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

Chapter III




A. Introduction


The definition of the theory of Daco-Roman continuity


This theory assumes that present day Rumanian is the direct descendant of Latin spoken at one time, i.e., in AD 106B275, in the territory of the Roman province of Dacia Traiana, present day Oltenia and most of Transylvania.

Within this framework opinions vary between archaeologists, historians, and linguists; and also in time. Until the early 1970s, only the former province of Dacia Traiana was considered in this context (C. Daicoviciu). Thereafter, however, certain archaeologists and historians started to declare that areas extra provinciam, such as Muntenia and Moldavia, also belonged to the ancient Daco-Roman areas. On the other hand, the evidence of early Vlachs (Rumanians) in several parts of the Balkan peninsula is too strong to be neglected; particularly linguists have assumed a very large area of formation for the Rumanian language and people, both north and south of the lower Danube, from the central areas of the Balkans to northern Transylvania.


About the history of the theory


Poggio Bracciolini, Italian humanist, travelled in Eastern Europe and discovered with surprise the Vlachs, a population whose language resembled very much his own, Italian. His writing from 1451 was, as far as this is known today, the first thesis about the origins of the Rumanians. Bracciolini knew of the Roman province of Dacia Traiana and believed that the presence in the same territory of a population speaking a Romance language can only be explained by assuming a direct continuity between Trajan´s Romans and this population. This has been called Ahistorical logic@ and is by many people still considered plausible. During the centuries following Bracciolini, many similar records appeared about the Vlachs and their language.

These ideas were taken up and developed during the 17th and 18th centuries by the first Rumanian chroniclers of importance: Miron Costin, Dimitrie Cantemir, and others. Cantemir (1673B1723) affirmed that Emperor Trajan annihilated or ousted all Dacians from the conquered territories north of the lower Danube and that the Rumanian people was the descendant of the Romans B mostly of noble families transferred from Rome to Dacia Traiana; not of a mixed, Roman and Dacian, population. He assumed, nevertheless, the existence of some Dacian words in the Rumanian language.

As pointed out by Armbruster:


Der Sinn und Wert dieser Anschauung liegt in ihrer politischen Absicht, als theoretische Begründung praktischer Unternehmen zur Wiederzusammen- führung der ´Romano-Moldo-Wlachen´ aus der Moldau, der Walachei und aus Siebenbürgen in einen einzigen einheitlichen rumänischen Staat.


During the second half of the 18th century, these views were further developed and propagated by the ATransylvanian School@ (Ôcoala ardelean|), whose main protagonists were P. Maior, Gh. Ôincai, and S. Micu-Klein. Emphasizing the Latin origin of Rumanian, these writers considered the Slavic elements of language alien. They wrote Rumanian grammars and histories, occupied themselves with education, literature, etc. and launched the development of national consciousness among the Rumanians. The political importance of this activity was also very great:


History and language were the most important arms with which Micu, as also Ôincai and Maior, has sought to argue for the right of the Rumanian people to a life in freedom and equality with the other nationalities of Transylvania.


The ideas of the Transylvanian School have had, and still have, an enormous influence on Rumanian historical thinking.




B. The theory of continuity in modern times


In Istoria Romîniei, C. Daicoviciu (editor), Edit. Acad. RPR, Bucharest, 1960, the theory of the Aformation of the Rumanian language and the Rumanian people@ is summarized as follows:


The Rumanian people was formed in a prolonged process which was made possible by the colonization and Romanization of Moesia and Dacia. Two elements are found on the basis of this ethnogenesis: the autochthonous population with a ThracoBDacoBMoesic language and the Roman element, represented by the colonists of Rome, who settled in this DacoBMoesic territory during the centuries of Roman domination, and by the Romanizing influence of this domination.

The birth of the Rumanian people in the territory of its fatherland (naÕterea poporului romîn pe teritoriul patriei sale) was in the first place made possible by the continued existence of a Latin-speaking population in the entire territory between the Haemus mountains and the Northern Dacian Carpathians ALSO AFTER THE OFFICIAL ABANDONMENT OF DACIA. In fact, this continuity was ascertained, its main foci being the Romanized centres of the former province of Dacia and the valley of the lower Danube, including Dobrogea. It continued without interruption, in time and space, not only until the massive settlement of the Slavs in Dacia and in the Balkan peninsula, but also after.

During this period, the MoesoBDanubian Roman population (romanitatea moeso-danubian|) of urban, rural, and pastoral character contributed effectively to the completion of the Romanization of the territories north of the river, by unceasing intermigrations of the population from one shore to the other as well as by contacts of political character (temporary domination of the RomanoBByzantine Empire north of the Danube), of economic and cultural character (the propagation of Christianity in the Latin language) which the Empire maintained with the territories beyond the Danube.

