FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE PRINCIPALITIES, BETWEEN THE MIDDLE OF THE THIRTEENTH AND OF THE FOURTEENTH CENTURIES TO THE ACCESSION OF MICHAEL THE BRAVE, A.D. 1593.
State of the country at, the close of the barbarian era—Foundation of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia—Traditions of Radu Negru and Bogdan Dragosch—Historical evidence—Description of the various rulerships in Wallachia in the thirteenth century—The clans Liteanu and Bassarab—Mircea the Old—His history—The First Capitulation (1393)—Character of Mircea—- Verses in his memory by Bolentineanu (1826-1872)—John Corvin von Hunniad, Prince of Transylvania—His history, character, and exploits—Vlad 'the Impaler'—His cruelties—Capitulates to the Turks (1460 a.d.)—Moldavia—Its founders—Obscurity of records—Stephen the Great—His history—His flight to Niamtz—Verses by Bolentineanu—Recommends his son to capitulate to the Turks—His character—Neagu Bassarab, founder of the Cathedral of Curtea d'Ardges—His peaceful reign and works—- Radul d'Affumati completes the cathedral—His death—Turkish encroachments—Michael the Brave.
When the title of barbarian immigration was ebbing in the Danubian Principalities, it is natural to suppose that there must have remained a very mixed population; and that, owing to the necessity for defence against such ruthless invaders as we have described in our last chapter, the inhabitants would congregate in various places under their ablest leaders, and would fortify themselves in the best manner possible. This was indeed the case, but until recently the historians of Roumania have had little to guide them concerning the events of the period beyond traditions which, though very interesting, are now gradually giving place to recorded and authenticated facts.
Almost any history of the country which it is possible to find to-day, narrates the rise of the Principalities after the following fashion: The Daco-Roman colonists, historians say, fled into the Carpathian mountains before the Goths and Huns, and for nearly a thousand years they retained their nationality, from time to time making descents into the plains from one or other colony which they had established, always, however, to find new hordes of barbarians in possession. At length, when the great wave of barbarism had subsided, one Radu Negru, whose name is translated Rudolph the Black, the chief of the Daco-Roman colony of Fogaras in the Carpathians, descended into the plains with his followers, according to some writers in 1240 a.d., whilst others say in 1290, and, first fixing his capital at Campu-Lung, and then moving it to Curtea d'Ardges, where he built a beautiful cathedral, drove out the barbarians who remained in Wallachia, and became the first Voivode of that province. This is the tradition of the foundation of Wallachia.
About the same time, we are told, there dwelt in another part of the mountains, to the west of Fogaras, a colony of Daco-Roman descendants, namely, that of Marmaros or Maramurish, ruled over by one Bogdan, or Dragosch. This chief, as the story runs, was once out hunting the aurochs with a large following, accompanied by his dog Molda, and being arrived in a beautiful country through which flowed a pretty stream, he determined to settle there, called the river the Moldava, built a city which he named Roman, reduced the inhabitants and their chiefs to submission, and became the first Voivode of Moldavia.
Of late years these traditions have been subjected to the searching light of criticism, sharpened in some cases by national or political tendencies, and whilst the story of Radu Negru has fallen into discredit, that of Bogdan has undergone considerable modification. The very names of the heroes have been canvassed, and Radu, instead of Rudolph, has been shown to mean 'joy' (as Bogdan Dragosch was the God-given'), so that, instead of Radu Negru, we now sometimes meet with the name of Negru Voda, or 'the Black Prince,' who, according to the traditions of some parts of the country, is still believed to have descended from the Carpathians, and to have freed the land from the Tartar hordes.
Thus far tradition. Roumania possesses no historical records of the period, but the discovery of manuscripts in Hungary, Poland, and elsewhere, has established certain facts that are beginning to serve as a solid foundation upon which the early history of the country is being based.
First, it is admitted that the plains and the slopes of the Carpathians were inhabited by communities ruled over by chieftains of varying power and influence. Some were banates, as that of Craiova, which long remained a semi-independent State; then there were petty voivodes or princes, as the Princes of Zevrin or Severin, Farcas, Seneslas, &c.; and besides these there were khanates, called in French kinezats, and in German knesenschaften (from the Slav. kniaz, a prince), some of which were petty principalities, whilst others were merely the governorships of villages or groups of them. These are only a few of the small rulerships, which are every day multiplied as the State records of the neighbouring countries are being more and more carefully investigated.