Statue of Transylvanian Prince Gábor Bethlen finally in its place

A statue of the great Transylvanian prince, Gábor (Gabriel) Bethlen (1580–1629) was erected on Tuesday in Marosvásárhely (Târgu-Mureş), reported the Székelyhon.ro news portal.

The statue, designed by Marosvásárhely-born sculptor István Harmath, has been waiting for a whole year in the yard of Csaba Sánta, a foundry artist in Szováta (Sovata). The project was initiated by the Maros County deputy of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (known by its Hungarian acronym of RMDSZ), Levente Wass, and financed by the city council. According to the original plan, the statue should have been inaugurated last November, on the 390th anniversary of the prince’s death. But a year has now passed since the statue was completed, as the former mayor of Marosvásárhely, Dorin Florea, delayed its final placement.

As Székelyhon wrote in a previous piece, even though the area for it was prepared long ago, and the pedestal was also constructed, the statue could not be erected due to “some administrative barriers.” Nevertheless, a few days ago, the communications team of the newly elected mayor, Zoltán Soós, informed Székelyhon that the “legal obstructions” had been overcome and the statue will finally be put in its proper spot. The unveiling ceremony is likely to take place on November 15.

Gabriel Bethlen, or Gábor Bethlen de Iktár, was Prince of Transylvania from 1613 to 1629. He was a skilled ruler, a cunning statesman and diplomat, and a patron of the arts. Transylvania was a war-torn country when he was elected its leader, yet he managed to elevate this small state to become a factor in European politics. Bethlen was well aware of the fact that the independence of Transylvania could only be insured if it had a certain influence in Europe.

He tried to secure alliances with protestant nations in the Central European region, and in 1626, he joined the Hague Alliance led by King Christian IV of Denmark, with the participation of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. The main purpose of this alliance was to ensure a European balance of forces against the excessive ascendance of the Habsburgs. He designed a modern state system in Transylvania, based on a well-functioning, effective government, a state-sponsored army, and a mercantilist economic policy. The prince recognized that a country’s economy can only function well if the people living in it are on good terms with each other. He believed in religious tolerance and intensely promoted the Transylvanian educational system. As a ruler, he had a very good awareness of situations, was able to take fast political and military decisions, and kept a strict account of the activities of all of his government officials. Bethlen ruled by the principles determined by the political literature of his time, according to which a prince should be cunning and courageous at the same time. According to historians, Gábor Bethlen was a genius in diplomatic warfare: Even though Transylvania was a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire, he noted, “enemy horses never trampled Transylvanian soil” on his watch.

Gábor Bethlen ordered the reconstruction of many buildings in Transylvania following the massive plunders of the 16th and 17th centuries, including Gyulafehérvá (Alba Iulia), which was transformed into a true princely residence.

Title image: Prince Gábor Bethlen ruled Transylvania more than 400 years ago, but his accomplishments are still exemplary

Source: Soós Zoltán/Facebook

Author: Éva Zay