Costin Feneșan


22 Ianuarie 2024

Cuvinte cheie:
Nikolaus von Burghausen
Ernst von Mollart
General Gheorghe Basta
Rudolph II



In July 1602, after the third and last abdication of the fickle Sigismund Báthory, Transylvania came under the control of Habsburg troops commanded by General George Basta. Most of the province’s territory had fallen prey to military operations and the excesses of mercenary troops. Burnt and ruined villages, a population decimated by famine and plague had brought Transylvania to the brink of collapse. Under these conditions, the tax revenues, which had been damaged anyway by Sigismund Báthory’s easy and chaotic administration, were about to be unable to support the imperial occupation troops. Therefore, in a memorandum presented to Emperor Rudolf II in December 1602, Demetrius Napragi, the bishop-elect of Transylvania, proposed to the sovereign several measures to redress the situation, with the aim to insure at least a necessary minimum of tax revenue. On the other hand, General Basta, commander of the Habsburg troops an imperial commissioner in Transylvania, de facto governor of the country, tried to impose on the local Diet, dominated by the Hungarian nobility, measures that seriously affected its privileges and the autonomous status of the principality. In the Diets of Sibiu (December 15, 1602) and Alba Iulia (January 19, 1603), General Basta succeeded in imposing several measures on the Transylvanian states aimed at increasing the internal revenue needed to maintain his mercenary troops. To supervise Basta’s increasingly discretionary regime on the one hand, and to reorganize/revitalize the tax revenue on the other, Emperor Rudolf II sent Ernst von Mollart, a close confidant and collaborator of his, and Nikolaus von Burghausen as imperial commissioners to Transylvania in December 1602. After taking part in the Diet of Alba Iulia, the two imperial commissioners drew up a comprehensive memoir in March 1603 (the text of which is published in the appendix), accompanied by nine appendices on various fiscal matters of Transylvania. Also, in their memoir the two imperial commissioners proposed to Rudolf II several measures for the temporary and future increasing of the province’s revenues. The memorandum systematically analysis the two kinds of revenue of the Tax Office: the steady incomes and the extraordinary ones. Among the former are the census (ground-tax), the revenues of the fiscal domains and manors, the custom duties (tricesimae and decimae), the revenues from the metallic mines (gold, silver, copper, lead and quicksilver) and the salt mines and the revenues from the purchasing by the Tax Office (the so called Cementum) of the washgold and the gold extracted in mines. Among the extraordinary revenues are the extraordinary tax to support the country in a state of need, the revenues from the manors left without heirs, the recovering of alienated or mortgaged manors etc. The development of the military situation in Transylvania, especially the clash between the Habsburg party and the Transylvanian nobles supported by the Ottoman Porte, the state of general insecurity lead a large part of Mollart’s and Burghausens’s propositions to fail. Once more, the final report addressed to Rudolf II on September 23, 1603 by General Basta, Mollart and Burghausen, put an end to the main expectations of the Emperor to incorporate Transylvania in the Austrian cameral system.