Pintea the brave (Pintea Viteazu) - legendary character

Pintea the brave (Pintea Viteazu) - legendary character

History of Pintea the Brave

25th of  February 1670, Măgoaja (Budeşti)- 14th of August 1703, Baia Mare.

It appears in a document from 1694, issued by the town of Baia Sprie, which presents Pintea as an outlaw, who haunted the surroundings of the settlement.

Then the great strikes begin:  a letter dated in Turda on September 16th, 1695 of the chancellor Nicolae Bethlen addressed to the judge of Baia Mare, mentions that several Greek merchants, accompanied by Transylvanian soldiers were attacked and robbed in the Maramureș Mountains by about 35 thieves, of which 5 fell into battle, others being only wounded. Bethlen orders the judge to inform him if the pharmacists in Baia Mare had cured any of the injured outlaws and to investigate what locality they are from. It is about Pintea's men, in the first major attack, documentary attested in those times.

On August 14th, 1697 we find out that its outlaws were supported by the inhabitants of the villages Crăceşti (today Mara) and Hoteni, while they were retreating to Lăpuş.

In the committee meeting held in Sighet on May 6th, 1698, the county of the  Cămara- Frater Georg and the praetor Kaszon Istvan would complain, declining any responsibility  for the destructions caused by the outlaws, demanding that measures be taken to destroy them.

In June 1698 the merchants Ambrus and Stephan Koszegyi are stopped and robbed near Baia Mare, their assets being given by Pintea to the poor (the only mention of this kind in the documents).

The Judge of Baia Sprie writes on July 21st, 1698 to his counterpart in Baia Mare: "Now the letter of the praetor Jura Jonas has arrived with great haste from Maramureș, informing us that the robbers attacked the Rona castle on the outskirts of Poland (today Kosyv, Ukraine,), where they beheaded 250 people and loaded goods and treasures, a burden of 150 horses, reaching the foot of the Maramureș mountains, already crossed and now are in the Budesti Mountains".

July 10th, 1699, in the border of Hordou village (today Coșbuc), on the road between Sighet and Bistriţa, a group of Greek merchants of Constantin Brâncoveanu, are attacked and robbed by Pintea's army, allied with a band of Hungarian robbers. 130 dead people, 80 thousand florins, almost as much as Transylvania tax. Staked out in Sighet, wanted for robbery after the arson of the city: sword-weapons, rifles, pistols, marten skins, silverware, cloths, silver watches, gold threads clothes, money, etc.

Because of the international scandal, the Transylvanian authorities, through the commander general Rabutin, the governor Gheorghe Bánffi and the treasurer Ștefan Apor would take drastic measures. At the beginning of the year 1700, eight outlaws are caught, who after investigations and tortures are executed. Investigations and trials would take place in Satu Mare and Baia Mare, between February 1700 and July 1701, during which 95 witnesses are heard (willingly and under torture).

During the investigation, important information emerges: those who concealed the robbers’ assets were people of various nations and occupations: Romanians, Hungarians, Jews, servants of the church, judges of villages, peasants, townsfolk, etc. Some of the valuables were offered as gifts to commander Löwenburg, to other servants, as well as to German soldiers for services and goodwill towards the robbers.

Pintea himself and some of his henchmen were incorporated in military units and imperial outlaws of Partium, during several winters (under fake names). 

After the attack, on August 15th, 1699, Pintea's soldiers enter the garden of Kerekes Ferencz in Baia Mare, frightening the city.

But the noose was tightening... The captain of Satu Mare citadel, Colonel Friedrich von Löwenburg, was personally involved in  the capture and persecution of outlaws. On January 2nd, 1700, Pintea was caught and imprisoned by Löwenburg in the Satu Mare fortress, where he remained until February, when he was released under oath and pledge for bringing the looted goods from the Greek merchants.

But in the same month, he would violate his oath, attacking together with 50 outlaws, the convoy of two Satu Mare merchants (near Cicârlău), taking away the things they were transporting to Crăceşti.

Then, the authorities close a new deal, offering him a regular amount of money to be left alone. Thus, on September 25th  of the same year, the Baia Mare City Council sends two emissaries to Şurdeşti to meet with him and sign a mutual agreement on the payment of the "tribute".

