Formation Of The Rumanian Nation

About the fifth century B.C., when the population of the Balkan-Carpathian

region consisted of various tribes belonging to the Indo-European family,

the northern portion of the Balkan peninsula was conquered by the

Thracians and the Illyrians. The Thracians spread north and south, and a

branch of their race, the Dacians, crossed the Danube. The latter

established themselves on both sides of the Carpathian ranges, in the

region which now comprises the provinces of Oltenia (Rumania), and Banat

and Transylvania (Hungary). The Dacian Empire expanded till its boundaries

touched upon those of the Roman Empire. The Roman province of Moesia

(between the Danube and the Balkans) fell before its armies, and the

campaign that ensued was so successful that the Dacians were able to

compel Rome to an alliance.

Two expeditions undertaken against Dacia by the Emperor Trajan (98-117)

released Rome from these ignominious obligations, and brought Dacia under

Roman rule (A.D. 106). Before his second expedition Trajan erected a stone

bridge over the Danube, the remains of which can still be seen at

Turnu-Severin, a short distance below the point where the Danube enters

Rumanian territory. Trajan celebrated his victory by erecting at Adam

Klissi (in the province of Dobrogea) the recently discovered Tropaeum

Traiani, and in Rome the celebrated 'Trajan's Column', depicting in

marble reliefs various episodes of the Dacian wars.

The new Roman province was limited to the regions originally inhabited by

the Dacians, and a strong garrison, estimated by historians at 25,000 men,

was left to guard it. Numerous colonists from all parts of the Roman

Empire were brought here as settlers, and what remained of the Dacian

population completely amalgamated with them. The new province quickly

developed under the impulse of Roman civilization, of which numerous

inscriptions and other archaeological remains are evidence. It became one

of the most flourishing dependencies of the Roman Empire, and was spoken

of as Dacia Felix.

About a century and a half later hordes of barbarian invaders, coming from

the north and east, swept over the country. Under the strain of those

incursions the Roman legions withdrew by degrees into Moesia, and in A.D.

271 Dacia was finally evacuated. But the colonists remained, retiring into

the Carpathians, where they lived forgotten of history.

The most powerful of these invaders were the Goths (271-375), who, coming

from the shores of the Baltic, had shortly before settled north of the

Black Sea. Unaccustomed to mountain life, they did not penetrate beyond

the plains between the Carpathians and the Dnjester. They had consequently

but little intercourse with the Daco-Roman population, and the total

absence in the Rumanian language and in Rumanian place-names of words of

Gothic origin indicates that their stay had no influence upon country or

population. Material evidence of their occupation is afforded, however, by

a number of articles made of gold found in 1837 at Petroasa (Moldavia),

and now in the National Museum at Bucarest.

After the Goths came the Huns (375-453), under Attila, the Avars

(566-799), both of Mongolian race, and the Gepidae (453-566), of Gothic

race--all savage, bloodthirsty raiders, passing and repassing over the

Rumanian regions, pillaging and burning everywhere. To avoid destruction

the Daco-Roman population withdrew more and more into the inaccessible

wooded regions of the mountains, and as a result were in no wise

influenced by contact with the invaders.

But with the coming of the Slavs, who settled in the Balkan peninsula

about the beginning of the seventh century, certain fundamental changes

took place in the ethnical conditions prevailing on the Danube. The

Rumanians were separated from the Romans, following the occupation by the

Slavs of the Roman provinces between the Adriatic and the Black Sea. Such

part of the population as was not annihilated during the raids of the

Avars was taken into captivity, or compelled to retire southwards towards

modern Macedonia and northwards towards the Dacian regions.

Parts of the Rumanian country became dependent upon the new state founded

between the Balkans and the Danube in 679 by the Bulgarians, a people of

Turanian origin, who formerly inhabited the regions north of the Black Sea

between the Volga and the mouth of the Danube.

After the conversion of the Bulgarians to Christianity (864) the Slovenian

language was introduced into their Church, and afterwards also into the

Church of the already politically dependent Rumanian provinces.[1] This

finally severed the Daco-Rumanians from the Latin world. The former

remained for a long time under Slav influence, the extent of which is

shown by the large number of words of Slav origin contained in the

Rumanian language, especially in geographical and agricultural


[Footnote 1: The Rumanians north and south of the Danube embraced the

Christian faith after its introduction into the Roman Empire by

Constantine the Great (325), with Latin as religious language and their

church organization under the rule of Rome. A Christian basilica, dating

from that period, has been discovered by the Rumanian; archaeologist,

Tocilescu, at Adam Klissi (Dobrogea).]

The coming of the Hungarians (a people of Mongolian race) about the end of

the ninth century put an end to the Bulgarian domination in Dacia. While a

few of the existing Rumanian duchies were subdued by Stephen the Saint,

the first King of Hungary (995-1038), the 'land of the Vlakhs' (Terra

Blacorum), in the south-eastern part of Transylvania, enjoyed under the

Hungarian kings a certain degree of national autonomy. The Hungarian

chronicles speak of the Vlakhs as 'former colonists of the Romans'. The

ethnological influence of the Hungarians upon the Rumanian population has

been practically nil. They found the Rumanian nation firmly established,

race and language, and the latter remained pure of Magyarisms, even in

Transylvania. Indeed, it is easy to prove--and it is only what might be

expected, seeing that the Rumanians had attained a higher state of

civilization than the Hungarian invaders--that the Hungarians were largely

influenced by the Daco-Romans. They adopted Latin as their official

language, they copied many of the institutions and customs of the

Rumanians, and recruited a large number of their nobles from among the

Rumanian nobility, which was already established on a feudal basis when

the Hungarians arrived.

A great number of the Rumanian nobles and freemen were, however, inimical

to the new masters, and migrated to the regions across the mountains. This

the Hungarians used as a pretext for bringing parts of Rumania under their

domination, and they were only prevented from further extending it by the

coming of the Tartars (1241), the last people of Mongolian origin to harry

these regions. The Hungarians maintained themselves, however, in the parts

which they had already occupied, until the latter were united into the

principality of the 'Rumanian land'.

To sum up: 'The Rumanians are living to-day where fifteen centuries ago

their ancestors were living. The possession of the regions on the Lower

Danube passed from one nation to another, but none endangered the Rumanian

nation as a national entity. "The water passes, the stones remain"; the

hordes of the migration period, detached from their native soil,

disappeared as mist before the sun. But the Roman element bent their heads

while the storm passed over them, clinging to the old places until the

advent of happier days, when they were able to stand up and stretch their


[Footnote 1: Traugott Tamm, Ueber den Ursprung der Rumaenen,, Bonn, 1891.]