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The Colonization of the Banat Following its Turkish Occupation

With particular emphasis on emigration from Lorraine and Luxemburg (Southern Belgian province of Luxemburg)

Author Unknown

Translated by Gabi Bugaisky, Lucia Stemper & Nick Tullius.
Explanatory notes provided by Gabi Bugaisky.
Publisher Jody McKim Pharr, 26 Oct 2007..
Images not included in original article.
German version by Lothar Renard
, of Triebswetter

The era of Turkish occupation began in Hungary proper in 1526 with the Battle of Mohács1 and in the Banat in 1552 with the fall of the marsh stronghold of Temesvár.2  The Hungarian army was annihilated by the Ottomans and with it, the Kingdom of Hungary.  The Treaty of Passarowitz3 on 21 July 1718 between Austria and the Turks ended the Ottoman occupation, which had lasted over 190 years in Hungary, and more than 160 years in the Banat.  During the time of Turkish rule, cities, towns, castles and monasteries were repeatedly plundered and destroyed, the inhabitants thereof murdered or carried away as captives.  Those who could flee did so.  Starting from an original number of over 4 million Hungarians, only about 1.5 million existed at the end of the urkish era. The depopulated land, completely reverted

to marshes and gone to ruin, desperately needed the efforts of industrious farmers and craftsmen to restore its fertility.  At the proposal of Prince Eugene of Savoy, the Banat was named a crown domain with Temeswar as the provincial capital.

The Banat is a part of the Pannonian lowland plain.  In medieval Hungary, a “Banat4 was a border region under the administration of a "ban," a proconsul of the Hungarian king.  Today it is the region that after the Treaty of Karlowitz5 in 1699  was designated as the "Temeswarer Banat." 

Prince Eugene

It is bordered in the north by the Mures6 river, in the west by the Tisa7 river, in the south by the Danube river, and in the east by the Carpathian mountains.  The Banat has an area of 28,523 km2 and is thus about as large as Belgium.  After the dissolution of the Danube Monarchy in 1918, the region came under a new political order.  Romania obtained about 18,000 km2 of the territory, Yugoslavia 10,000 km2 and Hungary the remainder.

At the time of the appointment in 1717 of Count Claudius Florimund Mercy (Lorraine field marshal, and Corps Commander of the imperial Banat as well as first governor of the Banat territorial administration), the Banat had only 663 towns/cities with 21,289 houses and about 90,000 inhabitants.  Subjects, including the former inhabitants who had fled, were

encouraged to settle in the reinvigorated villages.   Craftsmen and relatives of members of the army quartermaster corps from the German Empire and Austrian lands came to build barracks and fortifications.  These latter groups were promised 2 years freedom from taxation.  Miners from Tyrol, Styria, Saxony and Bohemia were settled in the mountainous portion of the Banat and were freed from both personal taxes and military service. Between 1711 and 1750, about 800 villages were founded in Hungary by German settlers.

Count Claudius Florimund Mercy

The largest waves of settlers came to the Banat during the three "Swabian Migrations" (Schwabenzüge).


The settlers of the "Swabian Migrations" came primarily from the southwest of the then German Empire, namely from Lorraine, the diocese of Trier, the Saarland, the Palatinate, and "Luxemburg," the latter which is commonly known today as the Belgian province of Luxembourg.  A smaller number of settlers originated from Franconia, Hessen, Baden, Wurttemberg, Alsace and the Sauerland (Westfalia). The term "Schwabenzug" was coined by the writer Adam Müller-Guttenbrunn. Although few settlers actually came from Swabia, the designation "Schwabe" became fixed in common usage.  Even today the use of the term "Schwabe" for an ethnic German is still widespread in the Balkans. There were two strong royal houses in the German Empire: the Wittelsbachs who ruled in Bavaria, and the Habsburgs. The latter had hegemony in the German-Austrian crown lands, provided the German Emperor and hence determined the settlement policy in the re-conquered areas of south eastern Europe.



The First Colonization; or First Schwabenzug (1723-1729); or Carolinian Settlement Period under Charles VI (1718-1737)

The Second Colonization; or Second Schwabenzug (1763-1770); or Theresian Settlement Period under Maria Theresa (1744-1773)

The Third Colonization; or Third Schwabenzug (1782-1787); or Josephine Settlement Period under Joseph II (1780 – 1790)

The "French" Colonization

The Voyage Down the Danube

The Grim Reaper

The New Homeland

Rediscovering the "French" Banaters by their Motherland

Related Article:
From the West to the East and from the East to the West: identity avatars of the French Banaters

Explanatory notes:

[1] Mohatsch (German) Location: 115 m S of Budapest, on right bank of Danube in Baranya county, Hungary; 45.99593° N 18.67985° E

[2] Temeschburg (German) / Temesvár (Hungarian) / Timisoara (Romanian) / Location: western Romania, on banks of Timis River (Tibiscus in Roman era);
45°45′35″N, 21°13′48″E 

[3] Passarowitz (German) / Požarevac (Serbian) Location: Serbia in Braničevo District; 44°37′12″N, 21°11′23″E

[4] The term “banat” originates from Persian, meaning lord or master, and was introduced into Europe by the Avars; it came to mean a frontier province or a district under military governorship.

[5] Karlowitz (German) /Sremski Karlovci (Serbian) / Karlóca (Hungarian) / Location: Batschka (Vojvodina), Serbia on bank of Danube, 8 km from Novi Sad
45°12′N 19°56′E

[6] Mureş (Romanian) / Maros (Hungarian) / Marosch (German) / Marisus in Roman era

[7] Tisa (Romanian, Serbian) / Tisza (Hungarian) / Theiss (German); Tissus, Tisia in Roman era, referred to as Pathissus by Pliny.






