Mencshely Summary

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According to traditional belief, the small settlement hidden at the foot of the Halom-hill, in the south part of the Vázsonyi-basin was founded by our first king, Saint Stephen after the defeat of chieftain Koppány. The name of the settlement came up in the form of Mencsely in written sources first in the second half of the XIII century. Its population consisted of noblemen, members of the Vázsony dynasty. This dynasty lived its golden age in the last decades of the XIII century, when thanks to its powerful protector, Lodomér, the archbishop of Esztergom, Móric Mencshelyi became the owner of several settlements in the vicinity. Due to the death of his son without any children, however, the estates broke up, and were transferred to alien hands, and the noblemen of Mencshely lived the usual life of those having one plot of land in the following centuries of the Middle Ages. According to a tax registration from 1488, in addition to the nobility, there was also a small number of serfs living in the village. In spite of legal differences, the two strata of the society did not get separated from each other, family relations were formed between them, and a new social group emerged, the agiles (persons not belonging to the nobility, but having a noble estate by their marriage) between the nobility and the serfs.
The Turkish attacks following the Mohács catastrophe reached the Upper Balaton area in the middle of the XVI century, and even Mencshely was captured by the invaders for a short while. The population of the village could choose from two solutions: there were some who left the land of their ancestors, took the swords, and moved back to the adjacent fortresses to face the enemy, others took on the increased tax burdens, and faced the everyday plunders, and decided to remain in place. It is thanks to them that the settlement could survive throughout the one and a half centuries of the Turkish rule. The sources of this time depicted a sad picture about this era fraught with struggle, and about the people living in it. We can hear about those who fell into Turkish captivity, and those who sold their meagre lands for their freedom. The crop was damaged by the participants of military operations year by year, and the small population was decimated by the epidemics brought in by the soldiers. And still, this era was the period of reformed religion and fabulous valour.
After the Turkish occupation was eliminated, reconstruction started in the country. The population of Mencshely, who had become the fighters in the fortresses came back to farm their land again, and to turn the bare fields into arable land. The ruler acknowledged their century long privileges in a deed of gift, and with that provided a possibility for the people of the village to organise their self-government. Its traces could be seen as early as in the first third of the XVIII century, but information could be gained about the system of institutions, self-government bodies only from the court minutes from the end of the century. What becomes clear from these is that new landowning families came to stay in the settlement along with the old ones, and the number of the agiles has also increased significantly. The turn of the XVIII-XIX centuries was the period when the proportion of the agiles was higher than that of the nobility. In spite of this, the most important positions of the village were held by the noble families. The village magistrate, most of the jury came from their lines, and the members of the parish also elected mainly noblemen to become presbyters. The Evangelical small nobility could exercise their religion freely. The village had not only a preacher but also a teacher in the XVIII century. The population of the settlement, leaving behind the often antagonistic events of the Napoleonic wars and the Reform Era, unanimously supported the revolution and freedom fight in 1848. Their sentiments for independence were strengthened by the fact that the persecuted sons of Lajos Kossuth took refuge in Mencshely in the last days of the freedom fight.
A new period commenced with the revolution, which could not be done away with by violently oppressing Hungarian liberty. The privileges of the nobility came to an end, and one farmer could be distinguished from the other not by the sheepskin, which was a letter patent of nobility, but by diligence and ability. The economic and cultural life of Mencshely became enlivened with the compromise of 1867. A large proportion of the rich people bought machines, and grew. Cultural societies emerged in great numbers in the village and, the Readers’ Society and the Girls’ Society marked the pace of development. Positive effects slowly but surely reached the village with the development of transport and the improvement of health care. Phylloxera ravaging the village in the last decades of the XIX century broke this development, and the village could not get over the damage caused by it for several decades. The population suffered ailing losses in the first World War, and it had to make desperate efforts to recover. After a short period of several decades, however, storm clouds started to gather over the heads of the simple people. The horrible devastation of the second World War caused huge damages both in terms of human life and finances to the population.
Reconstruction required bigger efforts than at any other earlier time. Belief in a better future, however facilitated further development for the purposes of recovery among the population of the village. The electrification of the settlement was a great achievement of this period. The organisation of production cooperatives at the end of the 1950-ies unfortunately could not bring about the expected success. The trend of young people moving out of the village could be traced from the sixties. The community policy of the management of the country only aggravated this sad process. The discontinuation of the school, the film-theatre and then the library indicated the direction in which the village was shifting.
After the change of the political and economic system, the local people started to sense the dangers in moving away from the village. They recognised the cohesive strength of traditions. The village days (Ments days) organised year by year brought the ex-patriots of the village together. The awareness of cohesion, and the preservation of traditions are aimed at by the Mencshely Lace-Makers’ Traditions Fostering Friendly Society, established a few years ago. Its members decided to foster and keep alive the tradition of lace making, which took root in the village in the forties of the XX century.
The village, which built three churches in the XIX century, most probably woke up in the last minute to become rejuvenated, and to become beautiful and flourishing as a result of the generous work of its population.



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