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

Chapter I







A. The populations of South-East Europe before the Roman colonization


One of the most ancient populations of the Balkan peninsula are the Greeks, living in the south. Many Greek and Roman historians have occupied themselves with the peoples living north of the Greek territory before and during the Roman colonization of the Balkan peninsula, having presented considerable amounts of data about them. However, no systematic description is known and our knowledge of these peoples is therefore quite fragmentary.

In the northwest of the Balkan peninsula, approximately in the territory limited by Epiros, the Istrian peninsula, the rivers Drava and Danube and, in the east, by a line drawn between present day Belgrade and Skopje (see map 4, p. 50), a large number of different tribes were living (between 80 and 100). These were designated by the name Illyrian by Greek and Roman authors. This may at an early age have been the name of one tribe with which the Greeks had contact, having later been extended to all populations living in the above mentioned area. AIllyrian@ is not a well-defined term, not even territorially and even less ethnically or linguistically. The Illyrian language is attested with certainty to have been spoken only along the coasts of the Adriatic Sea from northwestern Greece to the Istrian peninsula. No large political units existed among these tribes; they were, in fact, constantly at war with each other. They lived in villages and their main occupation was the raising of animals, especially of sheep. The cheese they produced was well known in antiquity: caseus Dalmaticus, Docleas, Dardanicus. A primitive agriculture contributed to their economy. Certain tribes along the coasts were fisherfolk, and the Illyrian pirates on the Adriatic Sea were feared by the Greeks.

East of the Illyrian territory, from the Aegean Sea to the peaks of the Haemus mountains, lived about 100 barbarian tribes called Qrhix, Qraix, or QraikeV by the Greeks. This name was Latinized as Thrax, Thraex, and the above-mentioned territory became known as Thracia. Thracians are, however, reported to have been living also in the western parts of Asia Minor (in Bitinia, Misia, etc.) as well as north of the lower Danube and of the Black Sea. Like the Illyrians, the Thracians were also mainly shepherds, but they did pursue some agriculture. They too, were living in villages; the building of houses of stone and of towns appeared later under Greek and Roman influence.

North of the lower Danube, on what is today known as the Valachian plain, lived a population called the Getae. The territory within the arch of the Carpathian mountains (Transylvania) was inhabited mainly by the Dacians. Around 80 BC, a Dacian leader, Burebista, extended his reign after warring against the Celts and occupying the Greek towns on the northern and western coast of the Black Sea. Dacia had now common frontiers with the Roman Empire and a series of battles with the Roman army followed. The centre of the Dacian empire was in the mountainous area south of present day Or|-AÕtie (Hungarian Szászváros), at Sarmizegetusa, near present day Gr|diÕtea Muncelului. Fortifications of stone built on Greek patterns, dwelling places, store rooms, workshops; vessels, pieces of pottery, tools used in agriculture, smithwork, woodwork, etc. have been unearthed there. Another strong Dacian leader, Decebal, was temporarily successful in fighting the Romans, but finally, in 106 AD, he was defeated by Emperor Trajan, and Dacia was made a Roman province. Unfortunately, very little has been preserved from the languages spoken by the groups of population designated by the names Illyrian, Thracian, Getian and Dacian (cf. below, p. 55).


Besides these large groups, in parts of the Balkan peninsula there lived several other populations: Celts, Scythians, as well as the ancestors of present day Albanians and others. Of these, the Albanians are of utmost importance for the early history of the Rumanian language (see below).


B. The Roman colonization


The first intervention of the Romans in the Balkan peninsula dates back to around 230 BC. They were invited by the Greeks who needed help against Illyrian pirates ravaging the west coast of the Peloponnesos. With these operations, the protracted process of Roman colonization in southeastern Europe had started. The first colonies were organized on the isles and on the coasts of Dalmatia, and in 168 BC, Macedonia was conquered.

The Greek town-states, which never succeeded in uniting to resist the Romans, were successively defeated; their ultimate subjugation is marked by the dissolution of the Achaian Alliance and the destruction of its centre, Korinthos, in 146 BC.

Along the frontiers, many fierce battles were fought against different barbarian tribes. The resistance of the Illyrians and the Moesians was broken during the first century BC; by the end of this century, the Roman army reached the lower Danube. At that time, all the territory conquered was called the province of Illyricum but at the beginning of the first century AD it was divided into Dalmatia, Pannonia, and Moesia; Moesia was soon thereafter divided into Moesia Superior and Moesia Inferior. In 106 AD, the Dacian kingdom was defeated and part of Dacia (present day Oltenia, part of the Banat and of Transylvania) was occupied (Dacia Traiana). During the following 165 (or 169) years, the frontiers of the Empire reached to the north of the lower Danube, as far as to the northern part of Transylvania. After the abandonment of this province, two new provinces of Dacia were founded south of the Danube (Dacia Ripensis and Dacia Mediterranea). Emperor Diocletian (284B305) introduced a major reform in the organization of the Empire, dividing it into 4 Prefectures, 13 Dioceses and 116 provinces.

Around the camps of the Roman army divisions, canabae (marketplaces) were built. Giving an example of the long time span a legion may have remained in the same place, Jire…ek mentions the Legio VII Claudia, which stayed in the area of Viminacium for about 400 years. The settlements of the veterans of this legion extended as far to the south as the region of Skopje and Prizren. The veterans received, after 20B25 years of service, ground plots, draught animals, slaves and seeds, and settled down on the land as farmers.

Besides the legions, there were auxiliary contingents, composed of soldiers from many different nations living in the Empire. At the beginning of the 4th century, the organization of the army was reformed and the cavalry was strengthened. To the Roman army in this period belonged also Afoederati@, army units formed by different barbarian peoples, led by their own chiefs.

During the first centuries of Roman rule, the Romans were more or less separated from the population they dominated. Along the coasts of Dalmatia, as well as in Thracia and in Macedonia, there were old Roman and Greek towns. In the course of time, new towns emerged through the development of the canabae.

These were given municipal rights by Trajan and Hadrian at the beginning of the 2nd century AD.

The villages of the Thracians and of the Illyrians were organized in communities called civitas. The chiefs of these were civil clerks or soldiers, chosen from the native population as well as from the Roman colonists. These communities evolved successively from the period of Vespasian on (69B79 AD) into towns.

In 212, Caracalla made all free men Roman citizens. With this, the difference between the Roman colonists and the subjugated populations was erased.

In the northern provinces of the Balkan peninsula, Roman domination led to an economic boom. For strategic reasons, a rich network of roads was built. The large army units marching on the roads increased economic activity of all kinds. The Danube, which was the northern frontier of the Empire for several centuries, was fortified by a series of castles. A fleet of warships contributed to the defence of the frontier and to the security of the merchant navy. Along the lower Danube, from Singidunum downwards, there were six or seven legion stations. Many towns were founded on the southern shore of the river and at some distance from it towards the south: Nikopolis, Marianopolis, etc.

The most important economic activities were agriculture, the raising of animals (sheep, horses, cattle; mostly practised by the Thracians and the Illyrians), fishing and mining.