The First Colonization; or First Schwabenzug (1723-1729); or Carolinian Settlement Period under Charles VI (1718-1737)

After the re-conquest by imperial troops, the population of the Banat consisted mainly of Wallachians (Romanians), Raitzens (Serbs) and Hungarians, who lived as herdsmen and accompanied their animals over the landed estates.  As Turkish subjects, Greek and Jewish minorities had struggled as merchants.  Under the Turks, gypsies specialized in the gold and silver trades.  Agriculture was considered unimportant, and only pursued to fulfill one’s own needs (subsistence farming).  After the Treaty of Passarowitz, the Banat obtained a unique position as a crown land with its own administration.  By order of the emperor Charles VI, the Viennese court chamberlain’s office began in 1722 with the colonization of the desolated and depopulated area.  After the expulsion of the Ottomans, the land, which for the most part consisted as marshes, was initially settled mainly in the higher lying border regions of the Banat plain.   It was only after the construction of the Bega canal and the draining of the marshes that it was possible to develop more of the area.  The peasant colonists (all of whom had to be Catholic, as the ruler decided on the religion of his subjects) came from all countries where the German language was spoken at that time, from Luxemburg (actually the Belgian province of Luxembourg), Alsace, Lorraine, South Tyrol and even from Spain.  About 3000 families found a new homeland in the south and north of the Banat. The new settlers were brought to preexisting settlements (Perjamosch,8 Groß-St-Peter,9 Sarafol,10 and Groß-St. Nikolaus11), as long as they had not been "enticed away" by force, by Hungarian lords of the manor.  The colonists lived under poor conditions and suffered great hardships.  Many people unfortunately did not survive their settlement in boggy Hungary.  The Bega canal, which would drain the swamps of the Banat heath land, was begun in 1728-1733 and finally completed in 1753.  Of the approximately 15,000 settlers of the first Schwabenzug, most succumbed primarily to malaria.  The death rate was extremely high.  Renewed atrocities decimated the population, when the Turks again overran the Banat in 1738.  Between 1737 and 1739, only about 3000 persons entered the region.  They were housed in pre-existing towns, from which the previous inhabitants had fled or died.  Saderlach12 was settled by families from the Black Forest, Mercydorf13 with Italians and South Tyroleans, who were to establish silk culture and rice cultivation.  About 500 Catholic Clementiners14 came to Rekasch15 from Bosnia (which was Muslim) and about 1000 Catholic Bulgarians came to Winga16 and Alt-Beschenowa.17 Following the Turkish war of 1738, only about half the population survived in the 55 villages which previously had a total of about 20,000 German settlers.  Twenty eight destroyed villages were neither rebuilt nor resettled.  After an infantry battalion introduced a plague into the fortress of Temesvar in 1738, and the Turkish war had caused a mass exodus from the southern Banat, the achievements of the first Schwabenzug were almost wiped out.  After the Treaty of Belgrade (1739), renewed efforts were made to attract German craftsmen, farmers and merchants to the settlement.  Above all, skilled workers were in demand to repair and build fortresses and to rebuild the destroyed cities.  With respect to settlement policy, not much was accomplished by Charles VI after 1739.  He died on 20 October 1740. After the Hungarian parliament recognized the "Pragmatische Sanktion" (pragmatic sanction), with which Charles VI named his daughter as successor, the path was free for the 23-year old Maria Theresa to assume rule and occupy the throne.  In the first years of her reign, very few settlers colonized the Banat, as she was financially strapped because of the war of succession in Silesia (1748) and the Seven Years War (1756-1763).  In order to pay her war debts, Maria Theresa mortgaged the Banat to the Vienna City Bank for 10 million gulden. The bank was adverse to investments in the Banat.  War debts, lack of money and an anti-settlement attitude in the involved government offices hindered a larger settlement campaign.  Even so, there was an early Theresian colonization period in 1740-1754.  In addition to Romanians from Small Wallachia and from Bulgaria, about 2500 German settlers came to the Banat and settled in Neubeschenowa,18 St. Andreas19 and Tschanad.20 The new borders of the crown domain after the Turkish war also required a new Military Border in the southern Banat.  About 1748, the French colonization of the Banat began with emigration from Lorraine and surrounding regions.  The Bega canal was extended in 1759 under the direction of the Dutch engineer Max Fremaut, and connected to the Temesch through a system of locks, so that it could serve as a navigation channel for the arriving colonists.

Banater Schwaben Movement Map route of Origin areas to Banat

© Alex Leeb & Tom Leihn

The Second Colonization; or Second Schwabenzug (1763-1770); or Theresian Settlement Period under Maria Theresa (1744-1773) - New land for the colonists

Many landed estates (about 90 fallow pasturelands) in the northern Banat heath (the court chamberlain’s office wished to settle these) were still leased in 1763 to the Prädien Company (the livestock farmers’ trading company) by the Viennese court chamberlain’s office (Hofkammer).  The livestock farmers maintained enormous herds on the leased meadows (over 50,000 animals) and sabotaged, by any means possible, the necessary colonization of the landed estates (Prädien) by farmers and craftsmen.  Those Serbians and Romanians who lived on the heath farmed only for their own needs and thus did not enter into a conflict of interest with the herdsmen.  Maria Theresa’s orders that arriving colonists were to be placed not only into existing towns (which were quickly overwhelmed), but rather to establish new towns on the steppe pastures (puszta), were commonly carried out with delays or even completely ignored.  The influence of the stock farmers extended to the Banat Land Administration in Temeswar, which was responsible for colonization and establishment of villages.  Because of that influence, portions of the fields were only gradually removed from their leases, starting in 1766, and could consequently be settled, built up and cultivated on a large scale.  The land, which the colonists found and which had been allocated to them, was for the most part weedy, woody and in parts still swampy, wasteland.  Much work and diligence was necessary to clean up the weeds, marshes and thorny undergrowth and to subsequently till the land. As early as 1766, the tax revenues (42,000 gulden) from the new granaries surpassed the lease fees (30,000 gulden) for the pastures.  The Banat granary became the best tax source for the crown. 


