Țara Bârsei (German: Burzenland, listen; Hungarian: Barcaság) is a historic and ethnographic area in southeastern Transylvania, Romania with a mixed population of Romanians, Germans, and Hungarians.[1]

Map of Burzenland
The coat of arms of Burzenland



The Burzenland lies within the Southern Carpathians mountains ranges, bordered approximately by Apața in the north, Bran in the southwest and Prejmer in the east. Its most important city is Brașov. Burzenland is named after the stream Bârsa (Barca, Burzen, 1231: Borza),[1] which flows into the Olt river.[2][3] The Romanian word bârsă is supposedly of Dacian origin[4] (see List of Romanian words of possible Dacian origin).



Middle Ages


Based on archaeological evidence, it seems German colonization of the region started in the middle of the 12th century during the reign of King Géza II of Hungary.[5] The German colonists from this region are attested in documents as early as 1192 when terra Bozza is mentioned as being settled by Germans (Theutonici).[6]

Map of Burzenland from the first half of the 18th century. Brașov appears as Cronstadt/Brassow

In 1211 the region was given to the Teutonic Knights by King Andrew II of Hungary in return for guarding the southeastern border of the Kingdom of Hungary against the Cumans. While the king retained his right to mint currency and claims on gold or silver deposits that would be uncovered, he granted the Teutonic Order the right to establish markets and administer justice. The crusaders were also free from taxes and tolls.[7] The Teutonic Knights began building wood-and-earth forts in the area and they had constructed five castles (quinque castra fortia):[6] Marienburg, Schwarzenburg, Rosenau, Kreuzburg, and Kronstadt,[7] some of which were made of stone.[7] The military order was successful in reducing the threat of the nomadic Cumans. Medieval Saxons from the Holy Roman Empire developed farms and villages nearby to support the forts and settle the land.[7] The territory was already populated at the time when was disputed. Some medieval sources indicate it was uninhabited,[8] a view challenged by some scholars invoking archaeological[5][6] and documentary evidence.[6][9] Bountiful agricultural yields led to further colonization by German immigrants.[7]

Burzenland on the Josephine Map of Transylvania, 1769–73

The Teutonic Knights disregarded the rights of the local bishopric, however, and angered Hungarian nobility which already had settlers in the region. Led by Béla, the heir to the throne, the nobility pressed the need to expel the knights upon King Andrew II after his return from the Fifth Crusade. Grand Master Hermann von Salza attempted to loosen the Order's ties to the Hungarian crown by drawing closer to the Papacy.[7] Andrew subsequently evicted the Order with his army in 1225, although Pope Honorius III protested to no effect.[10] The confusing status of the Teutonic Knights within the Kingdom of Hungary led Hermann von Salza to insist upon autonomy before committing the military order to Prussia.[10]

Along with Germans, the kings of Hungary also settled Szeklers and Pechenegs in the region during the 12th and 13th centuries.[6] Archaeological evidence for the same period also suggests a strong Romanian population inhabiting the villages later known as Șcheii Brașovului, Satulung, Baciu, Cernatu, and Turcheș (the former is today part of Brașov, while the latter four are today part of the adjacent town of Săcele).[6] In the second half of the 13th century the Romanian population is attested in two documents: in the region of Bran (1252) and Tohani (1294),[11] while in the second half of the 15th century out of nine villages from the domain of Bran seven were Romanian (villae valachicales, Bleschdörfer) and only two German.[11]

At the Conference of Lutsk in 1429, Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Hungary, suggested that the Teutonic Knights defend the region during the Ottoman wars in Europe. Led by Claus von Redewitz, a detachment of knights from Prussia was stationed in the Burzenland until half were killed during an Ottoman campaign in 1432.[10]

20th century


Transylvanian Saxons remained in the Burzenland until the 20th century. Beginning in 1976, most of these Germans began to emigrate to West Germany with the approval of the Communist Romanian regime.[1]


View of part of the Burzenland from the peak of Postăvaru. Ghimbav is on the right, while Codlea can be seen in the distance on Măgura Codlei.
Same view in winter.

In each case, the modern Romanian name is given first, followed by the German and Hungarian names.

See also



  1. ^ a b c Vofkori László; Lénárt Anna (1998). "Unităţi administrativ-teritoriale istorice şi regiuni etnografice în sudul şi estul Transilvaniei". Acta Hargitensia III, Aluta XX (in Romanian). 2: 27–36.. Introduction available on web: "Unităţi administrativ-teritoriale istorice şi regiuni etnografice în sudul şi estul Transilvaniei. Introducere" (in Romanian). Archived from the original on 2005-05-08. Retrieved 2007-02-12.
  2. ^ Deutsche Bergnamen in Tara Barsei (Burzenland)/Rumänien Archived 2006-07-15 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed January 22, 2007. (in German)
  3. ^ Deutscher Orden im Burzenland (1211-1225). Accessed January 22, 2007. (in German)
  4. ^ In the matter of this toponym, Nicolae Dragan concurs with W. Tomaschek who considered that word bârsa has a Dacian-Thracian origin having the meaning of birch-tree. That would explain also the plough's "bârsa" wooden piece that binds the blades, base and furrows of the ploughs being made from birch-tree (Memoria Ethnologica 2004 quoting N. Draganu's "Din Vechea Noastră Toponimie" 1920) See also Albanian vërz. Variant bîrță. Slovenian brdce and Moravian brdce "a cross shaped shaft of a carriage (Dicţionarul etimologic român, Alexandru Ciorănescu, Universidad de la Laguna, Tenerife, 1958-1966 and Noul dicționar explicativ al limbii române, Litera Internațional, Editura Litera Internațional, 2002)
  5. ^ a b Ioniță, Adrian (2005). "Mormintele cu gropi antropomorfe din Transilvania și relația lor cu primul val de colonizare germană". In Pinter, Zeno Karl; Țiplic, Ion Marian; Țiplic, Maria Emilia (eds.). Biblioteca Septemcastrensis XII. Relații interetnice în Transilvania (secolele VI-XIII) (in Romanian). Bucharest: Editura Economică. pp. 215–226. ISBN 973-709-158-2. Retrieved 2007-02-12.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Țiplic, Ion Marian (2005). Contribuții la istoria spațiului românesc în perioada migrațiilor și evul mediu timpuriu (secolele IV-XIII) (in Romanian). Institutul European. pp. 165–178.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Urban, William (2003). The Teutonic Knights: A Military History. London: Greenhill Books. p. 290. ISBN 1-85367-535-0.
  8. ^ "Terram Borza nomine ultra silvas versus Cumanos, licet desertam et inhabitatam". Georg Daniel Teutsch and Friedrich Firnhaber. Urkundenbuch zur Geschichte Siebenbürgens. Vienna, 1857, I, no. 10
  9. ^ Brezeanu, Stelian (2002). Identităţi şi solidarităţi medievale. Bucharest: Corint. pp. 222–232. ISBN 973-653-347-6. The diplomas from 1222 speak of native people inhabiting these lands at the time when the donation was made.
  10. ^ a b c Christiansen, Erik (1997). The Northern Crusades. London: Penguin Books. p. 287. ISBN 0-14-026653-4.
  11. ^ a b Pascu, Ştefan (1979). Voievodatul Transilvaniei, vol. II (in Romanian). pp. 441–494.

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