History of Blazov
Today, if you visit the place where the village of Blazov once stood, you would find it hard to imagine that once more than a thousand people inhabited the area where near where you are standing. Other than a cellar door marking the cellar once owned by the Bajus family and four stone pillars of a barn where the rectory once stood, there is no other evidence of the village’s existence. Even the cemeteries and grave markings of those villagers who once lived and died in the village have been returned to nature; nurturing the meadows and forests that were there before the first settlement. The village has vanished almost without a trace but the memories remain of those who refuse to forget. It is as it was in the beginning, natural and beautiful.
The Area of Blazov
Until 1918, the village of Blazov belonged to Saris County in the Sabinov District of Austria Hungary. Then in 1918, the villagers found themselves citizens of the newly created country of Czechoslovakia. Today, the village lands are attached to neighboring TichyPotok, a village in the Presov Region of the County of Sabinov located in the Northeastern part of Slovakia.
Blazov stood in the northeastern part of the Levoca Hills where the Chmelov, Ciernohuzec, Zamcisko, Kaligura, Ciernahora and Ciernakopa Mountains form the northern ridge of a small valley. The Javorinka Hill massif closes the valley to the south where the Torysa River flows.
This is old land. The Torysa River may derive its name from the Celtic “thor iza”, which means mountain water. Local legend holds that an ancient castle stood atop Zamcisko Hill; and a document from 1600 does say, “on the top of the Zamcisko we can see the round, stone watchtower.”
In the 13th century, people called the land Seuwold, old German for “pretty woods”. Within the 17,000 acres where Blazov stood, dense forests of fir and deciduous trees grow. The woods give way to mountain meadows. Springs, streams and creeks dot the landscape. Deer, fox and wolves live here, along with many kinds insects, reptiles and birds. There are mushrooms and wildflowers of seemingly endless variety and beauty.
The Origin of the Blazov
In 1274, lords Kokos and Rikolf of Velka Lomnica received Torysa village and its vicinity in a land exchange with Detrik, leader of the Spis Saxons. Kokos and Rikolf were of German origin, and they chose the settlement of Brezovica near Torysa village as their home. Their descendants would be titled the Berzeviczy de Berzevicze et Kakaslomnitz (Berzeviczy of Brezovica and Velka Lomnica). In the 18th century, the family became simply Berzeviczy.
In 1317 in the ecclesiastical town Spisska Kapitula (Spis Canonry), Rikolf's son, John, and John's sons: Michael, Rikolf, John and Henrik, signed a contract with Blazej of Brezovica. The agreement, based on the so-called German law, allowed Blazej to settle a village in an unpopulated area previously called Grunwald. The contract contained the following conditions:
- Settlers may cut 40 parts of the forest, and the forest they clear may be converted to fields.
- Blazej shall hold the hereditary title soltys (village head).
- The soltys may own: one field, a windmill, and a brewery.
- Settlers may build a church without paying tithe and may freely choose a priest
- Settlers may hunt and fish within the borders of the new village.
- Settlers will be exempt from taxes for next 18 years.
- After 18 years, each settler will pay tax in the form of:
7 denars, 1 bread, 1 chicken, 1 pig,
- the whole village shall provide 1 barrel of beer
- The soltys has the right to serve as judge in the village, and to receive from peasants in the village every sixth denar of the paid tax.
The contract was dated:
“Datum IV. feriaproxima ante Ramispalmarum. Anno Domini MCCCXVII”.
(4th Friday before Palm Sunday, 1317 = March 19th 1317)
Thus, Blazov, the village named after Blazej, came to be. Called Balázsvágás in Hungarian, the village name means Blazej's Glade.
Little is known about Blazej, except that he was the son of Leutasch of Brezovica. However, he may have been one of two servients (military free men in service to the king) described in a document from Spis Canonry. In the year 1270, Princess Kunigunda awarded lands in Pokoj village to servients Blazej and Marcel. A Dispute over Marcel's land caused him to leave Pokoj and move to the Upper Torysa. Likewise, Blazej sold his land in Pokoj in 1286. Perhaps he followed Marcel to the Upper Torysa and became the Blazej of Blazej's Glade.
The People of Blazov
IIn 1427, a Berzeviczy family inventory described the village of Blazov. The village contained just six houses. The agricultural customs of the original Slovak and German settlers did not suit the terrain, and Blazov failed to grow. Incursions by the Polish army into north-eastern Slovakia in the 1470s and 1490s also contributed to decline.
The arrival of Wallachs (Ruthenians) repopulated the and. Evidence for their existence appears in court records. In 1480, an investigative document from Saris County described an attack by Wallachs from Blazov against Nicholas from Brezovica. Nicholas had been traveling from Zilina town with a wagon load of clothes and fabric.
Stanislav from Brezovica, the landowner (landlord) at that time attacked and killed a Wallachian living in Tichy Potok while he was on the road near Blazov.
Another legal document from 1513 confirms the presence Wallachs in Blazov. Peter of Spis Hrhov, landlord of the village Nizne Repase, charged in Spis County court that serfs of Francis of Brezovica had illegally grazed their sheep in the meadows of Nizne Repase. When Peter seized the sheep, armed Wallachs from Blazov and their landlord burst into Nizne Repase. They reclaimed their sheep, took some cattle, and wounded one villager.
Landowners invited robust Wallachs from Galicia and Ruthenia to settle in the area that is now northern Slovakia. They signed agreements according to Wallachian law setting out the privileges and conditions for the new-comers. The law required Ruthenians to guard the borders of the kingdom in the Carpathians, and to ensure the protection of roads. In exchange, the Ruthenians received free use of royal pastures and forests. After ten to twenty years of tax freedom, but an obligation to pay tax of one-twentieth cattle, wool and cheese.
Wallachian dukes possessed powers similar to those of the old soltys, although they were elected to the title by their fellow Wallachs. The duke represented the village in negotiations with the authorities, collected taxes for the suzerain, supervised tending of the forest, and determined how many sheep would graze on which javorina. (a javorina is a meadow suitable for grazing sheep.) The Wallachs kept these privileges until the Urbarial reforms of Maria Theresa in 1773.
Blazov and its surroundings suited the Wallachian lifestyle. The villagers grazed sheep on the slopes Javorinka Hill. They turned gentle slopes north of the village into fields for farming. On the steeper slopes, they grew meadows of hay for cattle.
The village thrived and became one of the largest villages in the area. Blazov received royal privileges allocated to significant villages. Beginning in the 18th century, Blazov had the right to hold two markets a year. Also on the 18th century, Blazov received a royal forge for the smelting of iron ore and iron working. Blazov also had the privilege to produce charcoal, a by-product of wood shingles and other wood products made in the village.
The residents of Blazov were mostly Ruthenians, but there were also descendants of the original Slovaks, Germans and others who had migrated to the area over the years.
Some residents already had surnames in the 18th century, such as Fenda, Gargala, Gradzilla, Garnek, Pacinda, and Sweda. Even so, many villagers are remembered in church records only as: Andrij from the slope, Jurko from the garden, or Misko from the bridge, and so on.
Surnames in Blazov didn't stabilize until the second half of the 19th century. Church records from 1818 refer to one Blazov man as "Jurko from Zagorodka". In 1830, his name is written as "Georgius Havrilovitz". In 1845 he becomes "Georgius Havrilyak alias Bajusz". In 1860, finally, he is “Georgius Bajusz”.
Interestingly, church records indicate that one resident, Nicholas Krajnyak (1766 – 1870) lived to be 104 years old. The oldest age recorded of any person who lived in Blazov.