Archaeological discoveries:

This land, once full of vegetation and rich in fish and savage animals has offered thousands of years ago and excellent settlement for people. The 1st signs of human settlements leads us back to grind stone age. The archaeological discoveries leads us to the representatives of  Tisza Culture whom lead the line of fishing and hunting (in 2200 -1800 B.C.).In the promontory called Varbot (Varboc) were discovered the remains of a bronze age settlement, which unfortunately were almost completely destroyed by the burials held during the 11th-14th centuries.

CThe richest archaeological site discovered in Salacea arises from the Bronze Age and it covers the period 1850-1450 B.C. Methodical archaeological diggings were made on the Vida mountain only between 1964-1969. The archaeologists of the Museum of Oradea have discovered the remains of a blossoming Bronze Age settlement which was populated by the representative of the so called Otomani culture. The site of the “village” discovered in Salacea was surrounded  by a defending trench, the depth of which one 7.55 meters and its width was 20 meters. These types of settlements are specific for the 1st and 2nd  phase of the Otomani Culture. The Bronze Age man had chosen at the beginning the regions as a dwelling because the technique of that age didn't permitted the construction of a bigger defense system.

It can be proved even on the other settlements of the Bronze Age that during this era the tribes have left behind their entrenchments and have settled down on these islands entrenched by swamps. The archaeological materials discovered on the settlement situated on the Vida Mountain is quite poor in weapons, in different objects used as weapons. This fact leads us to the conclusion that the settlement  was a civil one, not a military fortress, but the trenches were certainly used for defense; they defended the inhabitants of the “village” during the fights between the tribes or during the wars held against other cultures.

The inhabitants of the promontory built their rectangular shaped homes on the surface of the earth, with walls made of clay and conic roofs in most of the cases covered with reed. The homes had a single room in the center with one or two fireplaces and often with one or two pits used for food keeping.

Salacea in the mediaeval Hungarian kingdom

1. The 1st writings and the German immigrants (hospes)

The 1st writings of Salacea are estimated to be around 1067. Different denominations were mentioned in the writings and the diplomas of those time: 1163-1173 Zolochy; 1570 Szalaczy; 1692 Szalacz, Szalats, Szalaz; 1772 Szalacs, Szalats, 1813 Er Szalacs; 1828 Szalats; 1851 Szalacs, Nowdays Salacea-Erszalacs

The settlement was 1st mentioned in 1215 by the Regestrum of Oradea as “Zolos”. This denomination is of Slavic origin and means a place used to deposit the sold. This leads us to the conclusion that the Hungarian conquerors have found in this territory some Slavic settlement, with such a number of inhabitants that assured them the fact the name of the village and their position in the salt trade will remain in history.

Knowing the lie of the land, we can suppose that the Slavic bases went though a strong mixing process with the Hungarians, in the mid 12th century the royal so called ispans moved here also a group of German immigrants. It wasn't about the foundation of a new ethnic group, but about the increase of the existing population. This is certainly proved by the structure of the settlement: because Salacea was divided into 2 parts, each of which had its own church. One parts belonged to Mit-Szolnok county and the other part belonged to Bihor county. This division came to an end at the beginning of the 15th century when Salacea became the property of a landlord.

We have certain proofs regarding the existence of the Germans on this territory. According to an entry in the above mentioned Regestrum of Oradea, some inhabitants of the fort together with some serfs were suing a man called Posa, the son of Pal and they wanted to prove that he belonged to the inhabitants of the fort of Szolnok. But he defended himself as being a free German living in Salacea and not belonging under the supremacy of the serfs of the fort.

It is possible that these settlers arrived here with the first wave of immigrants in the mid 12th century and they were mostly village people. The 11 th- 12th centuries Hungary was mainly in need of ploughmen. The immigrants got a special treatment.

The denomination “hospes” itself means visitor, a free foreigner who accepted to settle down, that's why he got protection and liberty. Thus this term is not used for citizenship but for social and legal status. In case they wanted to express the immigrants citizenship, they also added the name of the population (in the case of Salacea – Tentonicum). Salacea also got some facilities. Although we haven't found written evidence of these facilities, but we have arises about usage of the local government; they had the right to choose freely their judge, apart from whom only the king or the king's general  could judge them. In the same manor they had the right to choose freely their priest, who got the 3rd part of the grant given by the people to the leaders.

