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Tápióbicske Summary


In the area of Tápióbicske, Pest county, man settled along natural streams and among hills suitable for protection against possible attacks as early as in the Neolithic age. The transitory landscape between the Hungarian Plain and the hills is of a varied soil pattern. The Southern, mainly blackearth part of the field – covered with compact forests before the settlement of man – is excellent for agricultural activity. The Northern territory – mostly with wind blown sand – has a higher significance due to the plantation of forests 150–200 years ago, and the large-scale wine growing recently. The two rivers – from where the name derives – flowing across the village, served as a source of water and a place of fishing, and earlier before the age of machines, as the energy source for water-mills.

The richest archaeological findings of the area are connected with the Bronze age, when the settlers mainly dealing with animal husbandry built two of the ten sand castles of the Tápió area on top of higher hills. The predecessor of today's Tápióbicske came into being in the early Arpadian age (together with villages Szentvid and Disue in its immediate vicinity). Some archaeological findings prove this, the first mention was made in 1275. The name giving Bicskei (or Bikcsei, later Bicskey) family appeared then, which was mostly famous for their existence from the Arpadian age through until the abolishion of serfdom in 1848, managing to preserve their estates in spite of all the suit cases they pursued against members of the family and outsiders. (In 1275 the parties in litigation divided even the church of the village). The settlement received its name after this landowner family, and the name itself derives from the Hungarian “bik” (bükkfa = beech-tree). The ruins of the name giving patron's church was recently explored. The ruins of the ancient church of Tápióbicske – dedicated to the Blessed Virgin – have not yet been found, but registered files unambiguously make references to its earlier existence. Around the border of the village, next to the plots of serfs, several members of the numerous landowner family had farms consisting of grass-land, and forests.

Tápióbicske shared the destiny of the other settlements lying between the Danube and the Tisza during the one and a half centuries of the Turkish Rule, and although it did not have to undergo major suffering until the commencement of the fifteen year war (1590), its inhabitants fled at the time, and it became devastated for a century.

Reconstruction after the Turkish Rule started already at the end of the XVII century, but the Kurutz war, which soon broke out, turned the vicinity into the scene of severe and ravaging clashes, which – even if did not make the village depopulated again – cast unfolding development back. After 1771, with the return of the old inhabitants and the settlements of newcomers from the Northern part of the country, Tápióbicske became an intensively growing village. A census was taken in the settlement of 13 families in 1715, 35 in 1728, and 116 in 1744 in addition to the nobility, whose number amounted to half of the serf households in the first half of the XVIII century, and one quarter of them at the end of the century. The population of the village was characteristically Hungarian and catholic. The landowner Bicskey család was cast out of the estate here from the end of the XVIII up to the beginning of the XIX centuries. The ancient share of inheritance, which got to the hands of the Beleznay and Hellenbach families was finally returned to the family only in 1840.

The obligatory services of the serfdom of the village were regulated by the landlords after the settlement, but the burdens were relatively mild, also to encourage new settlers to choose Bicske. In comparison, the national regulation issued by Maria Theresa, called “urbarium” imposed much more severe burdens on those living here. Apart from increased service, the break-up of plots, and the large-scale cotter's system were a bigger blow on the society of the village, soon the problems in the village's bread-winning capability surfaced, forecasting a drastic reduction in the population, which started in the middle of the XX century, and has been continuous ever since.

Farming was basically determined by the features of the soil: on the Southern, better quality lands of the territory, winter corn (wheat and rye), as well as spring corn (barley and oat) was produced in two course and later three course rotation. Maize, characteristic of the XX century, appeared on fallow land as early as at the end of the XVIII century, due to the fact that it was not liable to tithe payment, and had abundant crop. Hayfields, but especially common pastures were much poorer than arable land, almost barren, which was well illustrated by the low numbers of kept animals.

The most remarkable page of the history of Tápióbicske was the 4 April 1849, during the spring military campaign, when in the village and at the bridge of the Upper-Tápió towards Nagykáta, the Hungarian army fighting for the independence of the country won victory over the Austrians. During the battle, a duel took place between Sebő Alajos, major and baron Hermann Riedesel, lieutenant-colonel before the eyes of several hundreds of people, in which Sebő killed the Austrian officer, giving strength and hope to his hussars. The other renowned and victorious feat of arms of the battle at Tápióbicske is connected with the bridge of the Upper-Tápió, when it was taken by general Damjanich's “red caps” from Kosice, and the soldiers of Kiss Pál, lieutenant-colonel, and the 3. “white feathered” battalion from Szeged led by Földváry Károly, major, determining the final outcome of the battle in favour of the Hungarians.

With serfdom having ceased to exist, the land-owning peasantry became owners of their land, but the fragmented plots (usually of eleven “holds”) could not any more ensure undisturbed existence. And the cotters increased in number and having no land stepped over to the order of citizens only with their labour force. The free selling and buying of land, which was the result of scarce land and capitalistic conditions, launched a busy real estate market, with its first perceivable results in sales of old plots of land owned by nobles and migration from the settlement. At the end of the XIX century, the one larger estate (over a thousand “holds”) remained in the hands of Bicskey Kálmán, who was the Parliamentary representative of the region, and can be mentioned as one of the greatest donors of the village with several of his foundations established in order to promote education and the church. In the XX century, this estate also reduced by half, with a final blow in 1945 by the distribution of land.

From the beginning of the XX century, estates started to break up into small pieces. Many families could only make a living working on the their small vineyards in this period. At this time, the village became the most important vine producing place of the vicinity, traders came to buy wine produced here from distant places. Four fifth of the population lived from agriculture in an almost unchanged proportion up to the middle of the XX century, as there was no significant industry locally. Those who made a living from the industry and the third sector, mostly went to work in larger cities, primarily Budapest, which got closer with the help of the railway.

The distribution of land after the II World War nourished some false illusions for a short time, and thus the number of the population of the village started to grow again to a small extent until 1494. Then, the anti-peasantry policy of the fifties, and the forced establishment of the kolhozs dismantled traditional communities and the well-proven system of farming. The proportion of those living from agriculture started to drop drastically, and in parallel, the proportion of those working in industry and other sectors was growing. The latter did not work in the village, but found their living commuting primarily to the capital, and later many of them moved (mostly the young people) for good: Tápióbicske suffered the largest drop in the region (twenty percent between 1960 and 1970). This process could only be halted by the years after the political turnaround, which were characterised by new settlings.

Investigating the events of the recent years, we can see that the settlement found itself at last. It built its non-governmental organisations again, and created the new forms of its existence in the place of the ruins of the socialist economy. It fosters its traditions, and makes them richer by considering itself to be the inheritance of the victory at Tápióbicske, also nourishing its weakened but hopefully still viable identity.


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