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The Albanian-Rumanian Migrations
-- 11th-13th centuries

By Georg Stadtmüller

[The full text appears in the 13th Chapter of book "Geshichte Südosteuropas" (History of Southeast Europe) by Georg Stadtmüller published by R. Oldenburg, München Wien 1976]


One of the major events changing the ethnic structure of Southeastern Europe in the 11th-13th centuries was the ex- pansion of the Albanian-Rumanian settlement areas. Ca. 600 A.D., Avar-Slav tribes occupied most of the Balkan area. Parts of the Balkan Romanized population held out in the coastal areas somewhat longer. Another group of Romanized Balkan tribes, the ancestors of the Albanians and Rumanians, managed to survive as migratory shepherds in the mountani- ous regions, mainly in and around the northern part of Albania. After the Slavic invasion, for almost half a millennium, the Al- banians and their relatives, the Rumanians (the Wallachians) had practically no real history. They only survived, not really participating in the historical events of the area. The Al- banians appear in history in the 11th century -- mainly as mercenaries. Later, they began to migrate and spread, mainly to the south and east, reaching even Italy. The Rumanians re- appear in history in the 10th century when "Wallachians", still as migratory shepherds, are mentioned first time in the border area of Thessaly and Macedonia. In 972 A.D., the Byzan- tine Empire occupied the area known as Paristrion. Ca. 1100, the first small local dukedoms appear in the area of the present Dobruja, in which, apparently, the population was Ru- manian, but the local chieftains had Cuman or Pecheneg names. The migration of the Rumanians into the area of the Carpathian mountains came, however, not from Dobruja, but from the migratory shepherds in the inner Balkan mountain- ous regions. It seems that also large number of Cumans parti- cipated in the northward movement of the Wallachians.

It was in 1210 that Rumanians are first mentioned in Tran- sylvania, namely in the Fogaras district adjoining the northern slopes of the Southern-Carpathians. About the same time

south of Transylvania and the Carpathian mountains the very first Rumanian state-like unit developed under Hungarian protection. In the 14th century, another state-like unit arose in Moldavia, initially also under Hungarian rule, but it became independent in 1365. Thus, in the 13th and 14th centuries, around the axis of the Carpathian mountains, the Rumanian population spread, from which area they migrated in various direction, even reaching as far as present-day Slovakia. The "Wallachian" expansion, however, may not be seen as totally Rumanian. The name "Wallach" denoted not only those who spoke Rumanian, but also others who adopted the way of life of the Rumanian shepherd population and enjoyed special privileges granted them by the Hungarian kings. These privi- leges which included the right for self-administration and jurisdiction under their own leaders' exercised tremendous attraction for Wallachian migratory shepherds who came in swarms from their Balkan homeland over the Danube into Hungarian land in Transylvania. The Hungarian kings had good use for the incoming Wallachians in resettling them in the unpopulated borderlands of the country.

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