Just like in Satu-Mare county the people of Salacea got certain land owner rights, probably they used to practice the local grant.

Concerning the number of the german immigrants we can conclude that it must have been smaller then that of the natives, because their settlement haven't even got its own name. They were continuously melting in the Hungarian environment. The process of the hungarization (turning into Hungarians) was also speeded up by the fact that thanks to the fights with the turkish, the germans did not have success.In the documents arising from the 15th century, the names presents us that the inhabitants became completely Hungarian.

Even the names of the frontier settlement kept some slight remains of the German population which is a very important proof regarding the German population because only the personal names can prove the ethnicity of the inhabitants.

At the beginning of the 15th century Salacea, becoming the property of the chapter of Oradea it lost its privileges.

2. Salacea and the salt trade

As we can observe in the settlement’s denomination (salt deposit), salt played an important role in the life of Salacea during the Middle Ages. Starting with the early ages this was the route of the salt for the northern Hungarian villages. The salt was only spice and foodprezerver of the Middle Ages. Thanks to its indispensability it was one of the most important trade goods. In the Middle Ages the raw salt has played an important role as a means of payment.

We don't know the exact time of the settlement for the 1st salt deposit. It is sure that it already existed in 1217 because during Andrew the 2nd crusade had transferred 500 Deutsch mark from the income of Salacea salt centre. Gradually the function of Salacea’s salt deposit losts its value and it is not the same blossoming economical center as it was in the first part of the 13th century.

3. Salacea on the way of town development

During the time of king Arpad, Salacea was a very developed settlement among the others. There were 2 important factors that made this possible. The first was the German immigrants and their privileges, the second was the salt (the route of salt that crossed this territory and the royal salt deposit).

If we analyze the circumstances of the Middle Ages town’s development, we can notice that in Salacea, existed those circumstances that could initialize starting the development from a village into a town. In the case of Salacea among the natural circumstances we can also find the protective swamp (just like in the case of Szekesfehervar or Szeged) and the necessary conditions for the settlement. An economical route leads through it which was crossed by the ancient military route.

Probably beacause of the salt trade in that area had appeared a stratum of tradesman. It must have also existed an administrative stratum which handled the economy of the salt trade. Probably it had the right to held the market. The stratum had also the right to stop the wears, right that it had lost in 1332. In conclusion we can declare that Salacea, such as Szeged and Szekesfehervar was proceeding on the way of developing from village to a town. But it did not managed to become a free royal town. In the 15th century Salacea got under the supremacy of the land owners and the town council that assured its own status broke up. In 1520 Salacea was mentioned among the frontier settlements.

Salacea in the new age

1. From Reformation to the liberation of the turkish.supremacy

The quick spread of the Reformed religion left a deep trace in the life of Partium and also in the life of Salacea. According to the review of the church made in 1836, around 1549 there were some followers of the new religion and in 1577 the whole village turned into reformation. In 1552 as the result of the Turkish campaign, it was the territory over the Tisza river, and also a part of Bihor county soon got under the Turkish supremacy.

Csaky Istvan is mentioned as one of the greatest landowner of the county. After their liberation from Turkish supremacy, according to the command of King Lipot, the reorganized diocese of Oradea got back all those properties that he possessed even before the Turkish supremacy, according to some documents from 1552. Thus Salacea became again the property of the chapter of Oradea.

2. Again in the property of  the chapter

The ages of rebuilding followed. As a sign of financial power we found a pupil of Salacea (Szamuel Salatsi) attending the cases of the Bethlen College from Aiud. At the beginning of the century some settlers from Zemplen county -the so called “tót” nation- had settled down in Salacea. (The word “tót” is a used as a nickname for Slovakians in Hungary). These Catholic settlers probably played an important role in the revival of the catholic church (1763).

In the case of Salacea we gained some important information from the questionnaire that preceded the  urbarium of 1772-1774, that mentioned the situation before 1770. Studying this questionnaire we can find out that this territory had some kind of urbarium for 10 years. This same document presented us that at the beginning of the second half of the 17th century there appeared in Salacea the so called peasants with a tax, who had the possibility to change a part of their services (work) by paying once a year a certain amount of money and who also had the possibility to move freely. We also notice that from the mid century their services went under an increasing process.

