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.


The Huns who drove out the Goths and followed them in the occupation of the country, are supposed by some to be of Scythian, by others even of Chinese origin, and Gibbon has very graphically described their first appearance and movements. 'The numbers,' he says, 'the strength, the rapid motions, and the implacable cruelty of the Huns were felt, and dreaded and magnified by the astonished Goths, who beheld their fields and villages consumed with flames and deluged with indiscriminate slaughter. To these real terrors were added the surprise and abhorrence which were excited by the shrill voice, the uncouth gestures, and the strange deformity of the Huns. These savages of Scythia were compared (and the picture had some resemblance) to the animals who walked very awkwardly on two legs, and to the misshapen figures, the Termini, which were often placed on the bridges of antiquity. They were distinguished from the rest of the human species by their broad shoulders, flat noses, and small black eyes deeply buried in the head, and as they were almost destitute of beards they never enjoyed either the manly graces of youth or the venerable aspect of age.' These were the beings who devastated and dominated in Dacia for three-fourths of a century (375 to about 453 a.d.), and others such as these, we may add, were still harrying the peacefully disposed population six or seven hundred years subsequently, when the ultra-barbarian régime was about drawing to a close.

But the rule of the Huns was not uninterrupted. Shortly after they obtained possession of the Gothic kingdom in Dacia they were defeated by the Emperor Theodosius I. (about 378), but from that time until the reign of their King Attila ('the scourge of God') nothing of importance is noted in their history. This monarch not only brought the whole of Dacia under the yoke, but (about 443) he conquered Mœsia, and pressed the Romans so hard that Theodosius II. (408-450), as well as the Eastern Emperor, were glad to make peace with him, by which he retained the greater part of his conquests north of the Danube. It is impossible, nor would it be legitimate here, to follow Attila through his victorious career. All we need to mention is that when the tide was turning against him, the vassal tribes, whom he had dragged through Europe as allies, deserted him, and the Gepidæ, a branch of the great Gothic nation, helped to hasten his downfall; for, revolting under their chief Ardaric, they not only defeated his army, but became masters of the whole of Dacia. At the conclusion of the reign of Attila, who died or was murdered about a.d. 453, the Huns were driven back into Asia, whence they once more invaded Europe a few years later; but, although we hear of them casually, in union with other tribes, more than a century afterwards (about 564), they never recovered their power in Dacia, and are of no further interest to us in this connection.


The reader will remember that even in the wars between the Romans and Dacians other barbarian tribes took part. Of these the Quadi, Marcomanni, and Sarmatians continued to harass the successors of the first-named, and even to make irruptions into the Empire. The Sarmatians especially were very formidable, and from time to time they settled in Dacia during the occupation of the Goths, giving both them and the Romans much trouble. They were encountered by more than one Roman army, and were driven back into and through Dacian territory; but at length, about a.d. 375, Valentinian defeated them with great slaughter, and we cease to hear of them in connection with Roumanian history.

