[Table of Contents] [Previous] [Next] [HMK Home] THE ORIGINS OF THE RUMANIANS

Chapter IV

 

A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE THEORY OF CONTINUITY

 

A. A survey of opinions of Western scholars about the theory

 

1. Friedwagner, M., AÜber die Sprache und Heimat der Rumänen in ihrer Frühzeit@, in Zeitschrift für romanische Philologie, Halle, LIV, pp. 641B715:

Friedwagner stresses that the territory inhabited by the early Rumanians must have been unitary:

 

Im ganzen aber wird an der Vorstellung eines einheitlichen, zusammen- hängenden Lebensraumes bis zur Abwanderung des südlichen Zweiges schon aus zwingenden sprachlichen Gründen festgehalten werden müssen (pp. 713 B 714).

 

Regarding the main areas of early Rumanian:

 

Dass der Mittelpunkt des urrumänischen Volkes (centrul vieÛii române) einst im Donauraum und zwar südlich des Stromes lag, daran wird im allgemeinen von den Linguisten nicht mehr gezweifelt (p. 713).

...es ist illyrische Gegend, im Altertum Dardanien in sich begreifend, nach neuerer Bezeichnung das Land östlich von Montenegro: Alt- und Südserbien (in seinen früherer Grenzen) und Westbulgarien (p. 714).

About the possibility of development north of the lower Danube, Friedwagner writes:

 

Nördlich der Donau glaubt man wohl mit Recht an römische Reste im südöstlichen Banat; möglich dass solche auch im südwestlichen Gebirge Transylvaniens und im nördlichen Oltenien (Kleine Walachei) sich halten konnten. Ob das in der dortigen Sprache sich noch nachweisen lässt, wird sich zeigen (p. 715).

 

Friedwagner concludes with the statement that if the Rumanians really were able to persist in those areas, this would be a lesser miracle than their ability to keep their language as unitary as it is today in spite of the large area which they inhabited in ancient times (if one assumes areas north of the Danube):

 

...dass bei so grosser Ausbreitung des Volkes in der Frühzeit die sprachliche [...] Einheit möglich geworden ist (p. 715).

 

2. Popoviƒ, I., Geschichte der serbokroatischen Sprache, Wiesbaden, 1960:

Dass die Rumänen südlich der Donau gesessen haben, lässt sich kaum bestreiten@ (p. 62). ADie ersten sl. Elemente sind ins Rum. bereits in der ´urrumänischen´ Epoche eingedrungen, d.h. zur Zeit, als die rum. Sprache [...] noch eine geographisch-linguistische Einheit bildete (irgendwo auf dem Zentralbalkan) (p. 200).

 

However, Popoviƒ, after having stated that it is a priori not probable that all of the Latin-speaking inhabitants would have left Dacia Traiana in 271, concludes as follows:

 

Wenn wir im Endresultat die heute herrschende Annahme einer rumän. Urheimat sowohl nördl. als auch südl. der Donau vetreten, so beruht das eher auf einer allgemeinen Überzeugung als auf sicheren sprachlichen Tatsachen. Feste Sprachargumente müssen erst von der künftigen Forschung erbracht werden, da uns die bisherigen nicht genügen können (p. 63).

 

3. Stadtmüller, G., Grundfragen der europäischen Geschichte, München B Wien, 1965:

Stadtmüller considered that the Rumanian language developed mainly south of the Danube and that the Rumanians (Vlachs) started to migrate to their present day territoriers in the 12th century. About Transylvania, Stadtmüller remarked:

 

Für Siebenbürgen ist es wahrscheinlich, dass zuerst die Bulgaren dort sassen, danach kamen die Ungarn und später die Rumänen. Nach dem Sprachatlas von PuÕcariu und nach Untersuchungen von Ernst Gamillscheg und Günter Reichenkron muss man jedoch mit der Möglichkeit rechnen, dass geringe Reste der Provinzialromanen auch nach der römischen Räumung der Provinz Dacia Trajana (271) in Siebenbürgen überdauert haben und dann seit dem 12. Jahrhundert durch einen gewaltigen Zuzug von Rumänen aus dem Inneren des Balkan verstärkt worden sind. An diesem Zuzug kann nämlich nicht gezweifelt werden. Er ist von nichtrumänischen und rumänischen Gelehrten überzeugend aus urkundlichen und literarischen Quellen nachgewiesen worden (p. 91).

 

4. Lombard, A., Latinets öden i öster (The destinies of Latin in the East), Lund, 1967:

Lombard considered the absence of Old Germanic elements the most important argument against the possibility of development north of the Danube. However, Athe concordances between ancient times and the present are too striking and speak for a continuous existence of Latin north of the Danube, in ancient Dacia@ (p. 7). Also dialectology B the theory of core regions B has, according to Lombard, Agiven some support@ for the theory of continuity (p. 6). This author also stressed the significance of linguistics in solving historical and cultural problems. In the case of Rumanian, neither the chronicles, nor archaeology can give a reliable answer:

 

The archaeological remains, such as the big Tropeum Traiani in Dobrogea and the rich finds in Transylvanian cemeteries say little more [than the chronicles and the Latin inscriptions] in spite of the efforts of Pârvan and Daicoviciu to get them speak (p.3).

 

Lombard was of the opinion that if it is true that the Latin language survived north of the lower Danube then Aone must say that this is a unique case@. The conclusion of this treatise is that the Rumanian language probably was formed south and north of the lower Danube.

 

5. Bourciez, É., Éléments de linguistique romane, Paris, 1967.

Bourciez considers that the entire population of Dacia Traiana does not seem to have left the province: until the period of Justinian, the mid-sixth century, there were contacts between Dacia and the Empire, since Byzantine authors from the 6th century recorded the building or restauration of bridge-heads on the northern shore of the lower Danube.

 

Toutefois, c´est bien au sud de ce fleuve que doit avoir été, pendant quelques siècles, le siège principal des populations qui parlaient le latin d´Orient: elles étaient répendues en Moesie, en Dalmatie, et communiquaient largement avec l´Italie dont elles formaient le prolongement... (p. 135).

 

6. Tagliavini, C., Le origini delle lingue neolatine. Introduzione alla filologia romanza, Bologna, 1969.

Tagliavini emphasizes that the similiarities, especially the innovations shared by all four Rumanian dialects can only be explanied by a common, unitary area and that this must have been situated south of the Danube:

 

Philological arguments indicate that Ancient Rumanian developed on the southern shore of the Danube. To this conclusion leads us the study of facts such as the concordances with Albanian which cannot exclusively be ascribed to a common substratum but must have developed during a period of symbiosis; the Bulgarian character (and only to a lesser degree, Serbian) of the old Slavic elements of Rumanian (all the northern Slavic elements, for instance, Ruthenian, are more recent), the absence of Old Germanic elements, etc. (p.373).

