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Miklós Bánffy

Miklós Bánffy

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Count Miklós Bánffy de Losoncz (30 December 1873—June 6, 1950) was a Hungarian
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 nobleman
Nobility and royalty of the Kingdom of Hungary
This article deals with titles of the nobility and royalty of the Kingdom of Hungary.-Earlier usage :Before the accession of the Habsburgs, the nobility was structured according to the offices held in the administration of the Kingdom...

, politician, and novelist. His books include The Transylvanian Trilogy (They Were Counted, They Were Found Wanting and They Were Divided), and The Phoenix Land.

The Bánffy family emerged in 15th century Transylvania
Transylvania
Transylvania is a historical region in the central part of Romania. Bounded on the east and south by the Carpathian mountain range, historical Transylvania extended in the west to the Apuseni Mountains; however, the term sometimes encompasses not only Transylvania proper, but also the historical...

 and established itself among the foremost dynasties of the country. They owned the grandest palace in Kolozsvár
Cluj-Napoca
Cluj-Napoca , commonly known as Cluj, is the fourth most populous city in Romania and the seat of Cluj County in the northwestern part of the country. Geographically, it is roughly equidistant from Bucharest , Budapest and Belgrade...

 , capital of Transylvania
Transylvania
Transylvania is a historical region in the central part of Romania. Bounded on the east and south by the Carpathian mountain range, historical Transylvania extended in the west to the Apuseni Mountains; however, the term sometimes encompasses not only Transylvania proper, but also the historical...

and one of the province's largest castles at Bonchida
Bontida
Bonțida is a commune in Cluj County, Romania. It is known as the home of a Baroque castle owned by the Bánffy family ; partly destroyed during World War II and neglected by the communist regime in Romania, it is currently being restored.The Bánffy family had another castle in Răscruci , which is...

. One branch was raised to a baron
Baron
Baron is a title of nobility. The word baron comes from Old French baron, itself from Old High German and Latin baro meaning " man, warrior"; it merged with cognate Old English beorn meaning "nobleman"...

y in the 1660s, while another became count
Count
A count or countess is an aristocratic nobleman in European countries. The word count came into English from the French comte, itself from Latin comes—in its accusative comitem—meaning "companion", and later "companion of the emperor, delegate of the emperor". The adjective form of the word is...

s in 1855. The barons produced a 19th century prime minister of Hungary (Dezső Bánffy
Dezso Bánffy
Dezső Baron Bánffy de Losoncz was a Hungarian politician who served as Prime Minister of Hungary from 1895 to 1899.-Biography:...

), and the counts held important offices at court. Among the latter was Count Miklós, born in Kolozsvár on December 30, 1873.

Beginning his political career at the time when Hungary was a constituent of Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

, Bánffy was elected a Member of Parliament in 1901 and became Director of the Hungarian State Theatres (1913–1918). Both a traditionalist and a member of the avant-garde
Avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

, he wrote five plays, two books of short stories, and a distinguished novel. Overcoming fierce opposition, his intervention made it possible for Béla Bartók
Béla Bartók
Béla Viktor János Bartók was a Hungarian composer and pianist. He is considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century and is regarded, along with Liszt, as Hungary's greatest composer...

's works to have their first performance in Budapest
Budapest
Budapest is the capital of Hungary. As the largest city of Hungary, it is the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre. In 2011, Budapest had 1,733,685 inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2,113,645 due to suburbanization. The Budapest Commuter...

.

Bánffy became Foreign Minister of Hungary in his cousin Count István Bethlen
István Bethlen
Count István Bethlen de Bethlen was a Hungarian aristocrat and statesman and served as Prime Minister from 1921 to 1931....

's government of 1921. Although he detested the politics of the Regent, Admiral Miklós Horthy
Miklós Horthy
Miklós Horthy de Nagybánya was the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary during the interwar years and throughout most of World War II, serving from 1 March 1920 to 15 October 1944. Horthy was styled "His Serene Highness the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary" .Admiral Horthy was an officer of the...

, he worked to review the boundary revisions confirmed by the Treaty of Trianon
Treaty of Trianon
The Treaty of Trianon was the peace agreement signed in 1920, at the end of World War I, between the Allies of World War I and Hungary . The treaty greatly redefined and reduced Hungary's borders. From its borders before World War I, it lost 72% of its territory, which was reduced from to...

 after World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 through which Transylvania had been transferred to Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

. Little progress was made, and he retired from office.

His trilogy, A Transylvanian Tale, also called The Writing on the Wall, was published between 1934 and 1940. Bánffy portrayed pre-war Hungary as a nation in decline, failed by a shortsighted aristocracy.

In April 1943, Bánffy visited Bucharest
Bucharest
Bucharest is the capital municipality, cultural, industrial, and financial centre of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania, located in the southeast of the country, at , and lies on the banks of the Dâmbovița River....

 to persuade Ion Antonescu
Ion Antonescu
Ion Victor Antonescu was a Romanian soldier, authoritarian politician and convicted war criminal. The Prime Minister and Conducător during most of World War II, he presided over two successive wartime dictatorships...

's Romania together with Hungary to abandon the Axis
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

 and sue for a separate peace with the Allies
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 (see also Romania during World War II
Romania during World War II
Following the outbreak of World War II on 1 September 1939, the Kingdom of Romania officially adopted a position of neutrality. However, the rapidly changing situation in Europe during 1940, as well as domestic political upheaval, undermined this stance. Fascist political forces such as the Iron...

). The negotiations with a delegation led by Gheorghe Mironescu
Gheorghe Mironescu
Gheorghe G. Mironescu, commonly known as G. G. Mironescu , was a Romanian politician, member of the National Peasants' Party , who served as a Prime Minister of Romania for two terms.-Biography:...

 broke down almost instantaneously, as the two sides could not agree on a future status for Northern Transylvania
Northern Transylvania
Northern Transylvania is a region of Transylvania, situated within the territory of Romania. The population is largely composed of both ethnic Romanians and Hungarians, and the region has been part of Romania since 1918 . During World War II, as a consequence of the territorial agreement known as...

 (which Romania had ceded to Hungary in 1940, and where Bonchida was located). Two years later, in revenge for Bánffy's actions in Bucharest, his estate at Bonchida was burned and looted by the retreating German
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 army.

Hungary and Transylvania were soon invaded by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

's Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

, an event which marked an uncertain status for Northern Transylvania until its return to Romania. His wife and daughter fled to Budapest while Bánffy remained on the spot in a vain attempt to prevent the destruction of his property. Soon after, the frontier was closed. The family remained separated until 1949, when he was allowed by Romanian communist authorities
Communist Romania
Communist Romania was the period in Romanian history when that country was a Soviet-aligned communist state in the Eastern Bloc, with the dominant role of Romanian Communist Party enshrined in its successive constitutions...

 to leave for Budapest
Budapest
Budapest is the capital of Hungary. As the largest city of Hungary, it is the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre. In 2011, Budapest had 1,733,685 inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2,113,645 due to suburbanization. The Budapest Commuter...

, where he died the following year.

A mellowing communist regime in Hungary permitted the reissue of A Transylvanian Tale in 1982, and it was translated into English for the first time in 1999. The Castle of Bonchida is now being restored as a cultural center. An apartment is being prepared for the use of the Count's family.

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