After the end of the RomanoBByzantine domination on the southern side of the Danube (about the year 600), and as a consequence of the symbiosis of the autochthonous Romance population with the Slavs who settled in Dacia and in Moesia, the process of Rumanian ethnogenesis in a more restricted sense of the word started in the entire DacoBMoesian territory, lasting about two or three centuries (from the 7th to the 9th century). The contacts between the Romance population of Moesia and Dacia were not interrupted in these centuries either, but were preserved, though from now on the common Latin language spoken by this population started to sever itself from popular Latin when going through the first stage of the common Rumanian language (the so-called Ancient Rumanian (str|româna).


Considering the fact that the Slavic elements in the Rumanian language show predominantly Bulgarian traits, and the frontier of Bulgarian was approximately the same as today, the early Rumanians are said to have been living in the Balkans only in the small area between the Haemus mountains (the Jireek-line), the lower Danube, and the BulgarianBSerbian frontier.


From this small area of the Balkan peninsula B it is true that it was strongly Romanized B those waves of Romance population are alleged to have started which, according to another theory, that of the linguist A. Philippide, led to the re-Romanization, from the 7th century on, of the territories north of the Danube, where at present 17 million people speak Rumanian. The probability of such a massive migration, starting from a limited area is, however, very small.


Therefore, the area on both sides of the Danube (the ADacoBMoesian territory,@ spaÛiu daco-moesic) is said to have been the region in which the ancestors of the Rumanians lived and where the SlavoBRumanian symbiosis took place:


The phonetic, lexical, and grammatical changes in the DacoBMoesian Rumanian language (romanica daco-moesic|) took place in the long interval between the 7th and 9th centuries. This language was carried towards the south by the Vlachs, the ancestors of the Arumanians mentioned by Byzantine historians of the 10th century as having arrived from the Danubian regions, from the vicinity of Dacia. Thus, at this period, the formation of the Rumanian language was completed.


Another summary of the theory of continuity is given in an article by C. Daicoviciu (1967):


Die slawische Toponymie Rumäniens, besonders die im Banat, in Siebenbürgen, in Oltenien und Muntenien zeigt dieselbe südslawischen phonetischen Kennzeichen, wie auch im Wortschatz der rumänischen Sprache vorkommenden slawischen Elemente. Folglich muss die Urheimat der rumänischen Sprache nördlich des Kammes des Haemus-Gebirges und zwar bis in Gebiete, zu denen die Romanisierung vordrang, also BIS NACH DACIEN HINEIN, und bis östlich der heutigen Grenze zwischen Jugoslavien und Bulgarien gesucht werden.

Von diesen donau-moesischen Gebieten her sind im Laufe des frühen Mittelalters (etwa im 7.B9. Jahrhundert, also nach dem Eindringen der Bulgaren) romanische Schafhirten nicht nur nach Süden, Südwesten und Westen, in die Balkanhalbinsel (die Vorfahren der heutigen Arumänen, Megleno-Rumänen und, auf der Istrien-Halbinsel, der Istro-Rumänen), sondern auch nach Norden, in das gebirgige Dazien gezogen.


It appears that the above authorities do not believe in the theory that the Rumanian language originated exclusively from Latin spoken in Dacia Traiana but assume a larger or smaller area also south of the lower Danube as its area of formation. The question is then, which was this area?


The territory of formation of Common Rumanian was defined above (p. 321). According to Densusianu, (H.d.l.r., I, 289), this territory would have comprised Moesia, Illyria,and Dacia; PuÕcariu (Ét. de ling. roum., 112) puts the territory of formation of the Rumanian language on both shores of the Danube (Aa large territory, south and north of the Danube@, LR I, 255, Treimer (Literaturbl. f. germ. u. rom. Phil., LXII, col. 64B65) in Illyria, Dardania, and Paeonia, and Philippide (Orig. Rom., II, 385), in the Balkan peninsula.

The areas of the Timok and Morava remained Romanized until the 13th and 14th centuries. In these regions, although to a lesser extent as compared to Dalmatia, a large number of Roman placenames were preserved (see the enumeration in Orig. Rom., I, 453, by Philippide); the Romanized population was preserved during the period of the Byzantine domination along the road of great penetration in the Balkan peninsula, Via Egnatia (Margulies, A. Slavic. Ph., XL, 197 ff.)


It is interesting to follow Rosetti´s argument about the territories north of the Danube as a part of the Rumanian ancient homeland. The arguments are taken from archaeological finds and a reference to the assumption that not all citizens of Dacia Traiana have left the province in 275 AD. There is also a difference between the 1968 edition and the definitive (1986) edition regarding the territories north of the Danube:

The presence of a Romanized population (Vlachs...) in the western parts of the Balkan peninsula is normal. It does not exclude the persistence of a Romanized element north of the Danube in those regions which once were under Roman rule. The existence of a Rumanian population north of the Danube (at Dridu, Urziceni, and Bucov, PloieÕti) in the 9th and 10th centuries is, as a matter of fact, proved by archaeological excavations (Nestor, Don. archéol. 407B410).

