How Romania was born.
How was Romania born? Is question that I get asked quite a lot. I often find myself telling that story about my country and today I am gonna share with you that story of. You need to keep in mind that this is gonna be a history lesson but in a non-conventional way. A more informal way of digesting hard historical facts.
Disclaimer! This post is the author’s approach of storytelling Romania’s history. The analogies, metaphors and sarcasm are personal touches. All of the historical facts are based on thorough research and valid sources of information.
“What is Romania?”
Ask any Romanian this and you’ll end up in a long philosophical discussion. And with a few bottles of homemade brandy (a.k.a. tzuica), the answer will only come out somewhere close to morning.
You see, the first time the name Romania was used is only back in the second half of the 19th century. And it referred to Wallachia and Moldavia. Transylvania became officially part of Romania in the first half of the 20th century. In case you missed the geography lesson have a look here.
So when can we actually say that Romania was born? To answer this question we need to travel in time a bit, all the way to Antiquity. Not gonna bother you with the years too much, because history is hard enough to digest as it is. Instead, as promised, I’m going to tell you a story.
Romania in Antiquity.
Back in the days of savages and barbarians, the people that lived on today’s lands of Romania were called the Dacians by the Romans or Getae by the Greeks. We are gonna go with the Dacians, we even named our car brand after them.
Them fellas were living happily over there. Foraging and hunting. Offering sacrifices to their god, Zamolxis. Eating, drinking and making babies. Oh, the good old days!
But then one day these Romans chaps had a meeting. Decided that they need more slaves, gold and you know, whatever other stuff they were looking for back then. So they went on a colonizing trip up north to the Dacians. As the Romans were way more advanced when it comes to the army, my fellow Dacians didn’t stand a chance, although they fought bravely and even won a few fights.
So they came, they saw, they conquered. Killed a few locals too, but instead of erasing Dacians off the map, as was the custom those days, they did not. It is said that the women were too beautiful, and there was way too much wine around.
Make love not war, baby!
And so from this blend of Romans and Dacians, the today Romanians came to be. We learned their language. We are one of the five Latin languages spoken today. French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and surprise, Romanian. You don’t believe me? Wikipedia is here to back me up. They built roads and cities and they gave Dacians a massive upgrade. And as time goes by, another age came. With another set of challenges.
Romania in the Middle Ages.
So from the ashes of the Dacian Empire, after the Roman colonisation, three principalities emerged. Yes, you’re right! I am talking about Wallachia, Moldavia, and Transylvania.
Biggest problem those days was maintaining your border. I would say “My border is here next to the river!” and then my neighbor would say “Screw you. I want more land!”. And so we would start fighting like loonatics. You get the picture. Everyone plundered other lands and nations. Vikings came from the north. A bunch of badass guys on horses attacked from the east, the most fierce being the Huns, today Hungarians. The Ottomans were pushing from the south.
Those days people had real problems, not like us today, freaking out when we run out of internet.
Transylvania and some other chunks of land from modern day Romania were under the rule of Hungrians for about 500 years and afterwards made part of the Habsburg Empire till the end of WWI and somewhere in between even the Ottomas rulled here for a while. Although many came and left during this time, the majority of the population in Transylvania was made up by Romanians. Nonetheless these rulers left a big mark on the Transylvanian society in all its aspects.
The plundering went on for a few hundred years until The Ottoman Empire picked up speed and power. They were another major influence for the Romanians. We had countless fights with them but in the end, they decided again not to wipe us out. “Lucky us”. But instead made a deal with the rulers of Wallachia and Moldavia! They said: “You know guys we won’t kick your asses if you give us this much or your crop production, this much of your gold, this many horses” and so on. That’s how business was made back then.
What have we learned today?
Dacians. Romans. Make love not war! Hello Romanians.
Middle Age. Wallachia, Moldavia, and Transylvania.
Transylvania goes under Hungarian and Habsburgic rule.
Wallachia and Moldavia are under Ottoman influence.
As life went on for the Romanians they learned how to cope with everyone who wanted a piece of their land. And developed a very valuable skill. I’m gonna tell you all about it in the next post.