Without denying the possibility of rests of Roman population north of the Danube, the majority of foreign linguists now consider that the territory of formation of the Rumanian language must have been approximately in historical Serbia (p. 374).

 

7. Vidos, B.E., Handbuch der romanischen Sprachwissenschaft, 1975.

After the enumeration of facts of language (the concordances with Albanian, the Bulgarian influence, the lack of Old Germanic elements), Vidos continues:

 

Auf Grund dieser sprachlichen und historischen Überlegungen nimmt man an, dass sich die romanische Bevölkerung nach der Räumung Daziens in das Gebiet südlich der Donau zurückgezogen hat, und dass das Rumänische hier auf dem Balkan entstanden ist. Da sich indes fast das ganze dakoromanische Sprachgebiet im Norden der Donau erstreckt, wird angenommen, dass die Rumänen im Lauf des Mittelalters von neuem aus der Balkanhalbinsel auf das linke Donauufer ausgewandert sind und das heutige Rumänien erneut kolonisiert haben.

After these statements, however, Vidos refers to the data revealed by the Rumanian Linguistic Atlas (cf. above, pp. 180B181), and concludes that these prove that

 

Die grosse Masse des Volkes, Bauern, Hirten, arme Leute, die noch heute den grössten Teil des rumänischen Volkes bilden, ist nicht auf das rechte Ufer der Donau ausgezogen.

 

8. Pei, M., The Story of Latin and the Romance Languages, 1976.

Presenting the problem of the origin of Rumanian (AThe Mystery of Rumanian@), pp. 137B143, Pei puts a number of questions and concludes that there is no sufficient evidence to give the answers. These questions Acontinue to plague Romance linguists and historians@ (p. 137).

 

9. Izzo, H., AOn the History of Romanian@, The Twelfth Lacus Forum 1985, edited by Mary C. Marino and L. A. Pérez, Lake Bluff, 1986, pp. 139B147.

The most likely scenario is, according to Izzo,

 

... that Romanian is the language of what remained, after the South Slavic invasions of the 6th and 7th centuries, of the once thoroughly Latinized population of the Balkan peninsula between the Danube and Greece, somewhere in the area corresponding to modern Serbia, Macedonia or Bulgaria (not too far from where Macedo-Romanian is now spoken). After living among Slavs for several centuries they would have migrated across the Danube into Romania after the nomads abandoned it, perhaps as late as the end of the 13th century. Although there is no proof that this last supposition is correct, it is at least plausible; and, unlike all the others, it accounts for precisely those facts which conflict with all the other hypotheses (pp. 144B 145).

 

 

B. Inconsistencies

 

The essential features of the theory of Daco-Roman continuity were presented above in chapter III. Here, a number of contradictions and inconsequencies will have to be pointed out.

 

(a) The notion ADaco-Roman@ is ambiguous

.

This is surprizing, because the term is the very base of the theory of continuity. The logical definition would be ARomanized (Latin-speaking) people, who, or whose ancestors, were once Dacians and lived north of the lower Danube@. However, reading the literature, it may be observed that this is not as simple, as Protase also clearly explained the real situation:

 

The notion of ADaco-Roman@ may be understood in several different ways. It has an ethnic, and at the same time, a chronological sense. If we say ´Daco-Roman settlement´ B in the case we do not know the ethnic composition of its inhabitants B we may think of four or even five possibilities: 1) settlement of local Dacians in the period and territory of Roman Dacia, 2) settlement of Roman colonists in Dacia, 3) settlement in which a mixed population lived, LOCAL DACIANS AND ROMAN COLONISTS, 4) settlement inhabited by Romanized Dacians, dated to the post-Aurelian period, 5) settlement of Romanized Dacians and Roman colonists from the same period.

The term ADaco-Roman@ is thus equivocal, if it is not qualified by some of the above specifications. We use it here because of its conciseness. Usually, by ADaco-Romans@ one denotes the population of the Romanized Dacians, mixed with the Roman colonists.

 

This ambiguity B because authors not always give the necessary specificationB causes in many cases uncertainty about what is really meant. ALSO THE EXPRESSION AAUTOCHTHONOUS POPULATION@ IS AMBIGUOUS: it is used to designate a Latin-speaking people, but also Dacians, free or living in Dacia Traiana. Vague and ambiguous terms are often used, such as ACarpatho-Danubian@ or ACarpatho-Balkanic@ space, AThraco-Illyrian@, AThraco-Dacian@, or AGeto-Dacian@, ADaco-Moesian@ language. In the historical circumstances in question, it is very unlikely that a uniform language would have existed in the entire eastern half of the Balkan peninsula, thus, even AThracian@ (as a single language) is questionable.

 

(b) The change of opinion about the territory of the Daco-Romans

Until the early 1970-s, it was maintained that the Daco-Romans lived in the territory of former Roman Dacia B after these years, practically entire present day Rumania is claimed by historians as the ancient homeland of the Rumanian people (cf. above, pp. 143B144). The change is not explained, no new discoveries were made to warrant it. A comparison of the two texts in IR Compendiu shows that only a few words were deleted, Adar acolo nu e vorba@ (but there is no question) is changed to its opposite AÕi acolo e vorba@ and in this way, the statement made in 1974 corresponds exactly to the opposite of what was said five years earlier. This refers to Istoria României. Compendiu, 1969 and 1974, but the change is seen also in other publications B also in the 1986 edition of Rosetti´s ILR, passages which in 1968 clearly stated what areas were not considered as the ancient areas of the Daco-Romans are omitted (cf. above, p. 143). At the same time, a number of archaeological studies started to be published which asserted Daco-Roman continuity also in Muntenia and in Moldavia.

 

(c) Did the Daco-Romans flee to the mountains?

 

According to IR 1960, the Daco-Romans left their settlements during the 5th to the 6th centuries because of repeated harassments and it is therefore Aeasy to understand why all the ancient placenames, in contrast to the areas south of the Danube, disappeared in the territories of the former province of Dacia Traiana.@ According to E. Condurachi & C. Daicoviciu (Romania, 1971, p. 182): AThe steady disappearance of Daco-Roman farming settlements in the period up to 600 A.D. was a natural consequence of the repeated harassments of a population which had become accustomed to a settled and peaceable life.@ IR Compendiu 1969 (p. 100) writes that the Daco-Romans were, after the 6th century AD, forced to flee to remote valleys and mountains, and that Athis is the only way to explain the oblivion of the old names of settlements and towns@. In the third edition (1974, p. 83), the situation is described differently:

 

After the emigration of the Slavs across the Danube, the relation of power north of the river changed in favour of the autochthonous Daco-Romans. These have left the mountainous and hilly regions, united themselves with the groups spread over the forest steppe and with a part of the Romance people who came here (cu o parte din romanicii veniÛi aici) because of the attacks of the Slavs on the southern shores of the Danube. Because of their higher numbers, superior biological and economic capacities, a more united social organization, the Daco-Romans have assimilated the Slavs.