With the Gepidæ, that branch of the Goths who defeated Attila, it was otherwise. After the withdrawal of the Huns they took possession of Northern Dacia, and managed to obtain such a firm hold on the country, that it was actually known to some of the older historians as 'Gepidia.' There is, however, nothing of interest in their history. Sometimes they were at war with their more powerful southern neighbours; anon they formed alliances with them on advantageous terms, and aided them to keep other tribes in check. The Roman Empire was now split into its Eastern and Western divisions, and it was with the Byzantines that the Gepidæ made their treaties. These, however, were capable of rendering them little effectual service at periods of grave danger, and when (about 550 a.d.) the Lombards, a warlike tribe who are believed to have migrated southwards from the shores of the Baltic, in combination with an Asiatic horde, the Avari, made inroads into their territory, the Gepidæ were quite incapable of making head against them. We have said that the latter nation contracted treaties, offensive and defensive, with the Eastern Empire, but it must not be supposed that either the emperors or the barbarians were very constant in their attachments. At one time we find some particular tribe in alliance with the emperors of the East, assisting them to keep back new assailants; at another they entered the armies of the Eastern emperors, to help them in their attacks upon their Western rivals; then, again, it is two tribes associated to root out and exterminate a horde in possession; and shortly afterwards it may be that the tribes who were allied are arrayed against each other. About the time named, the Lombards and Avari, as we have said, made inroads into the territories of the Gepidæ, the first-named being under the lead of a brave and fierce leader, Alboin, and in a very short period (between 550 and 567 a.d.) they managed not only to defeat the Gepidæ, but so completely to break their power, that some writers speak of them as being annihilated. Then it was that the Emperor Justinian (527-565), fearing them as opponents, and desiring them as allies, tempted the Lombards to enter his service; and, bent upon conquest rather than upon becoming settlers in the land which they had already acquired, these crossed over the Danube and left their associates, the Avari, in undisturbed possession. The Avari ruled intermittently in Dacia from about a.d. 564 to 610-640, when, venturing to cope with the Byzantine power, they were first encountered and defeated by Priscus, a Greek general, and later on by the Emperor Heraclius (610-641), and from that time their nation was gradually dispersed.


But now we arrive at a period when there was some little interval in the successive inroads of barbarians, and a breathing time for the peaceably disposed inhabitants of Dacia; for the next race of wanderers who entered upon the fertile plains of the Danube succeeded in holding their ground almost as undisputed masters for three centuries. Later on, as we shall find, they founded a second dynasty in combination with the Wallachs; and, although their rule was troubled by the incursions of other barbarians, and by wars first with the Byzantines and afterwards with the Hungarians or Magyars, yet they managed with some intermission to remain the governing power, and their descendants have ruled in various localities even down to the present day.

But what makes the history of this tribe, the Bulgari, so interesting, is not so much the domination which they exercised in the Danubian provinces, as the insight which it gives us into the condition of the people during the dark ages; and although we must content ourselves with a brief sketch of their career and a few incidents selected from it, we can confidently recommend our readers to prosecute the enquiry for themselves, with the certainty of being repaid for their labour and research. The origin of the Bulgari, or Bulgarians, like that of most of the so-called barbarians, is more or less clouded in mystery. According to some writers they were of Scythian origin, and comprised numerous tribes, amongst whom the Wallachs, the Croats, and the Moravians are the best known. Gibbon says that the Bulgarians and Slavonians were a wild people who dwelt, or rather wandered, on the plains of Russia, Lithuania, and Poland. They were bold and dexterous archers, who drank the milk and feasted on the flesh of their indefatigable horses. Their flocks followed, or rather guided, their movements, as it was in search of pasture for these that they roamed about from place to place. They were practised in flight and incapable of fear. Roesler is of opinion that they were an offshoot of the Huns, and in the earlier period of their career, he says, they adopted the costume of all the Ural races, and notably of the Avari. The hair of the head was shorn off with the exception of a tuft. Their war-standards were horses' tails; before a battle there was a muster, at which arms and horses were inspected, and if any defects were discovered, the warrior who was guilty was at once put to death. The day and hour of combat were fixed by soothsayers, propitious signs were sought, and war-ditties chanted. It was a custom to make a drinking-vessel of the skull of some famous chieftain amongst the enemy when he was killed in battle. (We shall have a notable example of this presently.) Any freeman or slave who strayed beyond the boundaries of the territory was killed by the border-guard if he was detected. Dogs and even human beings were offered as sacrifices. Their sentences for the expiation of crime were as barbarous as the people themselves. Noses and ears were cut off as the most ordinary punishment. Polygamy was practised, and eunuchs protected the harem. The ruler, who was called the 'Chagan,' had power of life and death over his subjects. He alone sat at table during his meals; his 'court,' including even his spouse, squatted around and fed upon the floor. In the seventh century their religion was a mixture of heathenism and Mohammedanism, and they were only converted to Christianity by slow degrees after they had settled on the Danube and come into close contact with the Eastern Empire. Even then we find (about the middle of the ninth century) that although the kings embraced Christianity, the great mass of the people remained unconverted, and even resented the change of religion in their rulers.

