01 November 2015

Beschreibung der Bukowina • Déscription de la Bukovina • Description of Bukovina



"Description of Bukovina following its previous and existing consistency together with the non-binding proposal on how its state constitution up to now may be improved both politically and economically" from the year 1775 was the first account available on the situation the Austrians encountered after their incorporation into the Empire of the area they called Bukovina.

From H. F. van Drunen's thesis "A Sanguine Bunch" we learn as follows: "The author [Baron Gabriel Splény of Miháldy], a high-ranking military official of Magyar noble descent, born in Kassa153 (now Košice, Slovakia) in 1734, was assigned to Bukovina from 1 September 1774 until 6 September 1778. Previously, he had earned an outstanding reputation in the Austrian army, was promoted major in 1759 and major general in 1773. In that same year, Splény accompanied Emperor Joseph II on a trip to Galicia and his knowledge impressed the Emperor to such extent that he was assigned to supervise the occupation and administrative organisation of northern Moldavia, the later Bukovina. [...] The structure of Splény’s report is traditional: the first part is dedicated to the description of the geographical, economical and social circumstances. In this context this is the most relevant part, especially the third chapter which deals with the population. [...] Although they indicated a predominantly Romanian character of the area (Romanians 11,000 families, Ruthenians 1,261, Jews 526, Gypsies 294 and Armenians 58), other sources claim that the majority was indeed Romanian speaking, but that the census simply qualified every Orthodox as Romanian. The debatable results of Splény’s census in comparison to those of Splény’s successor Enzenberg’s efforts are at times attributed to Splény’s alleged lack of knowledge of the region and its inhabitants. More likely, the puzzling results of Splény’s census are the product of a lack of criteria, definitions and terminology. [...] The merit of Splény’s writing in the light of this study lies in the fact that it is the first written account on the state of affairs at the very beginning of Austrian rule over the territory.

Courtesy:  Internet ArchiveBielefeld University

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