 

Thus, an admigration of Romance elements from the south is admitted here. The flight to the mountains is not denied, but at the same time, Agroups spread over the forest steppe@ are assumed. This is the start of a new concept, that of denying the idea of the flight to the mountains explicitely. Several monographs dealing with archaeological materials claim now that the Daco-Romans never left their ancient dwelling places but lived together with the migratory peoples, for example with the Goths and with the Gepidae.

 

(d) Partiality

 

These changes of concept, without any material basis (for example, new discoveries) somehow reminds of the situation in earlier periods, when the study of the development of the Rumanian language and people was in the first place undertaken in order to prove the autochthoneity of the Rumanians in their present territories. I. Iordan wrote, for instance, (in connection with the study of the placenames), in 1952:

 

In our country, the Daco-Roman placenames were, considered from a historical viewpoint studied for a long time almost exclusively with the purpose of proving the persistence of the Romance element in Dacia after this province was abandoned by Aurelian. Since the realization of such an aim presupposes the existence of a large number of Latin toponyms, possibly pre-Roman, i.e. indigenous but borrowed and preserved by Trajan´s colonists and their descendants, the problem of continuity is complicated as regards toponyms by the Latin origin of a significant part of our geographic names. The difficulties are great B even for linguists and so much more for historians B particularly if these do not abandon the aim which is, because of circumstances, to a great extent purely political: if you consider the placenames as proof of national significance, you are inclined to find such evidence even where it does not exist. And I do not have in mind here only the peculiar or ludicrous etymologies of, for example, Slatina < stella latina, TârgoviÕte < Târgul Vestei, etc. from once upon a time.

 

 

 

 

C. History

 

1. THE ROMAN COLONIZATION OF DACIA TRAIANA

 

The approximate frontiers of the Roman domination north of the lower Danube (the frontiers of Dacia Traiana) are shown on maps No. 1 and 9. These maps were drawn according to the description of the frontiers of Dacia Traiana in IR Compendiu 1974, p. 45, and the map given by Protase (PCD 1966, p. 156). The accuracy of these maps is not very high; they are based on the Roman castra built for the defence of the province. It may be seen that not the entire territory of Dacia was occupied. The areas of what are present day MaramureÕ and CriÕana were never under Roman rule, and the plains of the Banat were not colonized. The area of Dacia Traiana corresponds to less than 40% of the territory of what is today Rumania.

After the conquest in 106 AD, the new province was populated by people coming from the whole Roman world (ex toto orbe Romano), probably from 20 provinces. Some years later, Dacia was divided into two parts: Dacia Superior and Dacia Inferior (corresponding roughly to what is today Transylvania and Oltenia, respectively). The northern part was later divided into Dacia Porolissensis in the north and Dacia Apulensis in the south.

The new province was a Roman outpost in barbaricum, and as such, subject to many attacks. There are several records describing the wars with the free Dacians (in 144, 156B158 AD, etc.). During the Marcomann wars (166B180 AD), Dacia Traiana and Moesia Inferior were ravaged by Germanic peoples and the Iazyges. Records about wars give an idea about the great damage caused to the population of the Empire. Thus, Dio Cassius, LXXI, 16, 2 (in Fontes I, p. 703) stated about the Iazyges:

 

The great power they still possessed, as well as the severe damages they have caused to the Romans were indicated by the fact that they returned one hundred thousand prisoners, after having sold many of them and many others died or suceeded to escape.

 

These peoples, as well as the free Dacians and the Carps, continued their attacks against the province during the 3rd century. Major incursions are recorded from the years 236, 245, and 254. However, new roads were still being built towards the mid-third century and in Sarmizegetusa, the bronze sculpture of Emperor Decius was erected. During the reign of Emperor Alexander Severus (222B235), Dacia received the AConcilium Provinciarium Daciarum trium@ with its seat in Sarmizegetusa, which at the same time received the title of Ametropolis@. The chief of this Concilium was a chief priest, the Asacerdos arae Augusti (nostri)@. Of those six priests who are named in the inscriptions, four are mentioned as

Map 9, showing the relation between the territory of Dacia Traiana and present day (1995) Rumania. The area occupied by the Roman Empire was less than 40% of the territory of Rumania. (See also the commentary to the question of the frontiers of Dacia Traiana, map No. 1, p. 14).

 

 

being Roman chevaliers. This is considered to indicate that, by that time, Dacia had the same status as the western provinces of the Empire. During the 3rd century, the number of Oriental elements in the population increased. Many non-Latin people, mostly from the Near East, had their own organizations, according to their nationality or religion.

During the reign of Gallienus (253B268), eastern Transylvania was abandoned. Archaeological finds from this period, attributed to the free Dacians, were discovered in several places, indicating that these migrated to the areas left by the Romans.

 

The question of the number of Dacians living in Dacia Traiana

 

Remains of dwelling places and cemeteries of the Dacian type, with earthenware showing Dacian traits, and dated to the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, were found in many places of the former province. But finds also show a serious discontinuity: for the two centuries preceding the Roman conquest, 235 settlements were verified. On the site of 87 of these, a settlement existed also during the Roman period, but only on one site (Slimnic, near Sibiu) has the direct continuation of the pre-Roman settlement been shown. Such a serious discontinuity on the village level is difficult to reconcile with the thought of a flourishing population living in masses in the Roman province. It has been explained by the policy of the Roman state to concentrate the small indigenous settlements in larger and more stable communities, as well as the desire to move these into open places, where they were easier to supervise.

There are no reliable methods to determine the approximative number of Dacians in the province. According to Strabo, the Dacians were in the period of Burebista able to raise 200.000 soldiers; later, about 40.000. IR Compendiu, 1974, (p. 59), asserts that in the time of Decebal, the Dacian population Amust have numbered about half a million people@. The number of prisoners taken by Trajan was estimated to 50.000 (Ioanes Lydus). But are these records reliable? If they are, did those 50.000 men represent the majority of the Dacian men, in other words, was Dacia really Adeprived of men@, as affirmed by Eutropius? There are no answers to questions like these.

In these circumstances, there is substantial room for speculation. Thus, the protagonists of the Transylvanian School, who were mainly interested in the Latin character of the Rumanian language, denied even the presence of Dacians in Roman Dacia. C. Daicoviciu believed in 1934 that there were not many Dacians left, but later he changed his mind: on the basis of settlements and cemeteries attributed to the Dacians that were discovered during the two decades after the war, he stated (in 1968): Awe have the right to reckon with a numerous provincial Dacian population@. Giurescu assumed that 3/4 of the original population remained in the province after the Roman conquest:

 

Even if we admit, which is impossible, that all warriors perished, [...] their wives and children remained (we refer to the words prunc, copil, and zestre, which are Dacian), thus, roughly THREE FOURTH OF THE INITIAL TOTAL POPULATION REMAINED.

