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Summary

 

It was only relatively late that human settlements were formed in the dense forests in the South of the Mount Mecsek, and even then this process was interrupted from time to time. Traces of the first human community in the valley of the brook at Magyaregregy were produced at the end of the Roman age, i.e. in the IIIrd century AD., such traces being a former watchtower and most probably a villa on the respective places of what are Márévár (literally meaning Máré’s castle) and a monastery belonging to the castle today. The valley stretching in a North-South direction must have played an important role as a route for the Romans.

Following the Roman age, it took almost a thousand years for a newer generation of settlements to appear. After the Magyar (Hungarian) conquest in the Carpathian Basin, centuries had passed by before new communities were formed in the valley. The lack of full-scale archaeological diggings makes it impossible to draw reliable conclusions about the circumstances of their formation. Based on archaeological findings and written documents, however, it is no doubt that Márévár with the belonging monastery and the village Máré at the foot of the castle were already extant at the very end of the reign of the Árpád dynasty. That is the time that the first, i.e. Gothic construction period of the castle dates from.

When first appearing in a chartered historical document, the castle is mentioned as a crown land that King Károly donated to István Bogár and his sibling in 1326. The history of Márévár can be followed more easily from then on, but even then it remained far from free of uncertainties. We know for sure that it was subsequently owned by the Becsei, Bátmonostori and Várdai families and that Zsigmond Nagy, Pál Bakics’s ‘right-hand man’ became its usurper after 1526. The position taken by the archaeologist who did excavations at the castle around 1970 must submit to the chartered historical documents suggesting that even though Pál Bakics, having escaped from the Turkish occupation in Serbia and having played a significant role in Hungary, did occupy the castle, it never became his property.

The Renaissance construction period of the castle cannot, therefore, be associated with either the figure of Pál Bakics or the interregnum after 1526. Instead, the constructions are attributable to the Várdai family that had owned the castle since 1470, and in particular to Ferenc Várdai, bishop of Gyulafehérvár and the head of the family who was reputed to be one of the most significant Renaissance builders in the country. The Renaissance construction period fell in the first decades of the 16th century, but it preceded 1526 anyway.

Associating the third construction period with the Serbian defenders of Szigetvár is unacceptable for they never settled at Márévár as shown in written historical sources. The new constructors could be found among the occupying Serbs who served for the Ottoman rule. How the castle was ruined is unknown.

Sixteen villages had been established in the close vicinity, and partly in the territory, of Magyaregregy during the Middle Ages. Some of them fell under Turkish domination while others ceased to exist. The only village that managed to revive after the wars waged for re-conquering the land was ‘Egregy’; the hamlet of ‘Máré’ was to share the fate of the castle.

It did not go without hitches for Egregy to resume, either. For a few years after the wars of liberation it remained uninhabited but it was populated again in 1695. Then it fell victim to what was called the ‘Serbs ravages’ in 1704. All the five houses in the hamlet were burnt down, the recently settled dwellers murdered, and the animals driven away. The old hamlet is said to have been situated on the slopes of the mount, a few hundred meters west of the village today.

Christian troops having left, the uninhabited hamlet was owned by the Treasury of the Habsburg Emperor in 1695, while it belonged, as a populated place, to the bishop of Pécs whose ownership Emperor Leopold acknowledged in 1703.

In a detailed description made in 1733 about the lands of the Church it is striking that, despite its inability to receive newcomers, the village was open to new settlers. As the bishop’s property, the village pursued forestry but not farming. Lumbering, however, did not begin until the XIXth century. Villein socage was generally performed in the habitual fashion.

A vast majority of articles for personal use were made by the people themselves. Mills producing for the local demand represented nearly the sole industrial activity in the XVIIIth century. The exploitation, in a rather rudimentary manner, of the three coal quarries at the border of the village started at the turn of the XIXth century only. Attempts to exploit them continued until the middle of the XXth century but, even if the quality of coal was the same as in Komló and Szászvár, they proved unsuccessful for the vague occurrence of the mineral and its unfavourable circumstances of transportation. In 1857 the community turned to court so as to wind up the system of socage, and the litigation came to an end with a verdict brought in 1881 only. The 47 pieces of eighth lots were granted to 129 former serfs, 54 cotters, the priest, the teacher and the community itself.

