Counter-Reformation and Protestant Resistance

Between 1711 and 1750, the Habsburg regime's other main priority in Transylvania was to dismantle the denominational structure based on the four recognized religions. The offensive got under way in the early years of the century, with the appointment of a Roman Catholic bishop, the restoration of several monastic orders, and the measures aiming at religious union with the Romanian Orthodox Church. The early results did not match expectations; András Illyés, the first Catholic bishop, visited Transylvania but did not take up his functions, while the Romanian religious union turned out to have more form than substance.

After 1711, the Habsburg regime was in a better position to pursue the Counter-Reformation, which it did in a sustained and, at times, forceful manner. The Roman Catholic episcopate was fully reestablished. András Illyés died in 1712; the following year, György Mártonffy, formerly provost at Esztergom, was named bishop of Transylvania and granted a barony. In early 1716, Mártonffy moved to Transylvania, were he was to hold secular posts as well. He became lord-lieutenant of Fehér County, then, in late 1718 — and in contravention of the Diploma Leopoldinum — councillor in the Gubernium; he was soon elevated to the rank of first councillor, which would put him in charge of the Gubernium during the absence or incapacity of the governor.

{2-570.} The second thrust of the Counter-Reformation was the settlement of monastic orders in Transylvania. The Jesuits had returned during the war, and construction began after 1711 on their new school at Marosvásárhely. When the episcopate was reestablished, the Jesuits also settled in Gyulafehérvár. Adding to their three earlier monasteries, the Franciscans established two between 1690 and 1711, twelve between 1711 and 1746, and a few more in later years. When these two orders extended their presence in Transylvania, they often took over Protestant churches. The Minorites added four monasteries to the one founded in 1680. The Piarists established two monasteries, the Paulites three, and the Trinitarians, one monastery. A convent was founded by the one community of nuns, the Ursulines.

The proponents of the Counter-Reformation were most intent on converting influential members of the estates and ensuring that Catholics would get preference in appointments to high office. As early as May 1712, the Transylvanian Catholic orders requested that the central government appoint Catholics not only to positions customarily filled by members of their denomination, but also to those vacated by Calvinists. In 1713, Zsigmond Kornis, a Catholic, was appointed governor. The central government eventually excluded Protestants from the Transylvanian court chancellery, arguing that it was fully within the monarch's rights to appoint Catholics to that body. In 1735, by which time the proportion of Catholic to Protestant councillors in the Gubernium had reached 6:3, the Ministerialkonferenz decided to slow down the process, but it was renewed in the 1740s. By then, Catholics occupied all senior posts in the chancellery. Similar pressures were applied in the process of choosing a Saxon bailiff ('count') and the chief magistrates of several Saxon and Hungarian towns. At first, in 1731–33, the government failed to have the elected, Lutheran count replaced by a Catholic, but it finally prevailed in 1742–44. In 1731, the authorities resorted to military force in order to impose a Catholic {2-571.} mayor on Brassó, and refused to endorse the election of a Unitarian chief magistrate in Kolozsvár.

Being the weakest denomination, Unitarians were the most hard hit by the Counter-Reformation. In 1716–18, their administrative center in Kolozsvár was destroyed by Steinville and Mártonffy, who had mustered enough troops for a small battle and enjoyed the backing of the civil government. As the Catholics proceeded to take over the churches of other denominations, the Unitarians lost a disproportionate number of their houses of worship. In the 1730s, they were excluded from high office, and their remaining positions in local administrations also came under threat. In 1748, the monarch reproved the royal bench of judges for having nominated a Unitarian to the post of court assessor.

The Catholic Church won representation in the diet. The Catholic bishop became an ex officio member in 1716, as did the chaplain of Gyulafehérvár and a representative of the Kolozsmonostor monastery in 1741, and the rector of Kolozsvár's Jesuit academy in 1747. However, all this did not make the Catholic Church as dominant in Transylvania as it had become in Hungary.

As the Catholic Church gained strength, it concentrated on demanding the abrogation of laws that it considered prejudicial to Catholics. The Protestants were worried — not without reason — about their prospects if the existing structure of four recognized religions were to be abolished, and they argued that the Catholic attack endangered the integrity of Transylvania's constitution. In 1712, the Catholic orders had made an unsuccessful attempt to obtain amendment of some allegedly prejudicial clauses in the Diploma Leopoldinum. Then, in 1724, they issued a series of demands: for repeal of the anti-Catholic clauses in the Approbata and the Compilata; for the punishment of those guilty of apostasy; for the severance of all links between Transylvania's non-Catholics and their respective churches in Hungary and other countries; for the virtual liquidation of the Unitarian Church and the exclusion of {2-572.} its members from public office; and for the elimination of Sabbat-arianism.

