Transylvanian Peasant Uprising of 1784–85

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Transylvanian Peasant Uprising of 1784–85


an anti-feudal uprising of the Walachian and Hungarian peasantry of Transylvania under the leadership of the peasants N. Horea, I. Cloşca, and G. Crişan.

The uprising was a result of the intensification of feudal oppression; its immediate cause was an incident connected with the census of peasants ordered by Emperor Joseph II in a decree of Jan. 31,1784. Rumors spread that the census was being taken to facilitate enrollment into border regiments; enrollment held the promise of liberation from serfdom, for a decree issued by Empress Maria Theresa in 1762 had freed the border guards from all obligations except military service. On Oct. 31, 1784, Crişan gathered a detachment of some 600 peasants in the village of Mesteacăn, Zarand County, and called on them to march to Alba Iulia in order to obtain arms and enroll in the border regiments. The Zarand administration, however, attempted to arrest Crişan and thus sparked the uprising.

The peasants attacked representatives of the authorities and nobles and ravaged estates and churches. In November, the rebels seized Zarand, and the peasants of Hunedoara and Arad counties, supported by peasants and miners of other regions, also rose in rebellion. On November 21, Crişan, acting on behalf of Horea, the main leader of the uprising, presented the peasants’ demands to the nobles: abolition of the nobility, division of the nobles’ lands among the peasants, and equal taxation. On Nov. 23, 1784, the emperor ordered the dispatch of regular troops, who brutally suppressed the uprising in early 1785. After the defeat of the uprising, Joseph II was forced to issue a decree in 1785 abolishing serfdom. The act was repealed five years later.


Georgescu-Buzău, G., and C. Şerban. Răscoala de la 1784 din Tran-silvania de sub conducerea lui Horia, Closca si Crisan. Bucharest, 1974.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.