The Banat is a geographical and historical region in Central Europe currently divided between three countries: the eastern part lies in
Romania(the counties of Timiş, Caraş-Severin, Arad south of the Mures/Maros river, and Mehedinţi), the western part in Serbia(the Serbian Banat, mostly included in the Vojvodinaregion, except for a small part included in Central Serbia), and a small northern part in Hungary(Csongrád county). It's populated by Serbs, Romanians, Hungarians, Roma, Germans, Krashovans, Slovaks, Bulgarians, Czechs and by many other in smaller number. People who live in Banat are called Banatians.
The Banat is a part of the
Pannonian plainbordered by the River Danube to the south, the River Tisza (Theiss, Tissa, Tisa) to the west, the River Mureş to the north, and the Southern Carpathian Mountainsto the east. Its historical capital was Timişoara, now in Timiş county in Romania.
The word "ban" is of Slavic origin meaning lord or governor or viceroy. Thus, Banat may be translated loosely as "province". In the 1920s and 30's the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was divided into several banovinas: Zeta, Drinska, Savska, Moravaska etc.
There were several banats in the medieval
Kingdom of Hungary, such as the banats of Dalmatia, Slavonia, Bosnia, and Croatia; these disappeared during the course of the Ottoman wars in Europe. But when the word is used without any other qualification, it indicates the Banat of Temeswar, which strangely acquired this title after the 1718 Treaty of Passarowitz, though it was never governed by a ban.
The name of the Banat is similar in the languages of the region; Romanian: "Banat", Serbian: Банат ("Banat"), Hungarian: "Bánát" or "Bánság", German: "Banat", Turkish: "Banat", Slovak: "Banát", Banat Bulgarian: "Banát", and Standard Bulgarian: Банат ("Banat").
The first known inhabitants of present day Banat were the
Sarmatian Iazyges. The mountainous borderlands of the region was the part of the country of Dacia. The balance of power in the area changed during the campaign of Emperor Traianusagainst the Dacians: the territory of Banat fell under Roman rule, since it became an important link between Daciaprovince and the other parts of the empire. The Roman rule did not result in significant colonization by Romans in this region; they established a few guard stations, but didn't settle in the region. This resulted in the Darmatian control over Banat remaining solid, as they were recognized as Roman allies. After 150 years of Roman rule, Emperor Aurelianuswithdrew from Dacia. The area fell into the hands of the Sarmatians, and later the Goths, who also took control of Dacia(present day Transylvania). The Gothswere forced out by the Huns, who organized their ruling center in the Carpathian basin in the northwestern part of today's Banat. After the death of Attila, the Hunnic empire disintegrated, and the previously subjected Gepidsformed a new kingdom in the Carpathian basin, only to be defeated 100 years later by the Avars. One governing center of the Avars was formed in the region, which played an important role in the Avar-Byzantine wars. The Avar rule over the area lasted until the 9th century, until Charlemagne's campaigns. The eastern part of the Carpathian basin became part of the Bulgarian empire a few decades later. Still, the archaeological trace of the Avars and Gepidsliving here, can be tracked until the middle of the century, moreover it is likely that the Gepid survivors lasted here for the longest length of time. The Avar rule also meant considerable Slavic migration to the Carpathian basin. In 895, the Magyarsliving in Etelközentered the Byzantine-Bulgarian war as allies of Byzantium, and defeated the Bulgars. Because of this, the Bulgarians allied with the Pechenegs, who attacked the Magyar settlements. This led to the process of what we know as the Magyar conquest of the Carpathian basin called hometaking in Hungarian. This also resulted in the loss of the territories north of the Danube for the Bulgarian empire. Banat was under Magyar rule from this time, up until 1552, when the regional center of Temesvárwas taken by the Ottoman empire.
Hungarian rule (early 10th century - 16th century)
The area of the Temes river was not the land of the Magyar royal tribe, and from the middle of the 10th century - the weakening of the royal rule - the local tribes began to pursue a more and more independent foreign policy. As a consequence, in the eastern part of the Carpathian basin, the Byzantine rite started to gain ground. This was halted with the establishment of the
Hungarian kingdom, and István I's country-unitive efforts, who made the last tribal leader, Ajtony ( Ahtumin other sources) bow. In the 14th century, the region became a number one priority, as the southern border of the Banat was the most important defensive line against Ottoman expansion.