As he would not observe this agreement, the following year he ends up being outcast.  On 23rd of  April 1701, the Emperor Leopold I would put a 500 thalers bounty on his head,  either dead or alive. 

On May 15th, 1701, Pintea's fellows killed the Episcopal vicar Isaiah of the Bixad monastery. The latter was a Greek monk and former abbot of the Monastery of the Holy Apostle Paul on Mount Athos, converted to Catholicism and entrusted with unity Romanians from the areas of Bihor, Sătmar and Maramureș, upon the Union. Although some historians of the church have attributed to Pintea the status of defender of Orthodoxy, this seems hard to believe, as long as the outlaw killed and robbed enough Orthodox people  during  his life, and as long as the motive for the murder of Isaiah seems to have been simply the looting of the monastery (which he would burn, stealing from there among others,  six pistols).

On June 27th of the same year, Maramureș County announces the Guberniya that thousands of florins have already been spent on capturing Pintea, to no avail, that the Greek merchants would no longer be compensated by the county for the robberies committed by the outlaw and that each village of Maramureș should take measures to catch Pintea, otherwise the fine would be in amount of 500 florins.

Minutes of August 14th, 1703, Baia Mare, on Pintea's death: " Majos Janos, the insurgents’ captain from Sighet, through two letters sent to Baia Mare city leaders, demanded under harsh sanctions: the destruction of goods - the shooting of women and children and the impalement of the city leaders, firstly to obey, secondly to send him 3 or 4 tons of powder,  100 plates, as many cartridges as possible, broadcloth, food and others. The city did not suffer any damage, whereas Majos Janos and his army went another way. But other insurgents, the lieutenants Bekessy Andrei, Lanţoş Janos, Balica Urszuly with two companies and that famous robber Young Master Pintye of Hollomezo (Măgoaja) who had proved through others his quality as a partisan of  Fr. Rakoczy, stopping at the Hungarian Gate of the city (near the Butchers' Tower today), persistently claimed the city leadership to submit to the Prince. In the evening, both sides surrendered hostages, and the decision was postponed to the morning, when the parties convened the insurgents’ demand, with the mention of sending a delegation to Fr. Rakoczy to make known to him the decision taken.

The insurgents were sent from the city 7 carts of bread, meat and barrels of wine. Without knowing the reasons, the insurgents threw away the bread and the meat, broke the barrels of wine and headed furiously to the outside of the  citadel and destroyed it. Among these insurgents the first was the above-called Pintea. He himself hit the gate, against the repeated protests of the insurgents in the city, which were given as hostages. In the midst of Pintea’s attack, as his comrades stayed behind, the insurgents held as hostage city folk to respond to the repeated shootings from outside. The townspeople took up their guns and fired. During the battle, Pintea was hit and fell before that gate. His body, like that of a thief, was buried without ceremony, near the fence inside the citadel." (Maramureș County Directorate of the National Archives, Baia Mare City Hall Fund, Protocollum V ab anno 1701 uscue 1715 inclusiva, anno 1703, p. 20-21).

According to other data, Pintea was wounded only on August 14th, being thereafter shot on the 22nd of the month, at the order of his own adviser, Istvan Decsy, or even by him and that the reason for the attack was the posoning of the food and wine, offered by the Baia Mare townspeople.

List of the main places in Maramureș related to the activity of Pintea Viteazu

  • Baia Mare (the Butchers' Tower – where he was shot,  the Liberty Square – where the stores, taverns and workshops frequented by him functioned, respectively the County Museum of  History and Archaeology, where his weapons are exhibited);
  • Baia Sprie (the central area, where functioned the stores, inns, taverns and workshops frequented by him); 
  • Sighetu Marmației (the central area, where functioned the stores, inns, taverns and workshops frequented by him); 
  • Budeşti (the church in Josani, where his shirt and chainmail are kept); 
  • Ieud (the church in  Ieud Vale, supposedly founded by him, the boulder at the entrance being, it is said, brought by him from Gutâi, having magical powers); 
  • Tăuții de Sus (the millstone laid by him, says the legend, as a border with Baia Sprie);
  • Pintea's tomb (on Gutin Mount, close to the top, legendary, because he was buried,  the Butchers' Tower in Baia Mare); 
  • Șatra Pintii Mount (with the Cave and the Fountain of Pintea); 
  • Gutâi Mountains - Gutin Pass (with the Path, the Cave, the Rock, the Spring and Pintea's Cave); 
  • Făgădăul Pintii Mount (with the enigmatic stone foundation of the tavern/ headquarters of the outlaw, Pintii Staul - the long stone fence nearby, the Pintii Fountain and the tomb of an unknown outcast - Zgleamănu); 
  • The tomb of Pintea's traitor between Glod and Văleni. 