Over the next few years, these efforts resulted only in some legal action against Sabbatarians, but the Catholics returned to the attack when the Habsburg government undertook to reform the judiciary and review Transylvania's law code. In 1730 — at a time when the Jesuits already had six monasteries, a college, and several schools in Transylvania — they reiterated the demand that anti-Jesuit provisions in the Approbata be repealed. Due to the resistance of Protestants, both the diet and the government shrank from taking a decision. Thereupon, in 1731, Charles III charged the Gubernium with the case. Once the principal Calvinist councillors had been excluded, on various procedural pretexts, from the discussion, the Gubernium had no trouble in making the appropriate recommendations, for abolition of the system of four recognized religions; the return of churches that had been originally Catholic; the prohibition of institutional links between Transylvania's Protestants and their coreligionists abroad; censorship of Protestant books; and the assignment of cases involving mixed marriage to the jurisdiction of the Holy See.

Even now, the recommendations could not be implemented, for the spirit of resistance was on the rise in Transylvania in the mid-1730s. In order to subdue the Protestant orders, the government proceeded in spring 1738 to arrest the Calvinist bishop, István Szigethi-Gyula, along with several other Calvinist clergymen and notables, on suspicion of Rákóczi-party conspiracy. The charges could not be substantiated, and they were released in early 1739. In 1741–43, the repeal of anti-Catholic and anti-Habsburg laws came to be linked to the ratification of the Pragmatica Sanctio, and finally, in 1744, the government prevailed. The estates agreed to repeal the provisions that governed relations between Transylvania and the Porte, surrendered their right to elect a prince, and ratified the Pragmatica Sanctio. The forceful intervention of Lieutenant-General {2-573.} Czernin, the deputy military commander of Transylvania, and the monarch's parliamentary commissioner, drove the estates to repeal the anti-Catholic laws as well.

To be sure, the resurgence of Catholicism was far from being a wholly negative phenomenon. Several teachers at the Jesuit academy in Kolozsvár, notably István Kaprinai, Ferenc Fasching, and András Illia, belong to the Jesuit school of Hungarian historiography. The baroque style, of which there had been only scattered manifestations earlier, spread across Transylvania thanks to the Counter-Reformation, initially in church construction. The prototype was the Jesuit church at Kolozsvár, which was built — on plans that may have been drafted in Vienna — between 1718 and 1724. One of the builders was Konrad Hammer; he was also responsible for Marosvásárhely's Jesuit church, the style of which had a notable impact in the Székelyföld. The newly-raised baroque churches in Transylvania were adorned with sculptures in the same style; the work of the most noteworthy sculptors, Johann Nachtigall and Anton Schuchbauer, dates from after 1750. Baroque painting in these churches was of lesser artistic significance. However, even if the baroque style that spread across Transylvania had a somewhat provincial quality, it had the merit of being fresh and new.

Union with the Greek Orthodox was a distinctive feature of Catholicism's advance in Transylvania. The early, and somewhat superficial success of this union had been undermined during Rákóczi's War of Independence. After 1711, the only Greek-rite church enjoying legal status in Transylvania was the Uniate, but it is difficult to ascertain what part of the Greek-rite population was Uniate, and what part Orthodox. The state gave considerable support to the Uniates, notably an episcopal estate (after several transfers, the Balázsfalva domain). The Jesuit college at Kolozsvár enrolled many Romanian students; its alumni included the Uniate bishop Ioan Pataki and all his successors, as well as members of the Dobra, Kalyáni, and Aron families. Other schools, Jesuit and {2-574.} Piarist, also enrolled numerous Romanian Uniates. Meanwhile, the Orthodox had only one noteworthy school, at Brassó. Thanks to the assistance of the Jány Foundation, Uniates had access to the University of Nagyszombat (Trnava), in Upper Hungary. From the 1730s onward, a number of Uniates would pursue studies at Rome's Collegium de Propaganda Fide; among the first were Sylvester Kalyáni, Petru Aron, and Grigore Maior, who would come to play a leading role in the Uniate Church. The Uniate bishops Ioan Pataki and Inochentie Micu-Klein were both granted a barony.

Protestants manifested their resistance to the Counter-Reformation partly in the political arena, and partly by safeguarding their contacts with the intellectual life and Protestant culture of western Europe. That second line of resistance entailed defence of a modern system of education in Transylvania. From 1717 on-wards, the Gubernium would give passports for study-tours abroad to those who had passed the required examination; the Protestants, for their part, would first screen the candidates. Thus Transylvania's Protestants managed to stay in touch with west European culture, notably through German universities; the latter, and especially Halle university, remained their fountainheads for Pietism and the early German Enlightenment.

