A Remembrance of the Past; Building for the Future." ~ Eve Eckert Koehler

Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors

Hőgyész (Tolnau) im 18. und 19. Jahrhundert Die Ansiedlungen in der "Schwäbischen Türkei"
JOSEF HOBEN. Uhldingen Muhlhofen
English Translation by Henry Fischer | Published at 12 Sep 2011 by Jody McKim Pharr

The Settlement of Swabian Turkey  

a)  Slavic Settlements 

  The Imperial-Royal Repopulation Patent of 1689 indicated that, "in the totally ruined and depopulated Kingdom of Hungary...everyone, regardless of status, nationality or religion, whether from within or outside the country, from the cities or countryside who are free citizens and loyal subjects," were free to come and settle. 

  The settlers--even during the Turkish period--were Slavic.  That was especially true of those in the Tolna as well as its neighbouring Counties, that thrust the remaining Magyar population to the north.  The Slavs (Croats, Serbs and members of other Slavic groups), who were also called Raizen, took on the unfamiliar work of the redevelopment of the land for which they had no experience.  For example, according to the parish chronicle of Szakadát, prior to the German settlement of the village in 1759, it was inhabited by Orthodox Serbs.  To be sure, the Raizen were not that well established at the time.  Their participation in the redevelopment of the area was relatively negligible. 

  The Slavs, in comparison with the resident Magyars, were not looked upon as peasant farmers but as cotters.  They did not receive an allotment of a full or half portion of arable land from the Estate owners but rather a quarter if any at all.  But they had the right of migration unlike the Magyars.  Migration was permissible on paying a tax that allowed them to do so.  They carried out extensive cattle rearing and moved around the countryside with their herds and in addition did some agricultural work as day labourers.  There is no way that we can consider such a limited view and outlook of the nomadic Slavs as comparable with the agricultural development and settlement of the land.  On the basis of their settlements they were not of the structure or order of the former villages in the area that were destroyed during the disastrous wars that had engulfed the land. 

  For that reason, even though these Slavic settlements existed, German peasant farmers were invited to come and settle.  Through their settlement the village boundaries were extended and what had been open pasture lands for the Slavs were divided up taking away their means of livelihood.  The Slavs lost more and more of their pasture lands and had to move on to other areas with their cattle.

b)  German Settlements 

  The underlying basis for the resettlement of Hungary as indicated in the Repopulation Patent of 1689 soon became known throughout the Holy Roman Empire. 

  The indigenous population, the Emperor's subjects in the Austrian hereditary lands, were promised three years of exemption from paying taxes, while those from outside the direct jurisdiction of the Habsburgs were promised five years because of the major costs they would have to bear to be transported there.  This meant:  all of those German subjects of the Empire who were willing to emigrate and settle on the State-owned domains in the Banat or on the private estates of the nobles would be exempt from paying taxes or any other levies for five years.  Early in the 1690s the first Germans emigrated to Hungary.  An example of this early phase of the settlement of the Germans is in the village of Keszӧhidegkút in Tolna County taking place in 1702.  These first emigrants came from Hessen and Bavaria but also from Fulda, Würzburg, the Palatinate and Alsace. 

  The first settlement operations occurred very much at random and were not of a planned or systematic nature.  They were simply by chance or due to opportunities that presented themselves at the moment that led to the settlement of German colonists in Hungarian villages.  Of prime importance for their decision to emigrate was the prospect of being freed from the feudal obligations and levies paid to their noble and the promise of free land and a building lot for a house.  Nevertheless during this early settlement period there was little in the way of positive results because up until 1711, the ambushes, raids and attacks by the Hungarian Kuruz rebels flared up constantly and the newly-founded former villages were destroyed and went up in flames.  In the immediate period which followed the nobles owning private estates were more determined than ever to bring German settlers to Hungary with the full support of the Emperor.  In 1712, Ladislaus Dóry de Jóbaháza, the owner of the Domain and estate of Tevel and its environs, was appointed an Agent of the Crown to provide direction and lead the way in bringing Germans to develop the devastated wastelands of Hungary.  Franz Felbinger was Dóry's agent in Germany, and was stationed in Biberach in Upper Swabia, where he functioned as his authorized recruiter.  In the meanwhile, in early 1712, the Roman Catholic nobles in the Swabian Districts received a request from Emperor Charles VI to grant their subjects permission to emigrate and shortly afterwards Felbinger had the first handbills printed in Riedlingen (Württemberg) with all kinds of promises that would appeal to the peasants that were circulated throughout all of southern Germany. 

  The settlement of emigrants from the south-western principalities of Germany was carried out on the basis of the recruitment of those eager and willing to go, while large numbers of colonists from the Austrian Alpine region were forced to go or were being punished with deportation:  "Undesirable elements" in the hereditary lands were dumped in the south-eastern regions of Hungary and criminal elements were deported to the Banat.  Rather famous and notorious was the "Temesvar Wasserschub" (a ship that the police used to transport prisoners) that was in operation in Vienna twice a year in May and October in the years between 1752 and 1768 that was loaded with undesirable persons that had been assembled by the police.  They were chiefly vagrants, smugglers, "work-shy" elements in the population and women with "loose morals" and were shipped to Temesvár in the Banat.  Of course they did not settle there but got back to Vienna at the first opportunity.

Next: The Early Colonization of Swabian Turkey

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