The Austrian Military Border (Militärgrenze) was a
territory subordinated directly to the Ministry of War (Hofkriegskammer)
where the language of command and administration was German. It
stretched from the Adriatic along the Sawe and the Danube to the
Carpathians. The border guards were soldiers and farmers at the same
time, Slovenians, Croats, Serbs, Romanians (around Karansebesch) and
Germans (around Pantschowa).
As part of a
reorganization of the Military Border that took place around 1778,
some estates belonging to the Agram (Zagreb) diocese were
expropriated and incorporated into the Military Border. In exchange
for the expropriated estates, the bishop of Agram received the
government-owned estates (Kameralgüter) Billiet (Billed),
Gertianosch, Kleinjetscha, Perjamosch and Pakatz in the Torontal
county, as well as Warjasch in Temesch county. The settlement of
these estates had been completed by the time of the Second Great
Swabian Migration (Schwabenzug 1763 – 1773), with the exception of
Prädium Pakatz, which was an uninhabited grass and pasture land.
In the decades after
1800, the bishop of Agram decided to open up Pakatz for agriculture.
From this development, he expected not only a higher profit, but
also improved security of the state highway Temeswar-Szeged.
The chronicles of
Alexanderhausen report that settlers from 26 neighboring villages
were willing to acquire land and settle in the proposed new village.
Their representatives signed a "contract of unlimited duration"
i.e., a perpetual lease, in 1832, which was ratified by Alexander
Alagovich, bishop of Zagreb, on January 1, 1833, at the session of
the legislative assembly in Preßburg/Posony (today’s Bratislava).
The contract, as
illustrated by its first paragraph reproduced above, is hand-written
in German, using the gothic alphabet, except for its title and some
proper names, such as the
proposed Latin name of the village – Alexandria, which use letters
of the Latin alphabet. A full text of the contract is reproduced in
the Heimatbuch Alexanderhausen (Ref.1).
Every one of the 100
farmers (Bauern) received a total acreage of 30 Joch, including a
one-Joch* village lot to build his house, yard, and garden.
Tradesmen and landless workers (Kleinhäusler, Inquilinen) received
only a one-Joch village lot to accommodate house, yard, and garden.
According to the
Contract, the settlers received the properties in lifelong lease,
with limited property rights. Their arable fields could not be
subdivided, sold, gifted, or even used as collateral for loans. A
father could leave his undivided land to one of his sons. An
exception was the house, which could be sold, but only with the
permission of the feudal landlord.
prescribes the obligations of the new settler in great detail. They
had to build their own houses; make yearly cash payments; deliver
specified quantities of wheat, oats and corn; and perform manual
labor (some with their own horses and carts) for the feudal landowner. The
feudal administration reserved for itself the exclusive right to
sell alcoholic beverages, operate butcheries, produce bricks,
operate mills, distil brandy, control hunting, and take a
ten-percent quota of lambs and honey. In addition, the feudal
administration reserved for itself the supreme jurisdiction and the
right to nominate or approve the village administration: the usually
elected reeve (Richter) and the appointed Notär. In any dispute
between the village or a villager and the feudal administration, the
administration was as much the accused as it was the judge!
administration had its seat in Billiet (Billed) where the chief
administrator (called "Prefect") resided in castle-style building.
The compound included a jail and it is said that villagers were held
there when they could not meet the heavy obligations arising from
The Bishop built the
church and appointed the priest, but the villagers had to maintain
the church and the school, as well as pay the priest and the teacher.
The villagers had to maintain the parish house, provide the priest
with fire wood, hay, and grains, and cultivate the 6 Joch belonging
to the priest and 8 Joch belonging to the church.
On June 26, 1848, 51
villagers signed a petition (actually a letter of complaints)
addressed to the Hungarian Ministry of the Interior, describing
their ongoing heavy burden resulting from the Contract (the
Hungarian text of the petition is reproduced in Ref 1).
The revolution of
1848 shook the feudal system to its foundations and the Hungarian
government was preparing to pass legislation for ending the
untenable situation of the contractual villages. In anticipation of
such regulation, the bishop of Agram produced a redemption contract
(Ablösungs-Vergleich) on June 28, 1868. The villagers finally became
free citizens and owner of their land – but only after paying to the
Bishop the hefty sum of 262,960 Gulden!
* 1 Joch = 1.422 acres = 5755 m2