Archiver > BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER > 2000-01 > 0948048014

From: <>
Subject: [BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER-L] BB News No. 72A dtd 15 Jan 2000
Date: Sun, 16 Jan 2000 13:40:14 EST

(issued biweekly by
January 15, 2000

This second section of the 3 section newsletter has the second installment of
another view of Croatian settlement in the Burgenland, translated from the
German and excerpted here. It is brought to us by member Bruce Klemens who
did the translation. He cautions us that he has not sought permission from
the author or publisher to publish his translation on the net, and thus it
should not be copied or used in total or used in any way without mentioning
the source and the author. Of importance to our research is the description
of the destruction of Burgenland villages and the accompanying depopulation,
leading to subsequent migration and colonization. You will find a description
of land holdings. There is also a translation of a Latin land contract
between the settlers and the Gssing Herrschaft. The contract appears to be
for the village of Szt. Miklos (St. Nicholas) now part of Gssing.

Excerpts from Das Schicksal der Burgenlndischen Kroaten(The Destiny of the
Burgenland Croats)by Bela Schreiner (... indicates breaks in translation)

Das Schicksal der Burgenlaendischen Kroaten Durch 450 Jahre by Bela
Schreiner. (or in Croatian: Sudbina Gradiscanskih Hrvatov Kroz 450 Ljet);
Eigentuemer, Verleger und Herausgeber: Kroatischer Kulturverein Dr.
Karallstrasse 23, 7001 Eisenstadt, Postfach 26-publishers date about 1983.

German language edition may be purchased from:


Note: this site provides much ethnic Croatian information as well as
commercial genealogical publications, coats of arms, etc. It is a not a
Burgenland Croatian source as such but if you have Croatian links you will
find many items of interest.

The Situation of the Resettlers

The revival of the west Hungarian land and economy from the Raabtal (Raab
River valley) up to Pressburg (Bratislava, began with the arrival of the
Croats. They showed great diligence and courage in the resettlement of the
country that included: farming the land, tending vineyards, cattle breeding,
building new houses, repairing ruins and expanding the settlements.

The majority of the resettlers were farmers, field workers, or laborers... As
numerous property registers show from that time, the farmers were divided as
follows according to the size of the land assigned to them by the landlords.

Full sessione list: These received arable land up to 30 acres and up to 3
acres of pasture. Next to their house they had a vegetable or fruit garden.

Three-Quarters sessione list: These were farmers who possessed only 3/4 of a
sessione, which included up to 20 arable acres and 2 acres of pasture.

Half sessione list: Their property included up to 15 acres of arable land
and up to 1 acre of pasture.

One-Quarter sessione list: These managed up to 7 acres of arable land and up
to one acre of pasture. Through property divisions, there was even a
One-Eighth sessione list.

Cottagers and small tenants received only one basic unit of property, on
which they could build their little house and grow their small garden. But
they had to perform "Robot" (certain services for their lords).

Usually the farmers had a contract with their landlord that precisely
documented their rights and obligations. One such contract, from the year
1558, survives in a well-preserved document, drawn up in Latin. It was
between Count Franz Batthyny and 25 of the aforementioned Croats, who
originated from Slavonia and had settled on his estate in the vicinity of

In this contract it was first stated that Count Franz Batthyny, "Counselor
of his majesty King Ferdinand," had given these resettlers a deserted place
near Gssing with mixed woodland and bushes (Ed.- Sankt Miklos-St.
Nicholas?). He initially gave them 12 years full exemption from paying taxes
and property assessments.

"And now, since these 12 years had passed, they came to him as his subjects
and asked that they might draw up a new contract with him, which would
forever regulate all their obligations to the landlord. The terms are stated
in the contract:"

"We (Count Batthyny) listened to their wishes, since we appreciate their
diligence, which they have already shown by clearing the land and by building
their houses on this land from scattered stones, and in order that they may
continue to remain on our property, we give these Croats a contract valid
They are exempt from all controls and deliveries.
They are exempt from all taxes and duties.
They are exempt from all usual tributes to the landlord.
They are however obligated to execute all work to which they are called by
their lord. If the men have to work on the fields of the landlord, their
wives can remain at home in the house and perform their own work. If the
women are working on the property of the landlord, then the men can remain
with their houses.
After the planting and harvesting on the landlord's property is completed,
they may then perform all their own work. All these tasks may require other
resettlers, who may wish to settle on the estates of Count Franz Batthyny.

This contract between the landlord and his settlers describes as well as
possible the position of the newly arrived Croats. This contract is not an
isolated case, but was also drawn up in other places in a similar form...

