Association of the Friends of the Csangos  

Csango Web

 

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Welcome to the web page of the Association of the Friends of the Csangos: some notes about the Csango question today (November 2002) and links for further information in English, Rumanian, Hungarian and Italian

The old church of Gerlén (Garleni) destroyed in the ´90s by the Bishop of Iasi...

The aim of the association, born in Italia in 1999, is the development of initiatives (this web page, researches, publications) to help the Hungarians of Rumanian Moldova, known as "Csangos" (Csángó, Chango, Ceangau), to have recognized all their Human rights and to preserve their Cultural Heritage. The Csangos are living a particularly dramatic moment of their history that will decide if they can survive longer or disappear. The Csangos that survived rumanisation are circa 80.000 (60.000 Hungarian speaking) of a potential 260.000. They are Roman-Catholic, living a simple stile of life, but with a great cultural and art heritage.

 

And the new churches in construction today  at Bákó (Bacau; new Roman- Catholic Cathedral)...

 

The civic European society discovered the Csango question quite late, thanks to the Finnish MP Tytti Isohookana-Asunmaa PhD,  author of a preliminary report to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe entitled Csango minority culture in Romania (Document n. 9078, of the 4th may 2001). In this document was recognized the great importance of cultural diversity („Diversity of cultures and languages should be seen as a precious resource that enriches our European heritage and also reinforces the identity of each nation and individual. Assistance on the European level, and in particular from the Council of Europe, is justified to save any particular culture and is needed in the case of the Csangos”) and particularly to the Csango culture („Their number ranges, depending on the definition, from as many as 260,000, which corresponds roughly to the Catholic population in the area, even if more than two thirds 

With "ceasescu" "modern" inner style (completely unnatural and far from the local art tradition  

of them cannot speak the language, to as few as a couple of tens of thousands”). The document remember also how much the Roman-Catholic faith is important for the Hungarians of Moldavia („The only undisputed feature about the Csangos is their strong Roman Catholic faith. They live in western Moldavia (Romania), near the eastern slopes of the Carpathians, in villages around the cities of Bacau (southern group) and Roman (northern group), along the rivers Siret, Bistrita, Trotus and Tuzlau, where they preserve traditional European methods of agriculture, body of beliefs, and mythology, as well as the most archaic dialect of the Hungarian language.”).

The 23th of May 2001 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe voted a Recommendation (the n. 1521), addressed to the Civic and Religious authorities of Romania and to the Holy See, that underline the importance of preserving the Cultural Heritage of the Hungarian Catholics of Moldavia, and helping the 60-70.000 peoples who steel can speak their mother tongue („Although not everybody agrees on this number it is thought that between 60,000 and 70,000 persons speak the csango language”).  

The wooden sculpture of Saint Stephen King and patron saint of Hungary (977-1038),  throw out, with S. Peter and S. Paul, from the perish church of  Szabófalva by the priest becouse "too Hungarian"

 

The resolution asks clearly the responsible authorities to respect the Human Rights of the Hungarians of Moldavia, that have very natural requests („The Csangos make no political demands, but merely want to be recognized as a distinct culture”), as the right to use their language in the churches of Moldavia („there should be an option for Roman Catholic services in the Csango language in the churches in the Csango villages and the possibility for the Csangos to sing the hymns in their own mother tongue”). 

Csango girl

 

This Recommendation n. 1521 was accepted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe of 16th November 2001 with the document n. CM/Del/Dec(2001)772, that invite the Republic of Rumania and the Holy See to stop the rumanisation of the Hungarian Catholics of Moldavia, giving them the possibility to use the Hungarian languages in schools, public places and churches („As  regards paragraph 9 iii. of the  Recommendation, the  Committee of Ministers trusts that the Holy  See, in its regular contacts  with the local  Church Authorities, as well as the governmental authorities of the respective countries, will continue to follow the issues raised , in as much as they may affect the religious life of the Csangos”).  

"The tree of the life" (work of the csango artist Imre Antal)

 

After this strong action of the Council of Europe in help of the Csangos, many NGO, associations and agencies active in the defence of the Human Rights started to follow the Csango question. The international agencies Apador-CH and Pro Europe League have denounced many times the illegal behavior of the local civilian and religious authorities. The gravity of the situation was denounced by the Federal Union of European Nationalities, the International Movement Against All Forms of Discriminations and Racism. The OSCE has recently established an “ad hoc” committee to control from close the development of the Csango question.  

Inner room of a traditional csango house.