The Latin language was introduced in a comparatively short time in the coastal low-lands and in the valleys, along the Roman roads; especially in the military zone of the Danube. In the region of Naissus and Remesiana, many names of towns of military origin are preserved from this period and the Latin names also of small communities are still in use. Roman veterans settled down in the lower part of the Drina-valley and in the lower Narenta region as well. The Romanization of the mountainous districts took a much longer time. Two or three centuries had to pass until most areas became Romanized : AIn der Hauptsache war die sprachliche Umw-Aälzung zu Ende des 3. Jahrhunderts abgeschlossen.@ In certain regions, the Illyrian population survived at least until the 4th century and the Thracian, until the 6th: lingua bessica (probably a Thracian dialect) was still spoken in the 6th century. Thus, Thracian was probably still spoken in the time of the Slavic colonization.

Christianity was introduced first in the southern provinces (Apostle Paul taught in Macedonia, Philippi, Thesssaloniki, and Berrh-Aöa). It spread successively northward; there are records about persecution of Christians in the Danubian regions in the late third century. The persecution of Christians was ended by Emperor Constantine the Great in 313. There are records of rivalry between Orthodox and Arian members of the Church in Serdica, Sirmium, and Singidunum in the 4th century. AIm 5. bis 6. Jahrhundert hielten es die lateinisch redenden Provinzialen des Donaugebietes oft mit der Kirche von Rom gegen die Konstantinopler Kaiser, vor allem gegen Anastas und Justinian.@ Illyricum was, until 731 AD, subordinated to the Pope.

Vestiges of the Christian culture in the Roman age of the Balkan peninsula are old-Christian cemeteries found at Niš and at Sofia, a funerary monument in Belgrade with sculptures showing scenes from the life of Prophet Jonas, a Latin inscription found at Remesiana which invokes the Apostles Peter and Paul in favour of a local church, as well as ruins of FORTY FIVE CHURCHES.

In the schools of the Balkan provinces, bricks were used on which the Latin alphabet and, for the higher classes, poems of Homer were carved. Although a specific literature of the Roman provincial type, as in Gaul and Africa, did not develop in the Balkan peninsula, poems written by Dalmatian and Moesian authors are known. Most of the writers in the Balkans were representatives of the Church.

In 325 AD, Constantine the Great made Byzantium the residence of the emperor. In 395, the Roman Empire was definitively divided into two halves. Moesia, Dardania, and Praevalis belonged thereafter to the Eastern Empire. The Latin language, however, maintained its influence until the early 7th century. It was used by the army (Latin commands: cede, sta, move, transforma, torna, largiter ambula, etc.), by the administration, the tribunals and by the Church. In 397 it was ordered that all judgments of the courts be written in Latin or in Greek. At the high school of Constantinople, founded in 425, half of the professors lectured in the Latin language. It is recorded that Ioannes, the praefectus praeterio, tried to introduce Greek into the European parts of the Empire but his efforts were without success because the inhabitants of the Balkan provinces spoke Latin and did not understand Greek. It was as late as during the reign of Emperor Heraklios (610B641) that Latin was replaced by Greek as the official language of the Eastern Empire. On the basis of a careful study of the Roman inscriptions found in the territory of the former province of Moesia Superior, the Hungarian historian A. M-Aócsy concluded that A...es im spätantiken Obermösien eine soziale Schicht gab die das Latein B das Spätlatein freilich B als Muttersprache sprach.@

During the 2nd century, the number of incursions of barbarian peoples across the Danube increased and in the subsequent centuries, the Balkan provinces were increasingly devastated. The countryside became more and more depopulated and people moved to the towns which could provide better protection from the enemy.


Map 1. The Roman provinces in southeastern Europe between 106B275 AD, according to general consensus (cf., for example, IR Compendiu 1974, p. 45).

In reality, the area of Roman domination north of the lower Danube was smaller. It is not quite certain that the entire area was occupied in 106 AD. The organization of Dacia Superior and Inferior in 119 and the further division of the province into Dacia Porolissensis, Apulensis, and Malvensis in 158B168 may suggest a gradual extension of the frontiers during several decades. The limes Trans-alutanus was built as late as about 200 AD and the area between the limes and the Olt was dominated by the Empire only from that year to 245 AD (cf., for example, D. Tudor, ARomanizarea Munteniei@, Apulum, XII, 1974, p. 114). Eastern Transylvania was evacuated several years before the abandonment of the entire province in 275 AD. Only part of the Banat belonged to the Empire: the Roman military stations and civil settlements end along the border between the mountainous region and the plains (cf. Tudor, D., Ora-AÕe, tîrguri Õi sate în Dacia roman|, 1968, p. 55). On the basis of frequent finds of epigraphic material with the name Legio IV Flavia in the mountainous area, it is assumed that this part of the Banat was connected to Moesia Superior (Tudor OraÕe 1968, p. 55).





Map 2. The Roman provinces in southeastern Europe in the 4th, 5th, and 6th centuries AD. C The northeastern frontiers of the Empire were the same (the Danubian limes) also in the first century AD but the organization of the provinces was different.

(After a map by J. Zeiler, reproduced in IR 1960.)




The Goths, pushed westward by the expansion of the Huns, attacked the Empire towards the end of the 4th century; in 382, they were permitted to settle down as Afoederati@ in the provinces south of the Danube. In 471, the East Gothic prince Theodorich conquered Singidunum (present day Belgrade). From there, the Goths conducted several incursions into the Roman provinces and also occupied Dyrrhachion; at last (in 483), Emperor Zeno settled them in Dacia Ripensis and Moesia Inferior. Some years later, Zeno succeeded in inciting Theodorich against Odovacar, the emperor of Italy. The Goths conquered Italy and founded the Eastern Gothic Empire, which comprised Italy, Dalmatia, Pannonia, and the Alp countries. This empire, in which the Goths were the dominating military class who subjugated the Roman population, was annihilated by Justinian in the middle of the 6th century.

Although of little importance because of their small number (about 3000 living in Sirmium and Singidunum around 550 AD), another Old Germanic tribe, the Herules, probably from Denmark, may be mentioned here. They were in 512 settled along the Danubian limes.

Thus, the Old Germanic populations lived only for short periods in the Balkan peninsula and did not, in contrast to what was the case in Italy, exercise any significant influence upon the ethnic situation of the areas in question:


Die geringe AGermanreste@ B Reste gotischen Volkstums, B die in einigen Berglandschaften zur-Aückgeblieben waren, nahmen in den folgenden Menschenaltern die lateinische oder griechische Sprache an und gingen so in dem einheimischen Volkstum unter.


In the middle of the 5th century, the Huns devastated about 70 towns of the Balkan peninsula, from the Danube towards the south, as far as to Serdica and Philippopolis. As a result of the frequent wars waged with the attacking barbarian peoples, as well as of the smaller skirmishes, in which the barbarians collected slaves, the population of the Balkan provinces decreased considerably during the 5thB6th centuries. To defend the empire, Emperor Justinian organized the building of fortifications. Procopius recorded about 80 fortified places along the Danube and 370 castles in other parts of the Balkans. However, as Jire…ek remarked:

Alle diese Defensievbauten hatten weing Erfolg. Es fehlte an Mann- schaften zur Verteidigung. Die Grenztruppen gerieten bei finanziellen Schwierigkeiten stark in Verfall, und die Mobilarmee, nach Agathias 150.000 Mann stark, war zerstreut in Garnisonen von S-Aüdspanien bis nach Armenien und Oberägypten. Die verfallenden Stadtbevölkerungen hatten mehr Sinn für kirchliche Fragen, als für den Schutz des Vaterlandes.