 

The argument based on ADacian words@ cannot be accepted B there are no certainly Dacian words in the Rumanian language (cf. above, p. 55). The preservation of ancient geographical names does not tell us anything about the number of the Dacians and even less is the significance of certain scenes on the column of Trajan showing Dacians returning to their homes. It is kown that many Dacians were taken to Rome and to other parts of the Empire as slaves and many others were dispersed throughout the Empire as soldiers.

Quantitative data are extant about a) Dacian personal names on the inscriptions and b) Roman army units in Dacia formed by Dacians.

a) Along with more than 2000 Latin names, about 60 Dacian ones are known from the province, and another 37 from other parts of the Empire. The Dacians may have had less opportunity to make inscriptions than the Romans had, but the figure is in any case extremely low.

b) The number of army units in Dacia, formed by Dacians, was very low:

 

Regarding the Geto-Dacians, it is impossible not to take into account their quite small number in the Roman period (cf. the extremely small number of alae and cohortes formed by Dacians in the imperial Roman period, stated by Pârvan, Dacia, Cambridge, p. 190.)

 

One may conclude that there are no hard facts on which to base any estimation of the number of Dacians in their old places or anywhere in the province of Dacia Traiana. There is nothing to indicate that they would have been living there in large numbers, the contrary seems more probable.

A comparison with the Balkan provinces, which were under Roman rule for a much longer time than Dacia Traiana, is of interest. Religious syncretism was widely practised there, but the indigenous beliefs prevailed stubbornly. Thus, in Bulgaria, about 2000 reliefs of the Thracian equestrian god were found, indicating a widespread worship of this god, while in Dacia Traiana, no traces of the indigenous Dacian religion exist:

 

In many parts of the Empire, including Italia, Hispania,Gallia, Germania, Britannia, numerous indubitable proofs exist of the worship of indigenous gods having continued for a long time under varying forms and under their own original name, side by side of those from the Greco-Roman Pantheon, or even merging with these, while in Dacia Traiana not a single name of a Geto-Dacian god is known whose worship by the indigenous population continued. Here, everything is hidden under the forms of the Greco-Roman religious forms.

 

The question of Romanization

There are very few facts regarding the degree in which the Latin language was spread in Dacia Traiana. It may be assumed that many of those people who have been brought to the new province knew Latin, but the mother tongue of a large number of them B coming from 20 provinces B must have been other than Latin. In an article published in Apulum, VII, 1, 1968 (AThe Romanization of Dacia@, pp. 427B437), C. Daicoviciu stated:

 

The idea that the acceptance or the rejection of Romanization is, to a high degree, also a question of rather subjective judgment is not unfamiliar to us.

 

The short time span of the province (at most 169 years) has repeatedly been pointed out. According to I. Iordan, for example:

 

Dacia was not completely Romanized and, in addition, was dominated by the Romans for only 165 years, in which time only part of the autochthonous population could have learned the Latin language, namely those who had economic, administrative and other kinds of contacts with the representatives of the new conditions.

 

The arguments in favour of an intensive Romanization in Dacia put forward by C. Daicoviciu were presented above (chapter III, pp. 144B146). They are more or less valid, but they are only indications of the possibility of (a certain degree of) Romanization. There is nothing to prove that the majority of the population had Latin as their mother-tongue in the province; and this is the prerequisite of the creation of a Romance language. Moreover, when Hadrian was told not to leave the province, in the 120s, because there were Amany Roman citizens@ there, not even two decades had passed since the occupation of Dacia and under this short time there can be no question of any real Romanization. The Dalmatian miners lived in a limited area and also in a short time; after the Marcomann wars, in the 180s, these areas were largely abandoned. The record of Hadrian´s plans to give up the province witnesses against the belief that the Empire organized Dacia deliberately into a Asafe bastion of Romanity@, Aplanted in the midth of Barbaricum@. The scope of Rome with the occupation of this territory was rather different: it was partly military and partly economic; above all, it aimed at the exploitation of gold and salt.

Life in this remote outpost of the Roman Empire was quite different from that in the other Roman provinces:

 

In the inscriptions from Dacia, mostly acts of administrative and religious character are reflected, or the public and private manifestations of the army. It is only on rare occasions that the sincerity and the kind of speech of the ordinary citizen or of the slave permeate through them.

A presentation of the many different peoples who assembled after 106 AD in Dacia Traiana is given by D. Tudor (OraÕe, tîrguri Õi sate în Dacia roman|, 1968). The inscriptions do not offer a reliable basis for the estimation of the Roman element, because inscriptions were in the Roman Empire predominatly made in the Latin language and non-Roman people often used Latin or Latinized names. Moreover, a large part of the inscriptions in Dacia were made by the army, and these do not indicate a sedentary, Latin-speaking population. There are indications that the number of non-Romans was high all over the province and that these were in the majority in extensive areas. In eastern Transylvania, the Dacians are considered to have been in the majority and in the region of the gold-mines in the MunÛii Apuseni, the population consisted mainly of Illyrians, Greeks, and Oriental peoples.

On the basis of Latin inscriptions found IN THE RURAL AREAS, a numerous Latin-speaking population has been assumed there. Iudita Winkler gives the following figures: the number of villages in the entire province is estimated to 500 and the population of a typical village is assumed to have been varying between 50 and 200 inhabitants. In only 160 (32%) of these villages were inscriptions found, in a total number of 230 (about 8% of all inscriptions found in Dacia Traiana). This is a small proportion, although similar figures were reported from other provinces, for example from Moesia Superior. However, most of these inscriptions are of an official character, initiated obviously by the ruling Roman functionaries, priests and soldiers, who were not permanently living in the respective places but were strangers. Consequently, the inscriptions do not indicate a Latin-speaking population living in significant numbers in the rural areas of the province.