About 11,000 families (about 42,000 persons) immigrated to the Banat in the Theresian settlement period.  For settlement of colonists, 200,000 fl (gulden) were appropriated annually between 1762 and 1772.  Thus, the establishment of 30 villages and the expansion of 27 additional towns cost the exchequer 2 million Rhenish guldens.  Immediately after the Treaty of Hubertusburg21 (1763) between Prussia, Austria and Saxony, settlement activity was again carried out on a grand scale.  The Bohemian-Austrian court chancellor’s office issued the Theresian colonization land patent on 25 February 1763, and called for settlement by officers, non commissioned officers, discharged soldiers and military members who had become invalids.  Villages were established, which (unlike in the first Schwabenzug) no longer lay in the higher parts of the heath, but lay instead in the western fallow lands in the center of the heath (in the former swamplands) which had been drained after the building of the Bega canal.  The towns of Albrechtsflor,22 Billed,23 Bogarosch,24 Charleville,25 Gottlob,26 Grabatz,27 Großjetscha,28 Hatzfeld,29 Heufeld,30 Kleinbetschkerek,31 Kleinjetscha,32 Lenauheim33, Lunga34, Marienfeld35, Mastort36, Nero37,  Ostern,38 Pesag,39 Seultour,40 St. Hubert,41 Triebswetter,42 Warjasch,43 and Wiseschdia44 were built for settlement.  The external borders of the monarchy urgently required to be secured and from economic considerations, additional subjects were called for colonization ("ubi populus, ibi obolus"45).  With the same land patent, subsequent to 1764 imperial subjects were also recruited for colonization.    They were granted a six year reprieve from taxes, free timber for construction and firewood, 24 Joch46 for cultivation, 6 Joch meadowland, 6 Joch pastureland, and 1 Joch housing lots.  Craftsmen received a ten year reprieve from taxation. In the second Swabenzug, as in the first, only Catholics were permitted to settle.   Protestants were either dispersed by caning or "converted" during the passage through Vienna.  They had to declare themselves willing to convert to the Catholic faith.


The Third Colonization; or Third Schwabenzug (1782-1787); or Josephine Settlement Period under Joseph II (1780 – 1790)


Joseph II was an admirer of Frederic II of Prussia.  He perceived the imperial coronation as a "ridiculous, obsolete ceremony."  When he came to power, he did not let himself being crowned in Hungary as king of the Magyars, but rather had the crown transported from Budapest to Vienna like a museum piece.  That enraged the class-conscious Hungarian nobility and started a prolonged conflict with the nobility, whose help Joseph II needed urgently, as he tried to diminish the conflicts between Catholic and Protestant in Hungary.  His predecessors had tried to strengthen the Roman–Catholic religion in mainly Calvinist Hungary.


In 1781 Joseph II signed the Edict of Tolerance (Toleranz-Edikt). Protestants were therefore admitted to the Third Swabian Colonization. The region south of Temeswar had not yet been fully settled.  Shortly after his accession to the throne on 21 September 1782, Joseph started with the settlement campaign that lasted until 1787. The imperial settlement proclamation promised freedom of religion and conscience, a new and comfortable house with garden for each family, and in addition, land, fields, farming tools, Graught and breeding animals for the families working in agriculture.  Craftsmen received an additional 50 gulden for the purchase of tools, as well as free boarding and fare for all, from Vienna to their destination.  Fourteen new villages were established. About 3,000 families are said to have found accommodation in these villages, as well as in already existing villages that were now on Hungarian territory.  As the southern Banat became battlefield again (Joseph II and Catherine II of Russia declared war on Turkey) the colonization had to cease.  After 1789 the government-sponsored settlement was discontinued. Individual settlers came to private estates until 1829. Whoever wanted to immigrate after that, had to prove possession of 500 gulden in cash.

The "French" colonization

The terms "French colonists" and "French colonization" imply that the colonists originated from German and French-Lorraine, from Alsace, and from the French Departments bordering on Alsace and Lorraine, as well as Luxemburg and southern Belgium (the province called Luxemburg).


As a rule, during the colonization of the Banat, settler families coming from the same region were settled as much as possible in the same village.  They followed that for decades.


The places of origin of the settlers of the Banat “French villages” St. Hubert, Charleville, Seultour, Mercydorf, Triebswetter, Ostern, Gottlob, Hatzfeld, Klein-Jetscha, Segenthau,47 and others,  are located southwest of the French-German language border, in the region of Metz- Saargemünd- Saarbourg- Nancy.  The indication of origin "ex Chateau Salins" appears extremely often in church books. "Luxemburgers" were well represented in Deutsch-Rekasch.  Both "Lothringer" and "Luxemburger" are historical terms that do not coincide entirely with the contemporary regions bearing their names.  Places located in today’s Rheinland-Pfalz and Saarland, are attributed to Lorraine in the settler listings, while villages in the districts of Saarbourg and Bitburg were once part of Luxemburg.  The Belgian city of Arlon is designated as being in Luxemburg.  The designation "aus dem luxemburgischen" often means the Belgian province called Luxemburg.  While locating the places of origin of the French settlers of the Banat, one has to consider the former territorial configuration of the countries of origin.