The line of the Danube was definitively abandoned at the end of the 6th century.

Of course, devastation and decline were not uniform in all provinces. Dacia Mediterranea and Dardania had a somewhat protected position and a Romance population was probably preserved longest in these provinces:


Hier in diesem Raume war auch noch im Laufe der n-Aächsten Jahrhunderte, während welcher die Stürme der Völkerwanderung im Osten stärker wüteten, wegen der gebirgigen Lage und der mehr nach Konstantinopel zielenden Barbarenzüge noch im 6. Jh. römisches Leben möglich. Es wurde durch weitere Zuwanderung aus dem Norden und Osten verstärkt. Dardanien mag den grossen Kaisern Konstantin (aus Naissus B Nisch) und Justinian (aus der Gegend von Scupi B Skopje, türkisch früher Üsküb) als Heimat besonders lieb gewesen sein und so wurde letztere Stadt nich weit von der zerstörten neu aufgebaut und im Jahre 535 zum Sitze des Metropolitan-Bischofes Catellianus erhoben. Von hier ging nun die ganze vereinigte Kirchenprovinz (Dacia ripensis und mediterranea, Moesia superior, Praevalis und Macedonia secunda sowie der östliche Teil von Unterpannonien) ab.


This was a very powerful Roman diocese and it possessed, through the new prefecture, also political power. Friedwagner concluded that in the above mentioned provinces, especially in Dardania, Athe starting point for the development of a specific Romance language was created.@




C. The Albanians


G. Stadtm-Aüller showed that the district of Mati and the region of the high mountains in northern Albania are the only areas in the western parts of the Balkan peninsula where Latin placenames are absent. Stadtmüller considered this district a AReliktgebiet@, comparable to the mountains of Wales in Great Britain and the region of the Basque population in the Pyreneans. There, and in some adjacent areas, as Dukagjin and Merdita, as well as in the mountainous region of the Drin, lived the ancestors of the Albanians during the Roman age in the Balkans. The shepherds living in these areas during the summer used adjacent, mostly Romanized areas of lowland as grazing places during the winter season: the lowlands of western Albania, the valley of the Black Drin and some parts of Old Serbia. In these areas, they were exposed to Romanization.

The oldest elements of Greek origin in the Albanian language show the sound pattern of Old Greek, for example Albanian (Tosc) mok-Aërë ´millstone´, from Greek mhcanh. Greek c corresponds in this word to Alb. k which shows that the word was borrowed by Albanian in an ancient period; in the Byzantine period, this sound was pronounced as a fricative. Another example of Alb. k (not h ) for Greek c is Alb. bretëkë ´frog´, from Greek brwtacoV ´frog´. This indicates that the ancestors of the Albanians lived in contact with the Greeks, in the southern parts of the Balkan peninsula.

The development of the sound pattern of certain placenames in the province of Dardania, in Old Serbia, and in western Bulgaria, seems to indicate an Albanian influence. Thus, there are in Macedonia: Oxrid, from Greek AnciV, showing the n > r change after a velar consonant, typical of Albanian, Štip, from Greek -A´AstiboV, showing the s > sh change as well as the deletion of initial a. In eastern Serbia, there is Niš, from Latin Naissus, Greek NaissoV, which shows ai > ei > i and s > sh; in western Bulgaria, Štiponje, from Greek _toponion with the s > sh change, and several others. The name of Dardania is, most probably, also of Albanian origin, connected with Alb. dardhë ´pear-tree´. It is not impossible that Shqipëtar, the name of the Albanians in their own language, derives from Scupi, Alb. Shkup, Macedonian Skopje.

The Latin influence on Albanian started as early as in the 1st century BC, as indicated by Latin words showing the sound pattern of classical Latin. Albanian qing-Aëlë < Lat. cingula, Alb. vjetër < Lat. vetus, veteris, etc. The Romance languages have instead forms based on Vulgar Latin, e.g., *cingla > Rumanian ching|, veteran > Rum. b|trân, etc.

An analysis of the Slavic loanwords in Albanian shows that the Albanian shepherds lived essentially in the same areas as shown above also in the period of their first contacts with the Slavs in the 7th century. Slavic loanwords started to be tranferred to Albanian already in that age. However, such elements became numerous only in the 11th century, when the Albanians expanded from their original areas towards the plains along the coasts, where Slavs were living. The Slavic loanwords from this period show that the Albanians learned many details of agriculture, names of plants, fishing, building of dwelling places, social, political organization, etc., from the Slavs. The sound pattern of these words is Bulgarian, and the oldest of them show features of the Bulgarian dialect of Dibra, on the southeastern frontier of the Mati district.




D. The Slavs



The first historical accounts about invasions of Slavic tribes across the Danube are given by Procopius. These invasions started during the first half of the 6th century. The Roman emperors from Justinian (527B565) to Heraklios (610B641) have the title AAnticus.@ In the second half of the 6th century, the number of incursions of the Slavs in the Balkan provinces increased and Slavs reached the Mediterranean coast at Rhodope. Slavic soldiers are mentioned in the Roman army as early as in 538. After the devastations by the Slavs and the Avars, large areas of the Balkans became depopulated.

The migrations of the Slavs were frequently led by nomadic Turks. This is shown by archaeological finds (the oldest pieces of Slavic pottery and art objects of metal were borrowed from Turk peoples) as well as by numerous loanwords of Turk origin concerning state organization and cultural life. The area adjacent to the lower Danube was probably the first to be occupied by the Slavs. Theophanes and Nikephoros mention that in 679, seven Slavic tribes (geneai)) were living between the Danube and the highest peaks of the Haemus mountains; these tribes came from what is today Valachia. One of the main streams of Slavic colonization went through Moesia Superior and Dacia Ripensis to the interior of Macedonia and Lakonia. Dalmatia was heavily colonized, as well as the region of the eastern Alps along the valleys of the Sava and the Drava. It is generally considered that most of the Balkan peninsula north of Greece was already inhabited by Slavs in the mid-seventh century .






A total of 654 placenames and names of rivers and streams used in the Balkan peninsula in the late 6th century were recorded by Procopios. The sources of this writer were the books of the imperial administration in Constantinople. The names in question may be divided into two groups: (a) names of Thracian or (in a minor part) Illyrian origin and (b) names of Roman type, with Latin, Greek, Gothic and other elements.

A certain continuity of life from the pre-Roman age through the Roman occupation to the Slavic invasions in the 6th century may be stated in several places on the basis of finds on the same site of prehistoric tumuli, Roman stones with inscriptions and medieval churches and cemeteries.

Many ancient towns were destroyed and remained uninhabited. In other places, the invading Slavs raised towers within the walls.


