvania

Transylvania formed a political entity within the Kingdom of Hungary, which stood out because of her peculiar ethnic composition; traditionally the Magyar (Hungarian) and German minorities dominated government and the economy, while the Vlachs (Romanians) formed the peasant majority. The Vlachs were Orthodox christians, Magyars and Germans, at the outset of the Reformation, Roman Catholic.
From the Battle of Mohacs (1526) to the Ottoman conquest of Buda (1541), Hungary was in disarray; King Louis II. had died at Mohacs; Archduke Ferdinand of Habsburg and Ban Jan Zapolyiai contested the Hungarian crown, with the Ottoman Empire taking her share of the country. In 1541, the eastern remnant of Hungary, as the Duchy of Transylvania, accepted Ottoman sovereignty.
During these years, Lutheranism made inroads to the country, later followed by Calvinism and Anti-Trinitarianism. Polirical decisions regarding state confession were made by the Transylvanian Diet, which traditionally met at Torda. After a first Catholic-Lutheran disputation, in which no winner was declared, held at Segesvar in 1536, the Diet pursued a policy of establishing religious toleration while protecting the weaker groups and trying to calm down emotions. The Diet of 1548 recognized Lutheranism as tolerated (next to Catholicism); the Diet of 1557 extended that toleration to Calvinism and enacted laws to protect pressured Catholic communities. The Diet of 1563 recognized four tolerated confessions, adding the Unitarians (anti-Trinitarians) to the list, which failed to include the Orthodox church of the majority Vlachs.
The relative harmony between the confessions was perturbed toward the turn of the century, when, during the Habsburg-Ottoman War Habsburg mercenaries took over the task of defending Transylvania, and also promoted the Counterreformation. In 1599 Voyevode Michael of Wallachia conquered Transylvania, ending this episode; his rule was extremely brief and Transylvania returned to a policy of religious tolerance.

Distant Cousins : Unitarians in Transylvania, by Kathleen Ellis
Reformation Literature and the National Consciousness of Transylvanian Hungarians, Saxons, and Rumanians, by Louis J. Elteto
REFERENCE Istvan Lazar, Transylvania, a Short History, Safety Harbor : Ingram 1997

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on June 8th 2003, last revised on November 15th 2004

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