 

The only real result of the struggle of the Csango for their human rights was the opening of a extra curriculum lesson of Hungarian language (of one hour in a week, from 7 am to 8 am, with all the students of the school together) in two Csango villages (Klezsa and Pusztina).  

The bishop of Iasi, who should respect the Human rights of his communities, and the Pope Johannes Paul II

The Roman-Catholic Bishop of Jasi, using the bishop decrees of 1810, 1893 and 1910 that forbade the use of “not Rumanian languages except the Latin in the churches of the diocese”, is still (in 2002) strongly intentioned to prohibit and suppress any trying of using the Hungarian languages (even if the bishop permit the use of Polish language in churches of his diocese).

For more information you can read:

1) in EnglishVilmos Tánczos, Hungarians in Moldavia (Budapest, 1998)  
                     László Gazda, The Moldavian Csango people in the Rumanian historiograph (2001)  
                          James A. Kapalo, The Moldavian Csángós: ‘National Minority’ or ‘Local Ethnie’? (London, 1996)  
2) in Csángó HungarianAndrás Duma-Istvan, Én országom Moldova
3) in Rumanian: Ferenc Pozsony, Identitate ceangailor moldoveni  
                         Péter Halász, A moldvai csángó magyarok  
4) in Hungarian: Péter Halász, A moldvai magyarság évszázadai
                         Tánczos Vilmos, Hányan vannak a moldvai csángók?  
                         István György Tóth, Csángó hétköznapok a 17. században
5) in Italian:       Maurizio Tani, Csángó: storia della rumenizzazione della minoranza ungherese di Moldavia (Romania).   I Csángó tra Sciamanismo e cultura arcaica ungherese, S. Domenico e Jan Hus, l'Ordine Teutonico, i Mongoli ed una Chiesa romano-cattolica poco catholica (Bozen/Bolzano, 2003)  
                        the present web  
                        Luca Testa, Lettera di Dio ai Csángó (Milano, 2003)
6) in English, Rumanian, Hungarian and Italian: Wesselényi Miklós Web page for the Friendship between Hungarians and Rumanians 
More links in links

 

If you want to contact the Association of the Friends of the Csangos you can write to

Maurizio Tani 

Hagamel 45 107 Reykjavík - Ísland 

Tel. 00 354 6967027 - 5512061 - 5254565

Fax. 00 354 525 4410 (Please, write on the letter "C/o Maurizio Tani")

E-mail: mauriziotani@yahoo.it 

 

 

László Gazda, The Moldavian Csango people in the Rumanian historiography (2001)

 

The article tell us how the Rumanian scholars started to say that the Csangos are not Csangos.

 

After the European Council raised its voice for protecting the ethnic Csango people, in the printed media we can more often see Rumanian opinions, which query the Hungarian origin of this ethnic group.

In the Rumanian media it is often expressed, that the past history of the Csango people is disputed/controversial, the Hungarians claim they are Hungarian as well as the Rumanians claim they are Rumanians. Those, who write this opinion, either not knowing or exactly on purpose do not keep in mind, that the upper theory is considered to be marginal, even in the Rumanian historical literature.

A whole lot of literature source is available to provide information about the history and past of the Csango. In the Vatican archive the documents of FIDE mission obviously prove the Hungarian origin of this ethnic group. Autonomous Italian, Bosnian and Polish missionaries wrote these reports. The same opinion was reflected by the Rumanian historians for centuries.

The oldest Rumanian sources report about the Hungarian inhabitants of Moldova. These sources also refer to the fact that these people had been dwelling there before the establishment of the Principality. The dwellers of several settlements, including Klézse, Forróvalva and the Hungarians of Bákó, everlasting held their properties and estates: they were the so-called "partner shareholders", which meant holding a certain type of nobility or free farmer position.

Nicolae Constantin, the chronicler of Nicolae Mavrocordat, mentioned, that the Hungarians and Saxons were also among those, who settled down in the new Principality (1712). Old chroniclers, as Grigore Ureche, Simion Dascalul, Miron Costin, credited the Hungarian furriers with the establishment of the contemporary capital, Suceva. According to their opinion the name of the town is derived from the Hungarian word "szűcs" [furrier] (XVII. Century).

The most significant Moldavian historical literature source written in Latin by Dimitrie Cantemir in 1716 ("Descriptio Moldaviae", Description of Moldavia) also adverted to the Hungarians. In this work Cantemir wrote the following: The Hungarians, who follow the popish religion (Roman catholics) insist on their ancestral language, although they know the Moldavian language as well.