Wenn dies gleich bei der Okkupation des Landes geschah, hat sich der alte Stadtname mit einer kleinen Umformung erhalten. Deshalb erscheinen bei der Errichtung von Bist-Aümen zahlreiche ehemalige Römerstädte wieder als Zentrum ihrer Landschaft. Die Umformung der antiken Namen geschah entweder nach bestimmten Lautregeln oder mit Unterschiebung eines Sinnes durch ein anklingendes slawisches Wort. In dem Falle, wo die Städte römischen Ursprungs in der slawischen Periode einen ganz neuen Namen erhielten, wie die Aweisse Burg@ Belgrad (Singidunum) oder die Burg des AVerteidigers@ (brani…) Brani…evo (Viminacium), war zwischen dem Untergang der antiken Stadt und ihrer Neubesiedlung jedenfalls eine längere Zeit verflossen.


Of course, alongside the borrowing of old placenames and geographical names, the Slavs created names of their own, ... Amit hunderten von neuen Fluss- und Bach-namen und Tausenden von Dorf- und Flurnamen.@

The intensity of the Slavic colonization and the degree of the mixing of the Slavs with the local populations in the different areas are to some extent discernible from the study of the placenames. Most of the ancient names were preserved along the coasts. The smallest number of Slavic names were created in northern Albania and eastern Thracia. On the other hand, change of placenames was frequent in Moesia Superior and in the interior of Macedonia and Dalmatia. Examples of Latin names of towns preserved in Dacia Mediterranea and in Dardania are Niš (<Latin Naissus), Sredec (<Lat. Serdica; today Sofia), Skopje (<Lat. Scupi, Lipljan (<Lat. Ulpiana).

Among Thracian names preserved, names of rivers and streams prevail: Ergine (<Agrianes), Lom (<Almus), Morava (<Margus), Iskar (<Oiscos), Timok (<Timacus), etc. Examples of preserved Thracian placenames are: Dristra (<Durostorum), Plovdiv (<Pulpudeva), etc.

Of great interest are the traditions concerning circumstances during the Roman period which were preserved until modern times by the Slavs. Thus, the Roman roads, still present at many places, are often called ATrajan-A´s road@ (Trojanov Put or Trojanski Put), old ruins of towers are called ATrajan´s tower@ (Trojanj Grad), certain canyons ATrajan´s door@ (Trojanova Vrata). Moreover, the legend of Emperor Trajan was absorbed into the Slavic popular mythology: in medieval apocryphal texts, God Trajan is mentioned.

Thus, the historical records about the Slavic incursions and migrations in the Balkan peninsula, essentially in accordance with the testimony of the placenames as well as the popular tradition of the South Slavic peoples, give a fairly good picture about the events in those times. It is well documented that when they migrated to the Balkan peninsula, the Slavs found in a large number of places Latin-speaking populations from whom they borrowed many placenames, lexical elements and also elements of popular culture.





The first Bulgarian Empire


The Bulgarian state was founded in 679 AD, when the Bulgars, a Turk people, under the leadership of Isperich, conquered the area limited by the lower Danube, the Black Sea, the Haemus mountains and the river Isker. Seven Slavic tribes were living there, with whom the Bulgars entered into alliance.

The new state of Bulgaria soon emerged as a unifier of the Slavic tribes in the eastern part of the Balkan peninsula.Thus in 688 it subjugated most Slavic tribes in Macedonia and at the beginning of the 8th century it annexed Sagorie. Khan Telerig (772B777) had plans to conquer Bersitia, in northern Macedonia, but the Byzantine Emperor Konstantin Kopronimos attacked and defeated him. In 789, Bulgaria extended as far as to the valley of the river Struma.

During the period of Khan Krum (802B814), Bulgaria started a still more offensive policy. Krum subjugated those Avars who some years earlier, after the defeat of the Avar empire at the end of the 8th century, sought refuge east of the river Tisza (German Theiss). He occupied what are today the Banat and southern Transylvania. The Slavic tribes living there recognized the sovereignty of Krum. After these successes, Bulgaria had common frontiers with the Frankish Empire. In 808, Krum attacked the region of Struma and in 809, he occupied Serdica (present day Sofia) which until then belonged to Byzantium. The way to Macedonia was open. The Byzantine emperor Nikiphoros attacked the Bulgars but was defeated and killed in a battle (811 AD). Krum led several attacks into Thracia and Macedonia and transferred many Greeks from the occupied regions. Thus, in 813, 10.000 Greeks were settled in what is today southern Moldavia or northeastern Muntenia, north of the lower Danube. The cause of these resettlements was that Krum wanted to weaken the Greek population of Macedonia, because he planned to occupy it. In 813, Krum led a large army of Slavs and Avars against Byzantium and besieged Constantinople without success. He died in the following year.

One of the consequences of the transfer of Greeks into Bulgaria was the spread of Christianity among the population already in the early 9th century.

The Slavic tribes who lived along the river Timok under Bulgarian rule (the Timocians), recognized in 818 the hegemony of the Franks. Their example was soon followed by other Slavic tribes living in what is now the Banat. The successor of Krum, Omurtag (814B831) attacked these territories and in 827 succeeded in disposing the Slavic princes (voivodes) in the Banat who were on the side of the Franks. This success of the Bulgarians was, however, shortlived; they were driven away by the Franks in 829 and could only keep Sirmium with the city of Singidunum, which from that time on was called Belgrade.

During the reign of Omurtag, the number of Christians in Bulgaria increased and there are, from that time on, reports of persecution of the Christians.

Khan Pressian (836 - 853) took advantage of the weakness of Byzantium, at war with the Arabs. THE BULGARIAN FRONTIERS WERE NOW EXTENDED TO THE REGION OF THE VARDAR, THE BLACK DRIN, PRILEP, OCHRIDA, AND PART OF THE STRUMZI REGION. This expansion brought the Bulgarians into contact with the Serbs, who in that period used to live in small principalities. In face of the increasing power of the Bulgarians they now united and defended their territories.

Boris (853B888) also waged wars against the Serbs. It was during his reign that the Bulgarians adopted Christianity (the Greek Church of Byzantium). Boris was baptized in 865 and tok the name of Michael and the title of ACzar@ instead of the heathen AKhan@. Bulgaria came for centuries under the cultural influence of Byzantium. The new Church, using the Slavic language, contributed effectively to the Slavization of the Bulgarian ruling class.

Czar Simon the Great (893B927) waged wars with the Hungarians and with Byzantium. As a consequence of these wars, Bulgaria was forced to leave the territories north of the lower Danube. Most of these were then occupied by the Patzinaks and the Hungarians. Simeon seems to have had little interest in these territories, as his aim was to expand towards the southwest. During his reign, Bulgaria reached its largest territorial expansion, dominating the Serbs and including part of the Adriatic coast within its frontiers.

Simeon-A´s successor, Peter (927B969) was a weak ruler. During his reign, the



Byzantine influence increased, the representatives of the Church became increasingly corrupt and the population was discontented. Several uprisings are recorded from this period, for example that led by the prince of the Bersites in Macedonia in 963. In 968, the Russians invaded Bulgaria, the Byzantine emperor drove them away but Byzantium occupied somewhat later (during the reign of Boris II, 969B972) the eastern part of Bulgaria.

In the west, prince Nikola proclaimed himself the new emperor. This territory preserved its autonomy for another 50 years. It comprised Macedonia, southern Albania and western Moesia. Its capital was changed several times, among other towns it was Prespa, and, lastly, Ochrida. About 1020 AD, Ochrida became also the centre of the Church.

