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Romanian Principalities

  • Romanian voievods around  10th century: Vlad, Gelu and   Menumorut

    Romanian voievods around
    10th century: Vlad, Gelu and
    Menumorut

THE ROMANIAN PRINCIPALITIES

Beginning with the 10th century, documents of Slavic, Byzantine, Hungarian and Latin sources bear witness to the existence of state formations throughout present Romania's territory. These formations were known as dukedoms, knezdoms and voivodeships, commonly termed by the people as "tari" (terrae)=lands, countries. The first were recorded in Transylvania and Dobrudja, and then in the lands east and south of the Carpathians.

The Transylvanian state formations reached a relatively high level of political and military organisation, putting up a long resistance to the military pressure of the Hungarians between the 9th-11th centuries. In the end, they had to give in and formed one single voievodeship, Transylvania, under Hungarian leadership. However, some of its areas continued to have local autonomy.

By the end of the 11th century and most of the 12th century, Transylvania gradually fell under Hungarian domination; yet, it preserved its own organisation, being ruled by a voivode - a specifically Romanian form of government generalised all over Transylvania until the l6th century, when this status was changed into that of a prince. In order to secure the defence of their frontiers against the inroads made by some populations (Petchenegs, Cumans and especially the Tartars), the Hungarian kings encouraged other ethnic groups of people to settle in Transylvania. This process began in the mid-12th century, when groups of Szeklers (a population mix of steppe migrants, who had followed the Hungarians on their way to Europe), and of Saxons (from Flanders, Luxembourg, the Mosel and the Rhine regions, as well as from Saxony) were brought in.

The changes that took place in Europe in the l4th century, alongside the weakening of the more than one-hundred-year-old Golden Horde, gripped the Romanian lands that lay south and east i.e. Wallachia and Moldavia. The leading Romanian circles from Transylvania, then in conflict with the Hungarian Crown because of the latter's intentions to dissolve the local autonomies, contributed to the process of unification unfolded across the mountains. As people kept crossing the mountains, a new demographic inflow and further political experience were brought to the south-and east-Carpathian leaders.

The economic exchanges, the development of boroughs and of towns linked through transit trade routes with the commercial world abroad offered a good chance to the Romanian political formations to place their unification projects on a viable basis. Once their independence from the Hungarian Crown had been won in battle, the Romanian Principalities - South and East of the Carpathians began to play an increasingly important political, military and cultural role in South-Eastern and Central Europe. The founders of the independent Romanian states were voivodes Basarab I (1324-1352) in Wallachia, and Bogdan I (1359-1365) in Moldavia.