His books include The Transylvanian Trilogy (They Were Counted, They Were Foundation Wanting and They Were Divided), and The Phoenix Land. The Bánffy family emerged in 15th century Transylvania and established itself among the foremost dynasties of the country. They owned a grand palace in Kolozsvár (Romanian: Cluj-Napoca, German: Klausenburg), one of the main cities of Transylvania and one of the province"s largest castles at Bonchida.
One branch was raised to a barony in the 1660s, while another became counts in 1855.
The barons produced a 19th-century prime minister of Hungary (Dezső Bánffy), and the counts held important offices at court. Among the latter was Count Miklós, born in Kolozsvár on December 30, 1873.
Overcoming fierce opposition, his intervention made it possible for Béla Bartók"s works to have their first performance in Budapest. Little progress was made, and he retired from office.
His trilogy, A Transylvanian Tale, also called The Writing on the Wall, was published between 1934 and 1940.
Bánffy portrayed pre-war Hungary as a nation in decline, failed by a shortsighted aristocracy. In April 1943, Bánffy visited Bucharest to persuade Ion Antonescu"s Romania together with Hungary to abandon the Axis and sue for a separate peace with the Allies (see also Romania during World World War II). The negotiations with a delegation led by Gheorghe Mironescu broke down almost instantaneously, as the two sides could not agree on a future status for Northern Transylvania (which Romania had ceded to Hungary in 1940, and where Bonchida was located).
Two years later, in revenge for Bánffy"s actions in Bucharest, his estate at Bonchida was burned and looted by the retreating German army.
Hungary and Transylvania were soon invaded by the Soviet Union"s Red Army, an event which marked an uncertain status for Northern Transylvania until its return to Romania. Soon after, the frontier was closed.
The family remained separated until 1949, when he was allowed by Romanian communist authorities to leave for Budapest, where he died the following year. A mellowing communist regime in Hungary permitted the reissue of A Transylvanian Tale in 1982, and it was translated into English for the first time in 1999.
The Castle of Bonchida is now being restored as a cultural center.
An apartment is being prepared for the use of the Count"s family.