Karánsebes in 1690

Karánsebes (Caransebeș, Karansebesch), Transylvania, it is in Romania. More precisely, it is not inside Transylvania but in the Bánát region; nevertheless, it later belonged to the Transylvanian principality. It is situated at the confluence of the small Sebes stream and the Temes River. As for its medieval history, we know that the Hungarian King László V. visited it several times during the 13th century. The settlement became the center of the neighboring area. It was mentioned as an agricultural town during the age of King Lajos I of Hungary.

The COA of Karánsebes

The fort of the settlement was built on higher ground, to the south of the town. It was called Sebesvár Castle. The area was mainly populated by Wallachians.

Karánsebes was a smaller settlement with many privileges, located in a strategic place. It belonged to the German Teuton Order of Knights between 1429 and 1435 when the Romanian Vlad Dracul, the infamous historical father of the “Dracula,” allied with the Ottomans and pillaged it. The Ottoman threat was growing in the 16th century and many raids targeted the Temesköz area. To defend them, the inhabitants built a wall around the church but later it became necessary to construct walls around the whole town.

The city’s heydays were during the time of the Transylvanian Principality because it was the headquarters of Lugos-Karánsebes County between the 1530s and 1658. Its furrier guild was very famous. Most of the inhabitants were Romanians but there were some Hungarians and Saxons as well. (Some say, there were no Saxons there, though.)

Although Queen Isabella ceded Karánsebes to King Ferdinand in 1551, later it became the Borderland castle of the Transylvanian Principality. It was the time when its walls were hastily updated to answer to the artillery requirements of the age. There were religious divisions among them but after the Diet of Torda in 1564, it was ordered that its church should be used either by the Reformed, and the Catholic people of the city, shared every second week. Later the church became the property of the Reformed church. However, there was a Jesuit mission working there between 1625 and 1640, led by the Romanian George Buitul who tried to convert the greatest population of Reformed Wallachians of Transylvania. (Later, the Wallachians were called Romanians.)

The ruins of the Franciscan church in Karánsebes (Photo: Teacher cs)

Along with Lugos castle, Karánsebes became an important Borderland castle of the Principality, guarding its western borders against the Ottomans even though they were “friends”. The Transylvanian Principality enjoyed greater independence than any other vassal state of the Sultan. Sometimes the Habsburgs paid higher annual taxes to the Ottomans than the Transylvanians to avoid wars.

The town was taken by the troops of Székely Mózes, then the city couldn’t avoid the Serbian mercenaries’ attack that had been instigated by General Basta. They destroyed the nearby villages and sacked the city, selling many enslaved people to the Turks. Finally, the citizens’ uprising chased them away in 1604. The castle and the city became the property of the Princes in 1605 and remained in their possession for a longer time. Its garrison included two hundred riders and two hundred infantrymen in 1626. Prince Rákóczi György I ordered the reinforcement of the walls in 1638.

Lord Barcsay Ákos was its captain between 1644-1658 who finally ceded it to the Ottomans in 1660 but they could have it only for a short time. It was taken back only after 1688 by the mercenaries of General Veterani. Unfortunately, the castle was taken back by the Ottomans and according to the treaty of 1699, it remained part of the Ottoman Empire until 1718 when the Temesköz was liberated.

The old-fashioned fort was demolished in the 1730s and now you can’t find its place easily.

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