Archived information given to us by a former saxon inhabitant tell us about the early history of the village. The story of Mercheasa goes back to the 12th century, with a small gathering of people that formed a horse market town. The archives even give us clues to the founder of the small town, the name of Mercheasa comes from the original Mirkvasar.
The legend of the name
Mirkvasar is thought to come from “Mirko” and “vasar”, whereas “Mirko” is a masculine given name of South Slavic origin, probably the founder of the settlement and vasar, the Hungarian name meaning fair or market. This information leads us to believe that there where many influences to the area, and as well to the entire region of Transylvania.
There is still a great debate amongst historians if the region was entirely inhabited by Romanians, or more so, a Romanian speaking culture. The two great stories that are being told convey that the Hungarians occupied the entire region of Transylvania that was uninhabited or, that the population present here was dominated by armed force and became Hungarian territory. Truth being said, Transylvania is an amazing mix of cultures, Romanian, Hungarian and Saxon, that gives today’s flavor to the traveler.
Saxon alternatives to the name
Strong clues about the history of Mercheasa lay in the Saxon name of Streitfort. The translation might mean one of the following: the passing of a water course, the passing of an army through a forest, or the passing of an army through a water course. The uncertainty lays in the fact that the Saxon language developed as a dialect, and there are independent words that can be found only in certain areas. The aforementioned translations were given by the same former Saxon inhabitant of Mercheasa,
History in the words
One thing is certain, the first historical mentioning of Mercheasa is recorded in a letter written and signed in Beia, a close-by village. The letter is dated in the year of 1442 and regards the conflict between the Hungarian land owners in Racos, a neighboring village of Mercheasa, and the Saxons of Mercheasa. The later were complaining that the Hungarian noblemen were pasturing their herds in Mercheasa’s meadows and forests. The conflict was to be solved and judged by the Transylvanian Voivode, John Hunyadi.
The following indication of Streitfort as a settlement occurs in the year of 1445 with a similar situation, the same conflict that implies an army of men lead by John Hunyadi, intervening to settle the rising conflict between the two parties.
Mercheasa Fortified Church
The fortified church of Mercheasa was firstly erected in the 13th century as roman basilica with improvements in the following centuries. Together with the European defensive wave due to the Otoman threat, in the 15th century the church gains improved walls and towers. The organ was installed here in the year 1788 by Johannes Prause and the bell tower was added in the late 19th century. The later demolished walls were used to build the school and the town hall.
The standing walls offer an impressive view over the history that once ruled everyday life in this small Saxon settlement and the best way to discover its story is to contact Mr Walter, the gatekeeper. Him and his family are the last Saxon family in town, from a previous number of 700 Saxons there are now only 5 people left. The exodus of Saxons occurred during the communist era and most of the villagers chose to abandon their houses and head back towards their roots, in Germany.
What is left are the old houses with the typical upside down “U”-shaped gates, just enough for a hay-carriage to enter the yard.
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