According to the first review made in Hungary (1784-1787), Salacea has a population of  2529 people, from which 1298 were men and 1226 were women; according to the settlements legal status it was a commune and it's owner continued to the chapter of Oradea, until the liberation of the peasants in 1848. The end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century is marked by major constructions in Salacea. This reflects the financial improvement and the development of investments. From this period arises the first nowadays still existing wine cellars, built up from brick in the hillside.

3. Life between 1848-1914

1848 is an important life stone in the settlement’s life. The social economical and political changes that followed the revolution and the freedom fight had its influence on all of the settlements. At the end of the century was built the main railroad between Oradea and Satu-Mare and also the second railroad to Marghita but none of them reached Salacea. As the railway does not intercepts Salacea, its economical value gradually have decreased.

Demographic data

It’s an interesting fact that in 1692 there were only 66 inhabitants in Salacea. After almost 100 years the number is 2529. After a half century later the number of the inhabitants doubled. Almost a half century later the number of the inhabitants doubled once again and after that it shows an increasing tendency but it never reaches the level of 1851. Because in this year were 5300 inhabitants in Szalacs. From the point of view of religion, the reformats were in the majority. Nowadays the proportion is the same.

Church, culture, education

The roman catholic community

Probably german settlers in the 12th century established the roman-catholic church in Szalacs. The first written documents about the roman-catholic church are from the early 13th century.  As Zsigmond king’s deed of gift reveals, Szalacs during the Middle Ages was divided into two parts. According to this fact it had two churches. One of them belonged to Bihor county, and the other to Middle-Szolnok. When being under the possession of the chapter (1407), the churches became united.

In 1557, after the dissolution of the chapter from Oradea, Szalacs became secular landowner legal authority. The new landowner of Szalacs at this time was Varkoch Tamás who played an important role in the reformation process of that area. The inhabitants of Szalacs such as their landowner, were converted to the new religion. Those churches which they used up to that time, were fit up to the new religion. From that time onward for almost two centuries the catholic-church “came to an end”.

In 1736 the catholic parish was rebuilt. In 1792 was finished the building of the new church in Baroque style. Its tower at first was covered with shingle. In 1936 was covered with tin. At the main altar there is Virgin Mary. The paintings around the altar are made by a painter from Oradea, Mezei Lajos in 1879 to the order of Nogáll János who was the bishop in Oradea at that time.

The registers of births, marriages and deaths are dated from 1752. In the row of priest who had served here, we have to mention Knapp András who was a priest in Szalacs between 1823 and 1851.

2. The reformed church

Around 1550 appeared the first signs of the reformation movement of swiss origin on Hungarian territories. Reformation appeared in Szalacs around 1549. In 1557 the whole population was converted to reformed religion. They followed their landowner Varkoch Tamás.

In 1836, in the year of Millecentennial Celebrations, was the local priest of Szalacs Nagy Imre. He was from a Marghia. This was the period of important decisions, and constructions in the whole country. In Szalacs had begun constructions and mendings too. A new school for boys and one for girls was built at this time in Szalacs mostly from loan.

3. The history of the reformed church

The church gained its final form between 1798 and 1802. What was it look like before this, we do not know for sure. We do not know in what style was it built exactly. The only written proof regarding this is dated from 1721. In this document some civil servants of Bihor county made a report about the situation of the church. They stated that in Szalacs there is a church with wo towers and it is like a monastery.

Another proof is from1705. It is a seal of the parish. On this there is some church-like building, with a little tower, and a simple roof with a star and a sail on it. Probably the seal represents the southern part of the church with two windows. We do not know for sure if we should have found this monastery-church with two towers at the place of church of present days.

The big traveller, K. Nagy Sándor, in his book at the end of the 19th century (entitled “On the Burga mountain”) identifies the church with two towers with a church that was on the so called Churchplace. Probably this was the churh from the Middle Ages which had been built in honour of Saint George.    At the end of the 19th century the only thing that reminds us of this church is a hill called Churchplace and the chimneys of the surrounding houses. Probably the former church which had been built in the honour of Saint George was destroyed during the Turkish invasion.

