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Merry Christmas 2018

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Merry Christmas and assorted other winter holidays!

As I'm writing this, I'm hours away from my flight to Vienna and taking a well deserved Christmas vacation, since the last few months have been brutal. 
But before that, as I do every year, I had to finish the Christmas greeting card for my reenactment group, "Traditia Militara"

This year it's the big one - the end of WW1 and the Great Union of 1918, the unification of a newly independent Transylvania after the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire with the Romanian Kingdom to form "Greater Romania.
This took place in Alba Iulia (Gyulafehérvár in Hungarian and Karlsburg in German) on December 1st, when the National Assembly of Romanians of Transylvania and Hungary voted unanimously on the union.

In order to represent this event I drew two soldiers, one in a Austro-Hungarian uniform and one in a Romanian one greeting one another against the backdrop of one of the minor gates of the Alba Carolina Fortress in Alba Iulia, the largest and best preserved 18th century star-fort in Transylvania.  Amusingly, most of the other gates are monumental affairs with baroque styling, but I chose this one because of the angle which allows me to capture both the catholic St. Michael's Cathedral (13th century, built on an earlier, 11 century edifice, destroyed by the Mongols in 1241) on the right as well as the orthodox Coronation Cathedral on the left. And here we hit a bit of a snag, because the latter wasn't built until 1922, but it's such an evocative edifice (It's where King Ferdinand and Queen Marie were crowned as monarchs of Greater Romania on October 15, 1922) I just *had* to include it in my drawing, even though it's anachronistic.

When it comes to uniforms, for the K.u.K. soldier I chose the late-war "feldgrau" uniform, with the Austro-Hungarian insignia removed and collar tabs belonging to the "Ungarisches Infanterie Regiment Friedrich Großherzog von Baden Nr. 50", which was quartered in Alba Iulia, and, despite it's name, was actually 71% Romanian, 22% Hungarian and 7% other ethnicities (source).
As for the Romanian, I went for the late-war set up, which included British Webbing gear and a French "musette" breadbag.

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AndreaSilva60's avatar
Opposition party Jobbik has proposed that the Budapest Metropolitan Assembly should declare 2020 Trianon Memorial Year on the occasion of the centenary of the Trianon Peace Treaty that stripped Hungary of two-thirds of its territory.  
Hard time for Europe:  "Negras tormentas agitan los aires".
wingsofwrath's avatar
Ah yes, Jobbik. What can I say, we have our own nationalist groups and they're advocating similar things.

Ironically, it's exactly this kind of thinking that indirectly led to Trianon in the first place. For much of it's existence, Transylvania had been an autonomic, multi-ethnic princedom under either Hungarian, Ottoman or Hapsburg rule, but when the Hungarians were granted statal autonomy within the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, they immediately started tightening the screws on the minorities within the lands they administered, in a process of forced magyarization (served with a hefty side-dose of incarceration of civic minority leaders, suppression of language and belief, etc).
That, as you can imagine, managed to piss everybody off, and tensions were running high in the run-up to the war, culminating in the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Parliament - the Reichsrat- twice, in 1912 and 1913 due to inter-ethnic tensions between the Pan-Germanists vs the Slavs (especially the Czech radicals) and the Hungarians vs everyone else.

When the war finally went tits-up in 1918,  everyone wanted to go their own separate way - for example the original 1918 Alba-Iulia resolution was made only in the name of the majority romanian counties, meaning Transylvania proper (23 counties out of 51 which are now part of Romania) with a border set on the Mureș (Maros) river and majority Hungarian lands such as my native Kolozsvár (now Cluj-Napoca) still firmly part of Hungary.  But, unfortunately, the Hungarians would have none of this, refused any territorial concessions and the government resigned and was replaced by the Communist Hungarian Party led by Bela Kun, who promptly proclaimed Hungary a Bolshevik state and attacked Romania and the newly formed Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia in order to regain lost territory.

As you can imagine, that was a pretty bad idea, fighting a three-front war with a weakened army against larger armies which had the support of the Entente in the form of French troops drawn from the Salonika front, so they were soundly defeated, Bela Kun ousted and Budapest ended under Romanian occupation...

Now during the war, the Romanian army at first held rigidly to that Entente mandated border on the Maros, but the Bolshevik army was a very loose structure, so roving bands of soldiers were terrorising the countryside, burning and pillaging in the majority Hungarian lands they were supposed to protect, which led to the paradoxical situation in which the mayors of several cities with overwhelming Hungarian majority such as Nagyvárad (Oradea) or Temesvár (Timișoara) sent envoys asking for the protection of the Romanian army against them...