Ottoman rule (1552-1716)
The Banat was incorporated into the
Ottoman Empirein 1552, and became an Ottoman eyalet (province) named the Eyalet of Temeşvar. Due to the continuous Ottoman raids and resulting destruction, most of the local Hungarian population fled to the north or were killed, and Serbsand Vlachsmigrated to the area. Since the 16th century, the Banat region was mainly populated by Rascians ( Serbs) and Vlachs( Romanians); thus, in some historical sources it was referred to as "Rascia" and in others "Wallachia". In 1594, Serbsin Banat started a large uprising against Ottoman rule. The Romanians also participated in this uprising.
In the 17th century, parts of the Banat were incorporated into the
Habsburg Monarchyof Austria. In 1716, Prince Eugene of Savoytook the last parts of the Banat from the Ottomans. It received the title of the Banat of Temeswarafter the Treaty of Passarowitz(1718), and remained a separate province in the Habsburg Monarchy under military administration until 1751, when Empress Maria Theresa of Austriaintroduced a civil administration. The Banat of Temeswar province was abolished in 1778. The southern part of the Banat region remained within the Military Frontier( Banat Krajina) until the Frontier was abolished in 1871.
During the Ottoman rule, parts of Banat had a low population density after years of warfare, and much of the area was nearly uninhabited marsh, heath, and forest. Count
Claudius Mercy(1666-1734), who was appointed governor of the Banat of Temeswar in 1720, took numerous measures for the regeneration of the Banat. The marshes near the Danubeand Tiszarivers were cleared, roads and canals were built at great expense of labour, German artisans and other settlers were attracted to colonize the district, and agriculture and trade encouraged.
Maria Theresa also took a great interest in the Banat; she colonized the region with large numbers of German peasants, encouraged the exploitation of the mineral wealth of the country, and generally developed the measures introduced by Mercy. German settlers arrived from
Swabia, Alsaceand Bavaria, as well as people from Austria. Many settlements in the eastern Banat thus were mostly German-inhabited. The ethnic Germans in the Banat region became known as the Danube Swabians, or "Donauschwaben". Some of them, coming from French-speaking or linguistically mixed communes in Lorraine, maintained for some generations the French language, and a specific ethnic identity, later labelled as Banat French, "Français du Banat". [ [http://www.memoria.ro/?location=view_article&id=1641&l=fr Smaranda Vultur, De l’Ouest à l’Est et de l’Est à l’Ouest : les avatars identitaires des Français du Banat, Texte presenté a la conférence d'histoire orale "Visibles mais pas nombreuses : les circulations migratoires roumaines", Paris, 2001] ] Hungarians were not allowed to settle down in Banat after the colonization for a long time.
In 1779, the Banat region was incorporated back into Habsburg Kingdom of Hungary, and the three counties
Torontál, Temesand Krassówere created. In 1848, the western Banat became part of the Serbian Vojvodina, a Serbian autonomous region within the Habsburg Monarchy. During the Revolutions of 1848–1849, the Banat was respectively occupied by Serbian and Hungarian troops. The date also started expandment of Greater Serbian propaganda against the Banatians.
After the Revolution of 1848–1849, the Banat (together with
Syrmiaand Bačka) was made into a separate Austrian crownland known as the Voivodship of Serbia and Tamiš Banat, but, in 1860 this province was abolished and incorporated again into Habsburg Kingdom of Hungary.
After 1871, the former
Military Frontierlocated in southern parts of the Banat came under civil administration and was incorporated into the Banat counties. Krassóand Szörénywere united into Krassó-Szörényin 1881.
In 1918, the
Banat Republicwas proclaimed in Timişoarain October, and the government of Hungary recognized its independence. However, it was short-lived. After just two weeks, Serbian troops invaded the country, and that was the end of the Banat Republic.
