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European Kingdoms

Eastern Europe



Transylvania means 'beyond the forest'. Towards its end the Bronze Age Unetice culture grew progressively in wealth and power, until its influence reached all of continental Europe. This was the mountainous part of Dacia during the Roman empire period, before which it had been home to various tribal groups. These included the Indo-Iranian Agathyrsi tribe, a small detachment of Sindi, plus the Grauci and Sigynnae.

Around 1400 BC it expanded into the Middle Danube basin and Transylvania, and its military power controlled a great part of the European continent. Much later, parts of Transylvania were occupied by the Germanic Bastarnae in the first century BC, but this tribe was subjugated by Rome and resettled on the south bank of the Danube. Subsequently, in the third century AD, the Germanic Goths passed through the region while the Gepids remained for a time, where they were badly disrupted by the arrival of the Huns. In later centuries, some Saxons settled in Dacia (the Roman name, which later became Transylvania), but although the language of the region's later peoples was largely Romance-derived, Transylvania was historically part of Hungary.

Largely surrounded by mountains, especially the Carpathians to the south, the plateau of Transylvania was relatively isolated and protected from the grassy lowlands around it, through which various steppe incursions passed. The region was never physically conquered by the Ottoman empire to its south, although it was forced to accept vassal status. More usually, though, it provided a fortified base for resistance against the Turkic conquest of south-eastern Europe. The Ottomans used the Tartars of Crimea as a mobile defensive force which ensured that Transylvania and also Wallachia were largely untroubled by attempts at renewing independence or by conquest by European kingdoms. The name most commonly associated with Transylvania is that of (Count) Dracula, who was in fact Prince Vlad of Wallachia.

1415 - 1438

Lorand Lepes

Prince of Transylvania, under Hungarian suzerainty.

1441 - 1456

Iancu of Hunedoara

Prince of Transylvania, under Hungarian suzerainty.

1526 - 1699

Following devastating defeat by the Ottomans in 1526 at the Battle of Mohács, and the death of Louis II of Hungary and Bohemia, Hungary loses the principality of Transylvania to the kingdom of John Zápolya. The Habsburgs inherit Hungary itself from the Lithuanian Jagiellos, but are opposed by the Zápolyas. It is unclear how much power the latter actually hold. Transylvania is then largely ruled through appointed princes in the same style as neighbouring Wallachia and Moldavia.

1526 - 1540

John Zápolya

First prince of Transylvania under Ottoman suzerainty.

1540 - 1571

John Sigismund

1571 - 1572

Gasnar Bekesy


The Polish occupy (or at least heavily influence) the principality of Transylvania. Poland's precise level of control or influence seems to be unclear, while Transylvania itself is emerging from its civil war to eject Habsburg influence. Stephen Báthory, leader in the civil war to eject the Habsburg Bekes faction, is the new voivode of Transylvania under the Polish aegis.

1572 - 1576

Stefan / Stephen Báthory

Voivode of Transylvania under Polish suzerainty.

1575 - 1576

In 1575 Stephen is elected king of Poland and grand duke of Lithuania to replace the departed Henry of Valois, who has returned to France to claim its empty throne following the death of his brother. Stephen's new position includes marriage to Anna Jagiellon, the last of the dynasty, while his brother becomes voivode in Transylvania and he himself adopts the title of prince of Transylvania.

1576 - 1581

Christopher Báthory

Brother. Voivode under Stephen as prince.

1581 - 1598

Sigismund Báthory

1599 - 1600


1600 - 1601

Michael the Brave

1600 - 1601

Michael the Brave briefly unites the three principalities that later form Rumania - Moldavia, Transylvania, and Wallachia.

1602 - 1603

Moyses Szekely

1602 - 1605

The Austrians occupy the region.

1605 - 1606

Stephen Bocskai

1607 - 1608

Sigismund Rakoczi / Ragotski

1608 - 1613

Gabriel Báthory

1613 - 1629

Gabriel Bethlen


Stephen Bethlen

1630 - 1648

George Rakoczy I

1648 - 1660

George Rakoczy II


The Ottomans conquer the principality.

1658 - 1660

Achatius Bocskai

1661 - 1662

Johann Kemeny

1661 - 1690

Michael Apafi I

1682 - 1699

Emerich Tokoli

1690 - 1699

Michael Apafi II

1699 - 1919

The Treaty of Karlowitz is signed on 26 January 1699 at Sremski Karlovci (now in Serbia). This brings to a conclusion the Austro-Ottoman War of 1683-1697 which had witnessed the defeat of the Ottomans at the Battle of Zenta. The Ottoman advance in Europe is stopped in its tracks, and is even partially reversed for the first time. This allows Austria to rise as a dominant player in European politics. Khan Salim of the Tartars resigns his position following the treaty's signing while Austria takes permanent control of Transylvania. Transylvania is then ruled again from Hungary, this time without local princes.

1704 - 1711

Francis Rakoczy


Transylvania is made a province of the kingdom of Hungary within the Austrian empire.


The kingdom of Rumania is officially proclaimed, with Charles of of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen as its first monarch. Romanians in the Hungarian province of Transylvania form a National Party to campaign for their rights, but meet with repression by the Hungarian authorities.


The region passes to Rumania as part of the dismemberment of the Austro-Hungarian empire after the First World War. During the Second World War, Germany passes part of Transylvania back to Hungary.

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