It is well-known that all over the Roman Empire, the centres of economic, political, and cultural life, AS WELL AS OF ROMANIZATION, were the towns. What was then the situation IN THE TOWNS OF DACIA? All towns had a mixed population, coming from many different areas of the Empire. Tudor stated about the capital, Sarmizegetusa: AThe Roman element of Italian origin was not numerous and consisted mainly of the representatives of the floating group of functionaries.@ Permanent inhabitants from Italy were very few in Dacia Traiana. The colonists from the Orient and from the other provinces were more or less Latinized or not Latinized at all. Thus, for example, at Sarmizegetusa, the inscriptions Atestify to numerous nationes of civilians and soldiers@. At Apulum, there were a large number of Augustales with non-Latin names, and all known names of the merchants there, in the largest town of the province, were of Oriental origin. A great variety of gods were found there; especially those imported from the Orient were numerous and these gods Amade a real assault with the aim of conquering the ´religious market´of the locality.@ At Ampelum and at Alburnus Maior, the majority of the population were Illyrians, Greeks and Oriental peoples. Out of 68 free citizens living there, who are named in 25 documents published in CIL (Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum), III, only 6 were with certainty and another 12 with some probability Roman citizens. As shown by these texts, Atheir knowledge of Latin was not among the best@. In Potaissa, the majority of the gods in the Pantheon were Roman Awhich is natural in view of the presence of the 5th Macedonian legio in this place.@ But even here, a variety of different peoples were living, in the first place, of Oriental origin. Also in Napoca, colonists came mainly from Asia Minor and organized themselves in different associations (Galatae consistentes municipio [Napoca], Collegium Asianorum, etc.). These people preserved their ethnic and cultural identity throughout the period of the province: AUntil the 3rd century inclusive, these [people] preserved the knowledge about their home country.@

 

A general conclusion about the towns of Roman Dacia was given by Protase:

 

In contrast to Italia and the western provinces, where some urban centres of the indigenous population continued to develop and became real Roman towns, in Dacia, the more important settlements, the town centres of the indigenous population ceased to exist with the Roman conquest. All the towns of Trajan´s province were created from civil and military settlements as a consequence of Roman colonisation, and only borrowed the names of the old Dacian settlements: Sarmizegetusa, Apulum, Potaissa, Napoca, Porolissum, Drobeta, Dierna, etc. In Dacia, there was no Daco-Roman urban development. The towns (with the exception of the Greek towns along the black Sea) appeared in Dacia with the Roman domination and disappeared as such after its abolishment ...

 

 

2. THE ABANDONMENT OF DACIA BY THE ROMANS

 

Eutropius recorded clearly that the Romans evacuated Dacia Traiana and created at the same time two other provinces south of the Danube with the names Dacia Ripensis and Dacia Mediterranea. The scarcity of data does not permit to decide how much of the population may have been left north of the Danube. The validity of Eutropius´ record has been questioned (cf. above, chapter III, p. 147). It does not make sense to speculate about this problem. The scepticism of Rumanian authors may be appreciated, records of ancient chroniclers must be rigorously scrutinized; in too many cases, a critical analysis of the texts shows superficial descriptions, exaggerations, errors, etc.

The question of a total or only partial evacuation is not as important as it may appear to be. In many other provinces, Latin-speaking people were left behind after the retreat of the Roman army and administration. In Noricum, for example, there are lists of names of Roman peasants living in their old areas after the abandonment of that province by Rome. In the new surroundings, outside the Roman Empire, these groups of people were not strong enough to resist gradual assimilation to the surrounding, mainly Germanic population. Even more striking is the case of Britannia: England was under Roman rule from 43-45 AD to 410, i.e., under 365 years. Roman life there is attested by a number of material remains, such as about 100 towns, baths, a very rich system of roads, etc. Most significant is the fact that a large number of Roman placenames were preserved in England to our days: from Latin castra, there are today English place names ending in Bcaster, Bcester, Bchester, (Manchester, Lancaster, etc); Latin vicus > English wick (Warwick); Latin colonia > English Bcoln (Lincoln). People who spoke Latin were most probably left in England in 410 AD, but, living outside the Empire, they eventually were assimilated to other populations; to the native people who continued to use their mother tongue during the Roman rule, and/or to the peoples which migrated there after the Roman retreat. The only thing we know certainly is that in spite of 365 years of Roman domination, abundant material remains of Roman style and customs, and even the preservation of dozens of Latin placenames, no Latin-speaking (Romance) population survived in England.

 

 

3. THE ´SILENCE OF HISTORIANS´

 

This is also one of the frequently mentioned arguments against the theory of continuity. However, the situation is in principle similar to the case of the records about the abandonment of Dacia Traiana by the Romans: the questionable reliability of ancient records and narratives. It is rightly pointed out (cf. above, p. 147B148) that the Byzantine and the western chroniclers did not give a systematic presentation of the circumstances in different territories and of different times, but occupied themselves mainly with events and conditions that have had some relevance for their own country. In other words, the silence of historians is only an argument ex silentio and cannot be decisive. Again, the question is which populations lived north of the lower Danube in the centuries after the Roman retreat? Is there any evidence of ADaco-Romans@?

As shown above, pp. 147B151, a number of arguments were put forward in favour of a positive answer to this question. Unfortunately, none of these stands up to a critical examination. (1): The theory about the AAusonian@ language is only speculation without any material basis. (2) For the discussion of the record about bishop Ulfila, see below. (3) The reports of some Christians who remained in Dacia, and about the Aearlier neighbours of the Goths@ do not contain anything to warrant the conclusion that a Romance population is meant. (4) The Carpo-Dacians were forced to return to their places. This could suggest Roman continuity if it had been the question of a Romance population, but this people never lived in the Empire and did not speak Latin. (5) Chilboudios, if he was a prisoner taken by the Slavs in the territory of the Empire, had learned the Latin language there. (6) The words Atorna, torna, frater@ are Romance B but they were uttered in present day Bulgaria, south of the Danube, and the story has therefore no relevance for Roman continuity north of the river. (7) The theory about the refugees who Ashow more affection for the enemy@ having been Romance elements, lacks any evidence. In this context it may be asked why the Byzantine author did not explicitly state that these refugees were Latin-speaking people living in barbaricum, if this had been the case?

Two of these arguments warrant a more extended discussion: the Latin language having been spoken in the Hunnish empire and the story of Ulfila, the Gothic bishop living in Muntenia in the 4th century.

(a) In the Hunnish Empire, several populations subdued by the Huns were living, of which the Sarmatians, the Goths and the Gepidae are well-documented. Ôtefan adds that Abeyond doubt, also Romance groups [lived there]@, however, these were not living in former Dacia BUT IN PANNONIA. There, evidence of a Latin-speaking population exists from the time immediately before the invasion of the Huns: Latin inscriptions were made until the end of the 4th century. Pannonia, however, was of a considerable distance from Dacia and these two provinces were divided from one another by the plains between the Danube and the Transylvanian Mountains (MunÛii Apuseni). These plains were never under the rule of the Roman Empire. The presence of a Latin-speaking population in Pannonia has therefore nothing to do with the ethnic situation in Dacia.

(b) The record on Bishop Ulfila is quoted in a truncated way (above, p. 150B151). The entire relevant text leads to a totally different conclusion.

Auxentius Durostorensis tells us that Ulfila was 30 years old when he became bishop over the Goths (in gente Gothorum de lectore triginta annorum episkopus est ordinatus), Ato lead and improve, to teach and to build in spirit the people of the Goths@ (ut regeret et corrigeret [et] docet et aedificaret gentem Gothorum), Aaccording to the Evangelical, apostolic, and prophetic directory, this saint, on the decision and order of Jesus Christ, led the people of the Goths@ (iste sanctus ipsius Cristi dispositione et ordinatione .. agentem ipsam gentem Gothorum secundum evangelicam et apostolicam et profeticam regulam emendavit...).

