Barcaföldvár, fortified church Photo: Civertan

Földvár or Barcaföldvár (Romanian: Feldioara, German: Marienburg, Saxon: Märrembirg) is a village in Romania, in Transylvania, in Brassó County, in the Barcaság area. It lies 17 km north-west of Brassó (Kronstadt, Brasov), on the left bank of the Olt River, not far from the Barca River’sestuary, opposite Hídvég. It is famous for its castle and its fortified church, too.

Barcaföldvár castle (early 20th century) Photo: Alex:D

In Hungarian, it was not named after the castle, which was probably built from stone by the Teutonic Knights from the beginning, despite the king banning them to do so. However, the settlement west of the castle was surrounded by high, defensible mounds of earth, which can still be seen today. The Romanian name was formed from the Hungarian Földvára, a vowelization of the bilabial β (v) sound. In German, the Order of the Knights named it after their patron saint, the Virgin Mary. When it was first mentioned in 1240, it was marked with a parallel Latin form of this name: “Castrum S. Mariae”.

Barcaföldvár Photo: Markolaci

Later we can read the following names: Castrum Mariae, Meurnburch, Meurenburch, Meurenberc and Mergenburg (1371), Mergenborg (1378), Fewldwar (1379), Marienburg (1380), Foeltwar (1410), Feldwar and Merenbuch (1413), Feldiore (1432-1437), Merenpurg (1489) Földvármező, Mayrgreff, Maremburg and Marienberg (1529), Mermbris vel Csetátéa de pament (1808), Földaure (1850), Merienburg and Feldioara (1854).

Barcaföldvár, 19th century Source: Benő Gyula

On its eastern side, on a low hill, stand the imposing remains of its castle. Only modest remains of the former knights’ castle remain on the southwestern side, on the outer side. The original castle was probably surrounded by a double ring of walls, the outer one being built at the foot of the hill. Within the inner ring of walls were the living and dining quarters, the chapel, and the hermitage.

Barcaföldvár, before restoration Photo: Mayer Jácint

Archaeological excavations show that a village, probably an early Saxon settlement, was established in the area as early as the mid-12th century. In 1211, the Teutonic Knights received it and established the seat of their “province” of Barcaság here. They built the castle and surrounded the settlement with earthworks. In 1225, King András II expelled the Order of the Teutonic Knights from Transylvania, but Földvár flourished and was the seat of Barcaság until 1377, and the Barcaság Chapter was also based here until 1380.

Barcaföldvár (before restoration) Photo: Mayer Jácint

It was destroyed by the Tartars in 1345. Later, the church was probably rebuilt by the Cistercians, who were given possession of it by King Béla IV. An oval defensive wall with towers was built around it, and a well was drilled. This Gothic Lutheran church, built in the 15th century, was originally a three-nave basilica. During the time of the Transylvanian Principality, it was surrounded by a defensive wall and, together with the ramparts surrounding the old settlement nucleus, was used as a veritable city fortress. It was accessed through two gates: the western one opened from the present main street, while the eastern one was connected to the castle by the so-called Porta Latina.

Barcaföldvár Photo: Andrei Kokelburg

In 1379 the settlement was granted a permit to hold a weekly fair. Its rivalry with Brassó at this time is shown by the fact that in a charter of 1417, King Zsigmond (Sigismund) forbade the people of Brassó to attend the weekly fair held in Földvár on Fridays. In 1427, Zsigmond held a Diet within its walls and in the same year authorized the city to hold a national fair. After 1420 the castle was rebuilt by the inhabitants of the town, now as a peasant castle. It was besieged and damaged by the Turks in 1430. In 1457, Vlad Țepeș’s Turkish-Tartar auxiliaries besieged the castle and destroyed the town.

Barcaföldvár (before restoration) Photo: Mayer Jácint

Until 1500, it had the income after the tax imposed on the salt mined in Törcsvár, but then this privilege was given to Brassó. On 29 June 1529, under its walls, the Szapolyai supporter Petru Rareș, the Moldavian Viceroy fought a battle with the troops of Török Bálint and Majáth István who were on the side of King Ferdinand. Then, Földvár castle was taken by Nicoară Grozav, captain of Petru Rareș. The Saxons of Brassó and the Hungarian Székelys were defeated by Rares at that time.  In 1599, the settlement was burnt by Voivode Michael. In 1603, the army of Voivode Radu defeated the army of Prince Székely Mózes nearby.

Barcaföldvár (before restoration) Photo: Yo6own

In 1604, its citizens fled to the castle to escape General Basta’s marauding mercenaries, and only by paying 7,000 forints could they be persuaded to leave without a siege. In 1612, the chief magistrate of Brassó, Michael Weiss, and Giczy András, first laid siege to the city on 25 September with 600 mercenaries, but after firing all night, they retreated to Brassó. On 11 October they took the city, now with the help of the Wallachian troops, but on 14 October the chief magistrate lost the battle against Prince Báthory Gábor’s troops and was himself killed while fleeing from the city.

Barcaföldvár (before restoration) Photo: Yo6own

 In 1657 a tower was built at the north end of the castle. Later on, it was used less and less as a shelter and more as a warehouse. In 1619, the weaver’s guild of Földvár received its statutes. In 1690, Prince Thököly Imre called on the country to join him from here. The first record of a Romanian population of 21 families dates from 1698. An Orthodox school was founded in 1830 with two teachers. The rules of its six neighborhoods (Nachbarschaft) were drawn up in 1751. In 1807, it was again authorized to hold two country fairs a year.

Barcaföldvár now Photo: Vince Vass

 After the earthquake of 1838, the Saxon farmers repaired the castle, but part of the walls and the gate tower were demolished in 1870 and the material was incorporated into the barracks.

