Transdanubia, an old name for the westernmost part of the former kingdom of Hungary, roughly the comitat of Sopron-Odenburg, today in the main the Austrian province of Burgenland. It has long been known that Anabaptists existed here in the 16th and 17th centuries. Since, however, the Hutterite chronicle mentions this area but slightly, and pertinent research has been carried out exclusively in the Magyar language, Western scholars have much neglected this entire area. The country was settled primarily by German frontiersmen (history speaks of the "Militärgrenze," i.e., a strip of land toward Turkey where every farmhouse was at the same time a small fortress). Because of the Turkish invasion of Balkan countries, many Croatian peasants sought refuge here too. Popularly they were known as Krovoten or Krabaten. Finally, here as elsewhere, the greater part of the land was in the hands of Hungarian manorial lords, and of them it is known that they were rather friendly toward the Anabaptists because of their good craftsmanship and husbandry. Thus it is no small wonder that the archives of these noble families contain many references to Anabaptist craftsmen (mainly potterers; See: Ceramics) and barber-surgeons (See: Medicine among the Hutterites).
Alexander Payr in his book Protestant Church History of Oedenburg (in the Magyar language) claims that city records mention Anabaptist craftsmen on and off from 1547 to 1635. Of course it could be argued that these men were but "loaned out" single brethren from Slovakia who went to work everywhere, without however establishing Anabaptist colonies. But at least in one instance this seems to be contradicted by a passage in the Hutterite Chronicle itself which, for the year 1632, records the death of one brother Lorenz Putz, "Diener des Wortes," at Gissingen, who had served the congregation beyond the Danube in "Krabatenland" for about one year (Chronik, 815). Gissingen is to be identified as today's Güssing in Burgenland; a brotherhood settlement must have existed there for some time. Incidentally, the name Putz is well known for the continued craftsmanship of the family in the field of ceramics.
Local research has also proved the existence of Anabaptists in the small town of Güns in the same general area around 1660 (see the article: Güns by Loserth, who got his information from a local church historian). Noteworthy is also a remark by the late Professor Loesche (1926) that the Lutheran minister of the city of Schlaining, Burgenland, once found in the hands of playing children an old Anabaptist codex of 1612, incomplete and poorly preserved, which contained eleven Anabaptist hymns and several medical recipes. The book is definitely of Hutterite origin and points again to a former presence of these brethren in Transdanubia. A Hungarian scholar informed this writer that at least three places mentioned in the Hutterite Chronicle were erroneously identified by scholars as Moravian or Slovakian, in reality being Transdanubian villages, thus indicating the existence of Bruderhofs in this area. The names are Freischütz, Kreutz, and Gatta; documentation will be given in forthcoming publications. Most important of all, however, the same expert claims that many of the beautiful ceramic table wares for the nobles (now in museums) were produced in potteries in Transdanubia, as can be gathered from inscriptions on these pieces.
All this seems to indicate that Anabaptists (obviously of the Hutterite variety) were more widely spread in Eastern Europe than was formerly known, mainly in the century 1550-1650. No doubt both pottery and archive records will yield still more information as research in this area proceeds and becomes better known.
This article is based in the main on information by the Hungarian scholar Bela Krisztinkovich of Budapest, an expert in the field of ceramics.
Loesche, G. Archivalische Beitrage zur Geschichte des Taufertums. Vienna, 1926: 51-54.
Payr, Sándor. A Soproni evangelikus egyházközség története; a reformáció négyszázados jubileumára. Gamauf Teofil soproni lelkész hagyatékának felhasználásával. Sopronban, Nyomatott Piri és Székely könyvnyomdájában, 1917: 91.
Zieglschmid, A. J. F. Die älteste Chronik der Hutterischen Brüder: Ein Sprachdenkmal aus frühneuhochdeutscher Zeit. Ithaca: Cayuga Press, 1943: 815.
Cite This Article
Friedmann, Robert. "Transdanubia (Hungary)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 17 Sep 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Transdanubia_(Hungary)&oldid=85586.
Friedmann, Robert. (1956). Transdanubia (Hungary). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 17 September 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Transdanubia_(Hungary)&oldid=85586.
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