Radu Rosetti the significant Rumanian historian connected the historical research based upon charters connected to the investigation of names of settlements. He observed, that whilst in Suceava, Neamt and Vrancea Counties the majority of the names of the border mountains are of Rumanian origin (only 4 Hungarian out of 20), in Bákó County these names are mostly Hungarian. The most well known names are as follows: Tarhaos (Tarhavas), Aldamas (Áldomás), Cherebik (Kerekbükk), Mikes, Nemere, Nagy Sándor, Lápos, Perkő (next to Onesti), Kishavas, Zsíros, Nagyhalas, Kishalas, Kászon, Tatros (from Tatáros) and others. It proves the fact, that the mountains, rivers, settlements got their names from the Hungarian language, and the Rumainas took it over from the Hungarians. Rosetti illustrates that many Hungarian names of settlements disappeared during history and was replaced by Rumanian ones. He quotes a charter of 1410, in which Alexandru cel Bun donated his really faithful thralls, Domokos purveyor, his brothers Balázs and Jakab, who were Gelebi Miklos' sons 6 villages, Kászon, Ojtoz, Gorzafalva, Sztánfalva, Völcsök and Laslovovtii. These villages still had Hungarian inhabitants in 1646. The name of Gelebi Miklós was written according to Hungarian spelling.

The charters from the times of the firsts voivodes show, that the boyars of their councils bore Hungarian names in Bákó and Román Counties (Vornicul Miclaus, Sándor, György, János had large boyarships). Several village names refer to Hungarian origin, as Tamasenii, Miclausenii, Sabaoanii (Szabófalva), Faraoani (Forrófalva), Tatros, Bákó and many others.

According to Rosetti's proofs at the time of establishment of Moldavian Principality there were numerous Hungarians settled down living along the rivers Tatros, Ojtoz and Szeret and they obviously came before the institution of state. His work titled as "Despre unguri si episcopiile catolice din Moldova" (About the Hungarians and the Moldavian Catholic Bishopric) was published in 1904-1905 in the Volume No. XXVII of the 2nd series of Annals of Rumanian Academy.

Professors Romulus Candea and Gh. Calinescu also dealt with the Moldavian Catholicism of the XVII. Century. The most significant researcher of this subject is Nicolae Iorga, the well-known outstanding character of Rumanian historiography, who also held lectures at Sorbonne University in Paris. After visiting the villages and towns of Muntenia and Moldva he reported his experiences in his work: "Romania, cum era Inainte de 1918” (Rumania, as it was before 1918). He reported, that even the Rumanized catholic people still had their consciousness of Hungarian identity. As an example he mentions the people of Husi, who can already speak only Rumanian, but they remember they are Hungarians. He reports several times about the Csango's strong feeling of Hungarian identity. As he put it down, it is known that their village is Hungarian land and outside it is Rumania (description of Ploscuteni). He asks several times wether the Moldavian Catholic people are Hungarian and always give the answer  "yes", remarking that their ancestors came into the territory of Cumanic Episcopate in the XIII. Century as far as the river Szeret (Siret in Rumanian), and they still keep their old Székely language (description of Slanic).

He describes the neighbourhood of Roman remarking that around 1200 most of the territory over the river Szeret was reckoned to be Hungarian. But his opinion is, that the neighbourhood of Roman never belonged to the land of Hungarian Kings, and those settlements accrued as extensions of the southern ones (Secueni, Agiudenii, Tamasenii). Dimitrie Cantemir also reprted, that the Moldavian Principality was "more narrow" in the old times and only Stefan cel Mare expanded the borders up to the Carpathians. Before of this expansion these mountains belonged to Transylvania.

We can see, that Nicolae Iorga summarized his conclusions about the Hungarian identity and origin of Csangos after he compared all the proofs of archives and old time literature with the facts he really experienced. Gh. I. Nastase, history professor of University Iasi, also discussed the origin of Csango people in his book "Ungurii din Moldova la 1646 dupa Codex Bandinus" (Moldavian Hungarians according to the codex of Bandinus). From this work it turned out, that the Hungarian population of Moldavian villages had Hungarian names and language and only the town-bred people lost their belief and mother tongue. Nastase's work was also published in German language.