The "French" colonization of the Banat started about 1748 with emigration from Lorraine and the territories bordering on it.  The settlers from Lorraine that established Neu-Beschenowa in the summer of 1748 had to complete a military training ordered by Maria Theresia, so that they would be able to serve as soldiers in case of war.  By 1750 the villages St. Andreas and St. Martin48 had been established.  In an initial massive effort, both French- and German-speaking Lorrainers settled St. Andreas.  Mercydorf (Mercyfalva, named after the Lorraine general Mercy, who commanded the forces in the Banat) a small village founded 1735 only by Italians (the only Italian settlement in the Banat) received substantial reinforcement, repeated same in a second massive effort between 1763 and 1766. In 1756 Mercydorf consisted of a single street and provided shelter for 21 families from Lorraine.  Because of further arrivals during the 1769-71 period, other streets had to be built and Mercydorf became substantially "French." Upper Lorraine, which originally had a German population, was "Frenchicised" early on.  Occupied by the French in the Polish Succession War, the duchy was taken from the husband of Maria Theresia by the Vienna Peace Treaty of 1738 (he received Tuscany in its place) and given as sinecure to the Polish ex-king Stanislaus Leszczinsky, a protégée of France.  In accordance with the Treaty, Upper Lorraine reverted to France after Stanislaus’ death in 1766.  The extensive feudal estates of Falkenberg (Faulque Mont), Forbach, Püttlingen (Puttelanges) and Mörchingen (Morhange) were added.  Some districts of Luxemburg were also given to France (e.g., the free holding Rollingen in 1769).


The pauperization of Lorraine under Polish king Stanislaus Leszczinsky (1733-1766) caused people from almost all Lorraine villages to emigrate to the Southeast.  The French government did not treat its new subject gently.  It exploited the population with high taxes and oppressed them. Emissaries recruiting for the colonization of Banat, found especially open ears in the population of Lorraine and Luxemburg.  Many liked the prospect of finding a new homeland in the fertile Hungarian lands, under Maria Theresia, the spouse of their own legitimate duke.


Many settlers, among them many from Luxemburg, were recruited 1765/66 by baron Franz Valerius von Hauer, working for the margrave of BadenBetween 1765 and 1766, 3,141 families with about 14,000 persons came to the Banat.  The granted loan (called "Antizipation") had to be paid back after three free years.  It was controlled with the help of so-called "Antizipations-Büchel" (loan booklets).  The village of Billed was the first village to be established in the Banat heath ("Banater Heide") which was gradually being developed.  The "hunger year" 1769 caused an unforeseen wave of emigration from south western Germany and its bordering regions. 781 families came to the Banat, more than originally expected.  Despite a prohibition on emigration and massive interventions by the French government, emigrants from Luxemburg and Lorraine again formed the main part of the French colonists when colonization reached its apogee in 1770-71.


Often the settlers had to leave in secrecy, because the local authorities refused to give them permission to emigrate.  But the hope of achieving personal freedom in the new homeland and owning their house and land in hereditary tenure, challenged many oppressed subjects to pack their bags and disappear into the night.  By the end of 1770 3,276 families with more than 10,500 persons (half of them from Lorraine and Luxemburg) immigrated to the Banat It became nearly impossible to provide housing for them in the overcrowded existing villages.


From 1770 to 1773 4,935 families with 16,889 persons came into the Banat.  Overall, French subjects with German and French mother tongue constituted the majority of settlers during the colonisation under Maria Theresa. French settlers found accommodation in Mercydorf, Bruckenau,49 Jarmatha,50 Mastort, Heufeld, Neu-Beschenova, Hatzfeld, Groß-Jetscha, Csatad, Bogarosch, Grabatz, Deutsch-Beschenova,51 Billed, Marienfeld, Neu-Arad,52 Segenthau, Weißkirchen53 and Szöllös.54  Albrechtsflor55 was founded in 1770.  The French villages of St. Hubert, Charleville and Seultour came into being in 1771.  The villages of Ostern, Gottlob and Triebswetter were established by French settlers in 1772.  More settlers from Luxemburg came to Deutsch-Rekasch; the village Reschitze was founded in 1771; and the village Steierdorf56 in the Banat Hill Country in 1773/74.  Soon after, the Vienna Court was forced to temporarily stop colonization.  The administration in charge of settlement had failed at the exact moment when mass immigration from Lorrain and Luxemburg where flooding the Banat.


The colonization effort collapsed.  The settlers could no longer find accommodation.  The administration commissioners and district officials in Temeswar could have prevented the catastrophe by timely construction of housing and by taking local measures to provide preventive hygiene and medical services.  But they were mostly noblemen who avoided personal contact with the immigrant peasants and simple craftsmen, whom they considered low-class.  While in May 1770 only 900 families had been barely sheltered, when in the fall of that year more than 2,300 families with many children were cramped together and had little to eat.  They soon caught malaria, dysentery, and especially typhoid (called “Petetschenfieber” at the time). The catastrophic hygienic conditions caused epidemics and infectious diseases to spread.  Tired from weeks of travel and weakened from unsatisfactory provisions, many of them, especially older persons, did not have enough strength left, and just died.  Even though the official recruitment for the Banat was stopped, numerous settlers arrived in 1771 and 1772.  There was even a late-Theresian colonization period continued until about 1778.  The administrative body of the Banat ("Landesadministration des Temeswarer Banates") was abolished by imperial decree on 6 July 1778 and the Banat was handed over to Hungarian administration.  Maria Theresa died on 29 October 1780. With the proclamation of his decree of tolerance ("Toleranz Patent") by Emperor Joseph II on 26 October 1881, non-Catholic settlers were admitted as settlers of the Banat.


