Christianization in Early Medieval Transylvania

A Church Discovered in Alba Iulia and its Interpretations


Little is known about the Christianization of east-central and eastern Europe, due to the fragmentary nature of the historical record. Yet occasionally, unexpected archaeological discoveries can offer fresh angles and new insights. This volume presents such an example: the discovery of a Byzantine-like church in Alba Iulia, Transylvania, dating from the 10th century - a unique find in terms of both age and function. Next to its ruins, another church was built at the end of the 11th century, following a Roman Catholic architectural model, soon to become the seat of the Latin bishopric of Transylvania.

Who built the older, Byzantine-style church, and what was the political, religious and cultural context of the church? How does this new discovery affect our perception of the ecclesiastical history of Transylvania? A new reading of the archaeological and historical record prompted by these questions is presented here, thereby opening up new challenges for further research.

Contributors are: Daniela Marcu Istrate, Florin Curta, Horia I. Ciugudean, Aurel Dragotă, Monica-Elena Popescu, Călin Cosma, Tudor Sălăgean, Jan Nicolae, Dan Ioan Mureșan, Alexandru Madgearu, Gábor Thoroczkay, Éva Tóth-Révész, Boris Stojkovski, Șerban Turcuș, Adinel C. Dincă, Mihai Kovács, Nicolae Călin Chifăr, Marius Mihail Păsculescu, and Ana Dumitran.

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Daniela Marcu Istrate, Ph.D. (2000), Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, is senior researcher at the Vasile Pârvan Institute of Archaeology, Bucharest. She has long experience and many publications in church archaeology, being noted especially for exceptional finds related to medieval Transylvania and Hungary.

Dan Ioan Mureșan, Ph.D. (2005), École des Hautes l'Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, and Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, is associate professor of Medieval History at the University of Rouen. He is a specialist in the history of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and on the history of political ideology of Eastern and Western Europe.

Gabriel Tiberiu Rustoiu, Ph.D. (2008), Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, is general director of the Alba Iulia National Museum of the Union. He has authored or co-authored over 90 archaeological reports, studies and books of history, archaeology and other related topics. His research interests concern prehistory, the migration period and the early medieval period.
List of Illustrations
Notes on Contributors

Gabriel Tiberiu Rustoiu

Part 1: Archaeological Debates

1 From the Greek Bishop Hierotheos to the Latin Bishop Simon: The Churches in Alba Iulia and the Controversies Related to the Beginnings of the Diocese of Transylvania
Daniela Marcu Istrate

2 Bulgaria beyond the Danube: Water under the Bridge, or Is There More in the Pipeline?
Florin Curta

3 The Transylvanian Cradle: The Funeral Landscape of Alba Iulia in the Light of ‘Stația de Salvare’ Cemetery (9th–11th Centuries)
Horia Ciugudean, Aurel Dragotă, and Monica-Elena Popescu
Translated by Monica-Elena Popescu

4 Byzantine Bronze Reliquary Crosses with Embossed Figures Discovered in Romania
Călin Cosma

Part 2: Historical Debates

5 From Terra Ultrasilvana to Regnum Erdeelw: Notes on the Historical Evolution of Transylvania in the 10th Century
Tudor Sălăgean

6 Hagiography and History in Early Medieval Transylvania: from the Byzantine Bishop Hierotheos (10th Century) to the German Historian Gottfried Schwarz (18th Century)
Jan Nicolae

7 Patriarch Theophylact, the Horses, and the Hungarians: The Religious Origins of the Byzantine Mission to Tourkia
Dan Ioan Mureșan

8 Ecclesiastical Consequences of the Restoration of Byzantine Power in the Danubian Region
Alexandru Madgearu

9 Some Remarks on the Church History of the Carpathian Basin during the 10th and 11th Centuries
Gábor Thoroczkay

10 Gyula’s Christianity and the Bishopric of the Eastern Mission
Éva Tóth-Révész

11 The Byzantine Monasteries of Medieval Hungary Revisited
Boris Stojkovski

12 The Hungarian Kingdom between the Imperial Ecclesiology of Otto III and the Pontifical Ecclesiology of Gregory VII
Șerban Turcuș

13 Latin Bishoprics in the ‘Age of Iron’ and the Diocese of Transylvania
Adinel C. Dincă and Mihai Kovács

Part 3: Future Debates

14 The 10th- to 11th-Century Pillared-Church in Alba Iulia: Reconstruction Proposals
Nicolae Călin Chifăr and Marius Mihail Păsculescu

Ana Dumitran
Translated by Florin Curta

Anyone interested in the spread of Christianity in east-central Europe and beyond, in early church buildings, and particularly in the dichotomy between the eastern and western Christian traditions.