M. Besnier, L´Empire romain, de l´avenement des Sévères au concile de Nicée, Paris, p. 243 (Histoire romaine. IV, 1): the evacuation of Dacia Ane fut pas complète ... La masse des paysans ne bougea pas ... Ainsi s´explique la persistence si tenace de la race et de la langue latines dans la contrée que Trajan avait conquise@. After the official abandonment of Dacia by Aurelian, a part of the Romanized population B with the exception of the soldiers, functionaries and a considerable part of the town-dwellers and of those who were living in the countryside B remained in their places, in the Banat (C. Patsch, Banater Sarmaten, Akad. d. Wissenschaft. in Wien, Anzeiger 1925, nr. XXVII, p. 215.) For the conditions in which this Romanized population survived in Dacia under the domination of the barbarians, until the arrival of the Slavs, cf. Daicoviciu, Transylv., p. 79 ff.

In the year 535, the diocese of the bishop of Skopje comprised the provinces Dacia Ripensis, Dacia Mediterranea, Moesia Superior, Praevalis, Macedonia Secunda and the eastern part of southern Pannonia, thus, also the provinces enumerated above (M. Friedwagner, ZRPh., LIV, 663). AWe are forced to admit that at least part of the ancient Rumanians lived south of the Danube@ (PuÕcariu, LR, I, 270).

This territory, restricted and enlarged in the course of time (in 235B238, Moesia Inferior was abandoned because of the incursions of the migrating peoples, and in 268 were Dacia and Moesia Superior abandoned; in 377, the Huns occupied Pannonia: Philippide, Orig. rom., I, 854), does not comprise the regions in which the Rumanian language was to be extended later (unde limba român| era s| se întind| mai tîrziu): eastern Transylvania, Bucovina, Moldova, Basarabia, Úara Româneasc| and Dobrogea.

The argument of PuÕcariu against the theory of a Balkan origin of the Rumanians is quoted:

If the Rumanians of modern Rumania were the descendants of some migrating shepherds who, as some people pretend, came form the Balkan peninsula during the Middle Ages into regions inhabited by other populations, their fate would have been, beyond doubt, the same as that of those Vlach groups who disappeared in the masses of Hungarians and Slavs in Ancient Pannonia and in the northern Carpathians.

As was mentioned above, before the 1970s, historians as well as linguists considered that the Rumanian language developed (also) in the territory of the former province of Dacia Traiana. (C. Daicoviciu explicitly stated this, criticizing the attempts at extending the theory of continuity to areas beyond the frontiers of this province.) Also Rosetti stated, in the earlier editions of his Istoria limbii române, that Muntenia, Moldavia, and other areas once extra provinciam did not belong to the territory of the Daco-Romans (see above). However, in the definitive edition (1986), this statement was omitted. This is the expression of a change in policy during the first years of the 1970s, as shown by a similar inconsistency in a textbook of history:

Istoria României. Compendiu, 1969, stressed the importance of the distinction between those areas which once belonged to the Roman Empire and those which remained extra provinciam.

We must not forget that the problem of continuity appeared for a very long time ago in the science of history and that it has a well-defined content, which we are not allowed to change according to our own wishes. This problem pertains exclusively to Roman Dacia: it was for THIS territory that the followers of Roesler denied the preservation under Roman rule of the Dacian population, for THIS territory was Daco-Roman continuity denied after 271 AD, in THIS territory were Abrought@, also by Roesler´s partisans, from the territory south of the Danube, the Rumanians in the 9thB13th centuries. The problem of continuity is thus a problem regarding Roman Dacia.

Does this mean that in Muntenia and in Moldavia no continuity of human life existed? Not at all! Muntenia and Moldavia were never left deserted, but there one cannot talk of Dacian continuity under Roman rule, only of continuity of the free Dacians. There is not and cannot be a Daco-Roman continuity after the abandonment by Aurelian because of the simple reason that between 106B 271, Muntenia and Moldavia not having been occupied by the Romans, little more than a bare beginning of Romanization can have occurred there, and the abandonment by Aurelian changed almost nothing of the situation in these territories. The Dacian population of Muntenia and Moldavia was Romanized much later.

This is the reason why the issue of continuity must be restricted exclusively to the territories which belonged to Roman Dacia and particularly to the intra-Carpathian areas.


In the third (1974) edition of the same textbook a very different view is found:

Does this mean that in Muntenia and in Moldavia no continuity of human life existed? Not at all! Muntenia and Moldavia never remained desert; also there, there was a Dacian continuity under Roman rule, continuity of DacoRoman life, because southern Moldavia and Muntenia belonged to the Roman province of Moesia Inferior.



C. History




C. Daicoviciu assembled the following arguments in favour of Athe possibility of a real Romanization@ of Dacia Traiana:

(1) The Dacians were exposed to Roman civilization at least a century before their subjugation by the Romans, and Romanization continued also after the abandonment of the province by Rome.

(2) The colonization there B as shown by the facts that very strong army units were used and that the process was highly organized, B was a deliberate effort made by the Roman state to build a bastion in the midth of barbaricum.