"The Bega"
Photo taken by Jody McKim

[8] Perjamosch (German) / Periam (Romanian) / Perjamos(Hungarian) Location: Timis County, Romania  ~ 52 km NW of Timisoara, 3 km S of  Mures River

[9] Gross St. Peter (German) / Nagyszentpéter (Hungarian) / Sânpetru Mare (Romanian) Location: Timis County, Romania ~ 2km W of Periam; 46° 2' 60"N, 20° 40' 0"E

[10] Sarafol (German) /  Sárafalva (Hungarian) /Saravale (Romanian) Location: Timis County, Romania ~ 10km E of Sânnicolau Mare;
46° 4' 0"N, 20° 43' 60"E

[11] Groß-St. Nikolaus (German) / Nagyszentmiklós (Hungarian) / Sânnicolau Mare (Romanian) Location: Timis County, Romania, 65 km NW of  Timisoara ~ 3 km S of  Mures River; 46° 4' 60"N, 20° 37' 60"E

[12] Saderlach (German) / Zádorlák (Hungarian) / Zădăreni (Romanian) Location: Arad County, Romania, on S bank of Mureş River ~ 7 km W of Arad;
46° 7' 60”N,  21° 13' 0E

[13] Mercydorf (German) / Merczyfálva (Hungarian) / Cărani (Romania) Location: Timis County, Romania, 20 km N of Timisoara
45° 54' 35" N, 21° 9' 38"E
Also see: French & German Settlers from Alsace-Lorraine, Luxembourg & Trier - includes 106 family names & a small list with statements of origin.  (Mercydorf 1734-1934 by Peter Schiff - II. Settlement ~ c.)

[14] Originally an Albanian tribe

[15] Rekasch (German) / Rekas (Hungarian) / Recas (Romanian) Location: Timis County, Romania, 25 km E of  Timisoara;
45° 47' 56"N, 21° 30' 3"E

[16] Winga (German) / Vinga (Hungarian) / Vinga (Romanian) Location: Arad County, Romania,  15km S of Arad;
46° 1' 0"N, 21° 11' 60E

[17] Alt Beschenowa (German) / Óbeba or Óbesenyő (Hungarian) / Dudeştii Vechi or Beba Veche (Romanian) Location: Timis County, Romania, 20km SE of Szeged Hungary; 46° 2' 60"N, 20° 28' 60"E

[18] Neubeschenowa (German) / Ujbesenyö (Hungarian) / Dudestii Noi (Romanian) Location: Timis County, Romania, 15 km NW of Timisoara;
45° 50' 16N, 21° 6' 2E

[19] Sanktandreas (German) / Szentandrás (Hungarian / Sânandrei (Romanian) Location: Timis County, Romania, 12 km N of Timisoara;
45° 51' 11N, 21° 10' 5E

[20] Tschanad (German) / Csanad (Hungarian) / Cenad (Romanian) Location: Timis County, Romania, at bank of Mureş River ~ 35 km SE of Szeged, Hungary;
46° 7' 60N, 20° 34' 60E
















[21] Hubertusburg is a palace in Saxony, and famous for the treaty signed here. It is between the towns of Oschatz (51° 18′ 0″ N, 13° 7′ 0″ E) and Grimma; 51° 13' 0" N, 12° 43' 0" E

[22] Albrechtsflor, Kleintermin (German) / Kisteremia, Teremé (Hungarian)  / Teremia Mica (Romanian) Location: Timis County, Romania;
45° 57' 27
" N 20° 29' 47" E

[23] Billed (German) / Bilyéd (Hungarian) / Biled (Romanian)  Location: Timis County, Romania; 45° 53' 11" N, 20° 57' 32" E

[24] Bogarosch (German) / Bogáros (Hungarian) / Bulgărus (Romanian) Location: Timiş County, Romania;
45° 55' 0
" N, 20° 49' 12" E

[25] Charleville (German) / Károlyliget (Hungarian) / Sarlevilu / currently Banatsko Veliko Selo (Serbian) Location: North Banat District, Vojvodina Province, Serbia
45° 49′ 23″ N,  20° 36′ 22″ E

[26] Gottlob (German / Kisösz (Hungarian) / Gotlob(b) (Romanian) Location, Timis County, Romania
45° 56' 2
" N, 20° 42' 36" E

[27] Grabatz, Grawatz (German) / Garabos, Grabacz, Grabac (Hungarian) / Grabat(i) (Romanian) Location, Timis County, Romania;
45° 52' 38
" N, 20° 44' 36" E

[28] Großjetscha (German) / Nagyjecsa (Hungarian) / Iecea Mare (Romanian) Location: Timis County, Romania;
45° 50' 57
"  N, 20° 53' 21" E

[29] Hatzfeld (German) / Zsombolya (Hungarian) / Jimbolia (Romanian) Location: Timis County, Romania;
45° 47' 29
" N, 20° 43' 2" E

[30] Heufeld (German) / Kistöszeg  (Hungarian) / Novi Kozarci, (Serbian ) Location: North Banat District, Vojvodina Province, Serbia;
45° 46' 54
" N  20° 37' 20" E

[31] Kleinbetschkerek (German) / Kisbecskerek (Hungaryian) / Becicherecul-Mic (Romanian) Location: Timis County, Romania;
45° 49' 45 N 21° 3' 5 E

[32] Kleinjetscha (German) / Kisjecsa (Hungarian) / Iecea Mică (Romania) Location: Timis County, Romania;
45° 49' 20
N,  20° 55' 18E

[33] Lenauheim (German) / Csátád (Hungarian) / Lenauheim (Romanian) Location: Timis County Romania;
45° 52' 19
N, 20° 47' 58E

[34] Lunga (German) / Lunge (Hungaryian) / Lunga (Romanian)  Location: Timis County, Romania; 45° 52' 53N Long (DMS) 20° 35' 9E

[35] Marienfeld (German) / Nagyteremia, Mariafölde (Hungarian) / Teremia Mare, Marjafeld, (Romanian) Location: Timis County Romania 45° 56' 7N 20° 31' 30E

[36] Mastort (German) / Kistöszég (Hungarian) / Novi Kozarci (Serbian) Location: North Banat District, Vojvodina Province, Serbia; Yugoslavia 45° 46' 54”N  20° 37' 20” E