In the Saxon's Lutheran (Evangelical) Church, there emerged at the time of Rákóczi's insurrection a struggle between Pietists and conservatives. The first Pietist professors, Voigt and Habermann, taught in Szeben, but the conservatives, led by Bishop Lukas Graffius, soon gained the upper hand, and in 1713 the two men were driven out. The Pietists did win the backing of the Saxon count, Andreas Teutsch. By 1720, over fifty Saxons had attended Halle University, and within a few years, the entire Királyföld was touched by the Pietist 'infection'. In 1719, the Pietist tendency won out in Prussia, and, throughout the German lands, the intellectual foundations of religious conservatism grew weaker. There soon {2-575.} appeared another ideological trend, one that would strongly influence all aspects of 18th-century Enlightenment in Transylvania; the Saxons were the first to learn about Wolffianism (i.e. the philosophy of Christian Wolff) when, in 1737, Peter Clomp delivered a lecture at Brassó.

There is less evidence of Pietist influence within the Calvinist Church. András Huszty, who taught at the Calvinist college in Kolozsvár, was a Pietist. He followed the lead of Heineccius, his onetime teacher, in introducing the study of law and politics at the college. Huszty also contributed significantly to the foundation of Finno–Ugric linguistics, building in this case on the work of Strahlenberg; his family tree of the various Finno–Ugric languages proved to be largely accurate. A pioneer in the teaching of the natural sciences, István Vásárhelyi Tőke, introduced experimental physics at Nagyenyed College. Sámuel Nádudvari taught in the 1730s and 1740s at the Calvinist college in Marosvásárhely; it is likely that he was a Newtonian, for he translated several of Christian Wolff's works. The Unitarian College at Kolozsvár played a particularly noteworthy role in educational reform. The era's outstanding Unitarian in Transylvania, Mihály Szent-Ábrahámi, introduced courses in law as well as geography shortly before the college was taken away from the Unitarians; his was the first regular law course offered in Transylvania. When the college was reorganized after 1718, Szent-Ábrahámi began to teach experimental and eclectic physics (1726), and his geography course covered Copernican theory (1727).

The greatest figure of the early Enlightenment in Transylvania, Sámuel Köleséri, was not a teacher, but an expert in public administration. This son of a Calvinist pastor pursued university studies in western Europe during the last years of the principality. Upon his return to Transylvania, Köleséri worked, first as a doctor, then as a mining expert, before being appointed a councillor and secretary of the Gubernium. At the same time, he devoted much time and energy {2-576.} to various spheres of the natural sciences. His scientific and cultural contacts ranged from Constantinople and Venice to Paris, London, and St. Petersburg, and he published articles in German periodicals.

Köleséri produced some seminal works on several branches of the natural sciences. His best-know book, Auraria Romano-Dacica, is devoted to the mineral riches and mining industry of Transylvania. He also wrote medical treatises; in his study of scurvy in the Érc Mountains, he linked the disease to the inadequate nutrition of miners (and this a bare seven years after the publication of Ramazzini's ground-breaking work on industrial pathology). Some aspects of the question are also dealt with in Köleséri's Auraria, where he recommends a new system for ventilating the mines and calls for prompt medical treatment of the victims of mining accidents.

Several of Köleséri's studies dealt with the symptomatology of the plague, and some unpublished ones explored the curative effects of Transylvanian spas. Intent on contributing to the debate that had arisen in western Europe on new techniques of inoculation against smallpox, he investigated the vaccination methods used by the Turks. In 1722, at the request of the Gubernium and the military commander, General Virmont, Köleséri developed a plan for the treatment of epidemic diseases in the general hospitals of the ten major towns as well as the more rudimentary clinics in market towns and the larger villages; he called for the erection of separate facilities to house the newly-infected, the convalescent, and those who had recovered but had to be kept in quarantine.

Köleséri also played a significant role in the transmission of the German Enlightenment to Wallachia. He ordered Pufendorf's works in Germany for Constantin Brîncoveanu and, in the mid-1720s, forwarded a book by the Wolffian G. B. Bülfinger to N. Mavrocordat. He forwarded to the latter a Turkish numismatic collection as well as some Transylvanian coins. It is partly thanks to {2-577.} Köleséri that the first descriptive works of Oltenia (notably Sendo's Historico-physico-topographia Valachiae Austriacae subterraneae descriptio) bore the stamp of the early German Enlightenment. His own library held over 3,500 scholarly works, including Cartesian, Pietist, and early illuminist studies.

Köleséri's career came to an end in typically eastern European fashion. In the political battles that raged around 1730, the elderly scholar-administrator came to be victimized, and all the more because of his proposed elevation to aristocratic rank. Incarcerated on charges of having broken the marriage law, he died in prison. His library and manuscript works were shifted to and fro over the next few decades, and then dispersed.