Nume: KOVACS Andras

Tema: Elitele transilvane şi patronii lor: strategii sociale, opţiuni politice şi structuri comunitare (secolele XIII-XX)

Partener: Academia Română, Filiala Cluj, Institutul de Istorie George Bariţiu – Centrul de Studii Transilvane, Cluj-Napoca

Proiect: Transilvanian Political Elites in the Middle Ages: Voivods of Transylvania in the 15th and Early 16th Century

Date de contact

Profile and Curriculum Vitae

Principal subjects/occupational skills covered: Medieval (pre-1526) history of Transylvania, auxiliary sciences of history (diplomatics, paleography, heraldry, genealogy), source languagues (Hungarian, Latin)

Web pages (with detailed CV and list of publications):

Transilvanian Political Elites in the Middle Ages: Voivods of Transylvania in the 15th and Early 16th Century

Voivode (`one who leads warriors`, derived from old Slavonic language) is a Slavic title that originally denoted the principal commander of a military force. The word gradually came to denote the governor of a province. The territory ruled or administered by a voivode is known as a voivodeship. Voivode was also the title of the Hungarian governors of Transylvania in the Middle Ages; the Voivode of Transylvania (wayuoda Transsiluanus) was one of the barons (or chief office holders) of the Kingdom of Hungary, a territorial governor appointed by the Hungarian crown. He was also the chief magistrate and military commander of Transylvania's counties.

Although generations of historians have significantly contributed to the researches on the voivodal office, they seemed interested mostly in the beginnings of that and only a very few, showed interest in the evolution of this institution or in the persons who occupied this position in the centuries when voivodes had come to be one of the most important political actors in the Hungarian Kingdom and in the Voivodate of Transylvania (11–16th centuries). The study of any important office, of the political elite, of the functioning of central administration, the explanation and sorting out of the complicated evolutions of the internal political life (and, as dependent on this, of the foreign politics) can be carried out only through researching the careers of those people who were holding the central offices.

In most of the cases the officials of lower or medium rank and importance are not known at all, but as a paradox neither are those who belonged to the central administration, the officials of major importance, and thus they remain obscure for historiography, in spite of the fact that they formed the royal council, and they were – beside the king – the defining factors of the events of their times. Not knowing the family ties, the different interest groups inside the elite, the public career of each office holder makes the functioning of the central administration, the changes inside this, the whole internal politics unexplainable and very difficult to understand.

The present project proposes to look through all relevant documents emitted by the voivodes and vice-voivodes of Transylvania, the published and the so far unpublished ones alike. Besides the documents emitted by the two above mentioned officials (which refer mainly to their activity during the time of their office holding) it is important to look through a huge number of other documents that refer to the family and possessions of a dignitary in order to create the circumstances for the multiple analyses that can be carried out regarding the realities of the 15th century political elite. The study of the individuals who held the voivodal office has as its goal:

  • 1. to sketch the complete internal political mechanism (parts of which are also the voivodes appointed by the king), the political context that led to the appointment or withdrawal of a voivode, the power-relations between king and aristocracy (as well as inside the Hungarian aristocracy) – all of which influenced the evolution of internal politics.
  • 2. to carry out sociological, anthropological and historical demographic analyses regarding the voivodes of Transylvania (what social layer they were recruited from, how did the social mobility evoluate, the length of obtaining the voivodal position in the case of people with different social origins, the way voivodes and the different officials appointed by these were recruited, the duration of the voivodes' life, their family-policy, the relationships between the families that constituted the political elite, etc.).
  • 3. to prepare a complete guide of prosopography which would offer all the information available on the career of each voivode (the offices held before or after voivodeship or any other functions of the respective person).
  • 4. to sketch the key factors of power exertion by the voivodes in Transylvania; to identify recruitment area of the officials working for the Transylvanian voivodes. The king appointed directly only the main dignitaries (in our case the voivodes) and the rest of the officials were chosen by these. The medieval Hungarian government and the entire administration was based on familiaritas, the Hungarian equivalent of the feudal-vassallic relationships known in Western Europe. The voivodes chose their assistants from a among their servants (familiares) who were free noblemen and who committed themselves to fulfill a position on the side of the voivode. As soon as the voivode was changed the complete administrative staff of Transylvania (vice-voivodes, the comites of the counties, the castellans of the castles belonging to the voivodal administration) was replaced as well.
  • 5. to study the evolution and functioning of the voivodal institution, as well as that of the other offices attached to this (vice-voivode, the voivodal chancellery, congregations, military and juridical duties of the voivode, the voivodal administration, the administration of incomes).

Main publications:

  • 1. W. KOVÁCS András: The History of the Wass de Czege Family, Translated by Ágnes BARICZ. Copyedited by Mathew SUFF. Hamburg, Edmund Siemers Stiftung, 2005. 200 p. ISBN 3-00-016411-1. online -

  • 2. A Wass család cegei levéltára , [The archive of the Wass de Cege family]. VALENTINY Antal oklevélkivonatait felhasználva bevezető tanulmányokkal és jegyzetekkel közzéteszi W. KOVÁCS András. [Published by András W. KOVÁCS. With introductory studies and annotations and using the abstracts made by Antal VALENTINY]. Az Erdélyi Múzeum-Egyesület kiadása [Published by the Publishing House of the Transylvanian Museum Society]. Kolozsvár 2006. [Cluj-Napoca 2010]. 605. p. (Az Erdélyi Nemzeti Múzeum Levéltára 3.). [The Archive of National Transylvanian Museum 3]. ISBN (10) 973-8231-56-6. (with abstract in Romanian and German). online -

  • 3. W. Kovács András: Magyar vonatkozású oklevélközlések Romániában., [Bibliography of Romanian editions of medieval diplomas concerning the history of Transylvania]. Az Erdélyi Múzeum-Egyesület kiadása. [Published by the Publishing House of the Transylvanian Museum Society]. Kolozsvár 2009. [Cluj-Napoca 2009]. (Erdélyi Tudományos Füzetek 261.). [Transylvanian Scientific Fascicles no. 263]. 159. p. ISBN 978-973-8231-90-0. online -

  • 4. W. KOVÁCS András: Az erdélyi vármegyék középkori archontológiája , [The Medieval Archontolgy of the Transylvanian Counties]. Az Erdélyi Múzeum-Egyesület kiadása [Published by the Publishing House of the Transylvanian Museum Society]. Kolozsvár 2010 [Cluj-Napoca 2010]. (Erdélyi Tudományos Füzetek 263.) [Transylvanian Scientific Fascicles no. 263]. (in the press). ISBN 978-606-8178-08-0 (with abstract in Romanian and German).

  • 5. W. KOVÁCS András: Administraţia comitatului Hunedoara în evul mediu [The lay administration of Hunedoara/Hunyad county in the Middle Ages]. In: Sargetia (Deva) 35–36 (2007–2008). [2010]. p. 203–240. ISSN 1013–4255.