Bajna Summary

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This settlement is one of those where people settled in the earliest times in the area of the Hungarian state, established more than one thousand years ago. It can be found in the county of Esztergom, and it probably received its name from its very first owner. The area of today’s settlement was shared by seven villages in the early centuries of the Middle Ages, but they fell victim to attacks by the Tartars in 1242, or the Turks in 1526. Bajna could not avoid losses, although its owners, the members of the Both family, who emerged during the XV century, took special care to protect the settlement which already qualified as an oppidum, i.e. borough. During the 150 years of Turkish rule in Hungary, however, the members of this dynasty died out, and with them Bajna, having become a flourishing centre of the domain was also turned into ruins. In 1686, when the members of the Habsburg dynasty managed to expel the Osmanli Turks from the area of our county, the village, as a pledged estate, got into the hands János Bottyán, one of the best known generals of Hungarian origin. The settlement was redeemed from him by Sándor Menyhért of Szlavnica, the successor of the Both family, who became the sub-prefect of the re-organised county, in 1701.
In the XVIII century, in Hungary, which had become part of the public administrative system of the Habsburg Empire, the land-owning nobility tried to create such a system of domains, in the framework of which they could operate their farms producing goods for the market in a proper way and at the highest possible level. The centre of domains, consisting of several units, was the village where the landlord had his manor-house and bailiff’s office: in the case of the Sándor domain it was Bajna. Thus, thanks to the Sándor family, the village devastated throughout the previous centuries, was quickly restored, and for instance, its Catholic church – first in the county – could receive believers as early as in 1699.
Around the end of the century, in 1776, the manor-house standing in the middle of a garden of about three-hundred holds, which could welcome hunting companies comprising several high-ranking personalities, and often members of the ruling family amongst its walls during the years of its golden age, and during later centuries due to the favourable geographic and vegetation conditions of the village.
The manor-house was re-built again in 1832 on the basis of the plans by József Hild, an outstanding architect of his age in honour of Móric Sándor’s wife, who was the daughter of the renowned Austrian chancellor, Metternich.
Parallel to the improved outlook of the village, the number of its inhabitants was also growing, and the way of living got also better and better every year. Although the serfs could not increase their private wealth due to the taxes they had to pay to the landlord, the county, and the church, but as a result of the benefits provided by the Sándor family (school building, free plot of land for the parsonage, benefit for poor children), they were still considered to be the tenants with the most favourable conditions in Esztergom county.
In line with the acts encoded in April 1848, Hungary transformed itself from a feudal state into a bourgeois democracy, and this change in the form of government also largely changed the lives of the people living in villages. The serfs’ farms owned by the landlords and leased by the serfs until then, now got into the private ownership of the farming peasants, who became independent farmers. Pursuant to a village act in 1871, governments independent of the landlords started to manage villages, and their members were elected with public acclamation every third year.
Independence and autonomy, however, did not only have advantages. The peasants having had to work under the leadership of the landlord for more than a century, had to face serious difficulties when they started to build their own farms. They could learn the appropriate special knowledge at the elementary popular schools of the villages, which later also launched some economic courses. Churches played an important role in folk education, and raising the level of education, in Bajna it was the Catholic church, which played an important role in this. But it was also the Catholic Church, which rendered help to the farmers who went bankrupt or got into a difficult situation due to poor crop, lack of money or other conditions. The parson, the head of the Catholic Church in Bajna actively co-operated in the establishment of the Hangya, a credit and consumer co-operative at the end of the XIX century, and later the Reading Circle and the Casino which became the favourite places of the villagers. These were the facilities that created a community in our village. This was the time when the feeling of co-existence and co-dependence was formed, which in the first decades of the XX century brought about the emergence of a peasant community, which was closed and fully adhered to its traditions, the members of which operated flourishing farms on the basis of their individual knowledge and the knowledge accumulated in the families.
After the first world war, which afflicted Hungary in a tragic way, and caused huge territorial losses, the conservative state government that came into power strengthened and supported these village communities, and the church organisations heading them. Slowly, the technological achievements of the age also appeared in rural life. In Bajna, a post and telegraph office was established, a water supply system was built, the roads of the settlement were straightened, paved and named.
Hungary changed its form of government again in 1945 after the end of the war and the arrival of the Soviet troops. The dictatorial system built on the power of the Communist party was the biggest enemy of the aristocracy and self-government. The Sándor-Metternich estate in Bajna could not avoid its fate either. Land was distributed, and the manor-house was nationalised in 1945. The closed peasant society formed during the previous century fell victim to the centralisation measures. The well operating community, which yielded good results was forcefully destroyed, private farms were liquidated, and a co-operative system based on joint ownership was established. Private holding, which was guarded, and developed diligently by every generation got into public ownership, which meant it was nobody’s. The Alkotmány Co-operative of Bajna, however, could not live up to the expectations. A few years after the changes of the system, the community that was kept together artificially broke up in 1992, so that its members could carry on along their road that they were forced to abandon more than forty years before.
The political changes in 1990 brought about other changes as well in the life of Bajna. The settlement regained its self-government, and again the village could elect the representatives to manage the village. The members of the Metternich-Sándor family, however, could not return. Their heritage, the manor-house and its garden, having survived difficult decades, is still in lack of a master, and the building, once the pride of the village, is subject to a slow, unrecoverable devastation.
The history of Bajna in the second millennium has come to and end. The past centuries may show a direction where to go, how to form its fate. And if the new centuries of the third millennium should again be full of difficulties and hurdles, the struggles, pains, happiness and successes of the earlier people of Bajna may give strength and persistence to survive them.



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