ARAČA

 

The ruins of Benedictine abbey at the river Tisa, nearby Novo Miloševo (former Beodre), represent the monument of culture of exceptional importance – the only monument from medieval period with this status  in this area. Romanesque church was built around 1230. After devastation it was reconstructed in 1370, as required by the queen Helen of Anjou, when the Gothic tower was built next to the apse.

(početak drugog paragrafa je potpuno isti kao u prvom pa neću prevoditi, pretpostavljam da je greška) …. Archaeological researches showed that the monumental building of the abbey was built on the foundations of  the older church, probably from the 11th century, which was decorated by pre- Romanesque……..stone…..plastic.

In the area that locals call “sedmiter”, which means “the place where the roads go towards the fields of seven Banat villages”, eight kilometers south of Miloševo, is Arača. Its monumental ruins shows, even today, that it was once a beautiful and important structure. In its surroundings only the fields stand and nothing else. 

In the Middle Ages, Arača was a church. The experts categorize it in the Monuments of Exceptional Importance, the only of that kind in this area. While it was standing as a church, it was surrounded by settlements through the whole medieval period. But the time ruined the houses made of dirt and branches. Only the Romanesque church remained, with its rich and dramatic history.

The first written record of the church is from the 13th century, when Arača was Benedictine monastery. The archeologists found the monastery foundations on the north side of the church. It is written that certain Nikola from monastery participated in Church Council  in 1256 in Eszergom.

It was robbed and ruined in the invasion of the Cumans  in 1280. It is mentioned in the Papal tithe list from 1332 to 1337.   Arača was reconstructed as required by Helen of Anjou, the widow of Uroš and the mother of Louis the Great. Its Gothic tower, that stands even today, is probably from that period. 

In 1417 Arača came into possession of the Serbian despot Stefan Lazarević. It is written that his vicar Brian, lived there at the time. As town, it is mentioned in documents from 1422. It belonged to Serbian despot  Đurađ Branković  in 1441 who gave it, as a present, to his cousin  Pavle Birinji, a son of Bosnian border commander. It is also written that Torontál lords held their council in Arača in 1450. 

On the eve of the Ottomans conquest, Arača was populated by Serbs. In 1551 it was reconstructed to be a fortress and it was surrendered to Ottomans the same year, without fight, during the siege of Bečej.

According to inventory made by Patriarchate of Peć  in 1660, Arača was still Serbian settlement. It was abandoned in 1720. From the reports made at the time we know that the reasons for leaving were taxes and corvee.

This is how much we know about Arača from written documents. The experts who worked on the remaining, say that there were two building phases, with the confirmed presumption that it was built on some older foundations.  It its first phase  Arača was built in Benedictine Dalmatian-type (end of the 12th century – beginning of the 13th century). It was three-aisled basilica. The middle apse is wider and bigger with massive and flat walls made from red bricks. 

The apses are separated in five directions with arched arcades on pilasters. The red marble is used at the entrance. These are the only decorations on the west side – the entrance (that had vaulted door on two sides, like in Studenica monastery) and big stained glass rosette (pieces of its broken glass were found). The inside of the church has expressive pillars made of gray sandstone with Romanesque herbal decorated chapiters. The chapiter which stands next to the apse has the Adam figure that picks an apple. The oltar corbels have acanthus with buds. In the northwest corner the head shaped corbel is noticaeable. The floor was covered with red marble tiles brought from  Piska (near Esztergom).

The big stained glass rosette is from more advanced period of Hungarian architecture, from the late 13th century. The second phase in building Arača is from the period when Helen of Anjou ruled (the second half of the 14th century). It can be seen in the upper parts of the structure, when it was probably reconstructed and when the rosette got the present look.

It is not known who and when established Arača church. The archeological research made by probe showed that in a place where the Benedictine Abbey stands was an older church. It was confirmed when dr. Péter Gerece excavated the flagstone in 1897 which is in the National Museum in Budapest now. It is probably from the 11th century according to its Pre-Romanesque crudely carved relief composition that is related to the church founding. In its upper part the bearded man in the priest’s robe blesses in the eastern church manner, with his right hand, and in his left hand he holds a scroll or a book. Below the priest there are two heads (that are damaged) of the church founders and the church is also shown on the other side (the left side) of the flagstone.

It looks different than today. It can be seen that it was the basilica with atrium and belltower (the remaining of its foundation is found by archaeological probing). The flagstone also has the figure of saddled horse with a falcon. This tells us that the founders of the church were noble. Next to the heads of a priest and founders the Latin text is carved but it is highly damaged. The scientists interpreted it differently, but they all agree that the text next to a priest’s head is a prayer.

Some experts think that the text is curved afterwards because it is done clumsily and is very illegible. The back side of the flagstone is frayed because it was used as a pavement in the monastery garden pointing upwards.

At the time when the flagstone was embossed with the goal of perpetuating the Arača founders, Slavs population dominated in that territory. They preserved their own tribal community till the end of the 12th century.  In the 9th and 10th century, the students of Cyril and Methodius, missionaries, were here so when the Hungarian tribes came in one by one, at the end of the 9th century, they found Slavs as Christians.