In 1846 and 1848, the folklore collector Fran Kurelec from Zagreb wandered
about west Hungary in the areas inhabited by Croats in order to collect their
folk songs. Near Eisenstadt, while on the property of Prince Esterhzy, he
heard an old song that states:

Croats live here also, a proud family.
>From Croatia they came, and settled here.
One may call them gentlemen, but not serfs,
The women like the men, are all magnificently dressed.
The guys like the girls, walk in little boots.

Reformation and Counter-Reformation

Delaying and dampening the further favorable development of the new settlers
was the propagation of Protestantism in the 16th century. According to the
well-known Ausburger resolutions of 1555 and the principle, "whoever rules
determines the faith," the rulers alone determined the faith of their
subjects.... From numerous accounts it is known that King and Emperor
Ferdinand I exercised his privilege and gave the immigrated Croats the right
to select their priests themselves. At first, this right probably only
applied to those farmers who operated on the possessions of the king or had
leased his property. It is an important document, due to which the Croatian
immigrants received religious freedom, which surely included the use of the
Old Slavic language and also books using the Glagolithic (Slavic) alphabet
with their church service.

For the time being, the Protestant faith won many converts in Austria and
Hungary, particularly among the aristocracy. Since all the Croats remained
Catholic and a large proportion of their landlords became Protestants, it was
inevitable that there were disputes, clashes and even violence. During the
Reformation, the Croats had to wage a continual fight for their religious as
well as ethnic existence, since they insisted they be allowed to select their
own clergymen...

This right to religious autonomy is of great importance in the history of the
Croats, because from it stems their other rights as well, which prevented
Magyarization or Germanization of the resettlers for the first 150 years.

This privilege guaranteed to the Croats the use of their native language in
all ceremonies which were carried out by the priests both in the church and
outside of the church;...and later into the schools, which were in the area
of responsibility of the church. The church was at that time a fundamental
factor of the social life. However, Croatian ethnicity was lost in all those
villages where, from the outset, Croats were in the minority and could not
select their clergymen. The same thing happened where Lutheran landlords
used Protestant ministers. This occurred mostly in German speaking areas in
Lower Austria. But there were complaints and arguments in the Hungarian areas
as well, because the nobles were disturbed by their subjects exercising their
right to religious freedom. Finally, in 1569, the landlord of Eisenstadt,
Hans Weisspriach, forbade the Croats from using their old language (old
church Slavic) in their church services.

At that time the Croats of west Hungary fell under the ecclesiastical
jurisdiction of the diocese of Raab (Gyor). It wasn't until 1777 that the
southern settlements came under the diocese of Steinamanger (Szombatheley).
Most of Hungary, including the landlords, followed the new Protestant
teachings, so the Croatian settlers were left as nearly the only Catholic
inhabitants. Thus, the Croatians were of particular interest to the Bishop
of Raab. Also the provincial head of the Franciscan order supported the
Croatian religious customs which were in danger because of the Lutheran

In the 16th century, numerous Croats achieved high rank in the Franciscan and
Paulist orders. The German-speaking Austrian aristocrats soon detected in the
Catholic Croats an important power factor, which in their eyes threatened the
interests of the aristocracy. They tried to win over the Croats to the new

The already mentioned landlord, Hans von Weisspriach, who owned a large part
of the estates around Eisenstadt, appointed in 1568 a Croat from Istria, the
Protestant preacher Stefan Konzul, to convert the Croats on his property to
the new faith...

A second Croat from Istria, Antun Dalmatin supported him, and together both
translated a "Postille" of the Wrttemberger Professor Johannes Brecius into
Croatian, and had it printed and distributed among the Croats. This
"Postille" contained explanations of the gospels, which in their opinions
supported the new teachings. A second book, the Veliki katehizam (Great
Catechism), printed in 1564 from the same authors, pursued the same target:
to promote the spreading of Protestantism among the Croats of west Hungary,
in order to break their religious autonomy. These two works were the first
books in the new homeland of the Croats which were printed in the mother
tongue and they became widespread.

It is well known that the intentions of the Protestant aristocracy to use the
two preachers, Stefan Konzul and Antun Dalmatin, to spread Lutheran teachings
was not particularly successful. The Croats stubbornly rejected the new
religion, which they felt was "German," and drove out from their villages the
Lutheran preachers who had been imposed upon them, often by the use of force.

Among other things this was also a reason why the Lower Austrian states made
complaints to Archduke and Emperor Maximilian II (1564 - 1576), "against the
rebellious Croats" and they made the accusation that in most places where the
Croats were in the majority, they began to prevail over the German

Therefore, in a secret instruction, the emperor told his property managers
how to behave in the future toward the Croats. This document of December 29,
1573 sent to the Gns administrator, Captain Franz Schnach, has been
preserved. This instruction holds great meaning for the further fate of the
Croats, for the preservation of their nationality and for their economic
prosperity - particularly in Lower Austria.