(3) The spread of Christianity during the 4th century among the population left by the Romans in the province. AThat this propagation of the new religion occurred in the Latin language is shown by the basic terms of Latin origin in the Christian terminology of Rumanian.@

(4) Those of the foreign colonists who did not speak Latin, were compelled to learn it in order to be able to communicate with the other inhabitants.

(5) There are two historical records about Athe Roman character of the province@: (a) Eutropius (VIII, 6, 2) tells us that when Emperor Hadrian (117B 138) planned to leave Dacia, he was told not to do so, Ato evade handing over many Roman citizens to the barbarians@. (b) Zonaras (Annal., XI, 21, II, p. 510, ed. Bonn): AAnd from that time on, from the conquest of Dacia, the Dacian people and their province became Roman.@

(6) The absence of any racial sentiment and any opposition based on a uniform language. The Dacian language, with its many dialects was no obstacle to Romanization, on the contrary, affirms Daicoviciu, it was advantageous to change to a language known by the entire population.

(7) A large number of inscriptions (almost 3000), of which most are Latin, attest to the presence of the Latin language in the province. Daicoviciu asserts that the frequent appearance of non-Latin names in the inscriptions is no indication against Romanization because this has, in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, counterparts in other Roman provinces. The statistics made by A. Kerényi (Die Personnamen von Dazien, Budapest, 1941) show that the great majority of the names were of Roman origin.

(8) Among colonists coming from 20 provinces, some were from Italy, as shown by the situation in the capital, Ulpia Traiana, where this was studied:


An investigation of the personal names in Ulpia Traiana revealed some whose territory of origin is certain, among which was Italy (families such as Varenii, Cominii, Domitii, Servii, etc.). An investigation which will be necessary to make also about the rest of the communities of Dacia will result in the same statement: the number of people from Italy, settled in Dacia either as veterans, as handicraftsmen or as businessmen (among whom there were certainly also farmers) is much higher than is generally believed (p. 432).

(9) A large number of Dalmatian miners contributed to Romanization.

(10) The high number of military units: at the beginning, three, then one, and later, two legions, and a Aconsiderable number of auxiliary units@. The majority of these came from the western provinces, in a period when the auxiliary units were increasingly Romanizaed. Through the canabae, these units were starting points of Romanization.

(11) The increase in the standard of living, from which also the indigenous population benefited, may have brought them close to the Romans.

(12) The archaeological finds show that the Roman buildings in Dacia were of the same style as those in the western parts of the empire.

(13) The progressive Romanization of the province is reflected in the successive organization of municipia and of colonies.

(14) AIn the most suitable moment of the maturation of this process of Romanization, the institution of the Concilium III Daciarum by Severus Alexander crowns this transformation of ´barbarian´ Dacia into Dacia Romana@ (p. 436).





The record about the Roman retreat from Dacia Traiana was written about 100 years after the event, by Eutropius. This writer was the magister memoriae of Emperor Valens (364B369). Eutropius wrote in 369 a history of Rome: Breviarium ab urbe condita. The most important sources of this work were Suetonius, Livius, and a history of the Empire also known by other authors. Writing about Emperor Aurelian, Eutropius tells us the following:


IX, 13, 1. After him, Aurelian, who originated from Dacia Ripensis, took the power in the Empire: [...] he defeated very bravely the Goths, thanks to several lucky wars, he restored the Roman power to the former frontiers.

IX, 15, 1. [...] He abandoned the province of Dacia, created by Trajan beyond the Danube, since the whole of Illyricum and all of Moesia were devastated, and he had no hope of keeping it. He took the Romans from the towns and from the fields of Dacia and placed them in the middle of Moesia; and, what before was to the left, is now to the right of the Danube, as it flows into the sea.


Historians who believe in Daco-Roman continuity cannot, of course, accept the idea that all Latin-speaking inhabitants have left Dacia Traiana. Thus, for example, V. Iliescu, one of the editors of Fontes Historiae Daco-Romanae, comments in a footnote the above text as follows:


Since he wanted to save the prestige of the Romans and at the same time not to diminish the figure of Aurelian, who is praised by the author to have restored the empire, Eutropius Aaugments@ (l|rgeÕte) the operation of evacuation of Dacia and creates in this way the illusion of a total evacuation, in the same way as he, in connection with Trajan, talked about a total colonization of Dacia. And in this way, a false tradition was created, taken up by Festus and then put into circulation.





After the record by Eutropius, no Roman population north of the lower Danube is mentioned for 800 years, until the second half of the 11th century, when Vlach soldiers were first recorded in Moldavia. This silence has been used as an argument against the theory of continuity. It is, however, only an argument ex silentio; it has been pointed out repeatedly that the absence of records about a Roman population cannot in itself be regarded as proof of the absence of such a population. The following explanations have been offered:


When discussing these regions in their works, the Byzantine and the western chroniclers occupied themselves only with the events of war or with dominating ethnic elements, and only if these were interesting for their friendly or inimical attitude towards Byzantium or the Western world. [...]