In consequence we can suppose that in the place of present days’ church there was the church mentioned by Beliczay László which was identic with the church mentioned in the deed of gift of king Zsigmond. This was built in the honour of Virgin Mary and entered into the possession of the reformats in 1557. The orders of József the second in 1781 made possible for the reformats to enlarge their church in Szalacs too. On 29th jan. 1797 the Presbyterians took the decision to begin the contruction even if they are forced to borrow money. They finished the construction in 1802.

In 1815 they made an inner reconstruction. Unfortunately the members of the congregation could not have the possibility to enjoy the new reconstructed church because of a stroke of lightning happened on 20th may 1827. As a consequence the roof was burnt down and the bells were melted. This was a quite difficult period in the life of the congregation. They asked for the help of the chapter and of other churches in the county. In the next year the congregation managed to made a new bell.

4. Education

The first data about education we have from the year 1412 and is connected with two traveller students who had joined the University of Vienna. Their names are:  Briccius de Salach és Paulus de Salach. In 1455 we can find here another student: Szalacsi Georgius. In 1548 Wolbertus joined the University of Wittenberg and he was from Szalacs too. At the end of the 17th century we can find a student from Szalacs in the Bethlen College in Aiud. These students are the proofs of the good economical situation of  Szalacs. When had started the education in Szalacs, we do not know for sure. Probably at first it was under the control of the church. In the early times there were only primary schools.  The first document about education in Szalacs is from 1633 and it contains regulations of the the rector’s salary. We can notice  that the rector’s salary is only the half of the priest’s and it is not money but crop. This propotion remained the same for a long time. As the letter shows, the teacher was a bellringer too in one person. This is typical to the whole 18th century: the teacher is a choirmaster, bellringer and a sacristan too.

These small primary schools were under the control of the church. As a consequence the main school subjects were catechism, stories from the Bible, religious songs, and reading. Writing and counting were less important. In the school was used the pupils’ mother tongue. The teachers were students who had interrupted their studies. This is confirmed by a document from the 18th century which shows that there were a lot of teachers who became later priests. The first rector in Szalacs we know by name is Szilágyi Sámuel. He was a teacher in 1717. Beginning with this -as the list of the rectors shows- functioned without interruption a primary reformed training, education. It is typical that the rectors spent here only a few years. The first teacher of a school for girls we know is from 1777 and he was Ari András. This was with a year after the Ratio Educationis. At this time we can speak about the unification of the two schools reforms (Ratio Educationis – 1776, Norma Regia - 1781). Their main aim was to educate useful citizens. They formulated the regulations with keeping this in view.

Perhaps the catholics organized their own religious school too but we do not know when it was. According to a document from 1806, the chapter from Oradea prohibited to the catholics to use reformed schools. At the beginning of the 19th century the reformed schools were reconstructed (1822 - 1824). At this time the salary of the rectors were regulated. According to this (1819 Oskola Rectori Conventio) the rector of the school for boys, who is the choirmaster too, is eligible to get half of the salary of the priest in crop and not in money. To this it is added the amount of money payed by the parents.

We know from the Convention and from registry of deaths, that often the rector was the person who kept the funeral oration. The rector had to keep a Praeceptor too. In these schools the period of the school session was divided into two (summer and winter). At summer most children had to interrupt their studies to help parents. To avoid this, they took a decision (1852). Namely, those parents who do not send their children to school have to pay a fine (penalty). A regulation from 1850 made compulsory the education for every children between 6-12 years.

5. Monuments

We have to mention a bridge with four holes. This is situated in the northern part of Szalacs. In spite of its name, the bridge is made of bricks. Its length is 29,70 m. About its history we do not know much but probably there had been a strong wooden bridge here formerly. We do not know when was it built. There is only one fact we know for sure about it, that in 1840 already existed. We can consider it as a monument of the history of means of transport. This because it is unique in this region and it is very old. Nowadays it does not functioning as a bridge because there is no more water to flow under it. In 1998 the local authority has begun the reconstruction of the bridge.

However they are not declared as being monuments, they worth mentioning: the wine cellars. Nowadays in Szalacs there are almost 970 cellars. These form the so-called wine cellar streets. The oldest of them is from 1803.

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