In 1918 and 1919, most of the Banat became part of
Romania( Krassó-Szörénycompletely, two-thirds of Temes, and a small part of Torontál). The southwestern part (most of Torontál, one-third of Temes) became part of the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes(which became Yugoslavia). A small area near Szegedbecame part of newly independent Hungary. These borders were confirmed by the 1919 Treaty of Versaillesand the 1920 Treaty of Trianon.
The territory of the Banat is presently part of the
Romanian counties Timiş, Caraş-Severin, Arad and Mehedinţi, the Serbian autonomous province of Vojvodinaand BelgradeCity District, and the Hungarian Csongrád County.
In 1938, the counties of Timiş-Torontal, Caraş, Severin, Arad, and Hunedoara were joined to form
Ţinutul Timiş, which encompassed the Romanian Banat.
In 1956, the southern half of the existing Arad Region was incorporated to the Timişoara Region.
In December 1960, the Timişoara Region was named the Banat Region.
Since 1998, Romania has been split into eight development regions, which act as a form of territorial autonomy divisions. The Vest development region is composed of four counties: Arad, Timiş, Hunedoara, and Caraş-Severin; thus it has almost same borders as the Timiş Province of 1929. The Vest development region is also a part of the
Danube-Kris-Mures-Tisa Euroregion. A minority of Hungarians make up 5.6% of the population.
The Romanian Banat is mountainous in the south and southeast, while in the north, west and south-west it is flat and in some places marshy. The climate, except in the marshy parts, is generally healthy.
Wheat, barley, oats, rye, maize, flax, hempand tobaccoare grown in large quantities, and the products of the vineyards are of a good quality. Game is plentiful and the rivers swarm with fish. The mineral wealth is great, including copper, tin, lead, zinc, ironand especially coal. Amongst its numerous mineral springs, the most important are those of Mehadia, with sulphurous waters, which were already known in the Roman period as the Termae Herculis (" Băile Herculane"). The present "Banat Region" of Romania includes some areas that are mountainous and were not part of the historical Banat or of the Pannonian plain.
The Serbian Banat (Western Banat) was part of
Serbian Vojvodina(1848-1849) and part of the Voivodship of Serbia and Tamiš Banat(1849-1860). After 1860, the Serbian Banat was part of Torontáland Temescounties of Habsburg Kingdom of Hungary. The center of Torontál county was "Veliki Bečkerek", the current Zrenjanin.
The region was county of the
Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenesbetween 1918 and 1922 (in 1918-1919, county was part of the province of Banat, Bačka and Baranja) and from 1922 to 1929 it was divided between Belgradeoblast and Podunavljeoblast. In 1929, most of the region was incorporated into the Danube Banovina(Danubian Banat), a province of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, while the city of Pančevowas incorporated into self-governed Belgrade district.
Between 1941 and 1944, the Serbian Banat was occupied by the
World War II Axis powers. Formally it was part of Serbia, but it actually was a virtually separate autonomous region ruled by its German minority. Since 1945, the Serbian Banat (together with Bačkaand Syrmia), has been part of the Serbian Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, first as part of the Second and Third Yugoslavias, then as part of Serbia and Montenegro, and, since 2006, as part of an independent Serbia.
In Serbia, the Banat is mostly plains.
Wheat, barley, oats, rye, maize, hempand sunflowerare grown, and mineral wealth consists of oil and natural gas. A popular tourist destination in the Banat is Deliblatska Peščara. There is also a sizeable Hungarian minority, which makes up 10.21% of the population.
Serbian Banat also includes the area known as
Pančevački Rit, which belongs to the Belgrademunicipality of Palilula.
Geographical regions in Serbia
The Hungarian Banat consists of a small northern part of the region, which is part of the Csongrád County of
Hungary. In addition to the Hungarian population, there's a small minority of Serbs(e.g. in Deszk, Szőreg).
The Whole Banat
Serbslived in western (flat) part of the Banat, while Romanianslived in the eastern (mountainous) part. [Dr. Dušan J. Popović, Srbi u Vojvodini, knjiga 2, Novi Sad, 1990.]
In 1743–1753, ethnic composition of Banat looked as follows: [Dr. Dušan J. Popović (see above)]
*Three eastern districts had a Romanian population:
Lugoj, Caransebeş, and Orşova.
