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Area along the Bodrog

History

Before 895 A. D. (colonization and settlement of the Magyars)

The human activity from the early ages is best gathered by the archeological findings. Around 200-300 B.C., celtic people arrived to our region who represented advanced form of civilization and thus they determined the course of culture for many centuries. From this era we have rich archeological findings.

The Dacians and Sarmatians, who settled here, mixed with the aboriginals and created a very unique culture. They hunted, fished, kept animals and they also used coins made of gold, silver and bronze alloys. In around 200 A.D., germans pushed into the area, bringing about vivid trading, which is evident from the large number of coins, found from that period. From this time, the migration of people began, which lasted until the 10th century and whilst gepids, avars and slavs appeared here.

Age of the Árpád-house

Árpádházi Szent Erzsébet

One of the first areas occupied by our settling ancestors was the Bodrogköz. The reason to choose this land came from strategic and farming point of view: the knowledge of farming and cultivating was easily utilized here on rich grasslands and also on drier areas; moreover the mud-flat Bodrogköz was well protected strategically too. The area was adounding in games and fish, assuring livelihood for the growing population of "magyars".

So far, 29 cemeteries from the 895 A.D. era (settling of the magyars in the Carpathian basin) have been unearthed here. The earth-fort of Zemplén remained a significant hub during the settling of the Magyars (895 A.D.), it became royal castle and during István's rule presbyter church was built inside of it.

I. András (Endre) seized the domain in the 11th Century, only to give it as a wedding present to Anasztazia, who was the daughter of the monarch of Kiev, wit Jaroslav (978-1054).

Szent Erzsébet of Árpád-house, who was daughter of II. András and Merániai Gertrúd, was born in Sárospatak in 1207, later canonized and known and respected worldwide as the symbol of Christian devotion and caring love.

In 1241-42 the tartars wrought havoc in the area; they did not spare buildings, population, not even the vineyards. Some settlements were entirely depopulated, so IV. Béla the King invited Italian and Vallon settlers to the area who were experts in viticulture. Later he established the system of forts on the country's border.

14th-17th Century

On the throne, Árpád-house was followed by the Anjou-house of Naples. Róbert Károly fought victorious battle against the monarchs, and then regained major part of the country's area, which later was used to strengthen his political and economical power.

In 1429 King Zsigmond donated the area's property rights to the Pálóczi-family, who stayed in power until 1526. Then, in 1526, during their battles against the Turks, the bailiff of zemplén county Antal Pálóczi lost his life. Péter Perényi, who survived the battle of Mohács, seized the Pálóczi dominions and with his support, both royal candidates: János Szapolyai and Ferdinand Habsburg were crowned. These kings were fighting against each other for 30 years for the country's power. During these battles, most of the buildings were destroyed to ruins. At this time Perényi started to build up his own family residence in Sárospatak. The lord of Sárospatak – bailiff of Abaúj county and vaivode of Transylvania – was one of the first ones who converted to calvinistic faith, and the founding of the Calvinistic Collegium of Sárospatak in 1531, was also closely connected to him.

The Fifteen Years' War which broke out in 1593 meant the end of a relatively peaceful period of this area, continuous battles followed. Habsburg and Turk armies wreaked havoc to the population of the area, what's more, growing discontent among the population resulted in uprisings. The anti-Habsburg warfare later was led by the monarch I. György Rákóczi, who also participated in the Thirty Years' War between 1644 and 1645.

Age of the Rákóczis'

II. Rákóczi Ferenc

I. György Rákóczi married Zsuzsanna Lorántffy in 1616, so the Zemplén area became Rákóczi-property for a century. During their reign, Sárospatak and the Calvinistic Collegium had their golden age. They intended to transform the Fort of Sárospatak into a noble monarch residence and turn Sárospatak into a university town, but following the monarch election, the couple moved to Transsylvania in 1630, and only Zsuzsanna returned to their loved dominion in 1648 after her husband's death. Their son, II. György Rákóczi got involved in the battle for the Polish throne, so for a long time, the area became victim of either the Turk or the Imperial armies, causing huge damage to the settlements. It was during this chaotic period when the capitol building of Zemplén County was built, and it still stands in Zemplén village.

The participants of the Wesselényi-conspiracy in 1666 got together in the Sub Rosa room of the Sárospatak Fort where talks began. This conspiracy soon failed and the participant nobles were executed which had been unprecedented until then. The young Rákóczi was liberated and saved for a huge ransom, and then the Imperial armies stationed in Sárospatak and looted the precious tombs of the Fort Church.