The most marked activity of the local civic public administration focused on how to become the seat of the district-notary’s office as it would provide the village with an opportunity to remain the centre for three decades. Communal issues such as roads, railway, post, telephone, commerce, obtaining the right to hold fairs, leasing out hunting and liquor licences, the solution of education and health care constituted further significant tasks. A study conducted in 1938 pointed at the shortage of cultivable land as the root of social problems. Most farmers owned mini holdings. Farmers with medium-size lands could hardly be found among them. The slopes of the mount bordering the settlement were difficult to cultivate. The goods produced here were hardly enough to satisfy local demands, almost nothing was left for sale. Animal breeding was also considered rudimentary. 21% of the wage-earning residents were miners, 13% craftsmen, and 3% tradesmen. To supplement their subsistence, even land-owners did forestry work.

During the Second World War, the community and the whole valley was saved from becoming a frontline, and the Soviet occupation took place in relative tranquillity but not without atrocities. The district notary’s firm action prevented the ethnic German population from being dragged away to the Soviet Gulag, and the whole community of the village united to successfully pause the plan of moving them out to Germany. The few German families living nearby whose properties were confiscated during the land reform and the resettling were admitted to the village. The totalitarian power manifested itself by building up its organisations of councils, of the communist party and of the ‘Patriotic People’s Front’, as well as by obliging people to deliver their agricultural produce and livestock to the state, by taxation, by declaring wealthier farmers as kulaks, by nationalisation and by forcing people to join the movement of agricultural co-operatives. But all these were done with some moderation because the people were able to, in a certain sense, keep the leaders of mostly local origin in hand.

In October 1956 an armed national guard was formed in the village whose primary goals were to maintain order and to supply foodstuff to Budapest. After the Soviet intervention an armed group called “the invisibles of Mecsek” settled in the castle who were partly dispersed in the ‘last siege of Márévár’, and two rebels were executed on the spot, by the Soviet and Hungarian political police squad that had occupied Komló.

An interesting feature of Magyaregregy has, since the changes in the political regime, been that while people vote for political parties in national parliamentary elections, it is only independent candidates that can achieve success in local municipality elections.

The main body of the population at Magaregregy originates from the age of the Turkish occupation. There is no evidence but it can be suspected that a fragment of the people continued to live over Medieval Times. The number of residents had gradually been increasing till 1960 from when on it decreased.

Close links to the village of Kárász, the rival in the neighbourhood characterises the cultural relationships of Magyaregregy. For long, a Roman catholic church and a parsonage as well as a school were available in the neighbour only. Magyaregregy carried on a bitter fight for its own, independence school and, when the Szentkúti chappel, a place of pilgrimage, has been built, for its religious independence.

The landscape and people of Márévár and Magyaregregy were also good topics for literature to write about. Antal Náray, Sándor Baksay, József Kulcsár, Géza Gárdonyi, jános Kodolányi and Gizella Dénes borrowed from this ambience.

For its relative closed nature, the village managed to preserve its material and spiritual traditions. Objective ethnographical fact-finding is still a task for the future, but it is known that, in addition to agriculture and forestry, the inhabitants continued craftsmanship as a supplementary activity.

Due to the community’s reduced capability of sustaining livelihood, and to the closing down of the coal mines at Komló and Szászvár, the people at Magyaregregy have got in a sad plight. The exceptionally beautiful natural environment, the strong ties, with the village and between each other, of the inhabitants, both who have left and who have remained, the feeling of freedom granted by the opportunity to live in the nature, which impresses visitors so much, will certainly help those people to find the way to a new, more favourable period of development.

 

 

  
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