Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Pécs (approximate pronunciation: "paych"; Croatian Pečuh, German Fünfkirchen, Slovak Päťkostolie, Turkish Peçuy) is the fifth largest city of Hungary, located in the south-west of the country. It is the administrative and economical centre of Baranya county. It was known in the past by the German name Fünfkirchen; the Romans called it Sopianae.
The Ancient Roman and early mediaeval city
The area has been inhabited since ancient times, the oldest archaeological findings are 6000 years old. Before the Roman era the place was inhabited by Celts. When Western Hungary was a province of the Roman Empire (named Pannonia), the Romans founded the city of Sopianae where now Pécs stands, in the early 2nd century CE. The name "Sopianae" possibly comes from the plural of the Celtic "sop" meaning marsh.
The centre of Sopianae was where now the Postal Palace stands. Some parts of the Roman aqueduct are still visible. When Pannonia province was divided into four administrative divisions, Sopianae was the capital of the division named Valeria.
In the first half of the 4th century Sopianae became an important Christian city. The first Christian cemeteries date back to this age, one of them was where now the cathedral stands.
By the end of the century Roman rule weakened in the area, mostly due to attacks by Barbarians and Huns. When Charlemagne arrived in the area, it was ruled by Avars and Slavs. Charlemagne, after conquering the area, annexed it to the Holy Roman Empire. It belonged to the Diocese of Salzburg .
A document written in Salzburg in 871 is the first document mentioning the early mediaeval city, under the name Quinque Basilicae ("five cathedrals".) The name refers to the fact that when constructing the churches of the city, the builders used material from five old Christian chapels.
The Hungarian city in the Middle Ages
After the Hungarians conquered the area of modern-day Hungary (late 9th–early 10th century) and founded the comitatus Baranya, the capital of the comitatus was not Pécs but a nearby castle, Baranyavár ("Baranya Castle".) Pécs, however, became an important religious centre and episcopal seat. In Latin documents the city was mentioned as Quinque Ecclesiae ("five churches" – a name identical in meaning to the German name Fünfkirchen.)
In 1064 when King Solomon made peace with his cousin, the later King Géza I , they celebrated Easter in Pécs. Shortly after the cathedral burnt down. The cathedral that stands today was built after this, in the 11th century.
The name Pécs appears in documents in 1235 in the word Pechyut (with modern spelling: pécsi út, means "road to Pécs".)
Several religious orders settled down in Pécs. The Benedictine order was the first in 1076. In 1181 there was already a hospital in the city. The first Dominican monastery of the country was built in Pécs in 1238.
King Louis the Great founded a university in Pécs in 1367 following the advice of William, the bishop of Pécs, who was also the king's chancellor. It was the first university in Hungary. The founding document is almost word by word identical with that of the University of Vienna, stating that the university has the right to teach all arts and sciences, with the exception of theology.
In 1459 Janus Pannonius , the most important mediaeval poet of Hungary became the bishop of Pécs. He strengthened the cultural importance of Pécs.
Pécs under Ottoman rule
Not only was a large part of the country occupied by Ottomans, the public opinion of who should be the king of Hungary was divided, too. One party supported Ferdinand of Habsburg, the other party crowned John Zápolya in Székesfehérvár. The citizens of Pécs supported Emperor Ferdinand, but the rest of Baranya county supported King John. In the summer of 1527 Ferdinand defeated the armies of Zápolya and was crowned king on November 3. Ferdinand favoured the city because of their support, and exempted Pécs from paying taxes. Pécs was rebuilt and fortified.
In 1529 the Ottomans captured Pécs again, and went on a campaign against Vienna. The Ottomans made Pécs to accept King John (who was allied with them) as their ruler. John died in 1540. In 1541 the Ottomans occupied the castle of Buda, and ordered Isabella, the widow of John to give Pécs to them, since the city was of strategical importance. The citizens of Pécs defended the city against the Ottomans, and swore loyalty to Ferdinand. The emperor helped the city and defended it from further Ottoman attacks, but his advisors persuaded him into focusing more on the cities of Székesfehérvár and Esztergom instead of Pécs. The citizens of Pécs knew that without the emperor's support they won't be able to hold the city from the Ottomans, and in June 1543 they opened the city gates before the Ottoman army.
