The 'Barbarians'—Brief mention of them by Roumanian historians—The Goths—Their settlement in Dacia—Defeat by Theodosius and disappearance—The Huns—Their ferocity—Attila—His successes—Deserted and overthrown by the Gepidæ—His death, and expulsion of the Huns—The Sarmatians—The Gepidæ ally themselves with the Byzantines—Defeated by the Lombards under Alboin—The Avari—Settle in Dacia—Are defeated and dispersed by Priscus and Heraclius—The Bulgari—Their origin and that of the Slavonians—Their cruelty—Warlike habits—Severe punishment of criminals—Superstitions—Their 'Chagan,' or chief rider—Conversion to Christianity—Their chieftains—Improved habits—Curious superstitions—Career of the Bulgari—Invasion of the Eastern Empire and defeat by Belisarius—Supreme in Dacia, Mœsia, and Servia—Vicissitudes—Story of Krumus—Daco-Roman princes—The Bulgarian territories annexed by Basilius to the Greek Empire—The Ungri, or Hungarians—Their supposed origin—Their cruelty and ferocity—Hallam's description of them—German account of their savage mode of warfare—Ravage Europe—Settle in Hungary and found a kingdom—Are driven over the Carpathians by the Bulgari—(Note: Story of their contests with the chiefs Gellius, Gladius, Mariotus, &c.,—The anonymous notary of King Bela)—The Patzinakitai—Scanty records concerning them—The Wallachs—Controversy regarding their origin—Daco-Roman descendants—Mediæval accounts of their origin and character—Anna Comnena—Bonfinius—Æneas Sylvius—M. Opitz—Their career in the Danubian territories—Revolt in alliance with the Bulgari—Foundation of the Wallacho-Bulgarian Empire by Peter, Asan, and John—The historical soufflet—Recognition of the new empire—Its duration—The Kumani—Their domination—The Teutonic Knights and Knights of St. John—Interesting correspondence between King Joannitz and Pope Innocent III.—Temporary conversion of the Bulgarians to Rome—Downfall of the Wallacho-Bulgarian Empire—Irruptions and retirement of the Tartars—End of the barbarian age.


If the reader will imagine a country somewhat larger than the United Kingdom situated in a part of the European continent which renders it accessible from almost every side, and can conceive of eight or nine great hordes of armed savages tens or hundreds of thousands strong, with many smaller ones, pouring intermittently, and even simultaneously in some instances, into that devoted territory, and there alternately burning and plundering or making slaves of each other or of the original settlers, during a continuous period of more than a thousand years, then he will have formed some idea of poor Roumania (or perhaps it would be more correct to say of the territories north and south of the lower Danube) as it existed between the end of the third and of the thirteenth centuries.

It is not surprising that some of the historians of Roumania, who have managed to fill volumes, should have slurred over what really constitutes half the period of her national existence in a few pages, nay even in some instances in a few lines; and that they should have substituted what one writer has called 'brilliant declamatory evolutions' for the conclusions of careful research. For the last method sometimes leads to the discovery of discrepancies between standard authors of fifty or a hundred years in the chronicle of events. For us the history of the so-called dark ages in that part of Europe is full of interest, inasmuch as the Danubian plains constituted the highway over which the barbarians wandered who were the ancestors of a large proportion of the existing population of Europe; and we have sought, in the table appended to this work, to bring some kind of order out of the chaos of events narrated by historians. Beyond this, it is true, we cannot do much to serve the student of history, and it is a matter of regret that the character of this work necessitates our treating the subject with such inconvenient brevity; but we must appeal to the patience and good nature of our readers whilst we seek to give as much interest as possible to a necessarily dry and tedious narrative.

For about a century after the withdrawal of the Roman legions, the Goths, a people of whose origin and exploits we have already spoken, ruled in Trajan's Dacia, except during a brief interval (327 a.d.) when Constantine, having built a bridge across the Danube at or near Nicopolis on the southern, and Turnu-Magurele on the northern bank, overran the country and once more incorporated it with the Empire. This occupation was, however, of short duration. Finding that he could not maintain his supremacy north of the Danube, and that the Goths were even settling on the right bank, Constantine is said to have established Roman colonies south of the Balkans, and, according to some historians, it was from those settlers that the country has derived its present name of Roumelia. That the Goths must have founded permanent settlements in various parts of Dacia is obvious from the traces they have loft behind them, notably in the neighbourhood of Buseu. Moreover, in the middle of the century (361 a.d.) they are said to have embraced Christianity, although we hear shortly afterwards (370 a.d.) that their king Athanaric subjected the Christians to the most cruel persecutions. At that time they were probably on more neighbourly terms with the Romans, for when a new enemy, the Huns, appeared in the east and threatened them with annihilation, many of them were allowed by the Emperor Valens to cross the Danube and settle peaceably on the right or southern bank. Shortly afterwards, however, we find them first defeating and slaying Valens and then fighting in alliance with the Huns (378) against the Emperor Theodosius, who attacked them in Dacia. This is the last we hear of the Goths as such, but a branch, the Gepidæ, afterwards rose again and for a considerable period dominated in Dacia.