Starchiojd - geographic and historical landmarks

    Starchiojd Village (Comuna Starchiojd) is located on the North-East of Prahova County, at the lower ends of the Middle Carpathian Mountains. It's about 50 km far from Ploiesti and 20 km far from Valenii de Munte. Its altitude is about 500 m inside a kind of natural fortress, that is made by 5 valleys: Chiojd, Brădet, Benia, Valea Anei şi Rotarea and having flowing waters such as: the backwater of Brădetului, the backwater of Gîrbeasca that has its spring in the Plesi Mountains (also called Roanda), the two uniting at the entrance of Valea Anei with Bătrâneanca (also called Stimnic), which flows into Bâsca creek, which is a tributary river for Buzău river.

    At the northern border flows the river Teleajen. The etymology of the word "Starchiojd". The first part of the word ("star") has its roots in the Slavic language and it means "old", and the second part ("chiojd"), has its roots in the hungarian language and it means "rocky" (Florescu-Pantece, 1992).

    So, the name of the settlement could mean "old rocky place". This interpretation is indirectly backed by local names, that contains the word "piatra" ("rock") Piatra Lerei, Pietriceaua, Piatra Bogzei, Piatra Rotarii, all of these "pietre vechi" ("old rocks") being steadfast landmarks for the locals.

    Another meaning for the word "chiojd", less likely, was proposed by Constantin Rapeanu, starting from the latin word "quies" = "liniste" ("silence"). Another recent etymologyc opinion was set by the priest Constantin Zbarcea: "chiojd" could have its origins in the celtic language, having the meaning "hard rock". The five villages that are composing Starchiojd are: Chiojd (also called Chiojdul Mare or Chiojdul Batran), Bradet, Gresia, Valea Anei and Rotarea, but also the small village of Zmeurat (or Smeurat, in ancient writings).

    In the past, Starchiojd contained also the small villages that are now part of Batrani. Besides, the Inn building from Batrani, preserved at The Museum of Traditional Civilisation Astra from Sibiu, is registred as a monument of rural architecture from Starchiojd. Taking into consideration the historics opinion, backed by archeology discoveries, Starchiojd is the center of an ancient microstate, the type of "countries" from the begining of the Romanian Middle Ages, but probably dating back before the Christian era (the remainings of an Dacian fortress were found near Rotarea village, that is a part of Starchiojd).

    The oldest attestation of Starchiojd dates back from 1418, when the name "Starchiojd" is found in an old royal charter, in which Mihail !, the son of Mircea cel Batran (Michael the Old), reinforces the locals the rights of proprietarship over Chiojdul lands.(Florescu Pantece, 1992). Typological, the settlement is registered in "villages popular confederations", being another "Campulung" of Muntenia, as Iorga had said (Ripeanu, Simache, 1968, p.5 si urm.), this expression was afterwards used by other authors as well (for example, Nicolae Pascu, in Scoartele Chiojdului, 1971).

    Chiojdul Mic on the Basca Buzaului is founded by the people of Starchiojd, it can be considered their "colony". The boundaries between Starchiojd and Chiojd are nowdays the same as were in 1562 (FlorescuPantece, 1992:13). By its natural position, that of an Carpathian settlement, Starchiojd gained a military importance, being a "borderly" village, at the gates Transilvania.

    Besides, until 1845 was part of the Saac County, an teritorial-administrative unit certified since 1645. In the days of Brancoveanu, Saac county had 2 "Flags" (garrisons), one at Valenii de Munte and the other one at Starchiojd (Florescu-Pantece, 1992:24). When its disestablishment happened in the 19th century, the lands of Saac county were divided between Prahova county and Buzau county, Plaiul Teleajenului was returned to Prahova. So, starting with 1845, after Gheorghe Bibescu's administrative reform, Starchiojd has become a part of Prahova. (FlorescuPantece, 1992:27).

    The footpath to Transilvania, by Vama Buzaului (Buzau border), was through Calugarii/ Calugaru Mountain(Dionisie Fotino, 1859 apud Florescu-Pantece, 1992:24). Another information regarding the border status is the certificate, from the late 19th century, on the transcarpathian road that binds Tara Romaneasca and the hungarian kingdom, Tabla Butii stronghold, close to Starchiojd, where the hungarian border was assembled.

    This border lasted until the 17th century, when the stronghold was abandoned. ( In the 18th century, Alexandru Ipsilanti founded the "vatasia de plai" to better administrate the problems that were appearing on the borders of Tara Romaneasca. The institution strenghtens a profession - "vataf/ vatas/ capitan de plai" - that existed also a century earlier. Here are the attributions of the "vatafilor de plai": "they guard the entrances of the pathways for the Carpathians mountains; they keep a close eye on thiefs; so that noone will cross these roads to Ardeal or Hungary; they guard that the borders are not trespassed by neighbours; they classify and collect the taxes in the village; they judge, decide, punish and arrest".

    Another duty was to bring eagles for the king, for hunting; the giving was called "asprii de soimi" and was collected annualy, at the begining of may. Likewise, plaiesii had to create wodden objects: spears and shingle. Also the "plaiesii cei harnici", chow they were called in 1803, in a document issued Constantin Ipsilanti were forced to serve, when needed, in the king's army (Florescu-Pantece, 1992:25).

    In the same time, vataful de plai, "the leading pikeman" of those days, had lots of priviledges: one day per year he could take taxes for himself from each villager; he could take, from each herd that came from the country, a lamb from that spring; he was free from paying taxes. But he had to pay also to his superior. The captaincies are abolished in 1831, once the Organic Regulation was created.

    The "vatas" was replaced by a person who received a fixed salary from te state, without priviledges (Florescu-Pantece, 1992:26). In 1865, Starchiojd has its role of "border village" (Florescu Pantece, 1992:28). Some data about "mosneni" and their land Starchiojd is a "genealogic village", based on descent. The papers that describer this "Foaiea lui Popa Dumitru" (1750) and "Actul judecatorului Soimescu" (1854). In the 18th century terminology, the landowners are called "ceata boiereasca" or "boierii vechi de casa", while those who bought land later on are called "boieri de neam" (Florescu Pantece, 1992:18).

    "Boierii de casa" are the descendants of the founders, the old men Starchiojdean, Petresc si Miercanesc. Other "boieri de casa" are Tanasescu, Vladulescu, Cocea, Rambei, Stoican, Frigea, Voicilas, Girbea, Tihulescu and others in papers they are also called "razesi" or "megiesi".

    Like in many romanian villages, besides the "mosneni", the "ungureni" settled , them being either shepherds or transilvaniens that were running away from enrolling in the austrian millatary service. Some of them were hiding in these parts of the mountains because of reliious reasons, unwilling to convert to the unified church (greek-catholic). In Valea Anei were established, at the begining of the 19th century, 16 ungureni families (Dionisie Fotino, 1859 apud Florescu-Pantece, 1992:32). Some families, such as Pantece, Stanciu si Buruiana were coming from Tarlungeni and Sacele, Brasov (Florescu-Pantece, 1992:33).

    There were also some gipsy slaves, Drezaliu family being one of those. They were used on the rich people estates on all kind of labors, but they were also good blacksmiths, farriers and musicians. In 1891, the settlement has 2943 souls, and in 1924 - 4725 (Florescu-Pantece, 1992:31). In the interwar period, the population number increased significally, so that, in the last years, to decrease dramatically, especially because of financial reasons: so, comparing to the 2002 census, when 4544 people were registered, the 2011 census had only 3770 people.

    In Starchiojd, the oldest type of propriety is the condominium property, te villagers having the "strings" for land, hay fields, forests and arable fields. The measuring unit was, until the begining of the 20th century, "banisorul" (the equivalent of 2 ha and 454 square meters in 1939).

    The lands were measured with the "prajina" (in Muntenia, one "prajina" had 5,899 m in 1800) (Rapeanu, Simache, 1968:31). Ingeriting the lands was allowed only if the person remained in the village: by tradition, those who did not live in the village were loosing their rights of proprietorship (decree of Matei Basarab in june 1639, apud Florescu-Pantece, 1992:17).

    The married women were keeping the lands, the cattle and those who were not married, were living with their brothers with the property undivided but they could inherit them. (private act from 17 may 1689, signed as witness by "diacu Eftemie ot Starchiojd", apud Florescu-Pantece, 1992:17).

    Also, it applies the right of pre-emption for the villagers when selling their lands: parts of a villager's lands could be sold to a foreigner only with the prior agreement of the community. If the selling process was finished and the community was not pleased with that action, they could have canceled the contract, take back the land and give back the money to the buyer.(Florescu-Pantece, 1992:17).

    Initially, all the villagers were on the same financial stage, but, in time, a differs-a creat o differention appeared: some of them got wealthier, some got poorer, they sold the lands to the richer and started working for them. "Clacasii" are first mentioned in a writing from 19 may 1844.

    Cuza's Rural Law from 1864 gave proprietorship rights for the lands the people were working on taking into consideration the number of cattle each person had, in exchange for a sum of money that could have been paid in a 15 year interval with the obligation of not selling the received land for 30 years, with the exception of selling it to the village. (Florescu-Pantece, 1992:33).

    The most famous "boier de neam" in the local history is from the Macovei family, that quickly ends up having the biggest wealth and propriety in the area. (Florescu-Pantece, 1992, p.17 si urm.)
    Lands in Starchiojd were owned also by the Banu monastery from Buzau, but they sold them to Dumitru Macovei (Florescu-Pantece 1992:18). Among "boierii de neam" that appeared afterwards in the papers that regarded Starchiojd we can find Leonte Chesca, Costache Sibiceanu, V. Bossy s.a.

    Also, Dimitrie Ghica and his son, Grigore D. Ghica, future king of Tara Romaneasca (1822-1828), owned land pamant in Starchiojd. Three persons told us, in 2013 (Olimpia Girbea, Maria Bejgu, Mariana Preda) about the work performed for nobleman Dumitru Leonte, in the interwar period.

    "When picking plums, there were lots of girls, like now, and we were going to pick plums, and there was a nobleman Leonte. Hi stretched a cotton tablecloth on the ground, and people were lying down on each side and eating, and afterwards, when he was leaving, he always took 2-3 girls by the neck and started signing until he entered the village.
    There used to be traditions, now there are not so many left, it was beautiful. The nobleman had ovens to dry the plums and people that were behind us and if a plum was not picked: "Look here, you made an egg! Take that egg out of there!". Now there are no more noblemans, they came, sold the lands, some of them tok on lease." (Olimpia Girbea).

    The right to exclusive dairy processing, creates a monopoly and it's a way to get rich fast (Florescu-Pantece, 1992:20), felt as unfair by the descendants of the devalmasi villagers. An effect, in a folcloric plan, of this situation is the song about "Gheorghelas", an outlaw from Buzau, who opposed to nobleman Macovei (Florescu-Pantece, 1992:20).

    With the new agrar law from 1921, after the First World War (Florescu-Pantece, 1992:34), 41 Starchiojd villagers received lands in Hagieni village within Ialomita county, and other 40 villagers received lands in Florica village, com. Mihailesti, Buzau county (Florescu-Pantece, 1992:35). In the InterWas period, "mosnenii" fight in Court for their lands against forestry companies "Drajna" and "Cheile Buzaului" (Florescu-Pantece, 1992:22). In 1948, Lucretiu Patrascanu reinstates the descendants of "cetei boieresti", proving that the forestry company "Cheile Buzaului" made some illegalities to obtain some prorpreties.

    Starting with the third decade of the 20th century, the last Macovei sells his land owned locally, and the "mosneni" manage to recover a part of the estate, buying with borrowed money from the popular bank "Unirea taranilor" from Starchiojd and/or from Iancu Panaitescu, shareholder at Banca Comertului from Valenii de Munte (Florescu-Pantece, 1992:22). In the opinion of the historians, "The dispossession of Starchiojd peasants from their ancestral properties that Mihail I strengthen their mastery at July 10, 1418 occurred rapidly and mass. The process is characteristic of the agrarian property evolution in Romania.

    The Starchiojd case is a typical one and it continued up until our time. Deprived of pastures and forests, the village hardly evolved, the number of villagers slowly increased, and life was hard for them. Most of them found work to do in the mountains, as woodcutters and cattle breeders. There were many people that took part in the farm work in Baragan from Spring to Autumn." (Rapeanu, Simache, 1968:22).
    As Marina Preda told us in 2013, "rotarenii" did not have houses outside of the village, they were workers on nobleman Leonte's land, as so the "valenarii" (the villagers from Valea Anei).

    In 1962, C.A.P. was founded at Starchiojd (v. cap. Agricultura) and people (other than three landowners from Bradet, who did not joi the "colectiv") started working their land for the state, receiving "from three one" (Olimpia Girbea, Elena Patarlageanu). Gheorghe Bejgu from Rotarea thinks that, if it wasn't for the C.A.P., the village would have developed better, because then people, not having their own land, went to the cities to work in industry.