Of course, the possibility cannot be excluded that the Byzantine authors had the autochthonous population in mind when using archaic expressions or the name of some dominating peoples, since it might be possible that the chroniclers meant, without saying it explicitly, the masses of local peoples when they wrote about those numerous Anationes@ and Agentes@ over which ( also according to the chroniclers of the age) Huns and Avars reigned.


G. Ôtefan affirmed that even in the light of the historical records, Athe theory of a total evacuation of the north-Danubian province proves false@. His and other authors´ arguments in favour of this may be summarized as follows:

(1)The fact that the Huns dominated over several populations, among which there might have been also Romans. Travelling north of the lower Danube, the Byzantine envoy Priscus found villages (kwmai) comprised of huts (kalubai):


Thus, this was a sedentary population of peasant farmers, not of Hunnish origin, without any political significance but only with an economic one, because politics and war belonged to the affairs of the Huns.

We may talk about a kind of symbiosis between the dominating Huns and their subjects (Sarmatians, Goths, Gepidae, beyond doubt, also Romance groups). [...]

One may also observe the progress attained by the Hunnish society thanks to the contact with the Roman civilization. The court of Attila, the dwelling place of Onegesios, the bath constructed by a prisoner from Sirmium are only some examples. We also may add the fact that there was an organized office, that several languages were spoken at the court of Attila. About this, Priscus writes: Abecause the Scythians are mixed and besides their own language, they try to speak the language of the Huns, or that of the Goths or that of the Ausoni, when some of them have to do with the Romans.@ This is not the place to once again discuss the question of the Ausoni and their language. For us, the statement by Priscus that this language was used for the understading with the Romans (osoiV autwn proV RwmaiouV epimizia kai ou radiwV tiV ellenizei th jwnh), and not with the Byzantine Greeks, is sufficient. It was thus a Romance language (o limb| romanic|), probably Latin spoken in the Romanized region of the Danube valley (the two Moesiae and Daciae, Pannonia, which together with north-Danubian Dacia and Scythia Minor, constitute the territory of the Danubian Roman population).


(2) The persecution of king Hellenos (?) would have been Acaused by the hatred against the Romans@, but it did not succeed in suppressing the Christians. In fact, Epiphanios writes (70, 15, 4): Aand even though it would appear as if all Christians had been expelled, SOME BELIEVERS REMAINED THERE.@ Such affirmations give us the right to ask whether the hatred against the Romans was directed against the Roman state or only against the Roman subjects of the Goths.

(3) Talking about the propagation of Christianity among the Goths, [Sozomenos, an historian living in the 5th century] says that it was spread among the Goths as well as among Athose who earlier were their neighbours along the shores of the Ister@, an information which deserves to be remembered. Who were earlier the neighbours of the Goths the author refers to? Sarmatians, Carps, Daco-Romans? An opportunity to meditate and an incentive to go into the problem more deeply is offered us also by the affirmation that under the influence of Christianity, Athey (the Goths) adapted themselves to a more civilized and better life@.


(4) Zosimos, IV, 34, wrote that Theodosius defeated the CarpoBDacians and forced them to return to their places. Gh. Ôtefan considers this to be of great significance: ...Abeing repelled, they returned to their places, an incontestable proof of continuity.@

(5) The story of Chilbudios is told by IR 1960 pp. 738B739 as follows:


During their incursions into the Empire, the different Slavic tribes often brought with them as prisoners, groups of Thraco-Romanized population (populaÛie traco-romanizat|) from the territory south of the Danube. The Latin language was used north of the Danube, and in this context an important record was left by Procopios. Narrating the attempt made by the Ant [a Slavic tribe] Chilbudios to appear as if he were the general with the same name who died, Procopios shows how he was exposed by general Narses, AIN SPITE OF THE FACT THAT HE SPOKE LATIN and that he learned to imitate many of the habits of the Roman general Chilbudios ...@ The fact that the false Chilbudios learned the Latin language north of the Danube can only be explained by the presence there of a Romance population and by the use of the Latin language among the different groups [emphasis in the original].

(6) The episode recorded by Theophylaktos Simokattes and Theophanes Confessor about the shouting of the words Atorna, torna, frater!@, during a march of a Byzantine army unit in the region of the Haemus mountains refers to a Romanized population:


...all repeated in the language of the local peoples (în limba btinaÕilor): Atorna, tornaA, i.e., return, as if it had been the sign of peril. The words are evidently Romance. Since the author shows that they were uttered in the language of the local population of the Balkans, it is obvious that these people were Romance (este evident c| aceÕtia erau romanici).


(7) In a work written at the beginning of the 7th century, the author, Mauricius, gives advice regarding the tactics to be followed by the Byzantine army in the battles with the Sclavini and the Antes north of the Danube. In chapter XI, 31, Mauricius writes:


We must beware of those so-called refugees, sent to us to show the ways and to find somebody; although they are Romans, with time, their mode of life changed, they forgot their own people and show more affection for the enemy.