There is much more that is interesting in the customs of the Bulgarians, especially when they had come under something like a settled government. The nobles seem to have resembled our 'ealdormen' in the very earliest phase of our history, and to have exercised considerable influence, notwithstanding the absolutism of the ruling head. From living only in tents of skins, a practice still adhered to in the warmer months, they built wooden huts in winter. They clothed themselves in long robes, and wore caps which were doffed reverentially in the presence of their rulers. They fed on millet and on horseflesh, and drank mead and a liquor extracted from the birch tree. Their punishments continued to be most barbarous, quartering alive being a common practice. Their superstitions were interesting. Serpents were 'taboo,' so was a hut which had been struck by lightning, whilst the howlings of dogs and wolves were good omens, significant of success or plenty.

We first hear of the Bulgari towards the close of the fifth century when they were situated near the mouth of the Volga, from whence they moved into Dacia. Meeting with little opposition and joined by other tribes, they soon became formidable invaders of the Eastern Empire, and are said to have carried their arms time after time through Thrace, Epirus, Thessaly, as far as Peloponnesus in Europe, and into Asia Minor, until at length they were met by Belisarius, one of the generals of Justinian, probably about 538-540 a.d., who defeated and drove them back over the Danube. Meantime they had come under the yoke of the Avari, and it was not until the middle of the seventh century (about 678-680), when that warlike tribe had been broken up by Heraclius, that the Bulgari, under the leadership of a powerful chief Kuvrat, obtained the ascendency in Dacia. This chieftain formed an alliance with Heraclius, and he and his successor Asparich succeeded by their prowess in bringing not only Trajan's Dacia, but also Mœsia, and what is now Servia, under the Bulgarian rule, and in founding a State which subsisted to the beginning of the eleventh century.

Of the condition of the people under this régime we have already spoken, and there is too much similarity between its incidents and those which preceded and followed, to justify our dwelling upon it at any length. It consists of a series of victories over, or defeats by, the Byzantine emperors. At one time we find the Bulgarians losing battle after battle and their power on the wane; then we hear of a Bulgarian chief going to Constantinople, embracing Christianity, and forming a marriage alliance with a niece of the empress (Irene, 780-802). Next a powerful and savage king, Krum or Krumus, comes to the throne (probably reigning 807 to 820 a.d.), and commences hostilities against the Emperor Nicephorus (802-811). Having defeated and slain him, he is said to have illustrated the custom already referred to by making a goblet of his skull. The succeeding emperor (Michael, 811-813) fared little better, having suffered an ignominious defeat at the hands of Krum, who pressed forward to the very gates of Constantinople. Thence, after dictating terms of peace, he withdrew into his own territories, taking with him, it is said, 50,000 Daco-Romans who had been made slaves by the Byzantines, and settling them on the north bank of the Danube. Krum died a.d. 820 or thereabouts.

Another feature in the history of the country, to which we shall refer more fully hereafter, is the part taken by the dominant race for the time being in the obstruction or promotion of Christianity, and in the schism in the Catholic Church. At first we hear of little else than persecution of Christians, and the successor of Krum is said to have martyred one Bishop Emanuel, who was preaching the Gospel in his dominions. Other Bulgarian chiefs or kings, however, courted the favour of the Christian emperors and adopted their creed, until the country was annexed to the Greek Empire in 1014 a.d.