In the fort castle of Bors, II. Ferenc Rákóczi was born in 1676. The Felvidék (Northern part of Hungary) stood against the Habsburgs again in the Turks' side. Imre Thököly took the lead in the "kuruc" movement; he was later the foster-father of II. Ferenc Rákóczi. The strengthening armed forces –which were formed against the Turks- slowly regained the power in the country and overthrow the independence in Transylvania. II. Ferenc Rákóczi took the lead in the public uprisings in 1703, he held Parliamentary meeting in 1708 in Sárospatak. Following the lost battles, he was later forced to leave the country. According to the Szatmári peace treaty, Hungary returned to the Habsburg-monarchy.

On the road to a modern civil society

The laws of the Parliamentary meeeting in Pozsony, following the Rákóczi Independence War restrained the freedom of Calvinistic religion, limited the rights of inheritence of the villeins. The setting up of a permanent army meant huge burden to the country. The royal order in 1737 – to Zemplén County's proposal - declared Tokaj-Hegyalja as a "closed wine region", it was a first such regulation of its kind in the world.

Terézia Mária strove to make up for the lost population with inviting and settling of foreigners such as Slavs, Russians, and Jews into the area. During her reign, the independent Hungarian statehood was recognized, state councilors were delegated to the legislature, and Hungarians were appointed into state and religious offices. However, the Hungarian nobility insisted upon their privileges. Desperation among villains often led to uprisings.

II. József did not crown himself; he did not want to tie his hand with observing the nobility's privileges. During his leadership, the "enlightened absolutism" reached its peak, and brought about more or less progressive changes in the country.

Lajos Kossuth was born in 1802, he was raised in Sátoraljaújhely from his 4th year, later he became a lawyer, and it was then when he learned how to make public speeches. He attended higher education in Sárospatak. Ferenc Kazinczy, who settled in Széphalom, led the whole neologism movement from this small settlement in Zemplén County. A parliamentary order in 1839 was meant to regulate the flood-causing wild Hungarian rivers, like the Bodrog River.

The revolution of 1848 only lightly affected the region, but in the "Battle of Bodrogkeresztúr" on the 22th of January 1849, general György Klapka's army fought victorious battle against the Imperial (Habsburg) army. After the battle, they crossed the Tisza River at Tokaj. The cannon-ball which was drilled into the wall of Klapka's residence is still visible and preserves the memory of this battle.

The national government declared total liberation for the villains in Hungary, with which act Hungary stepped into the road of a modern civil society.

From the Conciliation (1867) until today

From the Conciliation with the Habsburgs, a new dualistic Austrian-Hungarian Empire was born, which also paved the way to a modern civil society. Zemplén County regained its municipality, financial activity boosted, new rail lines were constructed, schools were built, and the economy gained strength.

Grape Phylloxera epidemic at the end of the 19th century wiped out almost all of the grapes in the Hegyalja region. Impoverished grape farmers, winemakers emigrated to the United States in great numbers. Later, from the United States they introduced Phylloxera resistant grape breeds, which gave new boom to viticulture: by 1910, the area of newly planted vineyards reached 7400 acres. The "Szerémi" cellar lane in Tokaj - with its imposing wine-houses - was constructed in the year of the Millennium in 1896.

In 1908, the first Hungarian wine-law was born.

Sátoraljaújhely

Following the 1st World War, the Austrian-Hungarian Empire fell apart, and the new country borders fundamentally changed life in our country. The peace treaty, which was signed in Trianon (France) on the 4th of June 1920, took away two-thirds of Hungary's territory, and it also took away two-thirds of Zemplén County's territory. Upper-Bodrogköz came into being with its center in Királyhelmec, while the Lower-Bodrogköz remained in Hungarian territory. The wine routes that were cut in two by the treaty, and with the lost wine markets, the area soon became a borderline, impoverishing region. In the end of the 2nd World War, the decisions of the Trianon peace treaty were reinforced.

During the socialist period main emphasis was put on the industrialized agricultural production. In this area, heavy industry was not established, but the nearby Borsodi industrial zone with its forced developments, sucked up local workforce from the Zemplén-mountains. From part of this cause, the only solution was to invest in machinery in viticulture production which totally transformed the traditional way of producing grapes. However, the lack of heavy industry secured the cleanness of the natural environment, which is still true today.

Since the communist regime change, vineyards have been multiplying and became private enterprises of smaller to larger scale. The Bodrogköz area has not been able to step into the road of real economic development.

The opportunities of the European Union hopefully will help to disengage from this borderline effect by funding projects focusing on traditional viticulture and utilization of touristic potentials.

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