|about 85,000|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Hungary (in the Jászság region within the Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok County)|
|Related ethnic groups|
The Jassic people or Jász are an ethnic group of Hungarians who mostly live in the Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok county of the Republic of Hungary. They are of Ossetic (Sarmatian, Iranian) origin and originally spoke the Jassic dialect of the Ossetic language. Today, they speak Hungarian and consider themselves to be Hungarians, but a sense of ethnic identity is also preserved among them.
The Jassic people live in the region known as "Jászság" (roughly translatable as Jász-land), which comprises the north-western part of the Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok county. Their cultural and political center is the town of Jászberény.
It is a common mistake to call Jászság by the name "Jazygia", which derives from the name of another Iranian people – the Iazyges, who lived in the same territory between the Danube and Tisza rivers in ancient times.
The Jassic (Jász) people were a nomadic Sarmatian (Iranian) tribe which settled in the medieval Kingdom of Hungary during the 13th century. Their name is almost certainly related to that of the Iazyges, one of the Sarmatian Alanic tribes which, along with the Roxolani, reached the borders of Dacia during the late 1st century BC (the city of Iași is named for them). Residual elements of these tribes, ancestors of the Jassic people, remained behind in the central North Caucasus, mingling with Caucasian peoples to form the present-day Ossetes.
The Jassic people came to the Kingdom of Hungary, together with the Cumanians ('Kun' people) from the East, including Moldavia (see Iaşi / Jaszvasar), chased by the Mongol-Tatars. They were admitted by the Hungarian king, Béla IV Árpád, who hoped that the Jassics would assist in resisting a Mongol-Tatar invasion. Shortly after their entry, the relationship worsened dramatically between the Hungarian nobility and the Cumanian-Jassic tribes, which then abandoned the country. After the end of the Mongol-Tatar invasion they returned and settled in the central part of the Pannonian Plain, near the rivers Zagyva and Tarna.
Initially, their main occupation was animal husbandry. During the next two centuries, they were fully assimilated into the Hungarian population; their language disappeared, but they preserved their "Jassic" identity. The Hungarian rulers granted the Jassic people special privileges. Thus, the Jassics were able to be more or less self-governing in an area known as Jászság in which Jászberény developed into the regional, cultural and administrative center.
In the 16th-17th centuries, areas populated by the Jassic people were under Ottoman administration, but at the end of the 17th century they were recaptured and returned to the Kingdom of Hungary, which was then part of the Habsburg Monarchy. Habsburg Emperor Leopold I sold the area to the Knights of the Teutonic Order. This saw the end of the privileged position of Jászberény. However, the Jassic people did not want to accept this situation and started to collect money with which they could buy their freedom. By 1745, they had collected half a million Rhenish gold florins, a considerable sum for those days. However, in this time the famous 'Act of Salvation' took place: the Empress Maria Theresa restored the Jassic land and Jassic hereditary privileges. From this point onwards, Jaszberény flourished. The Jassic regional autonomy was preserved until the year 1876, when area populated by the Jassics was administrativelly included into the Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok County.
After dissolution of the Habsburg Monarchy in 1918, areas populated by the Jassic people were included into an independent Hungary. Over a dozen settlements in modern-day Central Hungary (e.g. Jászberény, Jászárokszállás, Jászfényszaru, Jászalsószentgyörgy) still hold Jassic name. In 1995, the two hundred and fiftieth Anniversary of the Act of Salvation was celebrated in Jászberény with the President of Hungary as guest of honor as well as with numerous foreign dignitaries.
The only literary record of the Jassic (Jász) language was found in the 1950s in the Hungarian National Széchényi Library. The language was reconstructed with the help of various Ossetian analogies.
- Frederik Coene, The Caucasus: an introduction, Taylor & Francis, 2009, p. 219