The Land of the Gyulas

Perhaps the most important task of gyula Bogát was to assure the supply of salt, an essential commodity for the Hungarians, who rotated their large stock of animals from pasture to pasture. When Bogát became the leader of the clans that had taken over the salt-mines north of the Maros in the first stage of the conquest, he had to cope with many dangers. Attacks could come at any time from the Pechenegs, who had occupied the Etelköz region. As archaeological finds dating from the 10th century attest (cf. the Bulgar cemeteries at Maroskarna and Csombord), the warriors, salt-miners and gold-washers of the Bulgar Czar Simeon remained in places south of the Maros. In 913, Simeon launched the first in a series of military campaigns by which he seized from the Byzantines most of the Balkan Peninsula; six years later, he exchanged his title of Great Khan for that of Czar. He was not a man to let the salt mines and gold deposits of southern Transylvania pass into Hungarian hands without a fight. In order to conquer the rest of Transylvania as well as the region between the Maros, Tisza, and Danube rivers ('Glad's' domain according to Anonymus, but {1-390.} most likely under Bulgar rule), the Hungarians would need to ally themselves with the Pechenegs against the Bulgars. The painful consequences of the alliance of Bulgars and Pechenegs in 895 were still fresh in the Hungarians' memory. As long as the Pechenegs remained hostile, the Hungarians would not dare to provoke Simeon by seizing his lands north of the Carpathians and the Danube.

Even later, the part of Transylvania lying south of the Maros had different status. Unlike the north, it was not divided up into counties but remained a single province, governed by a voivode who outranked counts and who, in 1111, became princeps ultrasilvanus; his higher rank may have been indirectly derived from that of his predecessor, the Bulgar viceroy. Around 948, Constantine Porphyrogenetos referred to the Hungarian tribal chiefs as voievoda, borrowing perhaps the term applied by Transylvanian Slavs to their new masters. The two parts of Transylvania, north and south of the Maros, differed not only in respect to administration but also in their property structure. In the north, the clans who had conquered the region remained in place after the institution of a monarchy. The south, on the other hand, was settled only during and after the reign of King St. Stephen, by families of major landowners (only the Gyógyi family may have been of a different status). There were also, as noted, significant differences between the Slavic groups that inhabited the two regions. All indications are that southern Transylvania was occupied by the Hungarians somewhat later, and in different circumstances, than the north.

The opportunity came with the formation (ca. 932) of a Pecheneg-Hungarian alliance. It is possible that the gyula Bogát had acted earlier, but if not, he must have seized this chance to occupy southern Transylvania. In breaking the Bulgars' resistance, the Hungarians were helped not only by their Pecheneg allies but also by the internal struggle — exacerbated by Byzantine meddling — over the succession to Czar Simeon, who died in 927. In {1-391.} 934, the Serbs shook off Bulgar rule and put themselves under the protection of Byzantium. This may have presented Bogát's successor, the gyula Zombor, with the opportunity to occupy the land lying between the Maros, Tisza, and Danube rivers; in that region, there is no toponymic trace of Bogát, but several place-names evoke Zombor.

Having seized southern Transylvania from the Bulgars, Bogát's warriors and their servants settled down in Slavic villages along the lower reaches of the Küküllő rivers. Three of the five toponyms (noted earlier) that preserve the Slavic nasal sound which disappeared in the 10th century occur in this district, as does Marosbogát; thus these settlements can be dated with some precision. Fewer Hungarians settled south of the Nagy-Küküllő and along the right bank of the Maros where that river turns southward. The Slavs in those areas must have retained their language at least until the arrival of the Romanians, for the latter took over Slavic place-names. In any case, the Slavic population in the region between the Nagy-Küküllő and the Olt was comparatively sparse, perhaps because some of the Bulgars had fled. Bogát had to assure the defence of the newly-conquered region's southern frontier, particularly at the southeastern mountain passes of Törcsvár, Tömös, Tatár, Bodza, and Ojtoz, which were the most vulnerable to Pecheneg and Bulgar attack. Bogát's only military outpost in southern Transylvania was located at a place still called Oltbogát; a little farther north along the Olt River, two villages bear the name of his successor, Zsombor. Bogát evidently settled some of his Hungarian warriors in this district. Many localities in the Olt bend bear old Hungarian names, but there is no knowing which were named in the 10th century, and which later, by Székelys who preserved the early toponymic customs. At any rate, the previously-noted archaeological sites in the Székelyföld, at Eresztevény, Kézdivásárhely, Köpec, Sepsiszentgyörgy, and Székelyderzs, can safely be attributed to Bogát's Hungarians.