Barcaföldvár now Photo: Lánczi Imre

On 30 November 1848, after the Battle of Hídvég, it was occupied by the forces of the Hungarian Székelys of Háromszék, and then held continuously from 7 to 19 December, but was then forced to retreat before General Gedeon’s battalion.

Barcaföldvár Photo: Lánczi Imre

In the 1850s it was the seat of a district. From 1847 it had a municipal doctor, and the first pharmacy was established in 1869. In the 1870s a barracks was built there. In 1873, a railway line was built passing a kilometer from the village. Johann Tychy had already established a brewery at the northeastern edge of the village, near a spring with good water, relatively close to the railway station.

Barcaföldvár Photo: Lánczi Imre

Between 1871 and 1945, it was home to a Saxon agricultural school (Burzenlander Ackerbauschule) – at the time there were similar schools in Beszterce and Medgyes. By 1885 the school had introduced the cultivation of clover, Yorkshire pigs, Pinzgau cattle, and the sowing machine. In 1885, the village dairy cooperative was one of the first in Hungary at the time. Between 1888 and 1894, on the initiative of the headmaster of the agricultural school, the Saxon farmers carried out dividing the fields, which the Hungarian Csángó people of Krizba and the local Romanians tried to prevent.

Barcaföldvár Photo: Lánczi Imre

From 1876 it belonged to the Alvidék district of Brassó County. The Romanians began to move in from the outskirts of the village in the 1880s, but their settlement segregation remained throughout. Traditionally, the Ruseln quarter (next to the farmers’ school and the brewery) on the north-western edge of the village and the area around the former barracks on the south-eastern edge, the two streams near the fairground and the part of the village east of the students’ memorial were considered as Romanian quarters. In 1882, the Saxons of Földvár and Veresmart jointly founded a local credit union, the Marienburg-Rotbächer Voschußverein.

Barcaföldvár Photo: Lánczi Imre

In 1909 the Saxon farmers owned 6821 acres, the Romanians 3410. At the beginning of the 20th century, its population mainly grew potatoes and sugar beet for the sugar factory in Botfalu, while the mash was used to fatten cattle. The Saxon farmers employed Hungarian and Gypsy day laborers to pick sugar beet, and many poor Romanians worked in the sugar factory.

Barcaföldvár Photo: Lánczi Imre

The land of the Lutheran Church was leased by the sugar factory in Botfalu. On 28 August 1916, the city and county offices were moved from Brassó because of the attack of the Romanian army. In 1936, the Bohn company from Zsombolya established a brick factory on the outskirts of the town, next to which a Bohn Settlement was created from Hungarian and Romanian settlers. The factory employed about 600 workers in the 1970s.

Barcaföldvár Photo: Lánczi Imre

In 1942, an internment camp was set up on its outskirts, where Soviet prisoners of war were held until 1944. Between September 1944 and July 1945, it was one of the most notorious internment camps of the period, mainly for Hungarians, Swabians from Szatmár, and German prisoners of war, who were rounded up by the gendarmerie during the brief period of Romanian occupation in northern Transylvania. According to the press of the time, the camp held 6,000 prisoners. According to three contemporary sources, 150 to 200 prisoners died in the typhus epidemic that broke out in the camp, and according to a 1993 report by General Nicolae Spiroiu, former Minister of Defence, 298 weakened prisoners died. The last prisoner was released only in October 1945.

Barcaföldvár Photo: Lánczi Imre

In the spring of 1945, Romanian settlers from the Törcsvár region arrived in Földvár and occupied the houses of the Saxons during their disenfranchisement. After 1954, all but thirty of them returned to their homeland. In the meantime, Romanians from Moldavia and Bessarabia also moved in, mainly to work in the factories in Brassó.

Barcaföldvár Photo: Lánczi Imre

The town development plan adopted in 1975 envisaged its development into a town. The 1977 earthquake caused further extensive damage to the castle. The houses of the emigrated Saxons were to be replaced by a block district, where mainly Moldavian workers would move. At the beginning of the decade, the discovery of uranium ore in the vicinity led to the construction of a plant here, which subsequently enriched the uranium ore extracted from all the deposits in Romania, mostly in secret.

Barcaföldvár Photo: Lánczi Imre

The uranium enrichment plant was joined by a large number of workers, and in 1975 the factory employed 704 people. At the same time, however, the Saxon population left Földvár. The first reunion of the village’s descendants was held in 1979 in Drabenderhöhe in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Barcaföldvár Photo: Lánczi Imre

In 1791 it was inhabited by 251 Saxon and 175 Romanian families. In 1850, 1003 of its 2029 inhabitants were of Romanian, 920 of German, and 104 of Gypsy nationality; 1107 were Orthodox, and 920 Evangelical. In 1900, 1162 of its 2527 inhabitants were of Romanian, 1032 of German, 261 of Hungarian, and 72 of other (Gypsy) mother tongues; 1231 were Orthodox, 1039 Evangelical, 145 were Reformed, 67 were Roman Catholic, and 35 were Unitarian. Of those enumerated, 48 were soldiers of the garrison, 3% of the population were expatriates but 66% could read and write, and 37% of non-Hungarians could speak Hungarian.

Barcaföldvár Photo: Civertan

In 2002, the population of Bohntelep (Bohn Settlement) between Földvár and Szászveresmart was 5456, of which 4664 were Romanian, 615 were Hungarian, 111 were Gypsy, and 60 were German; 4663 Orthodox, 291 were Roman Catholic, 237 were Reformed and 60 Unitarian. In the 1960s and 1970s, Bohntelep had a Hungarian majority.

Barcaföldvár Photo: Andrei Kokelburg

Source: Wikipedia 

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