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Welcome to Transylvania!

A brief hystorical presentation.

  • 12th-16th centuries: about 3,000 traveling scholars form Transylvania study at Western Europe’s universities, bringing Transylvania into living contact with the most outstanding scholars in Europe
  • 1568: Principality of Transylvania declares religious toleration by law for the first time in history
  • 1581: Transylvania`s first college, a Jesuit academy is founded by István Báthory, (who is both Prince of Transylvania and King of Poland). The college is disbanded following Báthory`s death and the expulsion of the Jesuits from Transylvania
  • 1622: Collegium Academicum established in Gyulaferhérvár (Alba-Iulia) by Prince Gábor Bethlen, who invites Western Europe`s best-known instructors. Later, as a result of attacks by the Turks, the Collegium is moved to Nagyenyed (Aiud), where the academy was a bastion of the Reformation for nearly 300 years.
  • 1768: University at Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca) reestablished by the Jesuits order. Expanded in 1774-1775 to include schools of law and medicine-
  • 1786: Habsburg Emperor Joseph II demotes university to rank of lyceum and changes language of instruction from Latin to German. Schools of Law, Arts and Letters, and Medicine continue to function as part of lyceum.
  • 1857: Transylvanian Museum Association founded in Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca) after the failure of 1848 liberal revolution delays plans for a modern university. Association lays intellectual foundations for later university, and remains the most influential Hungarian intellectual association in Transylvania today.
  • 1872: Franz Josef I. Royal Hungarian University established in Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca) by Hungarian Parliament. University operates as Hungarian-language institution, with a Romanian section, until the end of World War I.
  • 1919-1920: After Transylvania is transferred to Romania; Romanian authorities eliminate Hungarian university and replace it with the Ferdinand I. Royal Romanian University.
  • 1940: With part of Transylvania is reannexed to Hungary, the Franz Josef Hungarian University reopens.
  • 1944: With Transylvania under Soviet occupation, Hungarian institution functions under the name of University of Kolozsvár.
  • 1945-1959: Romanian Communist rule allows functioning of the independent, state-founded Hungarian Bolyai University in Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca). The institute of Medicine and Pharmacology and the School for Music and Theater Arts, move to Marosvásárhely (Târgu Mureş) and function as independent Hungarian institution.
  • 1956: Revolution in Hungary crushed by Soviet forces and the Hungarian-language educational network in Romania is dismantled, beginning with the university.
  • 1959: In Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca) Bolyai University is forced to merge with Romanian Babeş University, accompanied by a campaign of terror and intimidation personally directed by then-Party Secretary Nicolae Ceauşescu.
  • 1959-1989: Hungarian section and Hungarian professorships at the nominally bilingual Babeş-Bolyai University are gradually cut back or eliminated. Proportion of Hungarian students attending any institution of higher education drops precipitously, as not only Bolyai, but all Hungarian institutes of higher learning are curtailed or closed.
  • 1989: Popular revolt overthrows dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu. Hungarian minority leaders join the new government, which announces intention to restore independent, publicly-funded , Hungarian-language university.
  • 1995: Half a million members of Hungarian minority sign a petition calling for the Romanian state to reverse the 1959 destruction of their university.
  • 1990-1999: Despite repeated promises, Romanian government fails to enact legislation allowing an independent Hungarian university, or to remove discriminatory clauses from Education Law.
  • 2000: Leaders of the four Hungarian churches in Transylvania form the Sapientia Foundation to establish a private independent university. Parliament of Hungary votes to provide the seed money (7 million dollars) for the creation of the Sapientia Hungarian University of Transylvania.
  • 2001: Sapientia Universtity opens its gates in three transilvanian towns: Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca), Marosvásárhely (Târgu Mureş), and Csíkszereda (Miercurea Ciuc).
  • 2012: Sapientia University gains final accreditation, and earns the Erasmus Extended University Charter.

Did you know?

These notable scholars, writers, artists and statesmen are all Hungarians of Transylvanian origins.

János Hunyadi (1407?-1456): Born in Hunyad (Hunedoara), a Hungarian general and governor of the Kingdom of Hungary, who was a leading commander against the Turks. For his 1456 extraordinary triumph over the Turkish army threatening Europe, Pope Calixtus III. ordered Catholic countries all over the world to ring the church bells every day at noon to commemorate the victory.