The successor of Nikola, his son David, ruled only for a short time; he was killed in 976 by some Vlach wayfarers between Prespa and Kastoria.

Another son of Nikola, Samuil, reigned between 980 and 1014. His aim was to unite all Slavs in the Balkan peninsula. He occupied Larisa, the capital of Thessaly, and reached as far as to the Peloponnesos, from which he removed a large number of people and settled them in Macedonia. At that time, Byzantium was weakened by civil wars, and Samuil succeeded to occupy Dyrrachium (Durr-Aës, Durazzo) and extended his power to the Adriatic coast as far as to the estuary of the Drin. He devastated Dalmatia and subjugated the Serbs. In 996, he appeared in the Peloponnesos but was defeated by the Byzantine army. This started the decline of western Bulgaria. In 1014, Samuil was defeated again; in the following year, he was succeeded by his nephew, Johannes Wladislaff (1015B1018). The year 1019 marks the total subjugation of Bulgaria by Byzantium, celebrated in Constantinople by Emperor Basileos II with great triumph.

Basileos divided Bulgaria into four autonomous provinces. He removed all princes of some importance and settled them mostly in Asia Minor.The Byzantine army exercised a strong control over the population. However, Bulgaria was considered a separate country and retained its unity, its own laws and customs. The Church also preserved full autonomy. The chief of the Bulgarian Church was called the Aautokephal archbishop of entire Bulgaria@. The emperor ordered in 1020 that Aall [Christian] believers living in the territories recently subdued by Byzantium in the Balkan peninsula, including -A´the Vlachs from entire Bulgaria´ be subordinated to the archbishop of Ochrida. The Annals of Bari recorded that in 1027 Vlachs were fighting in the Byzantine army in Sicily against the Arabs. During the reign of Basileos´ successors the situation of the people of Bulgaria deteriorated and already in the time of Konstantin VIII (1025B 1028), revolts started. The Bulgarian population was exposed to the frequent incursions of the Patzinaks from the plains north of the Danube and the Vlachs conducted, from their dwelling places in the mountains, expeditions of ravage among them. In 1040, an uprising conducted by Peter Deljan started in Belgrade and soon spread over large parts of the peninsula. Finally, however, it was subdued by Byzantium.

A very important historical event is the schism of the Christian Church in 1054. Thereafter, Rome was the centre of the Roman Catholic confession and Constantinople that of the Greek Orthodox Church.


The Rumanians remain in the group of peoples who belong to the Orthodox confession, under the canonical authority of the Patriarch of Constantinople.


In the subsequent years, Byzantium waged fierce battles against the Petchenegs, mostly on Bulgarian territory. Finally, the emperor settled the Petchenegs in northeastern Bulgaria, from where they conducted incursions into other parts of the country. In 1059, the Hungarians attacked Byzantium and reached Sredetz (Sofia). Later in the same century, the Uzes, another Turk population, ravaged Bulgaria. In 1066, the Vlachs living in the region of Larisa revolted against Byzantium. In 1072, a new revolt started in Bulgaria, led by George Woitech, a Bulgarian nobleman. In this revolt, the Petchenegs helped the Bulgarians against Byzantium. However, even this revolt was subdued.

Towards the end of the 11th century, Bulgaria successively lost its separate status and was no longer considered an autonomous country but a part of Byzantium. The social situation of the population deteriorated; taxes were high and many peasants lost their property to the owners of big farms. The Byzantine Empire collected soldiers from Bulgaria, who were needed in the wars against the Petchenegs and the Cumans in the north and against the Turk-Seldjuks in the southeast. Many people fled to the forests especially when soldiers were sought. The situation worsened further in the first half of the 12th century, with the incursions of the Cumans (1124 AD), and the ravages of the Crusaders. A large part of the population of Bulgaria was forced into serfdom on the estates of rich noblemen or moved into the towns, where the masses of poor people increased. In Byzantine documents from this period, Bulgaria is called AMoesia@or ASagori@ and the Bulgarians are referred to as AMoesians@or AVlachs@. This indicates that there must have been a considerable number of Vlachs living among the Bulgarian population. Writing about the war between Byzantium and Hungary in 1161B1168, Kinnamos mentio ns Vlachs in the Byzantine army, Aof whom it is said that they are former colonists from Italy.@





The Vlacho-Bulgarian Empire


During the reign of Emperor Andronikus I Komnenus (1184B1185), the power of Byzantium started to decline. In northern Bulgaria, where this power always was weakest, and where many people were accumulated as a result of the northward flight of the population in the preceding years, a revolt started led by two Vlach noblemen, Peter and Assan. It was probably provoked by new taxes imposed by the Byzantine emperor, which increased the burden of those who were making their living by the raising of animals, i.e., of the shepherds. This probably explains why the revolt started among the Vlachs, who were mainly shepherds. Peter and Assan made a declaration of independence in the church of St Demetrius (1185 AD). It began as follows (in German translation): AGott habe geruht, die Freiheit der Bulgaren und Walachen zur-Aückzuerstatten und beschlossen, das langjährige Joch ihnen abzunehmen...@ Although Peter and Assan were defeated by the Byzantine army and forced to flee to the Cumans, north of the Danube, they came back already in the following year, helped this time by the Cumans. They succeeded in a short time in establishing the second Bulgarian empire, the Vlacho-Bulgarian Empire (1187 AD). At the beginning, it comprised only the territory in the northeast, between the Danube and the Haemus mountains. Its capital was Tîrnovo.

The brothers Assan and Peter were murdered by some noblemen (boljars), who considered that they were too despotic (1196 and 1197, respectively). Their younger brother, Ioani-AÛa (also called Kaloian) became the Czar (1197B1207). He received the title KING OF THE BULGARIANS AND OF THE VLACHS (rex Bulgarorum et Blachorum) from the Pope in 1204. During the first years of the 13th century, Constantinople was besieged by the crusaders. Kaloian succeeded in re-conquering the Bulgarian territories in western Macedonia, around the towns Prizren, Skopje, and Ochrida. In 1205, in alliance with the Cumans, Kaloian defeated the crusaders. He waged many wars against the Greeks and was killed in 1207 by the Cuman leader Manaster at the siege of Saloniki. The legal successor of Kaloian, Ivan Assan, was at that time in Cumania, the present day Valachian plain. He was sent there by Kaloian with the purpose of trying to seize power there together with his brother, Alexander.

Kaloian-A´s nephew, Boril, used the absence of the legal successor to seize power (1207B1218). During his reign, the country declined. In 1217, Ivan Assan II came back with an army strengthened by Russian soldiers and in the following year defeated Boril and became the Czar of Bulgaria (1218B1241). During his reign, the power of the Vlacho-Bulgarian Empire increased again. In the battle at Klokotnitza (1230 AD), Ivan Assan II defeated Theodor, the king of Saloniki. This success made the expansion of the Bulgarian state possible and soon, all Bulgarians were united in the Vlacho-Bulgarian Empire.