[37] Nero (German) / Nyero (Hungarian) / Nerău (Romanian) Location: Timis County, Romania 45° 58' 8” N, 20° 33' 29” E

[38] Ostern, Kleinkomlosch (German) / Kiskomlos (Hungarian) / Comlosul Mic (Romanian) Location: Timis County, Romania; 
45° 50' 58” N  20° 39' 57”E

[39] Pesag, Pesak (German) / Pészak  (Hungarian), Pesac (Romanian) Location: Timis County, Romania;
45° 59' 39
N ,20° 49' 57E

[40] Seultour, Soltur (German) / Szent Borbola, Szoltur, Szeultorn (Hungarian) / Solturu, currently Banatsko Veliko Selo (Serbian)  Location: North Banat District, Vojvodina Province, Serbia;
45° 49′ 23″ N, 20° 36′ 22″ E

[41] St. Hubert (German) / Szent Hubert (Hungarian) /Sveti Hubert, currently Banatsko Veliko Selo  (Serbian) Location: North Banat District, Vojvodina Province, Serbia;
45° 49′ 23″ N,  20° 36′ 22″ E

[42] Triebswetter (German) / Nagyösz (Hungarian) / Tomnatic (Romanian) Location: Timis County, Romania;
45° 59' 16
N,  20° 39' 27 E

[43] Warjasch (German) / Várjás (Hungarian) / Variaş  (Romanian)  Location: Timis County, Romania; 46° 1' 0 N,  20° 56' 60 E

[44] Wiseschdia (German) / Kisvizésdia (Hungarian) / Vizejdia (Romanian) Location: Timis County, Romania;
45° 56' 32
N ,  20° 39' 11E

[45] The phrase "ubi populus, ibi obolus" is difficult to translate precisely, but generally means that the sooner a place is populated, the sooner it will generate revenue.

[46] One joch is the area of a square 40 klafters (about 83 yards) on a side (1klafter»1.9m)The Joch  thus comes to 0.5755 hectare (1 hectare=10000 m2) or about 1.422 acres. Joch is also the German word for a yoke, so this unit represents an area that could be plowed in a day by a yoke of oxen.

[47] Segenthau (German) / Németság (Hungarian) / Şagu (Romanian)  Location: Arad County, Romania, 15 km S of Arad, 46° 2' 60”N,  21° 16' 60” E


[48] Sankt Martin, Arad SanktMartin (German) / Szentmarton (Hungarian) / Sânmartin  (Romania)  location in Arad County, Romania,  25 km NE  of Arad, about 3 km east of Hungarian border;  46° 25' 39”N, 21° 22' 44” E
























[49] Bruckenau (German) / Hidásliget (Hungarian) / Pişchia (Romanian) Location: Timis County, Romania, 21 km NNE of Timisoara; 45° 54' 11”N  21° 20' 14”E


[50] Jarmatha, Jahrmarkt (German) / Temesgyarmat, Ghiarmata, Gyarmatha (Hungarian) / Giarmata, Johrmark, Gyarmata (Romanian) Location: Timis County,  Romania, 14 km NE of Timisoara  45° 50' 18N Long (DMS) 21° 18' 39E


[51]  Deutsch-Beschenova (German); no info on location, may be part of Beschenowa


[52] Neu-Arad (German)/ Ujarad (Hungarian) / Aradu Nou (Romanian)  Location: Arad County Romania, suburb of Arad, on opposite bank of Mureş, 46° 8' 60N Long (DMS) 21° 19' 0E


[53] Weißkirchen (German) / Fehértemplom (Hungarian) / Bela Crkva (Serbian) Location: South Banat District, Vojvodina Province, Serbia 44° 53' 51” N 21° 25' 2” E


[54] Nakodorf, Sellesch (German) / Nakofálva, Nakohálma, Szöllös (Hungarian) / Nakovo (Serbian) Location: North Banat District, Vojvodina Province, Serbia, 5kM NE of Kikinda 45° 52′ 0″ N 20° 34′ 0″ E


[55] Albrechtsflor, Kleintermin (German) / Teremé, Kisteremia (Hungarian) / Teremia Mică (Romanian) Location: Timis County, Romania, 15 kM SW of Sânnicolau Mare, ~8kM N of Kikinda Serbia 45° 57' 27”N 20° 29' 47”E


[56] Steierdorf, Steierdorf-Anina (German / Stajerlakanina (Hungarian) /  Steierdorf Anina , Location: Caras-Severin County, Romania, 35km S of Reschitza, 32 km ESE of Lugoj, 45°5′30″N, 21°51′12″E

The Voyage down the Danube


In the year 361 the Romans already used the Danube for transporting their soldiers.  The crusaders valued the Danube as a transportation route originating in Ulm.  During the Carolinian, Theresian and Josephine Colonization's, Ulm played only a secondary role as a hub for the assembly and embarkation of colonists headed for the Banat or Hungary.  It became the main departure point for all German settlers (mostly from Württemberg), that travelled to Russia and the Black Sea, starting about 1880.  Their "ships" were essentially rafts made of wood, popularly known during the nineteenth century as "Ulmer Schachteln" - "Ulmer Zillen" or "Ulmer Plätten."  Even so, about 30 persons arrived in Ulm every day wanting to travel to the Banat.  The voyage on the Danube toward Hungary and the Banat started mostly in Ehingen, Biblingen, Lauingen, Marxheim, Donauwörth, Günzburg (belonging to Swabian Austria) or in RegensburgGünzburg und Regensburg were the main hubs for the assembly and embarkation of colonists headed for the Banat.  The travel passes for continuing their journey on the Danube were issued by Austrian Commissioners in Regensburg.  These passes permitted the entry of the colonists to the Imperial States at Engelhartzell.  The activity in Regensburg was hectic.  Many folks from south and west Germany gathered there, from Hessen, Franconia, Nassau, Westphalia, from the Rhineland Palatinate, from Luxemburg, Elsaß and Lothringen.  The means of transportation on the Danube soon had to be upgraded.  Not enough "ships" were available.  Uneven water levels, rapids, sandbanks, and rocks in the navigation channel presented insurmountable difficulties for large ships with deep draught.  The only practical "ships" were light rafts-type vehicles, steerable by oars, usable only for down-river travel.  Various sizes could carry 20, 80, or 150 passengers.  They were also known as "Zillen" or "Kehlheimer Plätten."