A word or two more concerning the prominent events preceding the first fall of the Bulgarians. About the end of the ninth century the descendants of the Daco-Romans, recovering from the repeated blows they had received by the successive barbarian irruptions and conquests, are said once more to have rallied to power; and several chiefs or kings are believed to have been of Daco-Roman origin. Of these Simeon (about 887), Peter (? a.d.), and Samuel (about 976 a.d.), are conspicuous. The first-named we find at war, first with the Grecian Emperor Leo (893 a.d.), whom he defeated; then with the same ruler and his allies the Ungri, under Arpad, their king. Finding himself hard pressed, Simeon made peace with Leo, and turned his arms against the Ungri, whom he defeated with great bloodshed and drove out of his territories. (To the Ungri and their career we shall return presently.) These feuds continued for a long period, and about 970 a.d. the Bulgarians crossed the Balkans, but were beaten by the Greeks, whilst two or three years afterwards the Greek emperor (or rather one of them, for there were several pretenders to the throne), John Zimisces (? 972), attacked Marcianopolis, the Bulgarian capital, and took the king, Boris, prisoner. Before the end of the century another Bulgarian king, Simeon, had fought the Greeks with varying success, but ultimately the Emperor Basilius II. (1014 a.d.) completely annihilated the Bulgarian army, and annexed the whole country as a province of the Greek Empire. Thus ended the first rule of the Bulgarians.


Of all the tribes or hordes of the East who made the devoted plains of the Danube their highway into Europe, there were none who have earned a character so notorious for rapine and cruelty as the Ungri, or Hungarians. Their origin is doubtful in the extreme, but it is probable that they were a Turanian race, and Roesler has found them an aboriginal home in Ugria, a country situated eastward of the Ural mountains and the river Obi. Their savage nature, which long survived their advent into Europe, has been graphically described by several writers. Roesler, who has carefully studied their early history, says that they were mare-milking nomads living in tents, that they ate the half-raw meat of game or fish without knives. Mare's milk appears to have been what we may call their temperance beverage; whilst stronger drinks were the blood of wild animals or of their enemies on the field of battle; and the hearts of the latter were considered a sovereign remedy for diseases. Our own Hallam, in describing their appearance and ravages in Europe, calls them a 'Tartarian tribe' who moved forward in great numbers as a vast wave. Their ferocity, he says, was untamed; they fought with cavalry and light armour, trusting to their showers of arrows, against which the swords and lances of the European armies could not avail. 'The memory of Attila,' he adds, 'was renewed in the devastations of these savages, who, if they were not his compatriots, resembled them both in countenance and customs.'

But the nation who suffered the most severely from their irruptions, and whose history reflects their ferocity the most faithfully, were the Germans. Fortresses were erected to check their inroads, but 'exultingly and with scorn these wild horsemen brushed past them, and as though they were in pursuit of game they picked off the peasant at the plough, or the soldier mounting guard upon the walls. Men, women, and children were captured wherever they were found; were coupled by the hair of their heads and driven in herds, like cattle, into Hungary. If a regular army moved out against them, they dispersed like the winds of heaven, and the joyful cry went up, "God be praised, they are gone;" but soon they reappeared to harass the retreating soldiery. The horrors of desolation and rapine were the condition most congenial to them; in these they revelled and rejoiced; and most happy were they when they could anoint their beards with German blood, or, casting their firebrands into the houses of God, could witness the devouring flames as they rose up into the skies.'

Although in after times the Hungarians claimed the suzerainty over part or the whole of Wallachia (and we shall have occasion hereafter to refer to their relations with that country), their domination during the ninth and tenth centuries was of a very partial and transient character. They probably moved westward from the Ukraine at the beginning of the ninth century, and between the years 839 and 860 they were actively aggressive in Eastern Wallachia. They are said to have attacked Constantine, the Christian missionary, on his way through the district they occupied, but his venerable mien prevented them from doing him any injury. He is said not even to have allowed their cries to disturb him during prayer, in which he was engaged when they made their appearance. Towards the close of the century, as we have already said, they sustained a defeat at the hands of the Bulgarians, when, under their chief Arpad, they had formed an alliance with the Emperor Leo, who is said to have made peace with the enemy and left them in the lurch. After this they were driven into the Carpathians, a.d. 894, and, having first overrun the greater part of Transylvania, they commenced those aggressions into Germany, France, and Italy, which for a considerable period rendered them the terror of all Europe. At the end of the tenth century, having met with severe reverses and been compelled to withdraw into Hungary, they at length settled down under an established government. The first king was undoubtedly Stephen (997 or 1008 a.d.), and they annexed Transylvania, which up to that time had been a debatable territory, either about 1002 according to some writers, or, as others affirm, not until the time of Ladislaus the Holy (1078-1095 a.d.).