And, as a result, the Trianon Peace Treaty of 1920 awarded Romania not only Transylvania proper which had a (slight) Romanian majority, but also regions with a Hungarian majority such as half of Crișana, Timiș and parts of Banat and Bucovina

As they say, good job breaking it, guys!
AndreaSilva60's avatar
I absolutely agree with you, history is a process, and the Warsaw Pact has crystallized
old tensions and contradictions, ready to burst into a new version of the balkanization of
small conflicts. In a period of economic and social growth, everything could have been absorbed
over time, but at a time of crisis we have discovered that the freedom of movement enshrined by
the European community was more focused on economic and monetary exchanges, rather than that
of ideas and of men. Now populism is gaining power, all over Europe, and selfishness presents its evil face.

A Hungarian could complain about the Romanization of the majority Hungarian regions carried out by
Ceauşescu, but an Austrian could complain about the situation in Alto Adige, or South Tyrol if you prefer,
so much so that Austria wants to grant them dual citizenship.

Mine did not want to be a provocation, but the expression
of a concern for the growth of populists movements
and for centrifugal drives that begin to crack the fabric of the European community.
wingsofwrath's avatar
Yeah, the less said about Ceauşescu and his policy of forced Romanization, the better. It's basically the same thing, but reversed, which shows us that no matter which of us get on top we all behave in the same foolishly selfish way, because nationalism, is, in essence, selfishness - MY country, MY nation, MY neck of the woods is more important than anybody else, so you either become like me or I'll force you to do it, even if it kills you. In a way, we can see that all human conflict is rooted in selfishness - MY religion, MY land, MY culture, MY party, MY viewpoint .etc are better, so and if you don't agree I'll just have to show you by force.

I didn't take it as a provocation, I completely agree with you the rash of nationalistic sabre-rattling and populism is worrying, but I understand why it's happening now - if you look back in history, every time things get too stable, people become too self-oriented and myopic and small problems become amplified out of proportion to the exclusion of any big problems that don't affect them personally - "the other side of town might be at risk from a flood, but dammit, that pothole in front of my building is more important to me. Why isn't city hall doing something about it?".
So of course they're going to vote for the guy who tells them he's going to fix their potholes, even if he is willing to let the other side of town get washed away to do it. 
And then, of course, there's that other guy that tells people the only reason the pothole exists in the first place is because of that other neighbour, so if they want to get rid of the pothole they must chase out the neighbour, confiscate his property and use the money to fix the pothole, all for the greater good... :/


 
AndreaSilva60's avatar
Our notes vibrate in musical harmony.
I wish a peaceful future for our nations that are losing the most prepared young people,
who emigrate abroad in search of better economic conditions.
sweet-suzume's avatar
You take such care with all your historical details!  Congratulations on the 100 years since the Armistice and the idea (if not always the reality) of the Greater Romania! :D
ImperatorDavianus's avatar
Wait a sec....Alba Iulia.
Isn't the place where the Lorica Segmentata Alba Iulia-type armor have been found? Cause I remember reading about it.
wingsofwrath's avatar
That's exactly right!

Alba Iulia was known to the Romans as "Apulum" and had the biggest (37.5 hectares) and longest lived castrum in Transylvania, home of the legendary Legio XIII "Gemina". In fact, that castrum served as the town fortification (with reinforcements and the addition of brick bastions on two of the corners) all through he middle ages until the 18th century, when the whole thing was torn down and parts of it were incorporated in the new baroque star fortress of Alba Carolina, built between 1715-1738 in Coehoorn's "New Dutch Style", as opposed to the "French Style" of Vauban. 

Nowadays, you can still see part of the Roman wall as well as the partly reconstructed "Porta Principalis Dextra", and I have some friends who re-enact Roman legionnaires at the place.

Since much of the castrum lies under the 18th century buildings or was destroyed during the construction of the later fortification, we have only partial data, but during excavation work in 2011, they also found the remains of the very well preserved Principia under the central square of the fortress and constructed a museum to showcase it - unfortunately, according to some of my friends who are historians specialising in the Roman period, the 2011 excavation work was done poorly and hurriedly, due to political pressure to bring the whole whole fortification into a state where it can generate touristic revenue as fast as possible.
ImperatorDavianus's avatar
Man it'll be awesome to see the whole roman fort. Including the armor itself. I do remember that apulum had a good Daco-Roman and Gepid community. I dunno if the ERE had apulum.
Expect-Delays's avatar
A merry Christmas to you. Excellent work.
wingsofwrath's avatar
Merry (belated) Christmas to you too!
menapia's avatar
Best Christmas wishes, enjoy Wien
wingsofwrath's avatar
Thank you! Best Christmas (and now New Years') wishes to you too!
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