The rafts were carpenter-made, unrefined and untarred.  Upon their arrival in Vienna, Pest, or any Hungarian port, they were dismantled and the logs could be sold for firewood, or used as building material for the houses of the settlers in the Banat.  In the middle of the rafts there was 10-foot high shack, divided into two rooms.  In the rooms, things were lying, sitting, or standing on top of each other.  In addition to household utensils, the settlers took along farming utensils, scythes, saws, axes, clothing, and domestic animals.  For their overnight stays, passengers that could not afford to pay for room and board at the inn, carried along their own straw mattresses, kettles, pans, and groceries.  As they did not travel at night, the trip took six to nine days to Vienna.  Under adverse conditions such as rain and fog, it could take 12 to 14 days. Most emigrants chose the months of May and June for their departure, when it was neither too warm nor too cold for travelling.  The emigrants needed to have a lot of patience, as they often had to wait days for their departure. Those who helped with the rowing did not pay a fare and received free food (although the sailors were not exactly gourmets!). The others paid one Kreuzer for each person and mile.  The complete trip from Regensburg to Vienna cost 4 Gulden per person.  That was a lot of money in those days, for a river voyage that not without considerable risks.  Because of the light construction of the rafts, the lives of the passengers were at risk especially while on the upper Danube.  Cliffs, rapids, and sandbanks hampered the trip.  During floods or high water levels, the cliffs could not be seen.  Many rafts were smashed or capsized in the rapids and travellers drowned in the waters of the Danube.

The rafts travelled via Straubing to Passau.  In Passau they stopped for a day, and the emigrants received the first installment of their travel allowance from the Austrian administration: 3 Gulden per person for the travel to Vienna; in Vienna they received another 3 Gulden per person for the travel to Hungary.  At Engelhartzell, on the Bavarian/Austrian border, the boats rested another day for customs clearing.  The Austrian customs agents collected duty and subjected the emigrants to a thorough inspection.  Lutheran Bibles were confiscated and burned.  The voyage continued to Linz.  From there it was only three days to Vienna.   Before getting there, they had to pass the most dangerous part of the trip: the cliffs of Düppstein (two days after passing Engelhartzell).  A large rock in the middle of the Danube caused the vortices feared by passengers and sailors alike.  The oars were pulled in and the sailors asked the passengers to pray an "Our Father" each in his own language.  Then the raft was left to the floods, as no steering was possible.  After another day they reached Vienna.  The rafts entered the Donaukanal at the Nußdorf customs station and landed in Rossau, a suburb of Vienna.  Here the colonists had to stay close to the river port and wait for information regarding their departure.  Since most could not afford to stay over night at the inn, they to eat and sleep in the open.  Bad weather caused many colonists to get sick and died later.  Also in Vienna, the emigrants had to present themselves at the Imperial Chamber to receive their documents for the Banat (a warranty certificate or even a settler’s pass).  When the time for departure came and the emigrants were already gathered on their raft, an employee of the Imperial Chamber appeared and handed them the second installment of their travel allowance (3 Gulden per person) for the their continuing journey to Ofen (Budapest).  To keep track of the costs, the names of all colonists were entered in a clearing list ("Wiener Abfertigungslisten"). These lists play a major role in genealogical research. The colonists were expected to make true statements about their place of origin, occupation, and religion.

Those falsely claiming to be farmers, only to obtain land and fields in the Banat, were whipped and turned away.  Religion was also taken very seriously.  Only Catholics were accepted, as the Crown wanted to reinforce the Catholic element in Protestant Hungary.  If somebody was suspected of being Evangelical, he was either beaten up and chased away, or taken to the priest at the church Maria am Gestade for religious instruction.  If he did not bring back the proper attestation, he did not get a settler’s pass.

Often the journey on the Danube came to an end in Vienna or Ofen (old designation of Budapest).  Every raft was dismantled and sold, as it could not travel up the Danube to its home.  The sooner the owners of the raft could sooner journey was ended and the raft was sold. When they arrived in Vienna, many “raft-dismantlers” were waiting to take the rafts apart and sell the wood.  Many rafts never made it beyond Vienna.  The raft personnel returned home by land, and the “captain” lived dangerously because he carried the money received from the sale of the wood.  Some rafts continued down the Danube, past Ofen and Peterwardein57 to Titel58 on the river Theiß/Tisza and then up the Bega canal to Temeswar.  The Bega canal had been built in the 1728 to 1733 period for the purposes of draining the extensive swamplands in the Banat and providing a waterway between Temeswar and the Theiß. During the early years of colonization, the settlers left their “ships” at Pantschowa59 and Neupalanka.60  From 1736 to 1748 they were taken over by the Banat authorities at Titel and pulled up the Bega on different rafts. Eventually locks were built to connect the rivers Bega and Temesch.  Pulling the rafts upriver was excruciatingly hard work, often performed by prisoners when wageworkers were unavailable.

A comparison of the Viennese clearing lists with the settling lists indicates that the settlers mostly arrived in the Banat 4 weeks after their departure from Vienna.                                       

With the arrival of 1,385 families comprising 5,568 persons, the great government-sponsored colonization was concluded in 1773.  After that date, only individual settlers travelling at their own costs were accepted. 