The difficulty is to understand the exact significance of the word refugees. Are they some inhabitants of the Empire who fled to the Slavs and were used by these to deceive the Byzantine army? Or are they somehow Romans originating from the north of the Danube, because, Ain the course of time, their mode of life changed@, in the course of the symbiosis with the Slavs? [...] The problem remains open.


In a note to this text, however, V. Iliescu gives the following commentary to the word refugees (rejougouV):


The Latin technical term used shows a juridic notion. The author talks about Romance elements north of the Danube, who fled across the Danube, home, to the Empire but served as guides for the Byzantine troops north of the Danube, these places being known for them, because their flight occurred a not very long time before.

(8) Also the record written by Auxentius Durostorensis, who stated that the Gothic bishop Ulfila preached in Greek, Latin, and Gothic, has been assumed to prove the presence of a Latin-speaking population north of the lower Danube:


Having done these and similar things, and shining with glory for forty years in the episcopate, he preached, by apostolic grace, without interruption, in the Greek, Latin, and Gothic languages in the one and only Church of Christ.


C. Daicoviciu wrote about this in 1941 the following:

Even the Christianity of the Goths propagated by Ulfila and other missionaries is, with good reason, connected with the Daco-Roman, Christian population north of the lower Danube, for to whom would Ulfila have preached in Latin if not to these people?


In a note to the above-mentioned text, in Fontes Historiae Daco-Romanae, II, (p. III, note 1) the same opinion is found:


The preaching in three languages, and especially in Latin, attests to the continued presence of a Latin-speaking population north of the Danube.





After the abandonment of Dacia Traiana in 275 AD, the lower Danube became again the frontier of the Roman Empire. What was the relation between the Empire and the territories north of the lower Danube after the end of the 3rd century? According to Istoria Romîniei, 1960 (p. 647):


The lively connections between the populations of the Dacian territory and the Roman provinces situated between the Danube and the Balkan mountains were an important factor in the preservation of the north-Danubian Roman population (în menÛinerea romanitii nord-dun|rene).


The maintenance of contacts across the Danube was, according to IR, made easier by the following circumstances:


It was possible to evacuate Dacia without a hurry, the evacuation was organized and certain terms could be imposed upon the new rulers.


It is also assumed that because the territories south of the Danube were poorer than those north of the river, the Romans needed the products of the north, which must have led to exchange between themselves and the population living in the north.

What are then the material proofs of these assumptions? On the basis of what is found in Istoria Romîniei, 1960, and an article by D. Tudor, the arguments may be summarized as follows:


Commercial contacts


Themistios (317B388 AD) mentions the existence of commercial contacts between the Romans and the Goths:


...The exchange is shown to have been very active as proved by the continued circulation of Roman coins and the presence of some RomanoBByzantine products far in the territory of Dacia.


As shown by archaelogical finds, Sucidava, on the northern shore of the Danube, has had economic contacts with Dobrogea, the Balkan peninsula, the Near East, and also with Dacia

...by some periodical markets organized in the same way as in other periods, on the shore of the Danube, supervised by the garrison. Many weights were found here, one of which was used for the checking of coins of precious metal from the barbarian world. In Sucidava, imitations of RomanoBByzantine bronze coins circulated, made by the populations of Dacia.


Military operations


Procopios recorded that during the 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries, the Roman emperors raised forts (mostly single towers, monopyrgia) not only along the southern shore of the lower Danube, but Ahere and there, also on the other shore@. Emperor Diocletian (284B305) conducted a series of military actions, reaching from the Danube far into the Valachian plain, which led to an increase of the Roman influence north of the lower Danube.

Constantine the Great (306B337) occupied the southern parts of present-day Oltenia and Muntenia, probably up to the Furrow of Novac (brazda lui Novac, see map No. 8). This was the greatest expansion of the Empire north of the lower Danube after the abandonment of Dacia Traiana; it lasted for about 40 years. Constantine also built a 2400 m long bridge across the Danube, between Oescus and Sucidava.

It must be emphasized that a bridge of such dimensions could not have been constructed only to serve the needs of a modest fortress such as Sucidava, but rather with the aim of serving a domination which must have been exercised in the large territory reconquered in the south of the ancient province of Dacia.


Remnants from this bridge, and a miliarium, 1479 m from Celei at the Danube were discovered by archaeologists. The road from Sucidava to the Furrow of Novac was repaired, as well as that between Oescus and Serdica. The tower of Sucidava (on the place of present-day CeleiBCorabia) was repaired. Excavations made there showed jewels,weapons, and many other objects which belonged to the soldiers stationed there. In the town, objects of metal, mirrors, amphorae for wine and many other articles were found; several imported from the region of the Aegean Sea. These finds testify to civil urban life in Sucidava. Sucidava, with a


Map 8. The Roman fortresses along the lower Danube in the 3rd to the 6th centuries AD and the area occupied by the Empire for about four decades in the 4th century (between the Danube and the Furrow of Novac).

(On the basis of the map [fig. 2] in Tudor, D., APreuves archéologiques attestant la continuité de la domination romaine au nord de Danube après l´abandon de la Dacie sous Aurélien [IIIeBVe siècles],@ Dacoromania I, 1973, pp. 149B161.)