Mátyás Hunyadi (1443-1490): Renaissance king of Hungary, son of János Hunyadi, born in Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca). During his 32-year rule, Hungary became one of the most powerful countries in Europe.  He was famous not only for his military success over the Turks and the Habsburgs (he occupied most of present-day Austria including Vienna), but he was also a major benefactor of culture and science. Embracing humanistic ideas and providing space in his court for foreign humanities, including the writers Janus Pannonius and Antonio Bonfini, he founded a great library, the Corvina, which became more extensive and richer than of the Medici in Florence.

Ferenc Dávid (1510-1579): Influential preacher, writer and theologian born in Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca). During the most troubled times of Central European history when the struggle between Catholicism and Protestantism unleashed violent conflicts, he was able to establish the Unitarian Church in Transylvania, which still stands today as a stronghold of Unitarianism, and persuade the Transylvanian Diet in 1568 to declare, for the first time in world history, the freedom of religion.

János Apáczai Csere (1625-1659): Leading Protestant scholar and writer born in Apácza (Apaţa), he started his studies at the University of Franeker and later went to Leiden University, Utrecht University and in 1651 he earned a doctorate in theology from the University of Harderwijk. His chief works was a Hungarian Encyclopaedia, published in 1653, in which he endeavored to sum up the knowledge of his time.

Sándor Kőrösi Csoma (1784-1842): Born in Kőrös (Chiuruș), a catalyst in introducing Tibetan culture to the West. After studies at the University of Göttingen, he traveled to Asia to study the origins of Hungarians. As a result of his 11-year stay in Tibetan monasteries, he produced the first ever Tibetan-English dictionary.

János Bolyai (1802-1860): Outstanding mathematician, founder of non-Euclidean geometry. Born in Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca), by the age of 13, he had mastered calculus and other form of analytical mechanics, taught by his father Farkas Bolyai. He spoke nine languages, including Chinese and Tibetan. In 1832 he published a treatise on a complete system of non-Euclidean geometry, prompting Gauss to laud Bolyai a “a genius of the first order”.

János Arany (1817-1882): Born in Nagyszalonta (Salonta), Hungary`s greatest epic poet, whose work was based on Hungarian folk traditions. He produced literary treatises of lasting value, landmark translations of Shakespeare and Aristophanes and ballads unsurpassed in Hungarian literature. His Toldi trilogy – an epic tracing the life of a 14th century Hungarian hero – remains the finest narrative poem in Hungarian literature.

Samu Teleki (1845-1916): Born in Sáromberke (Dumbrăvioara), a noted explorer who discovered and named Lake Rudolf (now also called Lake Turkana) and Lake Stefanie (now Chew Bahir), in northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia. He also added significantly to the knowledge of the previously unexplored highlands of East Africa.

Endre Ady (1877-1919): Born in Érmindszent  (now Ady Endre) one of Hungary`s greatest lyric poets. His poems, influenced by French symbolism, were revolutionary in their form, language and content, signaling a break from earlier poetic tradition of János Arany and Petőfi Sándor. Having spent considerable time in Paris where he became familiar with new literary fashions, he published 10 volumes of poetry in 12 years as well as short stories and countless articles.

Béla Bartók (1881-1945): Born in Nagyszentmiklós (Sânnicolau Mare), world-famous composer, pianist, ethnomusicologist and teacher, noted for the Hungarian flavor of his major musical works, which include orchestral works, string quartets, piano solos, several stage works, a cantata, and a number of settings of folk songs for voice and piano.

Áron Tamási (1897-1966): Born in Farkaslaka (Lupeni), he wrote beautifully stylized novels on the life of the Székelys, an ethnic Hungarian group that inhabits part of Transylvania.

Brassaï (1899-1984): His original name was Gyula Halász. Born in Brassó (Braşov), he was photographer, poet, draftsman and sculptor, known primarily for his dramatic photographs of Paris at night. He settled in Paris in 1924, where he was in contact with such artists as Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí and the writer Henry Miller.


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December 2021