In studying the historical records of this time, the reader will frequently encounter the names of two tribes which will cause him considerable perplexity, namely, the Patzinakitai, as they were called by the Greeks, and the Wallachs, who were variously called 'Vlaci,' 'Blaci,' 'Valachi,' 'Olachi,' &c. Of the former little can and need be said. They are sometimes called Romans; were dominant in certain parts of the country in the tenth, and probably also the eleventh, century; assisted the Bulgari to drive the Hungarians over the Carpathians, and were even strong enough to make war upon the Eastern Empire about the end of the eleventh century. About that time ineffectual attempts were made to christianise them, and the last we hear of them is at the close of the thirteenth century, when they were associated with the Wallachs in the Carpathians, and probably gave their name to a district in which they were settled. They are believed, later on, to have migrated into Hungary, and cease to be named as a distinct people.

Concerning the Wallachs, however, who have played a most important part in Roumanian history, a good deal is known, but much is still obscure and the subject of heated controversy. First as to their origin. Some writers believe them to have been a branch of the Slaves; others think they were the Daco-Roman colonists of Mœsia, who, joining the Slaves, crossed the Danube with them, and that subsequently the fused races were known as Wallachs, who gradually spread themselves northward to the Carpathians. Other historians are silent about them until the foundation of the 'Wallacho-Bulgarian Empire,' and then they simply mention that the two races joined for the purpose of gaining their independence. There are, however, certain historians of the middle agea who accord to them a direct Roman origin and say they were the descendants of the Roman colonists who managed to retain their language and their hold upon the soil throughout the dark ages, and in spite of the irruptions and passage of the barbarian tribes of the north and east. This is now the view generally accepted.

As we have freely quoted the opinions of modern writers, many of whom, along with the authorities on which their views are based, are entirely unknown to the bulk of our readers, it is only fair that they should be made acquainted with the views of well-known historians who flourished nearer the time of which we are writing.

Anna Comnena says (between 1081 and 1118 a.d.): 'The Emperor Alexius commanded Cæsar Nicephorus to enlist as many soldiers as possible by conscription; but not veterans; new men who had not yet been in campaigns. He instructed him as to the tribes from which he was to select his recruits, namely, from the Bulgarians and from amongst those youths who had become hardened by a pastoral life; who possess no settled habitations, but wander about from place to place; those who, in the vulgar tongue, are called "Wallachs" ("Blachos").'

Bonfinius enters into details of their history. He tells how Trajan conquered the Dacians; how the province was evacuated; but that the colonists had multiplied to such an extent that the repeated incursions of barbarians failed to exterminate them; and he adds that they adhere so tenaciously to their language that one would imagine they had fought for that rather than for their lives. 'Who would not be astonished,' he says. 'when he considers the deluges of Sarmatians and Goths, the irruptions of Huns, Vandals, and Gepidæ, the incursions of Germans and Lombards, to find that traces of the Latin tongue should be met with amongst the Dacians and Getæ, whom we now call Wallachs, because they are such good marksmen? The Roumanians are descended from the legions and colonists who were led into Dacia by Trajan and other emperors: they were called Wallachs from Pius of Flaccus (after a German pronunciation), but by us, because they are such good marksmen.'

Æneas Sylvius (Pope Pius II., 1458) is still more explicit. In a few pithy sentences he gives the geography of Wallachia and Transylvania; the history of Dacia from the time of the Persian and Greek wars to the Roman conquest; the fall of the colony; the derivation of the name from Flaccus; and then he adds: 'The people even now speak the Roman language, but so mutilated that an Italian can hardly understand them.'