Roman garrison between 275 - 450 AD, was probably the centre of defense along the lower Danube. In the 5th century, it was burnt down twice by the Huns and then left by Byzantium, until Emperor Justinian (527B565 AD) restored it, Ain order to cut the road of the barbarians towards the territory south of the Danube, as affirmed by Procopios (de Aedif. IV, 6).@ Another large military station, mentioned in written documents as well as shown by archaeological finds, was Drobeta (Turnu Severin). At the beginning of the 5th century, the military units stationed there were called cuneus equitum Dalmatarum et auxilium primorum Daciscorum. Material finds show modifications of the camp, the construction of new buildings in the 3rd and 4th centuries. About four miles north of Drobeta, at PuÛinei, a castellum was built. In Dierna, a prefecture of the Legio XIII Gemina was installed. The camp, 35 by 35 metres, was excavated before the town OrÕova, later built on this place, was inundated by the artificial lake serving the new hydroelectric power station of the Iron Gate. A large number of coins from the epoch of Diocletian (284B305) and from that of Constantine the Great (306B337) were found within the camp. Dierna had to defend the valley of the Danube against attacks coming from the valley of the Cerna. At Turnu M|gurele, remains of a fortress, fragments of earthenware, and a number of coins were found. At Pojejena de Sus, on the northern shore of the Danube, bricks from the 4th century with the inscription leg(io) VII Cl(audia) C(uppis), were excavated.

During the period between the abandonment of Dacia Traiana and the Hunnish invasion, at least 14 Roman fortresses existed along the northern shore of the lower Danube (see Map No 8).


Thus, for about 170 years, the Romans dominated, by these fortified centres distributed from BaziaÕ to GalaÛi, over an important part of the territory along the Danube.


In the early 6th century, the Byzantine state expanded, reaching again the lower Danube. Many towers and towns in the Balkan peninsula were re-built. Procopios mentions the names of more than 600 such places and states that some of the towers were built on the northern shore of the lower Danube. These were: Litterata or Lederata, a powerful fortress in the Banat, the ruins of which still are visible; the castle of Zernes (former Dierna); Daphne; as well as a tower at Turnu M|gurele, whose ruins still exist. In the Novella of Justinian, Recidiva is mentioned as an important political and religious centre. It is not known which place was meant by this, but it may be Sycibida-Sucidava. In Sucidava, some objects of the Byzantine style were found, which date, according to coins, from the 6th century. There is also a stratum of ash, 20B40 cm thick, from the end of the 6th century, in which Avar iron shafts were found. The Avar devastations mark the end of the Byzantine power in the region of the lower Danube.

The Novella of Emperor Justinian is considered an important document on the policy of Byzantium regarding south-eastern Europe in the 6th century, showing that the Byzantine state had plans referring to territories north of the lower Danube:


(XI ) Thus, since in our time, with God´s help, our state became greater, and our fortresses exist on both shores of the Danube, and Viminacium as well as Recidiva and Litterata, which are beyond the Danube, were again put under our power, we have considered it necessary to place beside Pannonia, in our most lucky fatherland, the glorious prefecture, which was organized in Pannonia, because Pannonia Secunda is not far away from Dacia Mediterranea but large territories separate Macedonia Prima from Pannonia Secunda.

(XLI) The disposition to Bonus, the questor of the army, states who has to investigate the appeals from those 5 dioceses: Caria, Cyprus, the Cicladian isles, Moesia, and Scythia. [...] AWe know that we took recently a sacred decision by which we have put under the rule of your highness these five dioceses, Caria, Cyprus, the Cicladian isles, Moesia and Scythia...@

(CXX) AWe advise the holy Churches in the towns Odessos and Tomis to sell buildings in order to ransom the war prizoners...@

Edict XIII, chapter XI. About taxes to be collected and punishments in case of disobedience in this respect. It is also possible that Athe entire military unit will be sent away from the country and placed into the areas beyond the river Istros or Danube, in order to guard the frontiers there...@

It is asserted that Emperor Justinian´s (527B565) policy led to a strengthening of Romanity (an assumed Roman population) north of the lower Danube:

...the document of foundation of the archiepiscopate Justiniana Prima, contained in the 11th Novella of Emperor Justinian and dated 535 AD, disposes that some localities on the other [northern] side of the Danube be put under the authority of the archiepiscopate Justiniana Prima and under the administration of the Illyrian prefect´s office. Two civitates are mentioned by their older name. Recidiva and Litterata (probably former Arcidava and Lederata), about which it is explicitly stated that they are on the farther side of the Danube (quae trans Danubium sunt) and that they were again in the possession of the empire (nostrae iterum dicioni subactae).


