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Banat: History of Village Name

© copyright 1996, 1997 by ZVA and FEEFHS; all rights reserved


Rand McNally, Atlas of World History. Cartography by Creative Cartography Limited, Chicago, New York, San Francisco: Rand McNally and Company, 1993, 192 pages.

Magosci, Paul Robert, Historical Atlas of East Central Europe. Cartography by Matthews, Geoffery J., Toronto, Ontario: The University of Toronto Press, 1993, Vol. I, 218 pages.

Engelmann, Nikolaus, The Banat Germans. Translated by Michels, John M., Bismarck, North Dakota: University of Mary Press, 1987, p3-27.

Achtzehner, Johann. Geschichte der Gemeinde Zichydorf, Volume-I. Bissingen-Steinhofen: A. Conzelmann-Druck, Bissingen, 113 Seiten, 1975, 114 pages; p1: Morminz.

ANCIENT-MEDIEVAL AGES Banat has a long history as a key location in east-central Europe because of the transportation routes along it's rivers and mountain passes. Banat was a strategic military outpost for the ancient Roman Empire and they built several of the major cities that still exist today, such as the capital city of Temesvar. Germanic tribes raided the Roman garrisons but were unable to maintain possession of the land until it became consolidated under the dominion of the Hungarian monarchy around 1000 A.D.

Hungary provided a peaceful era of Christianization that sealed Banat's destiny. It has since suffered numerous scourges. Ghengis Khan of Mongolia in 1240-42 A.D. reduced the Banat to rubble and ashes as he passed through to invade Europe. The territory of our village is about 85 Kilometers north of the Danube River and almost due north of the city of Belgrade that has also existed since ancient times.

BIOSEG (Middle Ages) During the middle ages our village was named after a local meadow called Bioseg. During this period, the Turks of the Ottoman Empire in 1526 began to expand their territory with skirmishes against the Hungarian Empire. Then, the Habsburg monarchy of Austria became the ruling monarchy in Hungary in 1527, following the death of King Louis II of Hungary. King Louis was killed defending Hungarian territory against the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Mohacs in 1526.

After Mohacs, the Turks dominated two-thirds of Hungary, including the Banat. The remaining portion was ruled by the Habsburgs of Austria. War with the Ottoman Turks continued throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; 1663-1739, and again 1788 A.D. each time destroying Banat settlements and killing its people. Hence, it is almost certain that people living in the Bioseg meadows would have been involved in these wars because of their proximity to the Danube river. The Danube formed a natural border between the Ottoman Empire and Hungarian Empire.

MORMINZ (1717-1738) The Austrian Imperial Army commanded by Prince Eugen of Savoy was finally successful in driving the Turks out. A peace settlement at Karlowitz in 1699 brought Hungary, except for the Banat, under control of the Habsburg Emperor Leopold I. Later, Prince Eugene captured the Banat in 1718, and the province was ceded to the Habsburg Emperor Charles VI after the Treaty of Passarovitz.

According to the command of Prince Eugen in 1723-1725, our village was inhabited under the name of Morminz as registered on a completed map of Temeswar, Banat. The settlers of Morminz were known to have built their sod/mud houses and covered them with bamboo from the local swampland or straw from cereal crops that were grown in southern Banat. Legend also has it that Prince Eugen and his army offered the area for a battle against the Turks, and afterwards buried the dead in a graveyard near to the village of Margita.

In 1738 the Ottoman Turks rekindled hostilities by breaking into southern Banat and devastating all settlements along the Danube river, including Morminz. The Turks advanced north during the next year toward Temeschburg, the center and capital of Banat. Settlers who did not flee north were either killed or carried off into lifelong slavery. All the villages south of Temeschburg were reduced to rubble and burned to ashes. Hence, after this invasion, the area around our village seemed totally deserted.

ZICHYDORF (1787-1867) The Austrians and Hungarians joined forces in 1738 to push the Turks back and south across the Danube river. Although there had been German immigration to southern Hungary prior to this time, the expulsion of the Turks resulted in organized settlement programs sponsored by the Habsburgs. The Habsburgs had three aims: to fortify the land against invasion, to develop farm land, and to further the Roman Catholic religion in eastern Europe. Thus, the Habsburgs issued three ordinances for a specific number of Catholic settlers to move from the southwest German states to colonize the new frontier land in Banat. By 1781, the Banat region was already well settled by German immigrants.

The Austro-Hungarian military campaigns were funded by German nobility known as "Counts", who served as Generals for the Imperial Austrian army. It was customary for the Austrian Kaiser to repay each Count with a parcel of land from the newly captured Banat frontier land. So, Count Karl Zichy de Vasonkeo, then president of the Hungarian parliament, came to own about 10,000 acres of land around a "dorf" (village) named "Zichydorf" in his honor. The first colonists came to Zichydorf in the winter of 1787-88 and the spring of 1788. Immigration from the last Imperial Ordinance had stopped by 1787, so the Zichydorf colonists came from the Banat villages of Grabaz, Hatzfeld, Gross- , Kleinjetscha, and Ostern.

ZICHYFALVA (1867-1918) In 1867 Austria agreed to a dual monarchy known as the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Hungarian government subsequently imposed a "Magyarization" policy to create a distinct Hungarian nation from a mixed population that was largely German but also included Rumanians, Serbians and Turks. Magyarization resulted in changing family and village names from German to a Hungarian translation. Thus, Zichydorf was renamed to Zichyfalva. The village of Zichyfalva resided in the 54th county of Torontal, Hungary.

MARIOLANA (1918-1942) The First World War affected yet another change to the names of villages in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Treaty of Versailles in 1918 forced the Austro-Hungarian Empire to concede substantial territory to its neighbors on all sides. The new borders placed the village of Zichydorf/Zichyfalva within the independent state of Serbia that became part of a newly formed country called Yugoslavia. The Yugoslav King Alexander proclaimed that all village names be translated into the Serbian language. Hence Zichyfalva, Hungary was renamed Mariolana, Serbia and it held that name until World War II.

PLANDISTE (1945-Present) For a short period of German occupation during WWII the village reverted to its traditional name. After the war, Serbia lost its independence to Russian occupation and to political reform from the communist political party. A local Mariolana resident and farm laborer, named Planha, became the communist leader for the district. Once the communist party had control of Yugoslavia, Planha renamed the village of Mariolana to honor his name. Hence, Zichydorf/Zichyfalva/Mariolana became Plandiste, in the province of Vojvodina, Yugoslavia.

Today, Plandiste is registered on official Yugoslavian maps with a population under 5000. If you are looking for Plandiste in an atlas, you are not likely to find it because of its small size. Plandiste is about 85 kilometers northeast of Belgrade, the capital city of Yugoslavia. Belgrade is a major city that has existed from ancient times so it can easily be located in any type of world atlas. Plandiste can be reached via a major highway that links Belgrade to Vrsac, then about 18 kilometers along a lesser highway heading northwest along the Rumanian boarder.

Written by: Barry J. Anwender, ZVA co-founder