"The Danube River"
Click image to enlarge
Photo taken by Jody McKim


"Ulmer Schachtel"
by Stefan Jäger

Click image to enlarge
Provided by Wanda Mehrfeld










































[57] Peterwardein (German) / Pétervárad, (Hungarian) / Petrovaradin (Serbian) Roman town of Cusum,   location: South Bačka District, Vojvodina Province, Serbia on  S bank of Danube across from Novi Sad 45° 14' 48”N 19° 52' 46”E.


[58] Titel, Theisshügel (German) / Titel, (Hungarian) / Titel, Tumen  (Serbian) Location: South Bačka District, Vojvodina province, Serbia  on Bank of Tisa River 45° 12' 22”N 20° 17' 40”E


[59] Pantschowa (German) / Pancsova (Hungarian) / Pančevo (Serbian); Location: 15kM NE of Belgrade  44° 52′ 0″ N , 20° 38′ 0″ E


[60] Neupalanka (German) / Új-Palánka, Palánk (Hungarian) / Banatska Palanka (Serbian),  Location: South Banat District, Vojvodina Province, Serbia, 44° 50' 33” N 21° 19' 36” E

The Grim Reaper

At the time of the colonization, extensive swamplands were part of the Banat.  During the summer, the shallow standing waters rotted away, spreading a horrible stench around the area (in Italian: bad air = mal-aria). The anopheles mosquitoes had their breeding nests in the swamps.  In the evening swarms of mosquitoes entered the villages and spread malaria, called "Hungarian sickness" by the colonists. Those infected suffered from headaches, stomach pains, diarrhea, delirium, thirst, and rashes.  They were in a continuous febrile, dull and indifferent state and lost consciousness. At the time, there was no treatment for the disease. The Banat was became commonly known as "The grave of the Germans."

Dying of an unimagined magnitude began in the summer of 1770. The disease (typhus) affected thousands of people in the Banat.  Just in tiny, overcrowded Mercydorf, more than 220 persons died in 1770, among them 144 new arrivals.  The number of deaths in the following year was not much smaller.  Repeated requests from the villages were ignored by the administration in Temeswar.  The extent of the dying was hushed up by the administration.  Only a few hundred cases were reported to the Viennese Court.  The administration feared that an investigation against those responsible would be carried out.  They did not build the housing required for the colonists on time.  The colonists were squeezed into overcrowded villages and houses, creating catastrophic conditions of hygiene.

In view of the disastrous situation created, a decree dated 14 November 1770 declared the colonists free to leave.  They were allowed to settle on the estates of Hungarian landed nobility, and many did (Prot Exhib 1771 Nr.1504, Staatsarchiv Wien).  Half of the Lothringian names that disappeared at the time from the church books, reappeared later in later in Triebswetter, St. Hubert, Charleville, Seultour, and Ostern.


The New Homeland

Many villages had been established.  The size of the land area belonging to each village reflected the number of its settlers.  As an example, the French village of Triebswetter, established in 1772, had 6,059 Katastraljoch (or 96,944 Square Klafter) of arable land, for 200 farmers.  The "full farmers" as a rule received a full "session" comprising ˝ Joch for the house, ˝ for threshing [with horses. NT], 24 Joch arable land (triple cultivation: winter crops, summer crops and fallow land), and 6 Joch meadowland. Then there were the "half session farmers."  The state remained the owner of the land, the farmer had the right of use.  House and land could not be divided but could be transferred by hereditary lease.  The industrious settlers soon achieved an appropriate measure of prosperity, and the contact with the motherland was gradually lost.   In the run-up to the French revolution many “Frenchmen” fled to the Banat (such as the priest Anton Bonnaz from Chalex, Dept. Ain, who went to Triebswetter) and were well received in the "French villages."  There were never any pure French colonist villages in the Banat.  Every “French village” had, beside the "Lothringergasse" (Lorraine Street) and the "Luxemburgergasse" (Luxemburg Street), also a street with a small German minority, a part of which also spoke French.  For this reason the settlement received priests that mastered both languages.  The instruction in their schools was bilingual.  From about 1800 more and more Germans settled in the "French villages" and by 1830 only very old persons spoke a few scraps of French.


Rediscovering the "French" Banaters by their Motherland

The interest of their motherland in the descendants of the French colonists was re-awakened only in 1835.  French travellers to the orient (writers and scholars), who passed through the Banat, reported back about the French-Lorraine settlements they visited or in which they had stayed overnight.  One of the first to report about French villages was baron Charles d`Haussez in 1835.  The baron was in transit to the orient. After him, prince Henri de Artois, duke of Chambord-Bourgon stopped in Triebswetter, again in transit to the orient.  The prince  paid 1,3 million Gulden for  the Prädium Toba and the settlements St. Hubert (initially 75 settlers); Charleville (initially 62 settlers); Seultour (initially 62 settlers); Mastort; and Heufeld that had been established by French colonists, and owned them as lord of the manor until his death in 1883.

In 1876 professor Louis Hecht from the University of Nancy undertook a study trip to the French of the Banat.  He was disappointed that from the middle of the nineteenth century French was no longer spoken anywhere in the Banat and almost all the French name had been bowdlerized.

Until 1944, numerous descendants of the colonists from German and French-Lorraine, Alsace, from Luxemburg and Southern Belgium (the province called Luxemburg) were living in the former French villages. Many "French" were expelled after WWII and scattered all over.  About 7000 of them were welcomed in France and settled in 20 different Departements. Only in La Roque-sur-Pernes near Avignon there is a single compact "Danube-Swabian" settlement.

The Banat Germans who remained behind in Romania were expropriated and deported, under the pretext that they had cooperated with the enemy in a treasonous manner.


Last Updated: 04 Feb 2020

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