On This Day
1568 – The Edict of Torda prohibits the persecution of individuals on religious grounds in John Sigismund Zápolya’s Eastern Hungarian Kingdom.
The Edict of Torda (Hungarian: tordai ediktum) was a decree that authorized local communities to freely elect their preachers in the “eastern Hungarian Kingdom” of John Sigismund Zápolya. The delegates of the Three Nations of Transylvania – the Hungarian nobles, Transylvanian Saxons, and Székelys – adopted it at the request of the monarch’s Antitrinitarian court preacher, Ferenc Dávid, in Torda (now Turda in Romania) on 28 January 1568. Though it did not acknowledge an individual’s right to religious freedom, in sanctioning the existence of a radical Christian religion in a European state, the decree was an unprecedented act of religious tolerance.
The Catholic and Orthodox Churches had already coexisted in the southern and eastern territories of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary for centuries. However, ideas that the Catholic Church regarded as heresy were not tolerated: the Hungarian Hussites were expelled from the country in the 1430s and the Diet of Hungary passed a decree that ordered the persecution of the Lutherans in 1523. The latter decree was in practice ignored during the civil war that followed the Ottoman victory against the Hungarian army in the Battle of Mohács in 1526. After the Ottomans occupied the central regions of the medieval kingdom in 1541, they allowed the infant John Sigismund to rule the lands to the east of the river Tisza under the regency of his mother, Isabella Jagiellon. In the early 1540s the Diets acknowledged the right of the Three Nations to freely regulate their internal affairs. The Saxons regarded religion as an internal affair and ordered the introduction of Lutheran Reformation in their settlements in 1544–1545. The Diet sanctioned the coexistence of the Catholic and Lutheran denominations only in 1557.
John Sigismund started to rule personally after his mother died in 1559. He was interested in religious affairs and organized a series of debates between the representatives of the different Protestant theologies. He converted from Catholicism to Lutheranism in 1562, and from Lutheranism to Calvinism in 1564. His court physician, Giorgio Biandrata, and Ferenc Dávid jointly persuaded him to also allow the public discussion of the dogma of Trinity. He accepted Dávid and Biandrata’s Antitrinitarian views in 1567. The Edict of Torda was adopted at the following Diet. It stated that “faith is a gift of God” and prohibited the persecution of individuals on religious grounds. In practice, the edict only sanctioned the existence of four “received” denominations – the Catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist, and Unitarian Churches. Further religious innovations were prohibited during the reign of John Sigismund’s successor, Stephen Báthory, but religious tolerance remained a distinguishing feature of the Principality of Transylvania (the successor state of John Sigismund’s realm) in Early Modern Europe.
Born On This Day
1885 – Vahan Terian, Armenian poet and activist (d. 1920)
Vahan Terian (Armenian: Վահան Տերյան; February 9, 1885 – January 7, 1920) was an Armenian poet, lyrist and public activist. He is known for his sorrowful, romantic poems, the most famous of which are still read and sung in their musical versions.
Terian was born in the Gandza village (განძანი) of Javakheti region of Georgia (then in Russian Empire). Schooled in Tiflis, he then studied at the Lazarian College in Moscow, where he was exposed to symbolism and joined the Russian Social Democrats. He was jailed by Czarist police for his political activity. He is mostly known for his poems dedicated to autumn and love. That’s why Teryan is known as “Singer of Autumn” in Literature. He published his first book of poems, “Dreams at Dusk”, in 1908, which made him an immediate sensation, Hovhannes Tumanian calling him the most original lyric poet of his age. He later published “Night Remembrance”, “The Golden Legend”, “The Return”, “The Golden Link”, “In the Land of Nairi” (where he substitute the word ‘Nairi’ for each instance where the word ‘Armenia’ would have suited), and “The Cat’s Paradise”. His poems are filled with images of rain, mist, pallid fields and shapeless shadows, symbols of sorrow, despair and eventually, peace.
In 1913, Terian left Moscow University for the University of St. Petersburg, where he majored in oriental languages, intensifying his political involvement. After the revolution he became representative of Armenians in the Ministry of Nations, personally working with Lenin and Stalin. In 1916, Vahan Terian published a collection of poems entitled Land of Nairi (in Armenian: (Yerkir Nairi), in which he uses Nairi in place of Armenia. Likewise in 1923, Yeghishe Charents wrote a satirical novella entitled Land of Nairi, using once again Nairi as a synonym for Armenia. Hayastan Yeghiazarian used Nairi Zarian as his pen name, replacing his first name, Hayastan (which is what Armenians call Armenia in their own language since the Late Middle Ages) with Nairi.
He died in Orenburg of tuberculosis shortly before his 35th birthday. He was buried there and the grave had been marked by a wooden cross, which was quickly forgotten and the exact spot lost. In 1964 soil from the Orenburg cemetery was brought to Yerevan by Terian’s daughter and buried in the Komitas Pantheon with a cenotaph was placed.
Each year there is a commemoration of his life in Javakhk region at Gandza village where he was born.
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