Count of the Székelys

The Count of the Székelys (Hungarian: székelyispán, Latin: comes Sicolorum) was the head of the Hungarian-speaking Székely people living in Transylvania within the medieval Kingdom of Hungary. The counts fulfilled administrative, military and judiciary functions. In addition to the Székely "seats", they administered Burzenland and other Transylvanian Saxon territories. The counts' official residence, the fortress at Görgény was situated outside the territories assigned to them.

Appointed directly by the monarchs, they remained independent of the Voivodes of Transylvania. The existence of the office is attested from the 1220s. It was always held by a Hungarian nobleman, never by a member of the Székely community. The office was attached to that of the Voivode in the 1460s.


Bishop Otto of Freising refers to "counts" leading the vanguards of the Hungarian troops in the battle of 1146 at the river Lajta.[1] Since the advance guards were at that time formed by Székelys and Pechenegs, the bishop's record may refer to the existence of the office already in the middle of the 12th century.[1] On the other hand, the Székelys, along with Pechenegs, Romanians, and Saxons, were led by the Count of Sibiu against Bulgaria in 1210.[2] The earliest royal charter mentioning a count of the Székelys was issued in 1235, but it refers to an event occurred seven years before, thus the office must have existed in 1228 at the latest.[3]


The Székely groups who had inhabited the valleys of the rivers Hortobágy and Sebes had moved eastward, across the river Olt by the 1220s.[2] Their movement was connected to the arrival of mostly German-speaking colonists (ancestors of the Transylvanian Saxons) who settled in the former Székely territories.[2] The Székelys from the Sebes valley formed Sepsiszék, the "seat of Sebes", first mentioned in 1252.[4] In the course of the century, new Székely seats came into being, and the Székely seats together formed the Székely Land under the authority of the count.[5]

The jurisdiction of the Counts of the Székelys was not limited to the Székely Land, since it also extended over some Transylvanian Saxon communities[6] who settled in territories earlier inhabited by Székelys.[7] The Saxons of the districts of Mediasch and Marktschelken[6] were under the authority of the Székely counts from 1320 until 1402,[8] when they were attached to the Saxons seats under the authority of the Count of Sibiu.[9] The Saxons districts of Bistritz, Kronstadt, and Rodna were also supervised by the Counts of the Székelys from 1344.[8]

The Székely counts also held the honors of Görgény and Höltövény, that is they received the royal revenues from these fortresses and the royal domains attached to them.[6][8] They also received the honors of the fortresses of Törcsvár and the nearby Királykő (at Podu Dâmboviţei) in the 15th century.[10]

List of Counts of the Székelys

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Zsoldos 2011, p. 239.
  2. 1 2 3 Makkai 1994, p. 180.
  3. Kristó 2003, p. 133.
  4. Kristó 2003, p. 132.
  5. Kristó 2003, pp. 132-134.
  6. 1 2 3 Kordé 1994, p. 625.
  7. Makkai 1994, p. 183.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Engel 1996, p. 192.
  9. Engel 2001, p. 114.
  10. Engel 1996, pp. 192., 341
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Engel 1996, p. 193.
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Engel 1996, p. 194.
  13. Kovács, András (2012). Institutional Structures and Elites in Sălaj Region and in Transylvania in the 14th-18th Centuries. XXI, Supplement No. 2. Cluj-Napoca: Romanian Academy, Centre for Transylvanian Studies. p. 110 .


  • Engel, Pál (1996). Magyarország világi archontológiája, 13011457, I. ("Secular Archontology of the Kingdom of Hungary, 13011457, Volume I."). História, MTA Történettudományi Intézete. Budapest. ISBN 963-8312-44-0.
  • Engel, Pál (2001). The Realm of St Stephen: A History of Medieval Hungary, 895-1526. I.B. Tauris. London & New York. ISBN 1-86064-061-3.
  • Kordé, Zoltán (1994). The entry székelyispán ("Count of the Székelys"). In: Kristó, Gyula; Engel, Pál; Makk, Ferenc (1994); Korai magyar történeti lexikon (914. század) ("Encyclopedia of the Early Hungarian History, 9th14th centuries"); Akadémiai Kiadó. Budapest. ISBN 963-05-6722-9.
  • Kristó, Gyula (2003). Early Transylvania (895-1324). Lucidus Kiadó. Budapest. ISBN 963-9465-12-7.
  • Makkai, László (1994). The Emergence of the Estates (11721526). In: Köpeczi, Béla; Barta, Gábor; Bóna, István; Makkai, László; Szász, Zoltán; Borus, Judit; History of Transylvania; Akadémiai Kiadó; Budapest. ISBN 963-05-6703-2.
  • Zsoldos, Attila (2011). Magyarország világi archontológiája, 10001301 ("Secular Archontology of the Kingdom of Hungary, 10001301"). História, MTA Történettudományi Intézete. Budapest. ISBN 978-963-9627-38-3.
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