{1-392.} The castle of Gyulafehérvár was raised upon the ruins of Apulum by the gyula Bogát or his successor, hence the name. Archaeological finds at Maroskarna, Tinód, Gombás, and Magyarlapád testify to the settlement of Hungarians in the vicinity of the castle. Since very few toponyms south of the Maros duplicate others along the Szamos (Kend is a rare exception), it is not likely that large fragments of the northern tribes moved to the region (as happened later with the Székelys). The massive settlement of Pechenegs on Hungarian territory is generally dated after 955. However, the loose confederation of Pecheneg tribes, spread over a vast territory, was already breaking apart in the 10th century; in the 11th century, after serving as mercenaries of the Russians and Byzantines, many Pechenegs settled in Hungary and the Balkan Peninsula. The beginnings of this process can already be felt in Bogát's settlements. The toponym Besenyő (Pecheneg) occurs only once north of the Maros, near Beszterce, whereas to the south, there are five of them, and the name of a Pecheneg tribe is preserved in Talmács, at the Vöröstorony Pass. It was perhaps in this period that a larger group of Pechenegs settled in the Barcaság, around the streams whose names, as noted earlier, have a Turkic ring. The toponym Berény, in Hunyad county, may evoke another eastern ethnic group that participated in Bogát's campaign. Place-names such as Bercel, Kálóz, Oszlár, Varsány, and Várkony, which evoke other ethnic groups and occur with some frequency in Hungary, are absent in Transylvania, and it can be concluded that these groups were not represented in the army led by Bogát.

It is likely that some Bulgars stayed behind when their region was conquered by the Hungarians. Since, in the 10th century, the Hungarians still referred to Bulgars as Nándor or Lándor, the toponyms Lándor (found on the left bank of the Maros, at the confluence of that river and the Aranyos) and Nándor (in Hunyad county) presumably evoke Bulgar settlements that survived the conquest. And since these ethnic appellations fell into disuse after {1-393.} the Bulgars lost their independence, around the year 1000 (a situation that lasted for two centuries), places in southern Transylvania that have 'Bolgár' (Bulgar) in their names (e.g. Bolgárcserged, Bolgárszékes, Bolgárszeg) were probably founded only after the advent of the Hungarian monarchy. More striking is the incidence of places with 'Orosz' (Russian) in their name, such as Oroszi and Oroszfalu, in areas south of the Maros that were not inhabited originally by Eastern Slavs. Some owe their name to post-13th-century immigrants, but the older-style toponyms without suffixes may be linked to Russians who had been recruited by Bogát. There are three such localities (called Reussen, Reussmarkt and Reussdörfchen by their later German inhabitants) in the Székes valley and another, Oroszi, near Marosbogát on the left bank of the Maros. There are also villages named after Russians in the valleys of the Küküllő, Olt, and Sebes rivers in Hunyad county, and the north Transylvanian village of (Mező)kölpény can be added to this list, for its name means 'Russian mercenary',

The region between the Maros, Tisza, and Danube rivers must have come under the rule of a Hungarian gyula by 948, for that was when Emperor Constantine recorded that Orsova, Belgrade, and Sirmium (now Mitrovica) lay near Hungary's borders. What he called 'Turkia's settlement area' included the valleys of the rivers Temes (Timesos), Maros (Muresis), Körös (Krisos), and Tutis (Béga?); this region was bounded on the west by the Tisza, and in the south, next to the Bulgars, by the Istros (Danube) River. The report is confirmed by toponyms. The Hungarian localities that probably already existed at the time include Gyula (known as Gyulamonostora in the Middle Ages), by the Fehér-Körös River, the nearby Zomboregyháza (mentioned in a document from 1261), and the two places named after ethnic auxiliary troops, Besenyő and Talmács, which were located more towards the mountains; (Kis)zombor near the confluence of the Tisza and the Maros, and farther east, another Besenyő; the third Zombor, near Temesvár, {1-394.} mentioned in 1331 as having a church, and, in the same district, two more places called Besenyő. Medieval sources also mention a Zombor and a Gyula as well as a Besenyő and a Talmács in Bács county; a Zombor near Vukovár, in the onetime Valkó county; and yet another Besenyő, as well as a Kölpény (today Kupinovo) in the Szerémség (Sirmia). These place names, together with the record of Constantine Porphyrogenetos, indicate that the gyulas' domain reached from the mouth of the Drava southward to the Iron Gate on the Danube, and even beyond the Danube, for military outposts guarded the frontier with the Bulgars as far as the Sava River. Since the Transylvanian gyulas' authority now extended as far as the Eastern and Southern Carpathians, the formerly Bulgar-owned salt-mines were under their control, and they became the exclusive suppliers of salt to the Hungarian tribes on both salt routes, through Szalacs and on the Maros.

It was a sign of the gyulas' enhanced power that they launched the first Hungarian campaigns against Byzantium, cutting through the weakening defences of the Bulgars. According to Byzantine chronicles, the first campaign occurred in 934; it ended in a peace treaty. Another campaign, in 943, was terminated in similar fashion, and the Byzantines probably had to pay tribute. Thus the gyulas followed the strategy of the tribal confederation, which was to compensate Hungarian warriors for the defeat in 933 at Merseburg with booty from Byzantium. It was a sign of this unity of purpose that a village by the Küküllő bore (and still bears) the name of Fajsz, a prince of the house of Árpád, who ruled Hungary in the mid-900s. It is likely that he received this village, together with a nearby salt-mine, as a gift on the occasion of his marriage to the daughter (or one of the daughters) of the gyula Bogát. As will be seen, this was not the only marriage that served to link the families of the Árpáds and the gyulas.