The Principality of Transylvania

Teréz Oborni

in Renaissance and Reformation

ISBN: 9780195399301
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:
The Principality of Transylvania

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy


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The state called the Principality of Transylvania was formed in the eastern part of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary following its partition into three parts in 1541. The Principality, which remained an Ottoman vassal state throughout its existence, was created on the order of Sultan Suleyman, who had occupied the central part of Hungary. The new state was born in 1542, when constitutional national assemblies were set up in Transylvania. At these meetings, the Transylvanian estates took the former political and administrative system of the Kingdom of Hungary as the basis of the institutions and legal system of the new state. The Principality of Transylvania existed until 1690 when a military force led by the Habsburgs occupied Transylvania during the Great Turkish Wars; the Diploma Leopoldinum, signed by Leopold I in 1690, put an end to the Principality and its land became a Habsburg territory. The Habsburg Hungarian kings retained their legal claim on Transylvania during the 16th and 17th centuries on the grounds that Transylvania was a member (membrum) of the Hungarian Holy Crown, and thus, it should have been controlled by the Hungarian kings. Several ethnic groups had lived in Transylvania since the Middle Ages: Hungarians, Hungarian-speaking Székelys, Saxons, and Romanians. The Reformation achieved widespread popularity in the area as early as the middle of the 16th century. The local Saxons preferred Lutheranism, the Hungarians mainly followed Calvinism, and the Székelys remained Roman Catholics or converted to Calvinism, while the Romanians preserved their Orthodox religion. Interestingly, Unitarianism also attracted large numbers, as in Poland or Italy. The Renaissance—slightly differently from the European chronology—flourished in Transylvania in the 16th century, and the late Renaissance style determined its visual arts, architecture and literature even in the second half of the 17th century.

Article.  12975 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

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