Middle Ages

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The northwestern territory of Romania, remarkable for its variety in geographical conditions, had the special role of transition area between the Northern Carpathians and the Transylvanian Basin during the second half of the 1st millennium A.D. This role was, however, present in the previous and subsequent periods, too. Referring to the present area of Satu Mare County, many archaeological finds show the importance of Crasna river as the main access-route from the North/Northwest to Transylvania.
    Az Kr. u. I. évezred második felében, de az ezt megelőző és követő periódusban is, Románia észak-nyugati fele, a változatos földrajzi adottságainak köszönhetően, ismét kiemelt szerepet töltött be. Ez elsősorban annak köszönhető, hogy egy tranzit útvonal szerepét töltötte be az Északi Kárpátok és az erdélyi medence között. A mai Szatmár megye területére vonatkozóan egy sor régészeti lelet bizonyítja például a Kraszna folyó völgyének fontosságát, mint elsődleges közlekedési útvonal az észak/észak-nyugati területek és belső Erdély között.
    The period between the 11th and the 16th centuries, representing the Middle Ages, is accessible for study through written sources, unlike the previous ages. The contribution of the archaeology is essential, however, even in other fields than in the material culture. The archaeology completes or even rectifies the information offered by written documents. Therefore, the history of Middle Ages can not be known or reconstituted, but through the combination of the written and archaeological sources.
The interest for medieval vestiges increased under the influence of romanticism and under the trends movements of the 19th century, both proposing to reveal the “own” past. Despite of this, the medieval archaeology became an established science only in the second half of the 20th century. One main promoter of its development was the necessity to research the administrative and ecclesiastical centers of the Middle Ages, and all first class monuments of the country. This type of research marked the beginning of the mediaeval archaeology in the territory of the Satu Mare County. Thus, excavations were carried out during the 1960’s and the 1970’s, in the most important medieval monuments: the castles of Tămăşeni, Crucişor, Medieşu Aurit and Ardud. Medieval objects entered the collections of the museum through these systematic campaigns, by accidental discoveries (the swords from Vetiş and Mintiu, the coin-hoards, etc.), and through rescue excavations (the cemetery from Foieni). An important contribution had the systematic surveys (carried out mainly in the sites dating from previous periods), identifying the abandoned medieval settlements, earth-castles, and located the artificial hills (possible of mediaeval origin). Rescue excavations intensified on medieval sites during the last two decades, because of the growing number of monument-restoration (the Romanic Church of Acâş, and the Gothic Church of Hodod), and the major investments made in the urban areas.
The territory of Satu Mare County comprises the greatest part of the historical territories, except the eastern part with the city of Baia Mare and its neighborhood, and in the north, the confluence area of the Crasna, Tur, Someş and Tisa Rivers. To the remaining territories were added the southern part of the former Ugocea County and the north-western part of the former Middle Solnoc County (later Sălaj). The County of Satu Mare was organized as part of the Hungarian Kingdom on the inferior course of the Someş River, most probably during the second half of the 11th century. The administrative and political centre of the district was the earth-castle of Satu Mare. Unfortunately, it is not known its aspect, dimension and even location, because it was destroyed during the Mongolian invasion in 1241, and then abandoned. The lack of early medieval finds (the 11th and 12th centuries) on the territory of Satu Mare city, suggests that the castle was not built there, but probably somewhere in the neighborhood.
Other castles of the county were built in the centre of the domains, as see of the owner noble families. The large domain of Ardud–Beltiug was formed on the hills of Codru, in the southeastern corner of the county, being the property of Drăgoşeşti (Drágfi) family, descendents of the founders of Moldavia, arrived from Maramureş. To the east, the Oaş region and the villages along the Someş River were the property of Báthori family, the heirs of Móric family. The centre of the domain was at first the castle of Seini, and later it moved to the castle of Medieşu Aurit. On the western part of the county, the domain of Károlyi family was formed, with the center in Carei, where a fortified manor-house was built. The southern part of Ugocea County was dominated by the castle of Tămăşeni, the residence of Káta family, while the castle of Hodod became the centre of an important domain from the northern part of Middle Solnoc County, owned by the Jakcs family. The history of other castles is partially known or at all. Thus, the owners of the fortification in Boineşti, the Pintea castle in Crucişor, the castle of Zalnoc (territory of Chegea, comuna Săcăşeni) remain unknown. In the case of the castles of Gherţa Mare and Ghilvaci, even the location of the castles is not known.
The territories of Satu Mare County were under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the bishop of Transylvania, with see in Alba Iulia, during Middle Ages. The archdeans had sees in Ardud, Tăşnad, and Satu Mare. The spiritual needs and the economic power of the communities were reflected in the ecclesiastic art – the architecture and decorations of churches – during the Middle Ages. The Romanic basilica of Acâş, almost entirely preserved, and the series of gothic churches, true architectonic jewels, from Hodod, Tăşnad, Ardud, Halmeu and Livada are representative, in this sense.
The network of medieval settlements and roads is generally identical with the one today. Therefore, traces of identified mediaeval settlements can be linked in almost all cases to the present localities. There are, however, abandoned medieval settlements because of the wars or of the process of spontaneous coagulation. The research of these sites remains an important task, because the vestiges of the material culture from villages – different types of houses and objects illustrating the lifestyle – are well preserved. For the medieval urban sites, the two royal towns of Satu Mare and Mintiu, formed on the bank of Someş River, are significant. On their sites, the historical centre of Satu Mare city is located. The two settlements were given royal privileges during the 13th century, becoming important centers of commerce and crafts. The level and quality of the material culture are reflected by the accidental finds, or by those recovered from rescue researches: the sword fragment with golden inscription from Mintiu, and the grey, fine pottery, with stamped decoration on Ştefan cel Mare street.
The medieval burials are known in a small number, because of the small number of research. The cemetery fragment (containing 32 inhumations) found in Foieni–Curtea Grajdurilor is significant for the period between the 11th and 13th centuries, while the graveyard from Carei–Bobald, researched also partially, is representative for a later period, the 16th and 17th centuries.
The collection of the museum comprises five medieval coin-hoards. Hiding these treasures, real fortunes at that time, is explained by times of war and general tension. Thus, the five treasures were hidden in Hotoan, Tămăşeni, Tăşnad, Turulung and Târşolţ during the Ottoman wars of the 16th and 17th centuries.
The monuments and mediaeval vestiges stand as direct proof of our own history, of the settlement we live, and of the religious community we belong to. This chronological and thematic closeness has also a negative side: the recent traces of the past are more exposed to damage and are more vulnerable and perishable. It is our essential duty, therefore, to make effort in order to preserve the evidence of our common past.

County Museum of Satu Mare
Bd. Vasile Lucaciu, Nr. 21
440031, Satu Mare
Email:[email protected]

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