The mostly Protestant, Calvinist Haiduk Towns benefited from special privileges in the 18th and 19th century. They elected the Captain General on their own, who was the head of the Haiduk District, which functioned as a medium-level administrative unit. The towns could similarly elect their own governing bodies. Implied in the special privileges, independent administration, levying and jurisdiction were granted to them. Until 1790 the superior authority was the Chamber, later the Council of Lieutenancy. All these raised the Haiduk Towns above the neighbouring peasant villages and market towns which explains, as well, the wave of migration, accelerating mainly from the middle of the 19th century. At the same time it triggered the acceleration of social stratification and the increase of inner tensions evolved between proprietors of Haiduk estates and those not possessing them. In the first showcase of the room material remains connected to this period are displayed. A remarkable item is the headsman’s broadsword as the “ius gladium” (right of the capital punishment) meant the most prominent stage of the independent legislation according to the feudal juridical practices. Other items that should not be ignored are the pulpit ornament from the reformed church and the tower-flag made in 1793 representing the Protestantism of the Haiduk Towns.
An emblematic politician of the age in the Haiduk Towns was Mihály Oláh Nánási (1760-1838) Captain General of Haiduk District, who, by his Protestant education, knowledge about the local and national politics, functioned as a kind of mediator between the society of Haiduk Towns and the main tendencies of the contemporary politics. In the exhibition this attitude is undoubtedly reflected in the “empire” style parlour furniture. The same can be said about the following Captain General, Gábor Péli Nagy. The most difficult official task of both of these two leaders was the handling of the inner social tensions.
Schools of the Haiduk Towns belonged to the Reformed College of Debrecen, the latter functioning as a source of theoretical guidelines, teachers, books and curriculum. (material of the exhibition)
The transformation into a bourgeois society implied the abolishing of noble privileges of the Haiduk Towns, which brought about perplexity and confusion among the Haiduk. At the time of the Revolution’s transformation into War of Independence, however, they joined whole-heartedly the battles of the national self-defence. The most powerful military corps raised in Haiduk District was Bocskai Hussar Regiment no.17. The greatest part of its organisation is due to Gábor Sillye, deputy, later commissioner of Hajdúböszörmény. The Bocskai-Hussar uniform displayed in the exhibition is an authentic copy of the original one. Württemberg Hussars having fled home from Galicia (Central-Europe) under the command of Captain Lenkey had an important role in establishing the military core of the Hussar Regiment. The seal of one of the squadrons of the Württemberg Hussar Regiment was found in Hajdúböszörmény, and it is not by chance. Infantry Battalions nos. 52 and 53 were organized in Hajdúböszörmény. Home guards too participated in the defensive battles. One of the most beautiful and touching piece of the exhibition is the recruiting flag from 1849.
After the War of Independence had been broken down the autonomy of Haiduk District was eliminated, though, following the collapse of the Bach Regime the independence of the district was restored. For Captain General Gábor Sillye was appointed, the same person who had been Commissioner of the War of Independence in 1848-49. With the emergence of the middle class after the Compromise the necessity of the feudalistic administration was questioned. A long-lasting period of conflict was followed by a nation-wide restructuring of the administrative system which contained the establishing of Hajdú Comitat out of Haiduk District. However, it was not Hajdúböszörmény that became central town but Debrecen belonging to Bihar.