And not only did learned writers recognise the descent of the Wallachs from the old Roman colonists, but crowned heads referred to it in their communications with the Bulgarian chiefs and with one another, as we shall see presently. Lauriani, from whose work we have made these extracts, says that the Hungarian writers were nearly always silent on the subject, or spoke of it with the utmost bitterness. He, however, quotes two who, in treating of the various nationalities, admit that Moldavia and Wallachia contain the descendants of the Roman colonists who speak a perverted Latin. One of them gives an extract from a poem by Martin Opitz (1621), who describes the national dance of Wallachia, the Hora, or 'Chora' as he calls it. After speaking of the vicissitudes through which the people have passed, he says of their language that the Roman tongue is still in vogue; and of the people who are dancing he says: 'The men, who are almost made (? clothed) upon the Roman model, are bad, but witty, think much and say little.'

We have already made a brief reference to the influence of the barbarian rule upon the language and habits of the modern Roumanians, and it is very interesting to find that in the seventeenth century, when Opitz lived, this fact had already been noticed. Although it concerns chiefly the national sentiment of the Roumanians of to-day and is no doubt very fascinating for them, the enquiry still presents some interesting problems for readers of every nationality.


As the reader is already aware, the first domination of the Bulgarians in the Danubian provinces was followed by that of the Eastern Empire after the victories of Basilius at the commencement of the eleventh century, and as a change of rulers in those days usually meant a change of oppressors, it is not surprising to find, about a century and a half later, that all the populations were ready for revolt. Amongst these, the most numerous and influential were still the conquered Bulgarians and the Wallachs. The Wallachs are first distinctly mentioned in the time of Basilius, in whose armies they fought as allies or mercenaries. Towards the end of the eleventh century they had spread widely; for mention is made of them as having settled all over the Balkan peninsula as far as Macedonia in the south, in Wallachia in the north, and in Moldavia, and perhaps even Bessarabia, in the north-east. That is to say, they had either spread into those countries, or their ancestors had been there from the Daco-Roman period, and, having become amalgamated with successive tribes of barbarians, were now once more the dominant race. They must always have been great warriors, for we find them at one time making irruptions on their own account into the neighbouring territories, at others in alliance with the Eastern emperors against the Bulgari or the Hungarians; or, associated with neighbouring tribes, warring against the last-named ruthless invaders.

And when, from about 1180 to 1200, the Greek power was approaching its dissolution, the people of the Danubian provinces were ripe for insurrection, and there were not wanting brave leaders to assist them in striking the blow for their independence. From the conflicting accounts of historians, neither the names nor number of those leaders, nor yet the precise events which led to the establishment of the new empire, are ascertainable with exactitude. Either there were two Wallachian brothers, Peter and Asan, to whom a near relative of the Greek emperor Isaac Angelos (1185-1195) treacherously allied himself, or three brothers, Peter, Asan, and John. The origin of the revolt is undoubted; it arose from the levying of what the people deemed an unjust tax upon them, and probably the refusal of the emperor to admit them into his army as paid mercenaries, as in the case of other tribes. In order to obtain redress for these grievances, an embassy, comprising the two brothers Peter and Asan, went to Constantinople. They were admitted to the emperor's presence, but their requests were refused, and one of the brothers, having displayed too much warmth on the occasion, received a box on the ear, which may be said to have laid the foundation of the Wallacho-Bulgarian Empire, and expedited the fall of the Greek dynasty.

At first the revolt was unsuccessful, and the Wallachs and Bulgarians in alliance were obliged to retreat across the Danube (1187); but soon returning with a powerful army, in which a new tribe, the Kumani, were also represented, they succeeded in inflicting a defeat upon the Emperor Isaac (about 1193), who narrowly escaped with his life. Pressing on to Adrianople, the allies threatened to overwhelm the Eastern Empire, and the Emperor Alexius Comnenus was only too glad to conclude a peace with them (about 1199) and to recognise their independence.