Several significant historians of the XX. century showed lots of evidence of the Hungarian origin and identity of Csango people. The work of P. P. Panaitescu titled as "Patrunderea ungureasca dincolo de Carpati" (Incursion of Hungarians into the territories beyond the Carpathians) was published in 1969. When he discussed about Secuieni County (the souhtern extension of Székelyföld/Seclerland), he concluded, that the pople of Secuieni were Rumanized, while the Csango people kept their language and Roman Catholic religion. He states, that they are the descendants of the population of old Cumanic Episcopate. He quotes a letter of the Pope written in 1234, in which the Pope mentioned the Saxons and Hungarians settled down here and came as workers not as colonizers into Moldova. The Giurescu dinasty was a very outstanding, important family of the Rumanian historiography, all the three, grandfather, father and son were the members of the Romanian Academy of Sciences. They mainly dealt with source research analyzing charters, chorincles in their most important works. The most significant work of Constantin C. Giurescu is titled as "Istoria romanilor" (The history of the Rumanians) volumes I-III., which was re-published as part of the Basic Works of Rumanian Culture series in 2000. In this work he describes several times the role of Hungarians in the territory beyond the Carpathians, the Banovina of Szörény, Secuieni County, and the Episcopate of Mikló (these are the historical Counties of Bákó, Vrancea and Roman). In another work of his "Sasii si ungurii in unele targuri moldovene" (Saxons and Hungarians in the Moldavian fairs) he also deals with the settling of Hungarians in Moldova. He concludes, that several names of towns are of Hungarian origin. In Harlau Stefan cel Mare voivode purchased grape land from Hungarian grape wine producers for 544 tataric zloty. In 1606 Eremia Moghila donated two Hungarian villages - Szabófalva and Berindeoti -, to the Cloister of Sacul. Until then these villages were principal properties. He mention the colony of Tatros as the oldest Hungarian colony, but also mentions the Hungarian colonies of Bákó, Szászkút, Adjud, Husi and other towns, remarking that the words of "oras, balci, birai and salgau" has Hungarian origin and they derived from the Hungarian words "város, búcsú, bíró and sóvágó". He mentions many times the Hungarian population of Moldavia and never questioning the origin of Hungarian Catholic people.

The Geographical Dictionary of each Counties of the Old Romania was published at the end of the 19th Century. The upper dictionary was used as source when Lahovari, Bratianu and Tocilescu edited the four volumes of "Marele Dictionar Geografic al Romaniei" (Great Geographical Dictionary of Romania), which described the etnographical conditions at the end of the Century. At the entries of Csango settlements the book often informed about the ethnic distribution of the population. Most of the people were mentioned there as Hungarians. E.g. there were 1862 persons mentioned as Hungarians and 76 persons as Rumanians in Lujzikalagor. The residents of Ploscuteni were mentioned as Hungarians. The book informed about Gajcsána, that only Hungarians dwelled there, as well as in the case of other settlements. Hungarian schools were established in 38 Moldavian villages during the education reform in 1948. The state authority eliminated all of these schools at the beginning of the fifties and it needed an excuse for it in front of the Soviet Union. So the authorities and the local Roman Catholic Curch (which had already helped the assimilation) started to generalize the idea about the Csango, that they were not real Hungarians, that they spoke a degenerated language and eventually they were of Rumanian origin.

This thesis started to spread in the seventies, in the time when the scientific life was brought under political goals. The representative of this generation was Dumitru Martinas, who established the speculation of Rumanian origin of the Csango people. According to his theory the Csango people are Rumanians, who escaped from Transylvania because of the forceful Hungarian assimilation.

The changes of Rumanina scientific point of view at the end of the 20th Century is realistically reflected by the changes of Csango entry explanations in the Dictionaries and Cyclopaedia published by the Rumanian Scientific and Encyclopedia Publishing Company. Until the end of the eighties the Csangos were explained as Sekler population settled down in Moldova. In the "Dictionar al limbii romane contemporane" (The Dictionary of Contemporary Rumanian Language) published in 1986 the Csango entry changed as follows: the name of a population of Rumanian origin living in Moldova which has two languages, their religion is Roman Catholic and they immigrated from South-East Transylvania.

There was a partial crawfishing in the 1st volume of Dictionar Enciclopedic. The marking of Rumanian origin was left out and the word explanation informed about a bilingual (Rumanian and Hungarian) population, which once immigrated from South-East Transylvania.

The conclusion is, that the Rumanian historiography considered the Csango as Hungarians and Hungarian originated people. This point of view was questioned in the Ceausescu era, when they tried to support the elimination of Hungarian schools in Bákó County with historical argument.

 

* = English translation by: BARNABAS JENES Ph.D. senior scientist H-2101 Gödöllö, P.O.Box 411, Hungary Agricultural Biotechnology Center Ph: +36-28-430-600, Fax: +36-28-430-482 Monocot Cell Biology Group E-mail: jenes@abc.hu, mobile: +36-30-368-8134

     

Copyright "Associazione Amici dei Csango" (Roma, Italy) - 2001