The problem of the origin and formation of the Rumanian nation has always provided matter for keen disputation among historians, and the theories which have been advanced are widely divergent. Some of these discussions have been undertaken solely for political reasons, and in such cases existing data prove conveniently adaptable. This elastic treatment of the historical data is facilitated by the fact that a long and important period affecting the formation and the development of the Rumanian nation (270-1220) has bequeathed practically no contemporary evidence.
About the fifth century B.C., when the population of the Balkan-Carpathian region consisted of various tribes belonging to the Indo-European family, the northern portion of the Balkan peninsula was conquered by the Thracians and the Illyrians. The Thracians spread north and south, and a branch of their race, the Dacians, crossed the Danube. The latter established themselves on both sides of the Carpathian ranges, in the region which now comprises the provinces of Oltenia (Rumania), and Banat and Transylvania (Hungary).
The first attempt to organize itself into a political entity was made by the Rumanian nation in the thirteenth century, when, under the impulse of the disaffected nobles coming from Hungary, the two principalities of 'Muntenia' (Mountain Land), commonly known as Wallachia and 'Moldavia', came into being. The existence of Rumanians on both sides of the Carpathians long before Wallachia was founded is corroborated by contemporary chroniclers.
These offices very presently fell to the lot of the Phanariotes (Greek merchants and bankers inhabiting the quarter of Phanar), who had in some way or another assisted the princes to their thrones, these being now practically put up to auction in Constantinople. As a natural consequence of such a state of affairs the thoughts of the Rumanian princes turned to Russia as a possible supporter against Ottoman oppression.
In 1821 the Greek revolution, striving to create an independent Greece, broke out on Rumanian ground, supported by the princes of Moldavia and Muntenia. Of this support the Rumanians strongly disapproved, for, if successful, the movement would have strengthened the obnoxious Greek domination; If unsuccessful, the Turks were sure to take a terrible revenge for the assistance given by the Rumanian countries.
In order to obviate internal disturbances or external interference, the leaders of the movement which had dethroned Prince Cuza caused parliament to proclaim, on the day of Cuza's abdication, Count Philip of Flanders - the father of King Albert of Belgium - Prince of Rumania. The offer was, however, not accepted, as neither France nor Russia favoured the proposal. Meanwhile a conference had met again in Paris at the instance of Turkey and vetoed the election of a foreign prince.
Up to 1866 Rumanian foreign politics may be said to have been non-existent. The offensive or defensive alliances against the Turks concluded by the Rumanian rulers with neighbouring princes during the Middle Ages were not made in pursuance of any definite policy, but merely to meet the moment's need.