Urban identity and historical discourse in a frontier city. Case study: Braşov during the 16th and 17th centuries

Irina Mastan

Abstrakt

The city of Braşov represents the prototype of the frontier urban settlement. Its geographical position, at the frontier of a border area, created a particular environment resulting into a specific life-style marked by conflict and symbiosis. The article focuses on three objectives: developing a terminological background of the frontier-city, presenting the evolution of the urban identification agents and, tracing these elements in the historical discourse produced in Braşov.

The 16th century is the age of the dissolution of the medieval geographical frontiers. However, new ones come to replace them. In the case of Braşov, after the Ottoman Empire erases the Kingdom of Hungary from the political map, the city seeks refuge in a German identity, looking towards Ferdinand of Habsburg as suitable sovereign. However, this dream is short-lived, and the Saxon city gives up on its long-distance relation to the Habsburg territories. 

After the Reformation, the city is powerful enough to assume its own identity, not a foreign one, but an autochthonous one. Rather than being hospites in Transylvania, the Saxons try to prove that they have been here all along. This is the first step towards the integration of the local identity into a greater one: the national identity.

The cultural production of Braşov offers a variety of sources: diaries, mural inscriptions, notes and, urban chronicles. They represent different types of historical writings concerning various aspects and moments in the evolution of the identity discourse. Most of them are a mixture of political, historical and confessional elements thus, revealing the complexity of urban identity at the Transylvanian border.

Słowa kluczowe: tożsamość elementy, inność, granica/pogranicze, stosunki centrum-peryferia, Księstwo Siedmiogrodu, autonomia saska, regionalizm
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