{3-1.} IX. TRANSYLVANIA IN THE REFORM ERA (1830–1848) (Ambrus Miskolczy)


{3-3.} The 1830s ushered in a new era in the history of Transylvania and its people. The pressure mounted for radical change, and new political forces emerged. The decade or so following the 'quiet years' of the 1820s has been characterized in various ways. The term 'Reform Era' evokes the goal and process of a shift from feudalism to capitalism, as well as the purposeful preparations aiming at the creation of a liberal and national state. The romantic label 'national awakening,' often found in contemporary accounts, evokes mainly the changes in world outlook and value systems; specifically, the emergence of national movements and the refinement of a national ideology born in the Enlightenment and interwoven with liberal and democratic ideals.

Change, which was both actively sought and inevitably on the march, would have an impact on the idyllic patriarchy and archaic conditions noted by foreign visitors. 'Relics of the past still survive, the landscape has preserved its original character, but it is clear that all this will soon disappear,' observed Auguste de Gerando, who had married into the Teleki family and made his home in Transylvania and Hungary; he concluded that he 'could not have chosen a more propitious time' for visiting Transylvania.[1]1. A. de Gerando, La Transylvanie et ses habitants II (Paris, 1845), p. 271.

What elements of crisis and progress shaped this last phase in the transition from feudalism to capitalism? What tensions tore apart the feudal social system? How did the old and the new clash and become interwoven? And how did contemporaries perform on the political stage in responding to the great historical challenges that marked this period in Europe? The present chapter seeks to find answers to these questions.