The conclusion drawn from all this is that the Roman bridge-heads and fortresses on the northern shore of the Danube, as well as the annexation of certain territories of the Valachian plain, contributed to the preservation of the connections and to the strengthening of the Roman population in the north by lively contacts mediated by Aemigrants, merchants, prisoners of war, mercenaries, marriages, etc.@


La présence continuelle et de longue durée de la domination romaine dans une grande partie de la Dacie méridionale même après l´ abandon officiel de la province sous Aurélien offre un matériel documentaire de toute première importance pour la discussion des problèmes historiques si disputés comme la continuité de la romanité au nord du Danube, la formation de la langue et du peuple roumain, la diffusion du christianisme dans l´ancienne Dacie trajane, etc. Si l´on veut aboutir à une solution définitive en ce qui les concerne, historiens, archéologues et philologues doivent nécessairement partir de cette réalité archéologique.


* * *



The question of the ethnic situation in Transylvania in the 10th century is not connected with the problem of Daco-Roman continuity. In that period, Vlachs were living in many areas of the Balkan peninsula, also south of the Jireek-line, where they must obviously have migrated. The time span of eight centuries without records about a Romance population north of the Danube would decrease to about seven centuries, if Vlachs would have been living in Transylvania in the 10th century. It is only because the problem concerns the early history of the Vlachs, and refers to the last century of Common Rumanian, that a brief survey may be warranted.

In several works on Rumanian history, the ethnic situation in Transylvania in the above mentioned period is presented mainly on the basis of the Gesta Hungarorum. IR, vol. II, writes, under the heading AThe first political formations of a feudal character in the territory of our country@ (pp. 42B44):


Anonymus, the notary of King Bela III, gives us interesting information concerning the political situation of Transylvania in the first half of the 10th century. It is true that Anonymus wrote his work, AThe feats of the Hungarians@ (Gesta Hungarorum) towards the end of the 12th century, but he used other historical records from the end of the 11th century, as well as the sources he had access to as a person of high rank in the Royal Court, while the oral tradition was still alive in his period. Moreover, it should not be forgotten that Anonymus included records concerning later periods when referring to the first half of the 10th century; a custom practised by many other medieval historians. But what is in the first place to be retained from the record of Anonymus is the basis of the narrative, the essential instead of the details. In this respect, historical criticism arrived at the conclusion that the things Anonymus described deserve to be trusted, that they reflect the reality of the period to which they refer.

As also mentioned in volume I (p. 804), Anonymus described three political formations, three principalities (voivodates): one in CriÕana, led by Aprince@ (voivod) Menomorut, which comprised the territory between the rivers MureÕ and SomeÕ, with its centre in the forests of Biharea; the second in the Banat, between the MureÕ and the Danube, the leader of which was Aprince@ Glad, who probably had his seat in the fortress of Cuvin (Keve), between the TimiÕ and the Danube, and the third in Transylvania proper extending from the gate of the MeseÕ mountains to the springs of the rivers SomeÕ, led by Aprince@ Gelu, who had his centre near Cluj.


Fighting is said to have been especially fierce around the fortress of Satu Mare (Hung. Szatmár), which was subdued after a siege of three days, and Biharea (Hung. Bihar), occupied on the thirteenth day of siege.


In the Banat was the principality (voivodate) of Glad, who also tried to defend his possession, concentrating his large army of equestrians and pedestrians formed by Cumans, Bulgarians, and Rumanians (Cumani et Bulgari atque Blachi). Since he was subdued, Glad fled to the fortress (castrum) of Cuvin (Keve) followed by the invaders who at first conquered this fortress and later that of OrÕova.

The attacks of the Hungarians were thereafter directed towards Transylvania proper where the principality inhabited by Rumanians and Slavs (Blasii et Sclavi) was situated, led by the Rumanian prince (quidam Blachus) Gelu. Since the Hungarian tribes were not arrested at the gate of the MeseÕ mountains, they penetrated into the pincipality of Gelu, pursuing the army of the prince until the river AlmaÕ, where a battle took place; being defeated, Gelu tried to flee to his fortress (ad castrum suum) near the SomeÕ but was killed not far from the river C|puÕ, and the Hungarians and the autochthonous population, Ashaking hands@, came to an agreement, electing Tuhutum as their leader, the leader of the Hungarian tribe.

In his story, Anonymus presents the events in such a way that the merits of the main hero of his work, prince Árpád, comes to light as much as possible. The similarity of the events which have led to the defeat of the above-mentined princes B in the way they are described by Anonymus B raises some suspicion regarding the veracity of the narrative. Even if the details of the described events were not true B these must be regarded with some reservation (for example the names of the princes, derived very probably by the historian from the existing placenames in the principalities in question), the core of the story deserves to be taken into consideration, the more so because certain descriptions have been verified by records from other sources: the existence of the successor of Glad, prince Ahtum, by the Legend of Saint Gerard, the events in Transylvania in the first years of the 10th century, by chroniclers from the 13th and 14th centuries, the occupation of the fortress of Biharea, the events concerning Gelu etc., by the latest archaeological excavations.

Thus, we may consider that the existence of some political formations, some voivodates, led by Aprinces@, i.e., voivodes, in the territory of Transylvania at the beginning of the 10th century was a reality.


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