Son of Duke Glad Ahtum (Ajtony), who ruled Mures (Maros megye), accepted  Byzantine Christianity in the 10th century. After King Stefan (István ) defeated Duke Ahtum (about 1030), the Catholic  Cenad Bishopric was founded. Cyril and Methodius’ students were exiled to the Banat monasteries. The Slavic  lord or duke, Glad (Hungarian: Galad) left his mark in the toponyms between Miloševo and Kikinda: a small river Galacka (near DTD channel) flows, the town of Galad (on the Gradiste field) stands on the right bank of the river, Glad’s  hill were in Miloševo area but it was destroyed during the road construction.

When we speak about religious, social and cultural problems between Slavs and Hungarians in the 11th, 12th and 13th century (they are also important for clarifying the story about Arača), we should mention that the St. Demetrios church was the parish in Szeged till 1294. Zrenjanin museum found a grave in the Arača surrounding, by using probe. It stood among many other damaged skeletons. There was a decedent buried in an orthodox manner, facing east, with traces of sackcloth from the 9th – 10th century.

Complicated history of Arača left traces on the church. It probably existed since the time of  Slav’s Christianization. Two or three centuries later, a beautiful Benedictine Abbey was raised. It was burned and ruined as well by Cumans and Turks, and it served occasionally both religions – Catholic and Orthodox. It was reconstructed to be defense fortress and it ended its existence when its population left forever in the first half of the 18th century. 

Plundering did not stop: people from around carried away it stones and bricks bit by bit. All around Arača you can see the holes left behind treasure diggers. It was ruined by winds as well. It was written that the heavy storm knocked down some of its walls and the upper part of the gothic tower on 13th December 1863. 

However, the beginning of the story about Arača  starts much further in the past , and not from its medieval history. Archeologists were excavating prehistoric settlements dated the Starčevo Ceramic period (5,500 years B.C.). People lived on its soil for 7,500 years because it is high enough (82m  elevation) so that the river Tisa couldn’t flood it but  the water was surrounding it. It was protected by Tisa bayou called Small Begej, by the swamps Great Kopovo, Poštaš Kopovo, and Bikoš, and the small river  Crna Bara, and  at the same time it was provided by waterways. It had a road on the ground as well. This was the narrow earthen beam (directed towards Novi Bečej) that went to the river Tisa. The fields surrounds Arača today. Starčevo population started soil cultivation (they were named after Starčevo nearby Pančevo). Archeologists consider them as the first sedentary agricultural community  in Vojvodina.

Galad Town

Galad Town was often mentioned in an old literature as a settlement with fortification, as well as monastery under the same name. Milorad Girić , an arceologist in Kikinda Museum, wrote about a  legend which says that  Slavic lord Glad (Hungarian: Galad)  built an earthly fortification on the bank of the small river Galcke  nearby Kikinda. The fortification was streghtened by palisade and earthly rampart.

Locality of Galad Town is on the east of Novo Milosevo countryside, on the right bank of the river Galacke (today next to DTD Chanel), next to the Đukičin family farm on Gradište  glades. It is, actually a hillock made by medieval ruins. Remaining of the defensive moat can still be seen. Some fragments from the 15th and 16th century were dug out when farmers ploughed their fields.  Probing archaeological research confirmed that it was a medieval fort.

The history says that the Duke Galad and his son Ahtum had something with the nobles rebellion against Stefan (István) the First  who imposed his authority.

When Sokollu Mehmed Pasha marched on Banat in 1551, he conquered Arača first, and then Galad Town. It is not known that Turks destroyed Galad immediately or a few decades later after the great rebellion of Serbs against Turks in Banat in 1594. 

Christianization

The first Hungarian lord, Árpád (889-907), founder of the  Árpád dynasty

 brought Hungarians from steppes at the south of Russia. He conquered Slavic Great State of Moravska in Pannonia.

 

In the Great Moravska, during the time of lord Rastislav (846-870), Cyril and Methodius and their students brought Christianity in Slavic language . During the time of  lord Svatopluk (871-894) the Lower Pannonia was also part of the Great Moravska. 

 

Stefan the First (István), “Holly”, (997-1038) converted Hungarians into Christianity.  He crushed pagan lord’s rebellion and strengthen feudal society. In 1000 Pope gave him the title of the Apostolic King that all Hungarian kings, who came after, had. There is also the opinion that he accepted Christianity from Byzantine missionaries. After the last member of Árpád dynasty died, Andrew III the Venetian, Anjou dynasty ruled in Hungary and Croatia from 1409.  

 

How did it become neglected…

 

After Turks and during the time of Mersy who ruled in Banat in the county of Veliki Bečkerek, whole villages were abandoned because of hard life. People ran before corvee and taxes. Ispan Tasner wrote the report in May 1719, about village lords  who refused to obey and who ran away together with their people.

 

According to the Tasner’s report from 5th May 1720, the citizens of Arača left  their home forever . (Sandor Nagy “Arača”)

 

 

 

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