*Three western districts had a Serbian population: Veliki Bečkerek,
Pančevo, and Velika Kikinda.
*Six central districts had a mixed Serb-Romanian population:
Timişoara, Lipova, Vršac, Nova Palanka, Ciacova, and Cenad.
According to 1774 data, the population of the
Banat of Temeswarnumbered 375,740 people and was composed of: [Miodrag Milin, Vekovima zajedno (iz istorije srpsko-rumunskih odnosa), Temišvar, 1995.]
* 220,000 (58.55%)
* 100,000 (26.61%)
* 53,000 (14.11%)
* 2,400 (0.64%)
* 340 (0.09%)
In 1900, the population of Banat numbered 1,431,329 people, including: [ [http://www.banatul.com/ Banatul.com - History and Information about Banat, Serbia and Banat, Romania ] ]
According to the 1910 census, the population of the Banat region (counties of
Torontál, Temes, and Krassó-Szörény) numbered 1,582,133 people, including: [ [http://www.talmamedia.com/php/district/district.php?county=Toront%E1l Torontál County ] ] [ [http://www.talmamedia.com/php/district/district.php?county=Temes Temes County ] ] [ [http://www.talmamedia.com/php/district/district.php?county=Krass%F3-Sz%F6r%E9ny Krassó-Szörény County ] ] (*)
* 592,049 (37.42%)
* 387,545 (24.50%)
* 284,329 (17.97%)
* 242,152 (15.31%)
* a smaller numbers of other ethnic groups such as the
Czechs, Slovaks, Croats, Rusyns, Bulgarians, etc.
(*) Note: according to the 1910 census, the population of Romanian Banat included 52.6% Romanians, 25.6% Germans, 12.2% Hungarians, and 4.9% Serbs, while population of Serbian Banat included 40.53% Serbs, 22.14% Germans, 19.18% Hungarians, 12.94% Romanians, and 2.86% Slovaks. In Serbia the German population mostly fled or was expelled from the region after World War II, as a consequence of war time events. In Romania they mostly migrated after 1989 from economic reasons.
The historical population of the Banat region in different time periods:
The traditional heraldic symbol of the Banat is a
lion, which is nowadays present in both the Coat of Arms of Romaniaand the Coat of Arms of Vojvodina.
The largest cities in the Banat are:
* Miodrag Milin, "Vekovima zajedno (Iz istorije srpsko-rumunskih odnosa)", Temišvar, 1995.
* Milan Tutorov, "Mala Raška a u Banatu, istorika Zrenjanina i Banata", Zrenjanin, 1991.
* Milan Tutorov, "Banatska rapsodija, istorika Zrenjanina i Banata", Novi sad, 2001.
* Dr. Branislav Bukurov, "Bačka, Banat i Srem", Novi Sad, 1978.
* Milojko Brusin, "Naša razgraničenja sa susedima 1919-1920", Novi Sad, 1998.
* Jovan M. Pejin, "Iz prošlosti Kikinde", Kikinda, 2000.
* Dušan Belča, "Mala istorija Vršca", Vršac, 1997.
* [http://www.banatul.com banatul.com] en icon/ro icon
* [http://www.turism-center.ro/eg/banat_eg.html REGIONS BANAT] en icon/ro icon/fr icon/de icon
* [http://www.backabanat.com backabanat.com] sr icon
* [http://www.schweizerbart.de/pubs/books/bo/atlasostsu-028021393-desc.html Development of Ethnic Structure in the Banat 1890 - 1992]
* [http://www.memoria.ro/?location=view_article&id=1641&l=fr Smaranda Vultur, De l’Ouest à l’Est et de l’Est à l’Ouest : les avatars identitaires des Français du Banat] fr icon
* [http://bylijsmezde.cz/roadtrip-rumunsko-banat-ceske-vesnice-svata-helena Návštěva Svaté Heleny] , reportáž z expedice Roadtrip 2007 - návštěva Banátu (Svaté Heleny) cs icon
* [http://banatul.ning.com/ Banat Social Networking Web Site]
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