The History of Felsőörs
The village of Felsőörs is a gateway to the northern shore of the Lake Balaton region. The flat plateau, which alternates with deep valleys, has been inhabited since prehistoric times. A red dye mine can be found in the vicinity, not far from Király-kút, which goes back to the prehistoric age of the so-called Seleta culture. Accordingly, as it is attested by the ceramic findings of the culture of linear pottery of the Peszei spring, the area was inhabited by prehistoric men about 5-6 thousand years ago.
The Romans lived in the area until as late as the 1-4th centuries and they grew vine on the nearby slopes.
As it is attested by written evidence, the area was inhabited in the period of the Hungarian conquest as well. The first written mention of the settlement’s name goes back to a royal document of 1082. The village was called Örs as early as 1269 and then, a document of 1272 mentioned it as ’villa Wrs’. Since there were operating quarries in the vicinity the settlement also went by the name ’Kővágóőrs’. The first inhabitants of the village were subjects of the king’s or queen’s court and they included courtiers, caretakers, vineyardists and hostlers.
The Örsi clan lived in the area as early as the 12th century. In the 1130s a mansion was built on the rocky slope of Malomvölgy by Buhna of the Rátold clan and his son, Ugra bailiff. On its two sides the building was surrounded by streams. The mansion was likely to have been named after Miske, the grandson of its builder. It was also them who began to build a church, which was also soon to become a burial place for family members. The patron saint of the church was Mary Magdalen and the members of the Batthyányi family became the owners, who had derived themselves from the same clan.
The members of the Örsi family also established a provostship in the village in the same period. The first provost, whose name was recorded in 1290, was Márton Veszprémi, son of a nobleman from Veszprém, who became well known for enlarging the area of the provostship with several estates.
From the 14th century two settlements existed in the area; ’alsó/inferior’ and ’felső/superior’ Őrs. These two settlements became eventually autonomous in 1478, when Albert Vetési, the bishop of Veszprém granted Alsóőrs a parish of its own.
From the 15th century onward the village had new owners, namely, the members of the Ányos family of Fajsz and Vámos, as well as the Vincze family of Szentgyörgy. It is worth mentioning that it was also the period when new vineyards were established in the area . In the period of the Turkish occupation of Hungary the village of Felsőörs was first attacked, ransacked and destroyed by the Ottoman troops in 1529. It was András Cháron of Devecser who recaptured it from the Turks. In this period there were only 22 tax paying households and 15 empty homes in the whole village. When Veszprém fell to the Turks the village of Felsőörs also got temporarily depopulated.
From the 1550s onward the ideas of the Reformation gained popularity int he region. Farmers joined the new faith in increasing numbers because it was an opportunity for them to get rid of their heavy church taxes. The members of the landowning Ányos family also converted to the new faith. After the peace treaty of Zsitvatorok of 1606 more peaceful years followed. The mills of the Malomvölgy received plenty of grain to grind. The kuruc-labanc armed struggles of the early 1700s did not cause considerable damage in the village, although in the plague of 1711 many of the inhabitants of Felsőörs died.
It was in 1732 that Márton Padányi Bíró, the Catholic bishop of Veszprém, had a new provostal mansion built in the village, and, at the same time, he had the former Calvinist meeting house destroyed. In July 1736, on the memorial day of Mary Magdalen, he expelled the Calvinists from the church as well. The church building was then restored in 1737. It was also the same year that the triumphal arch was decorated with the coat of arms of the Batthyányi family.
The Calvinist inhabitants of Felsőörs began to erect a small church building from stone in 1740. The site of the construction was donated to the community by a member, Gergely Mórocza. Next to the new church a belfry was erected with two churchbells, weighing 100 and 40 pounds respectively, and the minister’s living quarters and a church school were also added to the complex.
In order to regulate wine growing in the region, in 1752 a publication came out by the title ’Vineyard regulations’, which contained as many as 31 paragraphs. In his work of 1830 ’Balaton Region Notes in the Form of Amiable Letters’ János Oláh wrote the following lines: ’ If someone is walking on the hill and upon finding an open cellar gate and doesn’t enter, that person deserves nothing else but reproaches and reprimands.’
In the 1880s, due to a large-scale phyloxera epidemic, the local viniculture was destroyed. In Veszprém an American vineyard centre was established, from where new vinestocks were given to the vineyardists of the phyloxera-devastated areas, including Felsőörs.
The local post office opened in 1879 and it employed a messenger to forward consignments to the post office of Veszprém.
The foundation stone of the new Calvinist church of the settlement was laid down by clergyman Sándor Cseh on May 17, 1886. The new church was inaugurated on September 29, 1887.
In the 1890s provost Ágoston Gurglich had the Catholic church as well as the building of the mansion restored and in 1899, the last year of the century the Catholic reading circle of the settlement came into being, with the aim of promoting the education of the inhabitants.
Sámuel Pápay, a linguist and literary historian is a renowned son of the settlement. He was born in Felsőörs on March 8, 1770. His greatest works include the first concise history of Hungarian literature by the title ’ A Guide to Hungarian Literature’ and the ’Dictionary of Hungarian Law and Administration’. He died in 1827. ’His name is as bright as a star…’, these are the words inscribed in his memorial plaque.
In the settlement’s Calvinist cemetery two graves can be found, which recall the memory of the Revolution and War of Independence of 1848/49. These are the graves of István Kovács D, a private soldier of the Kmetty Division, who died on March 11, 1889 and Imre Körössy, an officer, who died in 1883.
Their memories are also recalled by two wooden headboards in the Heroes’ Garden, where the names of the heroes of the first and second world wars are also recorded.
Other famous inhabitants of the settlement include clergyman Ferenc Gáty (1899-1993), who worked in the village for 56 years and did a lot to enhance the settlement’s cultural life. Ferenc Gáty organised a local orchestra and together with his wife he taught music and the love of music to about 100 children. Provost József Körmendy moved to Felsőörs during the persecutions of the 1960s. He had the church and the provostal centre restored, helped many local people and, as a librarian, he did considerable research into local history.
’And do not forget the ancestors who established ploughlands, vineyards and roads to replace infertile marshes and woodlands’ wrote Dezső Keresztúry, a poet, in his introductory chapter to the volume ’The Centuries of Felsőörs’ written by Csaba D. Veress.