Ulfila preached among the Goths for seven years; then a persecution of Christians started and Ulfila was forced to settle, together with a part of his congregation, south of the Danube, in the Roman Empire: ALiving with his people in the territory of the Romans, he preached, besides those 7 years, another 33 years the truth...@ (Degens cum suo populo in solo Romaniae absque illis septem annis triginta et tribus annis veritatem predicavit...) (Fontes II, p. 112.)

To summarize: Ulfila preached for 7 years among the Goths (in a few sentences, Auxentius Durostorensis states three times: @gentem Gothorum@). Thereafter he was forced to settle in the Roman Empire where he preached for another 33 years of course, (also) in Latin. One may wonder why this Byzantine author did not mention a Latin-speaking population (if there had been such a population) among the believers of Ulfila, in view of the fact that he was so explicit regarding the Goths. Therefore, far from suggesting Romans living north of the lower Danube in the 4th century, the record of Auxentius Durostorensis rather makes this assumption more unlikely.

 

4. THE QUESTION OF CONTACTS ACROSS THE DANUBE

 

Commercial contacts and military operations in the 4thB6th centuries along the northern shores of the lower Danube and at some distance from the river towards the north are claimed to have strengthened the Roman population assumed to have been living in former Dacia Traiana (cf. above, pp. 151B153). An analysis of the situation shows, however, that no normal, everyday contacts could exist in that period between the populations south and north of the Danube. After 275 AD, the lower Danube became again the Roman limes, the frontier of the Empire against barbaricum. It was defended by a strong army and a fleet. The centuries to come were characterized by repeated incursions into the Empire of a number of barbarian peoples; Goths, Sarmatians, Huns, Avars, etc. The Roman Empire, and later, until about 600 AD, Byzantium, defended their own people and territories against them with varying success.

The communications across the Roman limes were described by Jire…ek as follows:

 

An der Reichsgrenze war der Verkehr an der Donau, ebensogut wie an der persischen Grenze oder am Rande der Wüsten von Afrika strenge überwacht, nur an bestimmten Tagen und Orten unter militärischer Aufsicht gestattet. Die Ausfuhr von Waffen, Eisen, Gold, Getreide und Salz war überhaupt verboten.

Historical records, corroborated by archaeological finds, tell us about fortifying of the camps and the towns along the lower Danube, the establishing of bridge-heads and a number of castra on the northern shore of the river, military raids towards the north, as well as occupation of certain areas for periods of different lengths. The largest of these occupations was achieved by Constantine the Great: the territory probably up to the AFurrow of Novac@ (Brazda lui Novac) was under Byzantine rule for about 40 years.

The fortresses on the northern shore of the Danube were the outposts of the Empire in barbaricum with the strict military purpose of DEFENSE. It appears clearly from the record of Procopios that during all this time, Byzantium made great efforts to defend its own territories against the invading barbarians and there was no question of an expansion northward.

Procopios from Caesarea was born around 500 AD. He described, partly as an eye-witness, the wars waged by the Romans against the Persians, the Vandals, the Goths, etc. His work About constructions (Peri ktismatwn) was written in the years 553B555, from which we quote:

 

IV, 3. Particularly in Europe [i.e., the Balkan peninsula], seeking to give help according to need, he [Emperor Justinian] realized works of which we have difficulties speaking and which also in writing can only be explained with difficulty. These [the works] were made taking into account the vicinity of the river Istros and the barbarians who threatened our country. 5. Hunnish and Gothic peoples have settled in its vicinity and the Tauric and Scythian peoples, as well as Slavs [...] and other kinds of wild men are roaming there with their herds or are living there. 6. Determined to resist those who incessantly sought reasons for war, and not doing anything half way, Emperor Justinian was forced to raise innumerable fortifications, to place very many sentries, and do everything which could set a barrier for cruel and wild enemies.

IV, 14. Because he has fortified with walls the entire Europa [i.e., the Balkan peninsula] made it impossible for the barbarians who live beyond the river Istros to defy it.

33. Because the Emperor wanted to make of the Istros our most powerful defence of the entire Europe, he covered the shore of the river with dense fortifications, as we will show below, and has placed sentries all over the shores, with the aim powerfully to check the passing of the barbarians from those areas. 34. Not having relied on deceptive human hope, and considering that if the enemies succeed in trespassing the river in some way or other, they will invade the fields lacking defense, they will take as slaves all the young people and will destroy all the wealth, the Emperor was not satisfied with giving [his people] a collective security by the fortifications on the shores of the river but gave them also a special local one. 35. He made such dense fortifications in villages that every estate had its own fortification or was in the vicinity of a fortified place.

IV, 5, 1. In this way, Emperor Justinian fortified all the territory in the interior of Illyria. Now, I shall show how he fortified the shore of the Istros, which is also called Danubios, with fortifications and garrisons of soldiers. 2. Aiming to check the trespassing of the Danube by the barbarians, previous Roman emperors covered the entire shore of this river with fortifications, not only on its right [southern] shore, but have built also on the opposite side small, fortified towns and towers. [. ..] 8. In this way, he entirely restituted to the Roman Empire the security which it had lost.

IV, 6, 18. Emperor Justinian has re-built Pontes, which is situated on the right side of the river and impossible to conquer, and in this way he made the Illyrians secure. [Writing about two fortifications situated on the southern and the northern shore of the Danube]: 35. Emperor Justinian has restored these posts, which were demolished in the course of time, and in this way, he stopped the invasions of the barbarians there.

IV, 11, 20. He [Emperor Justinian] has raised innumerable fortifications in Thracia, and thanks to these Thracia, earlier exposed to the invasions of the enemy, has now given protection.

 

It appears clearly from the passages quoted above that between the end of the 3rd century and about the year 600, the Roman and the Byzantine empires had great difficulties in defending their own population from unceasing attacks from the north. Large parts of the Balkan peninsula were fortified; during certain periods, particularly under Constantine the Great in the early 4th, and Emperor Justinian in the 6th century, defense was more successful. In other times, many towns and smaller or larger areas in the Balkans were devastated. There cannot have been any attempts (and even less any possibility of success in case attempts had been made) to spread Roman or Byzantine culture or the Latin language in the territories inhabited by the barbarian peoples. The occupation of the southern part of Oltenia for 40 years was a short episode in the history of that province. The towns were not affected at all:

 

The return of the Roman domination in the 4th century in the southern and southeastern parts of Dacia did not lead to a renewed urbanization of these territories.

