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"The traveller, reaching the region referred to as “Székely Land”, which borders the eastern edge of the country, after he has crossed the complicated valley net of the primary Székely seat, the Seat of Odorhei, and reached that huge trachyte chain, which, separated from the main body of the olden three-peaked Harghita Mountain, diverges both downward and upward, being covered by coniferous woods, will tend to think that he or she has arrived to the end of the populated lands, that there begins that one mile wide, almost impenetrable alpine range placed by the Creator itself to the frontier of the country to serve as a defensive wall. But this is not true, because over this enormous mountain range, over this immense old cliff, there lies a separate area, completely isolated from all other regions, an Arcadia of this mountainous country (of the Transylvanian part), which may arouse the interest of the observer not only due to the magnificence of its landscapes and the originality of its people, but also due to the multitude of its ancient memories and natural resources.

This region, which we reasonably approach to with high expectations, is no other than the Ciuc Seat located on the final frontier of the country. "

 

Orbán Balázs

                                                                                               “Description of Székely Land”

 

This basin, which was once swampy, but had a romantic landscape and was rich in the fish called European weather loach, sheltered the villages that had formed over the catchment area of the river Olt. The interwoven network of lakes reached until the feet of the mountains, and the people from these colonies followed the withdrawal of the waters over the centuries. The ruins of a number of strongholds found at the highest level also suggest that these used to form a closer unit with the settlements. On the mountain slopes, some of the places where strip cultivation was once practiced are already covered by forests. The next level - a lower one -, is marked by the ruins of a church, known as “Csonkatorony” (truncated Tower) near Tomeşti, but traces of former settlements also confirm this.

Chronicles also state that those Szeklers who settled in Ciuc did not originally occupy the places where their settlements are today, but they built their shelters far away from the Olt valley, at the feet of the mountains. This fact is supported not only by the ruins of the tower near Tomeşti, but it is also mentioned in historical annals, that the village of Cârţa was initially formed near the area called Madicsa, and that the former shelter of the village of Sândominic could have been the Tărcău Mountain. The geographic arrangement of the three basins of Ciuc (Lower Ciuc, Middle Ciuc and Upper Ciuc), which is similar to three hugging arms, was formed by the following three defiles:  Tuşnad, Jigodin and Bogáti.

The arrangement of the villages of Upper Ciuc is also reminiscent of the euphoric game of the forces of nature, although the network of settlements is unique: villages are fused almost until the impossibility to distinguish them, and only the roadside panels giving the names of the villages notify the traveller that he or she has arrived at the adjacent settlement. And this valley of an extraordinary beauty, surrounded by scenic peaks, is closed by the most mountainous region of Ciuc, where there can be found the sources of the rivers Olt and Mureş.

"The people of the six villages of Upper Ciuc are heading upwards in the even narrower valley of the Olt River like the trout in a mountain stream, and in contrast to other inhabitants of Transylvanian mountainous areas, they build their homes only on clean, smooth surfaces, respecting some strict rules.” (Kurkó Gyárfás: Hard Bread)

The people living at the foot of the Harghita Mountain, loaded with historical memories, felt that freedom was their greatest value, and wanted to preserve it under any circumstances, because only this way could such a small nation stay alive among the great peoples, only this way could assimilation, the death of the nation be prevented.

Among the events that have challenged human souls over the many ruthless centuries, one should mention the devastations caused by Turks and Tatars, as a result of which the losses and robberies have peaked throughout Ciuc in 1656 and 1661. In the second case, Transylvania became hesitant to "infidelity" and the troops of the pasha from Timisoara punished the oscillating Ciuc: 26 churches were burned down; ten thousand people were taken as prisoners.

In 1694 the last great Tatar invasion occurred, which challenged the entire Upper Ciuc, although earlier (in 1677) the population had already been decimated by the plague, and later, in 1708 this epidemic raved again in Székely Land. Between 1717 and 1719 it made victims relentlessly for two years: the population was reduced to almost a half.

Another great ordeal for Szeklers was probably one of the most turbulent periods of Transylvanian history, which started with the rebellion of the Szeklers from the year 1562. During the Middle Ages compulsory military service was typical in Ciuc, and this led to a series of violations against the rights of the Szeklers. In 1564 - two years after the suppression of the revolt of the Szeklers – the common Szeklers from Ciuc protested against the ignorance of their franchises by submitting a petition to the monarch János Zsigmond. They did not obtain any legal remedy, so the revolts continued one after another (1572-1595), but they were all suppressed, and thus the members of the Báthory family who ruled at that time acquired the hatred of the Szeklers.