To summarize: in the 11th and 12th centuries large numbers of Vlachs were living in the Bulgarian state. They are mentioned as equals to the Bulgarian population, they have played a leading role in the popular revolt against Byzantium. Since this period was after the separation of the two main dialects of Rumanian (which occurred around 1000 AD, cf. chapter II), the Vlachs we meet here must have been Northern Rumanians. Their number in Bulgaria started to decrease already at the beginning of the 13th century and the country became thereafter increasingly Bulgarian.

The other main group of the Vlachs, the Arumanians, established themselves in the central and southern parts of the Balkan peninsula. They too succeeded in creating states of their own in the 11th and 12th centuries. In the mountainous parts of Thessaly, there was Great Valachia (Megalh Blacia), in Doris, the western parts of Locris, in Etolia and Acarnania, Little Valachia (Mikra Blacia) and in Dolopia, Upper Valachia (-A´Anw-Blacia).






E. The Vlachs




The documents about this numerous Vlach population living in the Balkan peninsula, south of the Danube, during the Middle Ages, were presented and analysed by Silviu Dragomir, in his valuable work: Vlahii din nordul peninsulei Balcanice -Aîn evul mediu (´The Vlachs in the North of the Balkan Peninsula in the Middle Ages´) published in 1959 in Bucharest. According to Dragomir, many things are still poorly known in this field:


In the past, Rumanian historians have dealt with this problem only to a very limited degree. Lack of knowledge of the Slavic languages, as well as very deeply rooted prejudice, hindered the Rumanian historians from expressing the problem clearly and recognizing its significance in the study of the beginnings of the Rumanian people.

This population, whom their neighbours called by the equivalents of the name Vlach (Serbian and Bulgarian vlah, Greek BlacoV, German Walach, Hungarian ol-Aáh), called themselves rumîni (sing. rumîn). The use of this word with an ethnic meaning is attested from the mid-sixteenth century on, beginning with the writings of deacon Coresi. (As regards its sound pattern, cf. above, p. 3).

In the Middle Ages, the equivalents of AVlach@ were used exclusively by all authors who wrote about the ancestors of the population called today Rumanian. Sometimes the word was used to designate shepherds in general, a phenomenon caused obviously by the fact that the early Vlachs were par excellence shepherds. In this monograph, the designation Vlach is used, since this is historically correct; but it is employed exclusively to define the specific Romance population who were the ancestors of the present day Rumanians. -A´Vlach´ and ´Rumanian´ are thus interchangeable.

The first known record on Vlachs is contained in a note from the 8th century, found in the monastery of Kastamunitu; it mentions Vlachs living in the valley of the Rhinos. The following record is not earlier than from 976 AD. It was written by the Byzantine historian Ioan Skylitzes and relates that David, the son of prince Nikola, had been murdered by some Vlach wayfarers in the region between lake Prispa and Kastoria, near a place called ABeautiful Oaks@ in northern Greece.

In Serbia, 40 documents (deeds of gift, Ahrišovs@) are known which mention Vlachs living in different parts of the country, but the deeds of gift of the largest monasteries which had Vlachs in their territories have not yet been found. These documents were written by Serbian kings and noblemen. From the 12th century, one is known, from the 13th, six, from the 14th, 27, and from the first half of the 15th, six. The oldest hri-AÕov dates from 1198B1199 AD and mentions, among other things, that the Vlachs who belonged to the monastery of Hilander were organized in jurisdictions (sudstvo). They lived in the region of Prizren.

A deed of gift from about 1220 AD, written by the first crowned king of Serbia, Štefan, was preserved on the walls of the monastery of -Aði…a, founded by Štefan. This document mentions the names of 200 Vlachs who were living west of Kosovo Polje along the upper course of the river Lim. Dragomir states that Anot one of these names has an Arumanian character, on the contrary, the pattern of ´Mic´ compells us to think of the dialects in the north.@ Many names found in this deed of gift are Slavic but only a few are Greek. Of the placenames in this document, three survived to this day: Batina, Bukorovac, and Bun.

The Northern Rumanian character of the language of these Vlachs is generally recognized:


[the ancestors of the Arumanians] must be distinguished from the Rumanians in Serbia, recorded during the entire course of the Middle Ages in the Serbian kingdom. The language of the Rumanians in Serbia, as well as Istrorumanian, presents characteristic features of Daco-Rumanian and belongs to the northern group of the Rumanian language while Arumanian constitutes its southern group.

A deed of gift given by king Štefan Milutin about 1230 AD to the monastery of Banjska in Kosovo Polje describes the Alaw of the Vlachs@. From the text of this law it is apparent that the Vlachs were shepherds and occupied themselves with agriculture to a limited extent. Some of them also followed the trade of wayfarers (kjelatori). In the same document, the frontiers of a territory in Kijevo, called zemlja vlaška (-A´Vlach territory´) are described in detail.

Three of the deeds of gift written by Štefan Dušan distinguish between Vlachs and Serbs. The two populations are named separately: AVlachs as well as Serbs.@ Several documents mention Vlachs together with Albanians, as two distinct populations, but living in the vicinity of each other.

Concerning the Vlachs in Montenegro and Hercegovina, Dragomir gives the following account:


They were exclusively shepherds and carters. The names they have left behind call to mind the life of shepherds: the mountains Durmitor, Visator (so called when first mentioned, the later form being Visitor) and -AÚipitor; Murgule, an elevated plain below Durmitor; Palator, a ford across the Drina, where wool was washed.

The tribes have sometimes characteristic Romance names: Alunoviƒi, Visuloviƒi, Bukuroviƒi, Piperi, a family from the Dalmatian isles is called Mrljani (i.e., m-Aîrlani), a village in Montenegro has the name Ma…uga (cf. Rumanian m|ciuc|), and a place in Visoki (Bosnia) Ma…ugani. According to professor Erdeljanoviƒ, it would be foolish to believe that the Serbs waited for the Vlach colonization, say, until the 9th or the 10th centuries, to find out from them that the Durmitor and the Visitor are called by these names. The deserving anthro-geographer adds that it is unreasonable to assume that these regions were deserted, without any remains of the ancient population, since it is known that they were densely inhabited. Thus, the Serbian scholar confirms that these Vlach settlements are very old: we must go back to the period of the Slavic occupation of these areas in the 8th century, if we would accept his reasoning.

The earliest mention of the Vlachs living in the region between the rivers Timok and Morava is from 1198 AD, in a report written by Ansbertus on the journey of Fredrik Barbarossa. This region was annexed by the Serbians in 1292, by King Milutin. In Serbian documents, it is not often mentioned. There are also records of Vlachs living northwest of Niš from the year 1382 and in the district of Ku…evo from 1428.

The most recent Serbian deeds of gift are from the mid-fifteenth century. In that period, the Turks conquered more and more of the country, no more monasteries were built and the Serbian state declined.

About 1521, the Turkish Sultan Soliman made a law (Canun name) in which the rights of the Vlachs living between Brani…evo and Vidin were defined. These Vlachs were enrolled in the Turkish army and, consequently, enjoyed special privileges.





The Vlach population recorded in the Serbian deeds of gift from the 12th to the 15th centuries left behind a large number of placenames and personal names which are still in use by the Serbians. Of these names we list those mentioned by Dragomir (table 2, pp. 30B31).