After occupying the city the Ottomans fortified it and turned it into a real Ottoman city. The Christian churches were turned into mosques; Turkish baths and minarets were built, Quran schools were founded, there was a bazaar in place of the market. The city was ruled by Muslim officials according to the Sharia law. For a hundred years the city was an island of peace in a land of war.
In 1664 Nicholas Zrínyi arrived to Pécs. Since the city was well into the Ottoman territories, they knew that even if the occupy it, they couldn't keep it for long, so they planned only to pillage it. They ravaged and burned the city but couldn't occupy the castle. Mediaeval Pécs was destroyed forever.
After the castle of Buda was freed from Ottoman rule in 1686, the armies went to free Pécs too. The advance guards could break into the city and pillaged it. The Ottomans saw that they cannot keep the city, and burnt it, moving themselves into the castle. The army led by Louis of Baden occupied the city on October 14, and destroyed the aqueduct leading to the castle. The Ottomans had no other choice but to surrender, which they did on October 22.
The city was under martial law under the command of Karl von Thüngen . The Viennese court wanted to destroy the city first, but later they decided to keep it to conterbalance the importance of Szigetvár , which was still under Ottoman rule. Slowly the city started to prosper again, but in the 1690s two plague epidemics claimed many lives. In 1688 German settlers arrived. Only about one quarter of the city's population was Hungarian, the others were Germans or Southern Slavs. Because Hungarians were only a minority of the population, Pécs didn't support the revolution against Habsburg rule led by Francis II Rákóczi, and his armies pillaged the city in 1704.
Pécs in modern times
A more peaceful era started after 1710. Industry, trade and viticulture prospered, manufactures were founded, a new city hall was built. The feudal lord of the city was the Bishop of Pécs, but the city wanted to free itself from episcopal control. Bishop George Klimó, an enlightened man (who founded the first public library of the country) would have agreed to cede his rights to the city, but the Holy See forbade him to do so. When Klimó died in 1777, Queen Maria Theresa quickly elevated Pécs to free royal town status before the new bishop was elected. This cost 83,315 forints to the city.
The industry developed a lot in the second half of the 19th century. By 1848 there were 1739 industrial workers. Some of the manufactures were nationally famous. The iron and paper factories were amond the most modern ones of the age. Coal mining was relevant. A sugar factory and beer manufactures were built, too. The city had 14,616 residents.
After the Ausgleich (1867) Pécs developed, like all the other cities and towns of the country. From 1867 Pécs is connected to the nearby town Barcs by railway, and since 1882 it is also connected to Budapest.
During World War I Baranya county was occupied by Serbian troops, and it was not until August 1921 that Pécs could be sure that it remains part of Hungary. The University of Pozsony (modern-day Bratislava, Slovakia) was moved to Pécs after Hungary lost Pozsony according to the Treaty of Trianon.
During World War II Pécs suffered only minor damages, even though a large tank-battle took place 20-25 km south of the city close to the Villányi area late in the war, when the advancing Red Army fought its way towards Austria.
After the war development became fast again, and the city grew, absorbing several nearby towns. In the 1980s Pécs already had 180,000 inhabitants.
After the end of Socialist era (1989-1990) Pécs and its county, like many other areas, were hit hard by the changes, the unemployment rate was high, the mines and several factories were closed, and the war in neighboring Yugoslavia in the 1990s affected the tourism.
Located in the midst of an agricultural area, Pécs is the natural hub of local products. Until some years ago, it had a coal-mine and even a Uranium-mine. Several factories exist, but since the fall of the Iron Curtain those have mostly not managed the transition. It does have a quite famous porcelain factory. The Zsolnay Porcelain has a special greenish colour – called "eozin". One of the walls of a local McDonald's-franchise (the one on the Main Square) is decorated with Zsolnay Porcelain tiles. The Pécsi Sörfőzde (Pécs Brewery) is one of the four main Hungarian breweries.
The University of Pécs was founded by Louis I of Hungary in 1367. It is the oldest university of Hungary. It is divided up in two Universities, one for Medicine and Odontology (http://www.pote.hu/) and one larger one for the other studies – this being the JPTE (Janus Panonius Tudományegyetem). The POTE part has a large English program with students from America, Asia, and European countries (large Scandinavian contingent).
- History of Pécs (in Hungarian)
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