The Disputation of Pécs (Pécsi Disputa) by György Válaszúti is a unique segment of 16th-century antitrinitarian literature. Since pécs was occupied by the Ottoman empire, Christians had to live by strict rules. They had to live outside the city walls, and they could only use one church. The dispute is a chronicle of a religious debate between the reformed citizens of tolna and the antitrinitarian citizens of Pécs.
Although the literature has not reached a consensus yet, we can be quite sure that the debate had a religious and an economic background as well. As the mongers of Pécs had to use the road which led through Tolna to get to the fairs and markets, they had smaller debates on the road as well. since the two cities were competing, the people of tolna had to come up with new ideas and the banning of antitrinitarianism seemed like a good cause. They called the mongers of Pécs heretics and denied them all help.
The other reason was purely religious. György Válaszúti and his rather radical antitrinitarianism was not only unacceptable for the citizens of tolna, they also had to face the spreading of Válaszúti’s words in their own city. Válaszúti, originally from Transylvania, had all the resources – books, letters, ideas – coming from the motherland to keep him and his radical ideas up to date. Among the authors he mentions in his work, there is a theologian called Jacobus Palaeologus. The Greek heretic’s main idea was to unite all the Christian, Jewish and Muslim denominations. When he was persecuted by Rome, he found shelter in Transylvania.
When we are talking about the citizens of Pécs and their role in the dispute, we need to mention the Greek heretic as well. Válaszúti claims in the Disputation of Pécs that the citizens played a very important role during the events, not only in the beginning when we can read about the letters between the two cities, but later too, when they discussed religion. Válaszúti mentions several times that he needs to talk to the citizens who “give him the bread” before important decisions as well as to his opponent in the debate, Máté Skaricza. This important role of the citizens in the debate leads us back to Palaeologus, who thought that religion should come from the aristocrats, as in Transylvania, and the others can follow them.
Pécs was in a very different position at the time as occupied by the ottomans, they did not have aristocrats. There were only the leaders and the citizens. I will argue in the paper that Válaszúti took Palaeologus’s ideas and reformulated them to the situation of Pécs. Without the aristocrats, Válaszúti only had the citizens who could lead the people in the matter of religion, eventually playing an important role during the dispute.