Although not complete, this list, as well as the map with several other names, showing the geographical distribution of the villages in question (see map 3, p. 32) gives a good idea about the nature and the importance of these vestiges of the Vlachs in the Balkan peninsula. They are names of mountains and of (usually small) villages, reflecting the living conditions of the Vlachs in the Middle Ages. As is also known from historical records, they were shepherds, living predominantly in the high mountains, in c|tun-s, and they pursued some agriculture. (This applies to the great majority, but it did not exclude rising socially for several members of this population to the status of noblemen, and reaching high posts as functionaries etc.).

Besides these names of Northern Rumanian origin, many of which certainly existed before the Slavic colonization of the areas in question, there is another group of geographical names connected with the presence of Vlachs: the names of mountains and placenames given by the Slavs and based on the Slavic name of the Vlachs. These are found all over the territories in which also names of Rumanian origin were preserved. Of such names of mountains, we mention Vlasiƒ, Vlaško Brdo, Stari Vlah, Vlasina, Vlaninja, Vlahinja Planina; and of placenames Vlahov Katun, Valakonje, Vlahoni, Vlaškido, Vlaški Do, Vlasiƒ, Vlase, Vlasi, Vlasotinƒe, Novovlase, Vlaška Draca, (of the following villages, there are more than one with the same name:) Vlaška, Vlahi, Vlahinja.







from N. Rumanian








stump of tree












dust; earth, ground




a a-AÛipi


to drowse off












the way, the road






beak (dimin. of clon-AÛ)


Korbulicka Rjeka






















little cross






fields (plur. of c-Aâmp)


















watch, guard


















shores, coasts, banks (plur. of mal)












the dumb one


















burning, drying






the peak






small streams (plur. of r-Aâu)






bags (plur. of sac)






the bag


Sora, Sore










the deaf one


Taor, Taure






Trokujev Do




barter, truck






the bear






the valley






to wad


Table 2. Placenames and geographical names of Vlach (Northern Rumanian) origin in Serbia. (Compiled on the basis of data given by Dragomir, S., Vlahii din nordul peninsulei Balcanice -Aîn evul mediu, 1959.)


Many Rumanian placenames were preserved also in the mountainous regions of Bulgaria, particularly in the surroundings of Serdica (Sofia); smaller numbers also in Sredna Gora and in the Rhodope mountains. Such names are: Cerecel, Bukorovci, Vlasi, Banišor (villages), Ursulica (a field), Krecul (part of a mountain), Merul (a small stream) etc., (see map No 3).

Of Serbian personal names based on Rumanian ones the following may be mentioned:

Alunoviƒ, Barbat, Drakuloviƒi, Durmiƒi, Meruliƒi, Merulja, Mican, Serbul, Surduljani, Valnise.

Map 3. Serbo-Croatian and Bulgarian placenames and geographical names of Northern Rumanian origin or containing the equivalent of the ethnic name Vlach (Vlas, Vlase, Vlasovo, etc.). Such names, not all of which are shown on this map, are the vestiges of the Northern Rumanian population living in the Balkan peninsula, south of the Danube, in the Middle Ages. All these names exist today, but many others, no more extant, are mentioned in historical documents. (After a map published by S. Dragomir in Vlahii din nordul peninsulei Balcanice -Aîn evul mediu, 1959.)




The Serbian and Bulgarian populations in the above mentioned territories have, as shown above, borrowed geographical names and placenames from the Vlachs who once lived there, they also named a considerable number of villages and mountains after their Vlach inhabitants, and borrowed a number of personal names of them. To all this must be added a Northern Rumanian influence upon several Slavic dialects. Dragomir (p. 154) summarizes this as follows:


We add the Romance words which were borrowed by the Serbian vocabulary in some regions, where the SerbianBVlach symbiosis lasted longer: brinza, ba…, dos, deal, fi…or, gropa, porta, urda, urdenik, strunga, strunga…, faša, pasaran, muscur. They are limited to certain local dialects, which indicates tha the Vlachs there spoke their own language until a late period.

The Romance language was spoken in the Serbian regions also in the western part of the peninsula, while it is probable that in Bulgaria, it disappeared soon after the organization of the second empire. The silence of the historical sources concerning Vlachs after the extinction of the first As|ne-AÕti can only be explained in this way. In the region of StrumiÛa and in southwestern Bulgaria, Vlachs continued to live until the end of the Middle Ages.

In most of the areas where Vlachs have been living for some time, the word stock that the surrounding populations borrowed from them consists to a large extent of the shepherd terminology. This was the case also in Serbia; at least eight of those 14 words in Serbian dialects mentioned above are terms of shepherding, as shown in the following table:





-A´shepherd in charge of a sheepfold´












-A´(sheep) with black spots on a light mouth´












-A´back, bottom´








-A´bandage, dressing´








-A´boy´ (´Sennerknabe´)




-A´soft cow cheese´


Macrea summarized the significance of the Rumanian influence on the South Slavic languages as follows:


The influence of the Rumanian language on the word stock of the South Slavic languages is explained by the prolonged historical community of the Rumanian people with the South Slavic populations, by common political and administrative institutions, by the same religion, by the similar social structure and by ancient occupations in common.




The exact ages of the placenames presented above have not yet been determined. Although part of them (for example Bani-AÕor) can probably be explained by a migration from the Danube valley in the 14th or 15th century, most of them are much older. Rosetti (referring to Weigand, Duridanov, and Zaimov) mentions 35 placenames in central Bulgaria and in the region of Sofia which must be considered of Northern Rumanian origin, the Arumanian names having been eliminated. All these date back to the period between the 10th and 14th centuries.

The deeds of gift preserved in Serbian monasteries give us very valuable, detailed accounts from the end of the 12th century on, concerning the Vlachs who then lived in Serbia. Their way of life, their social organization, relationships to other peoples living in the same areas may be discerned quite clearly from these documents. To a certain extent, even estimates concerning the numbers of the Vlachs are possible. Although the first of these deeds of gift dates from the end of the 12th century, it is obvious tha the Vlach population they describe had been living there long before:


The most reliable conclusion to be drawn from these accounts is that the geographic distribution of the Vlachs in the Balkans, as seen in the 12th to the 15th centuries, is very old and DATES BACK MUCH BEFORE THE 10TH CENTURY.


The circumstances in Montenegro make a more exact conclusion possible: Montenegro belonged to the Roman-Byzantine Empire until about 600 AD. Its colonization by the Serbs started in the 8th century. The Serbs found there a Vlach population from whom they borrowed many geographic names: Durmitor, Visitor, etc. It is obvious that these Vlachs were the descendants of the Romanized shepherds of these or adjacent areas of the East Latin territory. Explaining the survival of this population, Dragomir stresses the importance of the social circumstances, i.e., the fact that while the town-dwellers and the farmers were dispersed, killed or assimilated to the Slavs, the shepherds were exsposed to these perils in a much lesser degree.

Our knowledge of the early Vlachs is, unfortunately, quite fragmentary. It must be emphasized that the placenames of Northern Rumanian origin in the Balkan peninsula, as we know them, (including those which no longer exist but are mentioned in historical records) can only be a part of all names of this type





which had existed earlier. Placenames tend to be exposed to changes of many different causes. Many Vlach names may have been translated by the Slavs, even more may have disappeared in the course of time, when the Vlach population was successively replaced by the Slavs. In the Balkan peninsula, the Slavic domination was not only temporary but definitive, which cannot have been favourable for the preservation of non-Slavic placenames.

