Brassó, (Brasov, Kronstadt) Transylvania, it is in Romania. (It was called Stalinstadt between 1950-60.) This well-fortified city was the main center of the Saxons of Transylvania. The settlers had come primarily from the Rhineland and the Moselle region, with others from Bavaria and even from distant parts of France, invited by the kings of Hungary. Now, we can find mostly only the traces of their magnificent built heritage as they had to leave their homeland during the dictator’s years, beginning from the 1970s.
Germans living in Brassó were mainly involved in trade and crafts. The location of this city at the intersection of trade routes linking the Ottoman Empire and Western Europe, together with certain tax exemptions, allowed Saxon merchants to obtain considerable wealth and exert a strong political influence. Here is more about the Saxons of Transylvania:
The town’s “Black Church” is claimed to be the largest Gothic-style church in Southeastern Europe. Its name “Brassó” first appeared in King Béla IV’s document in 1252. The Mongols put it on fire in 1285: remember, it was the second Mongolian invasion against Hungary but this time, it was easily repelled.
After the Battle of Mohács in 1526, the Saxons of the city became loyal to King Ferdinand I and resisted King Szapolyai János. The Sultan allowed his vassal, Petru Rares to enter Transylvania and defeat the troops of King Ferdinand in 1529 – he took Brassó, too, destroying its castle to the ground. However, Transylvania later became the property of King Szapolyai János.
During the Dual Kingship, Szapolyai had to pretend alliance with the Ottomans so as to keep Eastern Hungary that later became the Transylvanian Principality. Sultan Suleiman even appointed Gritti, the illegitimate son of the Venetian Doge as the Governor of Hungary on his behalf. The infamous Ludovico Gritti wanted to gain bigger influence than Szapolyai had and he was waiting with 7,000 Ottoman troops at Brassó to receive the nobles of Transylvania in order to make them pay tribute to the Sultan. However, he went too far. Szapolyai was able to get rid of him soon. Later, the renegade Gritti was slain by the Transylvanian nobles when he had fallen out of the Sultan’s grace.
Around 1580 the town had 8,000 inhabitants. Voivode Michael took Brassó in 1599. Prince Székely Mózes was slain by Voivode Radu Serban in 1603 near Brassó, too.
The first book printing office of Transylvania was established here in 1529 and the first book ever printed in the Hungarian language was also made here around 1580. In the famous Saxon college of the town, students were taught not only in German but in the Hungarian language as well, beginning from 1637. Prince Báthory Gábor was defeated at Brassó in 1611 by the combined forces of the Saxons and Wallachians. The city and the church were put to the torch in 1689 by General Caraffa’s mercenaries, hence the name of the famous Black Church…
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