Holcmány, (Holzmengen, Hultsmänjen, Hosman) is a village in the Valley of Hortobágy in Transylvania, Romania. It is located in the middle of the historical land of the Saxons and is famous for its fortified church.
It was first mentioned in 1381 as Holzmenia. In 1449 it was ravaged by Vlad III, Voivode of the Wallachia, and then depopulated. Around 1500, 15 farmers, a shepherd, and a schoolmaster were recorded. The historian Oláh Miklós also mentions it in his work “Hungaria”. During the Kuruc wars, only 15 of 400 households survived.
The three-aisled Romanesque church, dedicated to Saint Paul, was built after the Mongolian Tartar invasion, and its construction dates back to 1275. Several elements of this Romanesque building can still be seen today, most notably the western gate and the columns separating the nave from the aisles. The western gate is one of the most important Romanesque architectural monuments in Transylvania.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, the church was fortified with a double wall to protect it from enemy invasions. The gate tower connecting the two walls stands on the northwest side. There are four bastions on the inner wall and two on the outer wall. In the southeast corner of the outer wall is a pentagonal tower, the upper floor of which was made habitable in the 19th century.
The south tower is called the Pastor’s Tower, and the east side tower is called the school tower. The inner wall has an oval shape, while the outer wall is an irregular rectangle. The bell tower was raised and fitted with loopholes around 1500. The roof of the bell tower and the buildings of the church castle were destroyed by fire in 1706.
In the 18th century, minor Baroque rebuilding took place. Namely, the two side naves were demolished and converted into a single nave in Baroque style in 1794. The previously walled western gate has been dismantled and renovated. In the late 18th century, an entrance hall was built in front of the west gate. Also, major repairs were carried out between 1803 and 1804.
Within the settlement, the three ethnic groups were traditionally well separated: the Saxons lived in the center of the village, while the Romanians were only allowed to settle on the eastern edge of the village, and the Gypsies, who mostly worked as day laborers on the estates of Saxon farmers, later on, on the northern edge of the village.
Later, the Romanians, who had been successfully Catholicised by the Habsburgs, settled in the western part of the village, where they built a Greek Catholic church, which became Roman Catholic after the dissolution of the Greek Catholic Church in 1949.
The population of Holcmány has remained relatively stable over time, only decreasing significantly in the last 40 years, following the exodus of the Saxons. In 1850 there were 973 inhabitants, 49% (478) of them were Saxons, 29% (282) Romanians, and 22% (213) Gypsies.
In 1941, the village was the most populous, with 1206 inhabitants, of whom 51% (612) identified themselves as Saxons and 47% as Romani (572), although in the current political situation (the year Antonescu’s fascist dictatorship began) the large Roma (Gipsy) population of Holcmány identified themselves as Romanian in their entirety to avoid possible reprisals.
In the post-war years, many Saxon farmers were deported to the Soviet Union, many fled to Germany. Romanians were settled in vacant houses. After the Second World War, the church castle building gradually deteriorated, which only worsened with the departure of the Saxons.
In 1977 the Saxon population in the village was 37%, but by 1992 it had fallen to 6%, thanks to Ceauşescu’s anti-minority policy of auctioning and selling off his German citizens to Germany.
In 2002, 87% of the 790 inhabitants of the settlement declared themselves Romanian and 11% as Roma (Gipsy). Only 6 people were registered as Saxon and 5 as Hungarian. Between 1994-95, with financial support from Germany, extensive conservation and repair work was carried out on the church building. Now another renovation is becoming a reality.