The toponymy of Northern Rumanian origin in the Balkan peninsula is of very great significance in the study of the early history of the Rumanian language. Especially the question of the ages of the different names and their possible relationships to each other would be worth detailed and systematic investigation.




Mobility has always been a characteristic trait of the populations of the Balkan peninsula. There are villages in which as many as three dialects of the same language are spoken.

Relevant for the problem discussed here are the wanderings of the Vlachs. As shepherds, the Vlachs were used to a high degree of mobility. Part of them practised what in Rumanian is called transhuman-AÛ| i.e., they had a certain sommer grazing place in the mountains and moved with their animals each autumn to a winter grazing place in the lowlands.

The protracted wanderings of the Vlachs can be reconstructed from the following sources:

(a) Documents. C King Uroš Milutin (1282B1298) disposed in a deed of gift given to the monastery of Hilander that everybody coming to the kingdom, Abe he parikoi, Vlach, or any foreigner, must belong to the holy Church.@ Also documents from Ragusa tell us about the migrations of the Vlachs in the 14th and 15th centuries. AIn 1332, a monk promised to the inhabitants of Ragusa to induce the Vlachs from fifty villages (c|tun-s) to settle in their territory. In Stagno, the Vlachs came not only in order to spend the winter with their flocks there, but some of them also settled in the area (in the 14th century).@

(b) The Jire…ek line (see map 4, p. 50). C All Vlach settlements south of the frontier between the Latin and Greek languages (in Rhodope, in the valley of the Marica, on the coasts of the Black Sea, etc.) must be the result of migratory movements.

(c) The placenames. C Vladimir Skariƒ showed that Athere existed, in fact, also before the Turkish invasion, a permanent migration from the east to the northwest, of not only of Serbs but also of Vlachs.@

This is evidenced by placenames in Montenegro and Bosnia which have their counterpart in Kosovo or in the vicinity of Prizren. For example, the name Drobnjaci in Montenegro corresponds to the name of a hill in Kosovo; not far from Gacko, there is a village named Nadiniƒi, a name probably derived from Nadih-nin-Laz, mentioned in a deed of gift by Štefan Dušan as a placename in the vicinity of the Vlach c|tun Golubovac, near Prizren.

Thus, the settlements of the Vlach population in the western parts of the Balkan peninsula are Athe result of a long historical process, the contours of which, however, may be deciphered.@ The paths of the shepherds also served as paths of migration, which explains this slow and protracted expansion.


The Morlachs and the Istrorumanians must be considered the extreme point of the movement which started in the region of the Morava and at first headed westwards, later towards the north.


The study of the placenames also suggests migration of Vlachs from the Balkan peninsula to Pannonia. On the basis of Northern Rumanian placenames in Pannonia, mentioned in medieval documents, Dr|ganu assumed that these Vlachs came from Moesia Superior, in an age from which no historical records exist. Thus, for example, documents mention a Avilla Vlach@ near Sirmium in 1295 and a river Valachyza in 1292. In 1406, Radulfalva is mentioned, and in 1395, in the same area, Ušurinc. This name calls to mind Ušur, the son of Ivan Borojeviƒ (Rumanian u-AÕure = uÕor ´light weight´). The placename UÕurei, for example, is found in Vîlcea and in MehedinÛi. The name Zemena in Pannonia is not rhotacized (the n is preserved rather than changed to r ) , which indicates that its inhabitants cannot have come from the region of RudnikBDrinjaca, but came probably from the area of the rivers Timok and Morava, where the dialect of the Vlachs is not rhotacized.





The causes of this prolonged and universal migration of the Vlach population are to be sought in their way of life and social situation: they were shepherds and belonged in Bulgaria as well as in Serbia to the lower classes, being mostly dependent on their landlords or the church. ABecause of this, they try to flee from one landlord to the other, using shepherds-A´ routes which they know very well. Good pastures and more favourable living conditions were always decisive.@

The Turkish invasion of the Balkan peninsula pushed all Christian populations northwards and hastened the migrations.





Many documents in Serbia, written in the 13th to 15th centuries, mention Albanians, Vlachs, and often also Serbians living in the same areas. Although no written record is known from earlier periods, certain cirumstances indicate that the VlachoBAlbanian symbiosis is of an ancient date:


The territory in which both Vlach and Albanian c|tun-s exist side by side extends from Scutari to Ragusa and in the east to Prizren. There, the symbiosis between Albanians and Vlachs can be proved by documents, although the Serbian deeds of gift do not show this symbiosis to have been too close as the villages of the Vlachs are always presented apart from those of the Albanians. Obviously, both populations were shepherds. In Old Serbia, the Albanian settlements are rare, as well as in the northwest of Ragusa, where only the names of some Vlachs such as Burmazi and possibly Bolami, preserved their memory. In spite of this, the VlachoBAlbanian symbiosis here must have been quite ancient. This is shown by the spread of the c|tun among the Albanians and by the development of the Vlach fr|-AÛii into tribes. The c|tun is not general among the Albanians and the organization in tribes remained, also among the Serbs who survived the Turkish occupation, restricted to a small zone. The Albanian influence is also seen in the names of Vlachs in Serbia (Cepimati, Ginovik, Tus, Hotul) although we must point out that there are very few Albanian names among the Vlachs.

All these considerations enable us to state with sufficient certainty that the settlements of the Vlachs in the regions in which they came into contact with the Albanians are very old. They may originate from the period preceding the spread of the Serbian element in the region between Scutari, Prizren, and Ragusa (8thB9th centuries). This view is supported also by Erdeljanoviƒ, who considers that it was the Vlachs who handed down the indigenous, pre-Slavic (Illyrian and Roman) placenames to the Serbian population of ancient Montenegro.


Besides toponyms and personal names, some lexical elements were also transferred from the language of the Vlachs to the Albanian population living in the region mentioned above. Jokl described this Rumanian influence on the Albanian dialects spoken along the Drina. There are, for example: Albanian lemnj -A´reel´, cf. Rumanian lemne, the plural of lemn ´wood´; Alb. me trase ´to draw up´, cf. Rum. tras, the past participle of trag ´I draw´; Alb. fi…or ´boy who helps the shepherd making cheese´, cf. N. Rum. (dialectal) ficior ´boy, lad´; Alb. gjëndërë ´glandule´, cf. Rum. ghindur| ´tonsil, ganglion, glandule´ (this Rumanian word was also transferred to Serbo-Croatian: glindura).






Map 4. Southeastern Europe in the 9th century AD (after Atlas zur Welt-geschichte, Georg Westermann, Braunschweig.) B In the Carpathian Basin, Avars, Danubian Slovenes, Bavarian-Franks, Moravians, Bulgarians, and Gepidae were living.


Map 5. Central and Southeastern Europe in the early 13th century AD (after Atlas zur Weltgeschichte, Georg Westermann, Braunschweig). To the north-west of Bosnia, Croatia was situated. Bulgaria extended much more to the southwest (over Macedonia and other areas) than is the case today.


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