We quote therefore here the most important part of this "secret and
unpublicized" instruction, that substantially contributed to the
Germanization and elimination of the Croats in Lower Austria, as well as
sections of west Hungary:

We have been informed that the number of the Croats continues to grow and
that they try to prevail over the Germans, where they are in the majority. We
think that it is only right and proper that the aforementioned Croats, who
had been driven from their homes by the Turks and who had courageously
opposed this cursed enemy, should be considered loyal subjects. Through
their work, they do not harm our possessions, but on the contrary, they have
brought us better utilization of the farmlands, including bigger yields,
rents and wealth.

Nevertheless we must assure that because of the large number of Croats
(people of another nationality and another language), in the future no danger
develops for the established inhabitants. For this reason, the Croats must
be kept in a subservient status.

Therefore we do not provide any public instruction to you and our loyal noble
ranks, who have on their properties a large number of Croats among their
subjects, but instead with this letter we provide a secret and unpublicized

We direct whoever reads this that if up to now you have employed Croats,
inconspicuously replace them with our German subjects.

Croats are not permitted to lease new property. Pay particular attention
that where Croats and Germans live together in the same area, Croats should
not be appointed to the positions of judges or jurors who have legal powers.
If there are disagreements between Croats and Germans, treat the Croat more
strictly, but within the framework of the law, and be on the side of the

We impose upon you as an obligation to endeavor to hold the Croats in strict
obedience. We give this secret order to you and our loyal subjects and
expect that you will zealously execute all of this and that you will keep our
order a secret, so that it does not fall into the hands of the Croats, who
would think that we have no confidence in them, which could bring innumerable
difficulties to this country.

These instructions, which were supported by the Austrian aristocrats and
their judicial system, encourages the Germanization of the Croats, and
perhaps as well influences the reduction of Croatian villages, because they
required that the farms should be primarily leased to Germans and not Croats.
Although the Lower Austrian aristocrats had many possessions in West Hungary,
one must nevertheless be aware of the large differences between their
possessions in Lower Austria and in Hungary. The West Hungarian Croats had a
powerful protector in the Bishop of Raab and were supported by him, because
even at that time, Croats had been installed as Bishops of Raab, i.e., Paul
Gregorianec (1554 - 1565) and later George Draskovic (1578 - 1587). In them
the Croatian resettlers found energetic defenders of their faith and their
other rights.

In Lower Austria, however, they had no protection from the church. It is
well-known that church dignitaries were not friendly to the Croats and that
their language had been forbidden in the church and in public. In
particular, a Viennese archbishop, the Croatian aristocrat Sigismund
Kollonitsch, forbade services, lectures and ceremonies in the Croatian
language in all his subordinate parishes.

In the time of the Counter Reformation (the Catholic revival) a great number
of Catholic priests came from the flock of West Hungarian Croats, who, we can
conclude from name registers and inspection reports, not only took over
neighboring German parishes, but also held lectures and services in the
German language.

The canonical inspections of 1641, which were executed in 65 parishes of the
Raab Diocese, found 48 Croatian priests in place, but only 17 German or
Hungarian speaking clergyman.

In the course of the 17th century, the Croats flooded the universities of
Vienna and Graz. During this time there were about 2000 students from
Hungary. And of these, more than half were Croats. The major part of them
studied at the theological college.

It is obvious from a cursory reading of the inspection reports that the
Croats were under religious persecution and associated economic pressures.
The Croats of Grosshflein (32 years), Kittsee (57 years), Kohinhof (Kophaza,
Koljnof) and Klingenbach (Klimpuh) were preached to only by Protestant
Evangelist ministers yet they remained faithful to their "old religion" for
almost two generations. Also the Croatian inhabitants of the branch church
in Drfl announced proudly that they had remained Catholic, although they had
been preached to only by Protestant ministers from the German parish of
Steinberg for 32 years.

The Catholic Church in Hungary received a powerful defender in Peter Pazmany,
a teacher in the Jesuit order who later became Archbishop of Esztergom
(Gran). With his lectures and literary works, he converted most of the
Protestant and Calvinist noble families in Hungary, as well as their
subjects, back to the Catholic faith.

Pazmany founded the Pazmaneum in Vienna, which was intended for the training
of higher ranking clergyman from Hungary. In 1662, of 62 theologians
studying there from Hungary, there were 59 whose mother tongue was Croatian.

In 1605 the Hajduken troops of the Calvinist Stefan Bocskay devastated the
villages of the Batthyny estates in southern Burgenland and burned down the
villages in the Wulka River plain. In 1620 the hordes of the Calvinist
Gabor Bethlen plundered and caused much destruction to the villages in the
environment of denburg (Sopron). They did not spare the Catholic Croatian
villages in any way.(End of Extract)
(Newsletter continues as no. 72B)

This thread: