Skip to main content


Székely (sā´kəlē), ethnic group of Transylvania and of present-day Romania. Except in a few isolated communities, where the ancient customs of the Székely have survived, there is little difference between Székely and Magyars. The Székely (also known as Szeklers or Siculi) came into Transylvania either with or before the Magyars. Their organization was of the Turkic type, and they are probably of Turkic (possibly Avar) stock. By the 11th cent., however, they had adopted Magyar speech. They later formed one of three privileged nations of Transylvania (the others were the Magyars and the Saxons). With their own military and civil organization, they enjoyed autonomy under the Hungarian crown and were, without exception, regarded as of noble birth; they were exempt from taxation. In the 16th cent. the majority of the Székely accepted Calvinism as their religion, while some became Unitarians or remained Roman Catholics. Their privileges declined in the 18th cent. under the rule of Maria Theresa and Joseph II. The Austrian attempt to impress the Székely into service as a border militia met with widespread resistance. In 1763 a large number of Székely who sought to escape the Austrian recruiting agents were massacred at Madefalva. Many subsequently emigrated to Bukovina and Moldavia. The last remnants of Székely autonomy were suppressed by Austria after the Revolution of 1848. In post-cold-war Romania, where the Székely form roughly a third of the ethnic Hungarian population, members of the group have been among the most vocal Hungarians seeking an autonomous Hungarian region in Transylvania.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Székely." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . 24 Apr. 2019 <>.

"Székely." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . (April 24, 2019).

"Székely." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved April 24, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.