Other toponyms related to Pintea Viteazu

  • The Cave from Izvorul lui Pintea, Cicârlău Vii;
  • Casa Pintii Cave (the Bones Cave), Poiana Botizei; 
  • Pintea's Cave, Dealul Corbului; 
  • Pintea’s Aven, Măgureni;
  • The cave under Pintea's Gate (Pintea's Cellar), Măgureni; 
  • Pintea's Cave (from Lazuri), Săliştea de Sus;
  • Pintea’s Barn Cave ( Șura lui Pintea from Cearcănu), Borșa; 
  • Șura Cailor Cave (Șura lui Pintea 2, near the Horses Waterfall), Borșa;
  • Pintea's Cave of Muncelu Râios, Moisei; 
  • Pintea's House under Piatra Sălășimuri, Săpânța; 
  • Piatra Săpânței, where he rested, with his horse;
  • Pietrei Peak (Şugătag village), where he rested, in flight, with his horse, from which would have remained the imprint of the hoof; 
  • The Rooster's Stone (Iadăra) with Pintea's Table that would preserve the trace of his horse's hoof;
  • Pintea’s Fountain, Fericea; 
  • Pintea’s Fountain, Firiza; 
  • Pintea’s Fountain, Asuaju de Sus; 
  • Pintea’s Fountain, Chelinţa; 
  • Pintea’s  Boulder (on the Narrow Valley), Ulmeni-Ţicău;
  • Pintea's Tower in the Igniș massif;
  • Treasures of Pintea: the Gutâi massif (La Scaune), Comoara (Bârsana), Magura peak between Rona de Jos and Lunca la Tisa, etc.

The treasure of La Scaune (Gutin)

Pintea would have also possessed the magical grass of the beasts (which opens any lock in the world) and which would have been obtained by closing under the lock hedgehog cubs, thus forcing their mother to search them, to bring to the cage and use the grass, which was thereafter taken from her mouth and encrusted in a cut in his right palm.

Returning to Pintea's treasure, made up of dish, cheese vessels, gold coins barrels, it would have been hidden in a cave in the place  called La Scaune, in Gutâi. The outlaws would have dug the cave in the steep slope, then covered the place with slabs and boulders, setting fire to the fir forest at the end, in order to erase all their traces.

The hidden Cellar of Pintea would open every seven years, on the night of the Resurrection, at 12 o'clock at night, sitting open for a single hour. That's how some unlucky people who sought her out would have died...

Pintea’s betrayer from Glod

In the mountains here, Pintea killed a traitor nicknamed "Judas". The traitor would have agreed with the soldiers to hand over Pintea, on whose head the emperor had placed a bounty. Finding out about the betrayal, Pintea pursued the Glod native and cut off his head with his sword, then buried him in the forest between the borders of Glod and Văleni, in the place so-called "La Zneamăn". His tomb can still be seen today and whoever passes by throws a piece of wood or a stone, saying: "Here is buried the Glod native who betrayed Pintea the Brave." The place is located on the side of the road between Secătura Văleniului and Glod and is marked with a simple concrete cross.

This kind of tomb, practically a tumulus, appears throughout Eurasia since the Bronze Age, being frequently in Scotland (where it is called "cairn"), Scandinavia, Corsica, Portugal or Croatia (called "gromila"), the custom of laying  stones on the tomb being preserved in Jewish culture to this day.

Flight on the stone slab to Ieud

A legend says that the outlaw Pintea the Brave met the Ieud townsfolk on Mount Gutâi, while they were struggling to pull down the woods of the future Ieud-Vale church (located  about 30 km away in a straight line).

Pintea, knowing the sorcerering techniques, would place them all, together with the woods for the church, on a large slab, and with the help of the enchanted knife, would take them up to Ieud. It is said that said slab is still found at the entrance to the church in the Valley, serving as a step.

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