 

Commercial contacts existed between the Roman Empire and almost all of Europe north of it (cf. the survey of the impact of Roman culture and civilization on the peoples of Europe, below, pp. 220B223). Material remains of such contact were found also north of the Danube, not only in present day Rumania but also far away towards the north and the east. Commercial contacts often result in the transfer of lexical elements (cf. the many words of Latin origin in the Germanic languages) but rarely if ever have other effects upon language. Nothing has been discovered to indicate that the situation north of the lower Danube was different. Nothing has been reported to suggest that contacts through the temporary bridge-heads or through the annexed territories by Aemigrants, merchants, prisoners of war, mercenaries, marriages, etc.@ (as assumed by IR 1960, p. 649; cf. also above, p.152) were different from those along the other frontiers of the Empire. Nowhere did such contacts contribute to or result in the preservation of the Latin language. Thus, one may conclude with Straka:

On ne trouve non plus aucune preuve tangible de la continuation des rapports lingustiques entre la Dacie et les régions romanisées au sud du Danube entre 271 et la fin du VIe siècle; la supposition de M.M. [H. Mih|escu] a ce sujet est donc une hypothèse qui n´est pas fondée sur faits objectifs. Enfin, en ce qui concerne les rapports entre les Balkans et la latinité occidentale par l´intermediaire de Byzance et du christianisme (rapports dont la Dacie semble d´ailleurs exclue), il ne pouvait s´agir que d´influences exercées par la langue officielle de l´État ou de l´Église, et c´est autre chose que les rapports directs avec le latin quotidien de l´ouest que les régions balkaniques avaient eus précédemment, avant leur detachement de l´Empire romain. Dans ces conditions, et contrairement à ce qu´en pense M. Rosetti (Istoria limbii romîne, vol. I, 3e ed., 1960, p. 49B50), il n´y a pas lieu de modifier en quoi que ce soit le point de vue de Bourciez (Éléments, ' 50, 4 ) et le nôtre (RLR, 71, p. 276, et RLiR, 20, p. 253 et 258; v. aussi Väänenen, ouvr. c., p. 27) sur l´isolement linguistique des provinces de l´est à la suite de leur abandon par les Romains; rien ne semble infirmer, dans l´ouvrage de M.M., la théorie selon laquelle après 271, c´est-à-dire a partir du moment où de nouveaux colons ne venaient plus s´installer en Dacie, les changements linguistiques de l´ouest ne se propagaient plus dans le parler roman de cette ancienne province, qui de ce fait ne participait plus, depuis le dernier quart du IIIe siècle, à l´évolution linguistique des autre parties de la Romania et commencait à se constituer en une langue indépendante.

 

 

 

5. THE GESTA HUNGARORUM

 

A considerable number of scholars, mostly Hungarian, have during the last two centuries occupied themselves with the problem of the Gesta Hungarorum. AIt is not an exaggeration to talk about a special Anonymus-philology.@ The author of this narrative was most probably the notary of the Hungarian King Béla III (1172B1196). This statement is based on the style of the text, the descriptions of the political situation in Hungary and the relations between Hungary and its neighbours, as well as on peculiarities in the general tendency of the work. All these suggest the situation at the end of the 12th century and the beginning of the 13th.

The main written sources of this text were: De excidio Troiae historia, and Gesta Alexandri Magni by Dares Phrygius, the annals of abbot Regino, who died in 915 AD, the Exordia Scythica, which is an extract made in the 7th century from the work of Justinus, written in the 2nd century, the Bible, Etymologiarum libri by Isidorus Hispalensis, Rationes dictanti prosaice by Hugo Bononiensis. Similarities in style show that the author also knew the romantic gesta-literature which was in fashion in the 12th century in England, France, and Aragonia. Anonymus did not appreciate oral tradition, Athe false tales of the peasants and the foolish songs of the minstrels.@ He did not use the Gesta Ungarorum either.

The narrative is preserved in the Széchényi Library, Budapest, under the registration number Cod. Lat. Medii Aevi 403. It contains 57 chapters. The manuscript was first published by J.G. Schwandtner and M. Bél, in 1746. It was recently published again (Anonymus Gesta Hungarorum, Budapest, 1975). This edition includes a reproduction (photocopy) of the original manuscript, a Hungarian translation, and a study about the narrative by Gy. GyÅrffy, who summarized its contents as follows:

 

In the first sentence of the prologue, the author refers to his own person: P. dictus magister ac quondam bone memorie gloriosissimi Bele regis Hungariae notarius..., then he writes about his studies, during which he became fond of the history of Troy and Greece as well as the work of Dares Phrygius. These works prompted him to write Athe genealogy of the Hungarian kings and noblemen@ and also record their wandering from Scythia to Hungary. The first chapter gives the description of Scythia, mostly word by word from Exordia Scythica, extracted from the work of Justinus. In the second chapter, the author explains the designation Hungari from the placename Hunguar (Ungvár). The 3rd to the 6th chapters narrate the election of chief Álmos in Scythia. The 7th to the 11th chapters contain the description of the wandering of the Hungarians from Scythia to Pannonia. According to the author, the Hungarians crossed the river Volga (Ethyl) and the province of Suzdal (in Rusciam, que Susudal dictur) and arrived at the town Kiev (ad civitatem Kyeu) where seven Cuman leaders (VII duces Cumanorum) attached themselves with their peoples to the Hungarians, and the Russian leaders (duces Ruthenorum) offered to pay an annual tax (tributum) of 10.000 Marks. From there, they marched to the town Vlagyimir (ad civitatem Lodomer), then to Galicia (in Galiciam) where the leaders of Vlagyimir and Galicia opened the gates of their towns, honoured chief Álmos with a very precious gift and asked the Hungarians to move to Pannonia, describing the country and its inhabitants. The phases of the Hungarian Landnahme are narrated in 41 chapters. Of these, the 12th and the 13th discuss the crossing of the Carpathian mountains (per silvam Houos) and the occupation of Ungvár; the 14th to the 18th chapters describe the occupation of the region between the Tisza and the Tátra (mons Turtur). The 19th to the 23rd chapters depict the military operations against Menomorut, who reigned over the Kazars (populus Cozar) and whose country extended from the Tisza to the Maros. Interrupting this, chapters 24B27, inserted later, describe the occupation of Transylvania where the Vlach leader Gelou reigned (dux Blacorum). Chapters 28 and 29 again describe the military operations against Menomorut; chapters 30 to 37, the occupation of the area between the Tisza and the Nyitra; the largest part of which was ruled by the Czech chief Zubur, a smaller part by the Bulgarian chief Salan. Chapters 38 to 41 relate the occupation of the province between the Danube and the Tisza, dominated by the Bulgarian chief Salan, who was the vassal of the Greeks. Chapters 42 and 43 deal with the occupation of Dalmatia, Croatia, and the area of Zagreb. Chapters 44 and 45 deal with the conquering of the country of Glad between the Maros and the Danube and a military operation in the Balkan peninsula, which was dominated by the Romans, as well as with the completion of the military operation against Menomorut. Chapters 53 and 56 narrate the Awandering@ military operations in the west during the period of prince Zulta, based partly on the annals of Regino. The last chapter, the 57th, describes how the frontiers of Hungary were drawn, and describes the settlement of alien peoples during the 10th century.

