Our first objective is to analyse the social impact of warfare on the frontier area of Western Transylvania.
We intend to study the specific dynamics of frontier communities and their patterns of mobility in relation to military conflicts. The western Transylvanian borderlands witnessed the development of specific social groups with military obligations who settled on the domains of the border fortifications and enjoyed a special status guaranteed by the central government of the principality. This groups of semi-professional soldiers have many analogies on the other frontier areas of Europe and will represent an important focus in our research. The interaction between professional soldiers (especially members of the permanent garrisons of the border fortresses) and civilian communities is another relevant aspect related to this objective. Most people would be inclined to believe that violence dominated the relations between civilians and soldiers but we believe that a thorough investigation of historical sources will shed light on a more complex relation. War and especially irregular warfare (the so called klein krieg or petite guerre) shaped the society of early modern borderlands. It is hard to make a clear distinction between soldiers and civilians in an age when military professionalism was not a well-defined concept. It was not uncommon for peasants, craftsmen or merchants to take part in military conflicts especially on the frontier. At the same time the so called „professional soldiers” frequently engaged in other economic activities such as trade or agriculture. All this aspects, insufficiently investigated by historians until now, will contribute to a better understanding of early modern frontier societies.
The second objective is the identification of the economic impact of warfare on the Western Transylvanian border.
Military conflicts had a considerable impact on the economy of early modern states. It has been assumed that in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries European monarchs spent about 75% of their budget on military activities. This might be an imprecise generalization but nevertheless it is fair to assume that war represented the greatest financial burden for early modern states. By achieving this particular objective we will be able to understand the financial pressure exerted by the western frontier on the Transylvanian principality. Our research will focus on several economic aspects such as: the general tax system, local financial resources, the costs of fortress construction and modernization, military wages (especially in the case of permanent garrisons), consumption of food and fodder etc. Another interesting aspect is the impact of frontier life on local economic activities such as trade, crafts an agriculture.
The third objective of our research is strongly connected to the two previous objectives and it refers to the transfer of knowledge and technology in the frontier area.
As previous research has demonstrated, medieval and early modern borders were not only meant as dividing boundaries but also as fluid regions of interaction and exchange. The border is the space where the contact between civilizations is most intense. From this point of view the western Transylvanian border offers an extremely interesting case because it had contact with both Habsburg Hungary (Royal Hungary) and the Ottoman Empire. In the attempt to achieve this objective our research will focus on the circulation and adaptation of new military ideas (tactics, strategy, organization, logistics) and technologies (weapons, military architecture) coming from Western Europe but also from the Ottoman Empire. A strong flow of military knowledge and technology came from Italy, through mercenaries, merchants, craftsmen and architects.