The Wallacho-Bulgarian Empire lasted, according to different authors, from sixty to one hundred years, and contemporaneously with it the Kumani were also dominant in part of ancient Dacia; indeed, according to some writers, Trajan's Dacia was called the land of the Kumani. The information concerning the latter is very scanty. One writer says that as the 'Uzi' they were found on the banks of the Danube at the end of the eleventh century; others say they entered Moldo-Wallachia about 1046. About 1089 they are spoken of as in Transylvania, and the period of their domination is variously stated as between these dates and 1220-1246. They were probably converted to Christianity about 1220-1223. About that time the tribe was broken up, and part of them wandered into Hungary, where they are said to have been guilty of great cruelties, and to have subsisted down to the fifteenth century.

During the same period also (1200) the order of Teutonic Knights had lands allotted to them in Transylvania by Andreas II. of Hungary, as well as in part of Wallachia, over which he claimed the sovereignty; but they sought to free themselves from his control, and the gift was soon withdrawn, and in 1224 they were compelled to leave the territory over which they had exercised jurisdiction. About 1247—1250 the Knights of St. John also enjoyed a brief authority in some parts of Transylvania and Wallachia.

The most interesting incident, of which the account has been handed down to us, in the Wallacho-Bulgarian régime was the negotiation between King Joannitz, one of the first rulers (to whom reference has already been made), and Pope Innocent III. (1198-1216).

Lauriani published the whole correspondence, which is so interesting that a brief epitome of it will not be out of place here. It not only throws light upon the historical events of the period, but also gives us a glimpse of the proceedings connected with the schism in the Catholic Church. It is only necessary to premise that in the separation between the Roman and Greek Catholics which took place in the latter half of the ninth century, the Danubian provinces followed the eastern section, that the union was complete under Basilius, but that, when the brothers Asan shook off the Byzantine yoke, there was a national feeling of antagonism in religion arising out of the political rupture. Of this Innocent took advantage, and in sending a nuncio to Joannitz he wrote him that God had seen the humility with which he had deported himself towards the Roman Church, and in the turmoil and dangers of warfare He had not alone mightily protected him, but also in his mercy had greatly enlarged him (dilatavit). 'We, however,' he said, 'when we heard that thy forefathers sprang from the noble city of Rome, and that thou didst not only inherit the nobility of their race, but also true humility towards the Apostolic chair, had contemplated ere this to address thee in writing as well as by word of mouth through our nuncios, but the cares of the Church have prevented us hitherto from carrying out our design.' He then goes on to tell him that he has sent him 'our beloved son Dominicus,' a Greek archpriest of Brundus, and he commends his nuncio to Joannitz, requiring that he should receive him with humility, treat him kindly, and through him communicate his further submission more explicitly. Should he (the Pope) be satisfied concerning his intentions and submission, he proposes to send him higher nuncios, or rather legates, to assure him and his (subjects) in the true faith.'

Joannitz evidently did not at first receive or treat the holy emissary quite so deferentially as he might have done; but at length he answers, beginning his epistle as follows:—'To the venerable and most holy Father, highest priest, I, Johannes, Emperor of the Wallachs and Bulgarians, send thee joy and health.' He acknowledges the letter, which he says is dearer to him than gold or any jewels, and thanks God for having remembered him, his race, and the Fatherland from which they originated.

Then he recites what the Holy Father said about his benevolent intentions, and adds that he, too, had attempted once, twice, and indeed three times to communicate with him, but was debarred from doing so by the number of his enemies; but now, knowing what are the Holy Father's feelings towards him, he sends, along with the nuncio whom the Pope had commissioned, also 'our pious and trusty priest Blasius,' to convey his thanks, friendship, and service to him, as his Holy Father and highest priest. Then, with an eye to business (which, by the way, pervades the whole correspondence), he adds that as by his sacred writing his Holiness had asked him to explain what he desired from the Holy Roman Church (which, however, was not the case), his Imperial Majesty desires of the Apostolic chair that he and his subjects should be fortified as children in the bosom of the Mother Church, and particularly he asks from the Roman Church, his mother, the crown and honour which his forefathers the old emperors received. 'One was Peter, another Samuel, and others, who preceded us in the government.' If his Holiness will do this, his every desire in regard to the demeanour of his Empire towards the Church shall be fulfilled.