Cardinal Báthory Endre came to the throne in such circumstances (in 1599). He ruled in a rather secular manner and tried to repair all that his predecessors had ruined. But it was too late for this, because the foreign monarch played on the contempt of the people, even instigating it further, and with the help of Prince Mihai Viteazul, the Szeklers from Sândominic were persuaded to covertly kill the cardinal-monarch. Hearing the news of the assassination the pope excommunicated the village. Later, the repentant villagers of Sândominic erected a cross at the site of the tragedy, on which the following inscription can be read:

"HERE RESTS CARDINAL BÁTHORY , HERE FOUND HIS END THE PRINCE OF TRANSILVANIA. NAGY KRISTÁLY ANDRÁS WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS DEATH

IN THE YEAR BEFORE 1600. SEVENTEEN AND TWO HUNDRED YEARS AFTERWARDS THIS CROSS WAS ERECTED, TO BECOME AN ETERNAL SIGN."

The Habsburg monarchy, established in Transylvania in the late seventeenth century, influenced the Szeklers with their negative interferences. The resolution of the national assembly convened after the revolt of 1652 revoked the eternal right of all the common Szeklers to natural liberty and later, due to various political reasons, the monarch gave up on the Szeklers’ frontier-guarding services, so that they could be levied. But later, the dynasty was forced to conclude that the frontier-guarding services of the Szeklers were indispensable. At that point a new ordeal began for the inhabitants of this region, one that was more severe than any of the foregoing ones.

As a response to the recruitment campaign of the organizing committee, in 1762 the men from Gheorgheni unexpectedly denied to take the oath of allegiance. Neither promises nor threats were of any use, and what is more, the people from Ciuc joined those from Gheorgheni, and disorder started to rule everywhere, despite the fact that the leaders of the recruitment committee (first General Buccow, then lieutenant Siskovits), and the applied methods were changed several times (first trickery, then promises, and later threats). The population revolted all across the region. Because of the threatening German armies - to ensure that the approaching holy feast of Christmas will not be spoiled by fights - the men of Upper Ciuc went into the surrounding forests, and on January 5, 1764 they set out from the Szalonka Valley from over Lutoasa toward Topliţa, but because of the large numbers of the revolted crowd, they were not received by the recruitment committee. At that point they started off toward Siculeni, being led by Boross István, in order to submit a nonviolent letter of protest against the violation of people’s rights. One representative participated from each village under a white flag, which expressed their peaceful intentions. However, the range of cannons surrounding the village Siculeni at that time swept the delegation away, after which they started to shoot in the people who were trying to save their own lives. It was not an armed clash, but a bloody, cruel massacre, a horrifying carnage, known as the "peril of Siculeni": " The site of the “Sicilian Vespers” in Székely Land, a sad reminder of the night of St. Bartholomew in a political context, the word: SICULIDIUM is floating over the land as a sinister storm: as a warning of olden times "/ Orbán Balázs /

The tyrants wanted to spread fear in Székely Land, but they only managed to arouse the contempt of the people. Over the common grave located between the localities Siculeni and Ciceu there is a national grave and a monument provided with the following inscription by the organizers of the massacre: CASTIGATA SEDITIO SICULORUM DOMITA SICUMORUM SUPERBIA HIC JACET ("The punishment of the treason of the Szeklers. Here rests the defeated pride of the Szeklers)

The laconic posterity replied to this inscription:

„EVIL ERECTED HIMSELF HERE AN ALTAR

SAY ON OUR SLAUGHTERERS THE 109TH PSALM "- which puts a dreadful curse on those who kill innocent people.

On the huge marble panel of the current monument one can read the following: "In memory of the 200 Székely martyrs from Trei Scaune (Three Seats) and Ciuc who were defencelessly slaughtered by the imperial troops in the dawn of January 7, 1764 near the village Siculeni, who died for the olden freedom, on the occasion of the forced organization of the frontier-guarding troops. Erected with gratitude by the successors in 1889 ".

On October 8, 1905 the obelisk was inaugurated within solemn moments. On it one can read the following verses of homage written by Dr. Balló István:

"Szeklers! Here was shed your ancestors’ blood,

By the vengeful arm of the brutal tyrant they were caught.

While defending your constitutional freedom here,

Many innocent lives ended outrageously.

Although by hostile weapons they were slaughtered,

Their memory shall remain with us forever.

If you remember your ancestors with sincere piety,

Their memory shall live until eternity. "

            The “Night of St. Bartholomew” of Szekler Land was not the last test for this nation, which would have deserved a better fate. First the lost fight for freedom – in which the Szeklers had fought with such pure hearts, worthy of their past, in Bem's army - tried their souls, then, after World War I, they had to endure the Treaty of Trianon and its consequences, which remain unacceptable until this day, and with which another phase of their history ended.

Transylvanian Szeklers, now belonging to other states, continued to defy those who acted against them, and they kept defending their rights stubbornly. But those who violated their rights always seemed to be more powerful, because they took advantage of their power: they abused of it. This is what happened in the fall of the year 1944, when the so-called Maniu Guards have committed serious crimes in several villages of Székely Land, where they erected columns in the memory of their victims. On the funerary pillar monument made of carved wood from Mădăraş two names are mentioned, with the below inscription: "October 10, 1944. the victims of blind hatred and revenge from Mădăraş. They were executed.”The memorial cross from Sândominic confirms eleven victims.

 
 

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