 

The aim of Anonymus was not to give an objective account of the events but rather to emphasize the merits of his principal hero, Árpád, and his associates and by pointing out their deeds of prowess, to stengthen the legal right of the contemporary aristocracy B the descendants of Árpád and of his associates B to the land they owned. Using the family tradition of noblemen and of high priests in the royal court, Anonymus also wanted to write the genealogy of the Hungarian kings and noblemen.

 

Since he wanted to prove the right to their land of as many contemporary families as possible, he described seven Hungarian and seven Cuman leaders, seven leaders of the army as well as five famous heroes. He asserts that the whole country and the territories which later became satellites or developed into a feudal relationship with Hungary were all conquered by Árpád and his associates, not taking the historical facts into consideration.

How Anonymus invented names for his heroes

 

Anonymus had no sources for the fighting during the Landnahme 300 years earlier. Nevertheless, he wanted to show by descriptions of battles, made vivid by colourful details, how the ancestor of X or Y occupied the land which he owns.

Since the written sources only told him that Pannonia was once the country of the Romans, thereafter ruled by Attila, and the ancient gesta preserved only the name of prince Morot, personified from the name of the Moravian people, and he needed enemy leaders who were defeated by the Hungarians, he invented inimical leader images. On the basis of recurrent regularity, it may be concluded that Anonymus invented stories in order to explain several placenames known in his time. His method, related to a very widespread custom, is the following: the name of place X derives from the name of a famous person X, who was murdered in that place. [...]

Anonymus used this method to fabricate from the following geographical and placenames: the river Loborcy, the hills Turzol and Zubor, the tower of Gelou, and the village of Glad, names for the Bulgarian chief Loborcy, the Cuman Turzol, the Czech Zubur, the Vlach Gelou, and Glad, the leader of Vidin B each of whom, according to Anonymus, died in the respective place [named after him].

He also created new names from those found in his sources and split other names apart. He probably read in legends of the origin of the Hungarians in the ancient Gesta that the first mothers of the Hungarians (a magyarok Åsanyjai) were the daughters of Enech, Dula, and Belar, and it seems that he fabricated, by putting together the first syllables (ene-du-bel) of these, the name of the maternal ancestor of Álmos: Eunedubelianus. In the ancient Gesta, Menrot, the first father (Åsapa) is mentioned, who had several wives. Anonymus added to this the name of chief Morout, who reigned in Pannonia, thus creating Menomorut, the alleged leader of the Cazar people in Bihar, whom he later also attached to the family of Árpád.

What did Anonymus know about events 300 years earlier?

 

Comparing the story told by Anonymus with historical sources from the 9th century, Gy. GyÅrffy concluded that Anonymus knew very little about the real situation in the basin of the Carpathians in that century. Thus, contemporary sources recorded two events in connection with the Hungarian Landnahme. In 896 AD, Emperor Arnulf appointed Braslav to the defence of Pannonia and of Paludarum urbs (Mosaburg, Blatinski grad, Zalavár); and in 907, the Hungarians defeated the Bavarian army at Bretslavspurc (German Pressburg, Slovakian Bratislava, Hung. Pozsony). Although a large part of the narrative describes battles in the period in question, it does not mention these events.

GyÅrffy lists the names of 21 historical persons (prince Svatopluk, bishops Wiching and Metod, Emperor Arnulf, etc.) who had important political functions in the second half of the 9th century in the basin of the Carpathian mountains. None of these is mentioned by Anonymus.

 

What did Anonymus know about the different populations living in the basin of the Carpathians in the 9th century?

 

Contemporary sources attest to the existence in the Carpathian basin in the 9th century of Avars, Danubian Slovenes, Bavarian-Franks, Moravians, Bulgarians, and Gepidae. Of these, Anonymus mentions only the Slavs and the Bulgarians. The name of the Moravian people appears in the Gesta only as that of prince Morout. On the other hand, Anonymus mentions a series of peoples who are not attested by other sources: Romans, Czechs, Greeks, Vlachs, Cozars, and Cumans. The anachronism in mentioning Cumans is also pointed out by IR (cf. above, p. 157, footnote 1). Anonymus writes about two different kinds of Cumans: (a) ACumans@ who associated themselves with the Hungarians before the end of the 9th century and were with them when they took possession of Hungary in 896 AD. These ACumans@ were probably the Kabars, a Turk people, who are known from other sources to have joined the Hungarians in that period. (b) According to Anonymus, Cumans helped the Slavic chief Glad in the Banat in his fight against the Hungarians:

 

When they started to cross the river Temes, they were countered by Glad [...] the prince of the country, with a large army of pedestrians and equestrians helped by Cumans and Bulgarians and Vlachs.

 

This is a projection of the situation at the end of the 12th century back to the 9th. In the time of Anonymus, Cumans were living on the plains south of the Carpathian mountains and made also incursions into Transylvania. They helped the Bulgarians and the Vlachs in achieving independence from Byzantium and establishing the Vlacho-Bulgarian Empire in 1187 (cf. above, p. 25). An explanation of this erroneous record may have been the Slavic tradition which helds that the Hungarians ousted the Franks B the Volochs in the language of the Slavs B from the area of the Danube.

The Slavic ethnic name of the 10th century, Vlach, was, in its plural form: vlasi, borrowed by the Hungarian language with the sense ´Neo-latin, Italian, French´, in the form olasz(i); in the period of Árpád, this was the Hungarian name of the Neo-Latin peoples, thus also of the French, i.e., the Franks (cf. Latin Frankavilla > Hungarian Olaszi) and this is also at present the Hungarian name of the Italians.

 

Conclusion

 

It has been argued that even if Anonymus made mistakes, he described the most significant circumstances in a trustworthy way (cf. above, p.157). Given the significant inconsistencies between reality as known from other sources and the Gesta, this conclusion is very questionable. The reasoning of IR may be analysed, however. The question is what is significant? For a present-day historian, records about the different peoples would be among the most important information. But for the author of this narrative, this seems to have been of minor significance: whether his Hungarian heroes defeated Slavs, Franks, Cumans, or Vlachs, cannot have been important to him. Also his knowledge of the peoples living in the territory is extremely scanty. Therefore, the mention by Anonymus of quidam Blachus, as well as his characterization of the alleged population in Transylvania (in chapter 25): AThe inhabitants of that country are the most unworthy people of the whole world (habitatores terre illi viliores homines esset toti mundi) because they are Vlachs and Slavs@ cannot be accepted. The Gesta of Anonymus is not a reliable historical source but a narrative writtten according to the fashion of the age, a legend with very little contact with actual historical facts.


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