'But,' he adds, rather significantly, 'you must not be surprised that your nuncio did not come back sooner, for we suspected him. Many persons have come and tried to mislead us, but we were proof against their machinations.' (False prophets he means.) 'But in this case, however, the prætext' (white robe) 'was convincing proof, and we were satisfied.' (But he was not satisfied.) 'But, most Holy Father, if it please thee, please send us the higher nuncios, and send this one with them, and then we shall be convinced that both the first and the second mission were from thee. May the Lord grant thee a long life!'

Then follows another letter from the Pope, which might have been drawn up by a modern conveyancer. It recites the whole of the previous correspondence, and, referring to Joannitz's request for a crown, his Holiness says he has had the registers carefully searched, and finds that it is true many kings were crowned, and, moreover, that in the time of his predecessor, Pope Nicolas, the King of the Bulgarians, who had often sought his advice, had been baptized with his whole nation. Afterwards, he says, at the request of Michael of Bulgaria, Pope Adrian sent a subdeacon and some priests, but, in consequence of the bribes and promises of the Greeks, the Bulgarians cast them out and took Greek priests in their stead. In consequence of this 'light behaviour,' therefore, he could not see his way clear to send any of his brothers the cardinals. Still he had decided to send his chaplain Johannes as a nuncio of the Apostolic chair, and, commending him to his good offices (in the usual terms), he wished him to understand that he was fully empowered to improve everything of a spiritual character in the realm. He also sent by him a robe (pallium) for the archbishop of his country, and a bull announcing the form and nature of the investiture. In fact this nuncio was authorised to ordain bishops and priests, and generally to substitute the Roman Catholic for the Greek faith. As to the crown there seems still to have been a hitch. The nuncio was to look up the older books and documents and learn all about the ancient manner of proceeding, so that 'we [the Pope] may with greater celerity make the needful arrangements.' And he bids him warn his 'nobles' also to treat the nuncio with proper deference.

Joannitz did his utmost to comply with the Papal behest. An archbishopric and two bishoprics were founded, and the 'Golden Bull' was promulgated, in which it was announced that Joannitz intended to receive his crown and investiture at the hands of the Universal Priest, Innocent III., and that certain ecclesiastical functionaries (naming them) had been established by the Church of Rome, and thereby received his (Joannitz's) sanction, which had previously been accorded to them by his ancestors. He also sent presents to the Pope as a token of submission; and all these matters having been duly weighed and considered by his Holiness, he at length nominated Joannitz King of the Wallachs and Bulgarians, and sent him the much-coveted crown and sceptre by the hands of Leo, a cardinal of the Order of the Holy Cross, &c., who was commissioned on his behalf to perform the ceremony of coronation. Lauriani concludes the correspondence and narrative by saying that 'this Empire of the Roumanians flourished from the year of our Lord 1186, in which it was restored by the brothers Peter and Asan, under the best and bravest kings of the family of Asanidæ, until the year 1285, when it was disturbed, but not destroyed, by the inroads of the Tartars. After the Turks had begun to make irruptions into the European provinces, in the fourteenth century, it was brought under the yoke by the Sultan Bajazet towards the close of that century, and wholly annihilated in the year 1392.'

Down to this period (the middle of the fourteenth century) we have been necessarily compelled to speak loosely of the territories which were overrun and held by the various barbarian races, for there is no clear information concerning the limits of their occupation; but henceforward our record will deal chiefly with Roumania as at present constituted. The Wallacho-Bulgarian monarchy, whatever may have been its limits, was annihilated by a horde of Tartars about a.d. 1250. The same race committed great havoc in Hungary, conquered the Kumani, overran Moldavia, Transylvania, &c., and held their ground there until about the middle of the fourteenth century, when they were driven northward by the Hungarian, Saxon, and other settlers in Transylvania; and with their exit we have done with the barbarians.