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The Jászság #6 – The Redemption

May 23, 2018

After the Jászság had become free from the Ottoman occupation, it only had a couple of years to enjoy the freedom of having no landlord again. By the late 1690’s, the ruling Habsburg dynasty experienced some financial setbacks and with the ever-declining health of King Charles II of Spain, it was apparent that Europe was slowly sliding into a Spanish war of succession.

 

Still recovering from the Ottoman times, the Jászság strove to regain its privileges. Thanks to the tireless work of two residents of Jászberény – Mátyás Nagy and Mihály Muhoray – King Leopold I (reigned 1657-1705 as King of Hungary) confirmed their privileges in a royal diploma on November 5, 1696. Nevertheless, in the meantime, the king saw the selling of the district as an opportunity to stack up on coins and started negotiating with potential buyers.

 

One of these potential buyers was the Teutonic Order – a German religious-military order founded during the 12th century, commonly referred to by Hungarians as the Német Lovagrend (“German Knightly Order”). The German Prefect of Eger, Johann Kristoph Franz Pentz was commissioned in 1699 to conscribe the goods of the district and to make an estimate on their worth. The estimation was 700,000 Rhenish Forints, although the final price was cut down to just 500,000. The purchase was made on March 22, 1702.

 

This 1699 (“Pentz”) conscription of the three district is one of the oldest completely surviving list of the heads of households in the area and is a major genealogic source. The scanned pages can be browsed on the Hungaricana site through this link.

 

 Jászberény in the 19th century - Jászberény Belvárosi Általános Iskola

 

Feeling betrayed and furious about this decision, the formerly loyalist population of the Jászság soon joined prince Francis II Rákóczi’s war of independence in 1703 and fought bravely until the rebellion’s fall in 1711.

 

A list of the soldiers from the district who fought between 1703-1705 is also available through the Hungaricana site by following this link.

 

Although Rákóczi’s War of Independence fell, Jassic people once again showed their desire for freedom. The opportunity of repurchasing the Jászság appeared in the Treaty of Szatmár and in 1715, the Teutonic Order agreed to give back the territory if the same price was paid back to them. The residents believed that it would be the king’s duty to redeem their lands for the same price, but it did not happen. What happened was that the crown bought back the Jászság from the Order and then sold it to the House of the Invalids in the city of Pest (Invalidusok Háza) in 1731. The end result was the same – the residents still had to live under a landowner, and on December 24, 1744, they sent a request to have the district repurchased by themselves.

 

The request was approved, although not without its own restrictions and obligations. Apart from having to pay back the original amount of 500,000 Rhenish Forints, the district also had to establish a hussar regiment for the ongoing War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748). The Jász-Kun Hussar Regiment was later formed and the towns of the three districts started dividing up the land between their residents to be bought back. Towns set their own limit for the maximum purchasable area and they also decided on their price. Area was measured in kötéls with one kötél being around 50 acres of land. In the coming months, residents paid their respective amounts based on the size of land they wanted to buy* and officially received their land after Maria Theresa signed the redemption document on May 6, 1745.

 

Those who redeemed land also received an official paper attesting their purchase. The society of the three Jász-Kun districts got divided into two classes: the Redempti (singular: Redemptus), or those who have redeemed land for themselves and became landowners, and the Irredempti (singular: Irredemptus), those who haven’t. These latter were mostly local or foreign craftsmen who did not have experience with land cultivation anyways. Nevertheless, the Redemption was the perfect opportunity for new residents as well to smoothly incorporate themselves into the local society of free people, and also to establish financial stability by purchasing land. The Redemption became such a huge turning point in the district’s history that it is still celebrated today.

 

*Most residents bought 0,5-1 kötéls of land with more wealthier ones paying for 3-4 or (if the town’s limit was higher) even 8 kötéls.

 

Glossary:

jász – n. a Jász (Jassic) person; adj. Jassic

jászok – n. plural form of jász

Jászság – n. the Jász area

Jász kerület – n. the Jász district

kun – n. a Cuman person; adj. Cuman

kunok – n. plural form of kun

 

Sources:

 

http://jaszmuzeum.hu/sites/default/files/redemptio_2015_apr_28oldallq.pdf

 

https://archives.hungaricana.hu/hu/urbarium/hu_mnl_ol_e156_a_fasc071_no004/?list=eyJmaWx0ZXJzIjogeyJEQVRBQkFTRSI6IFsiVVJCQVJJVU0iXX0sICJxdWVyeSI6ICJwZW50eiBBTkQgalx1MDBlMXN6KiJ9

 

https://archives.hungaricana.hu/en/urbarium/hu_mnl_ol_e156_a_fasc110_no039_b/?list=eyJmaWx0ZXJzIjogeyJEQVRBQkFTRSI6IFsiVVJCQVJJVU0iXX0sICJxdWVyeSI6ICJqXHUwMGUxc3oqIn0

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