Our history began about 600.000 years ago in the Stone Age, when human communities started to develop inside the current territory of Romania. Traces of these have remained throughout the development of humanity, giving us conclusive evidence of permanent habitation of the earth continuing to this day.
Here, in the eastern corner of Transylvania, in the town of Ariusd, it is the western boundary of the Cucuteni culture.
This was the first important material culture of Europe, before the Greeks and Romans. It represented the European cultural summit for 1500 years, between 5000 and 3500 BC. Cucuteni people had houses and multi-storey house on stilts; their houses were nearly 200 square meters and were divided into quarters with specific uses. Then people of almost 20,000 houses arranged in an orderly manner were discovered, indicating a strong social organization and suggests the existence of protociudades.
Cucuteni ceramics, like the pigments used, is of exceptional quality, very difficult to get even with current technology. Ceramics and its colors are well preserved after being buried for 7000 years.
Cucuteni people used hearth furnaces, a marvel of technology at the time. Cultivated almost all cereals, vines and various fruit, bred pets, were the first major European culture. We, Romanians speak the language of Europe more complex, according to the latest research, it is the mother language of Latin and not their offspring, and live in one of the biggest spiritual centers of the world, the Carpathians.
After Cucuteni culture during the first Iron Age, 3000 years BC, were the Thracians. These had advanced material and spiritual culture and occupied a vast territory in the Balkan Peninsula, Bosphorus and Dardanelles reaching. They participated in the Trojan War and, after being defeated, the Thracians in the area of Bosphorus and Dardanelles arrived in their boats to the south of the Italian peninsula where they mixed with indigenous contributing to the subsequent formation of the latin language ( pay attention that the wheel were invented by the cucutenians 2500 years befoe the official date of the wheel invention !
A clear example would be the stone tables from Tartaria (Alba County), discovered in 1961 and dated to around 5500 BC. This is almost 2000 years before the Sumer writings. Also, strong evidence exists that they used other sources (as related by their legends, their gods, their calendar) expanding the Sumerian civilization left here in Dacia, in The Sumer area which radically changed the history of writing and cast a new light on the importance of the Romanian territory for humanity.
The great nation of the Thracian tribes (600 BC) and the Dacians lived i the area of Romania. Together, Daco - Getae are mentioned in the history of Herodotus, Strabon or Iordnes - as having created a high spiritual and material civilization which had made an important contribution to the progress of mankind. Bear in mind here the Dacian calendar which was very precise ( about the same as today - missing only a few minutes to match!) or the philosophy of Dacian doctors who thought that first should be cured the soul and then the body This inspired the famous medical oath, which was provided by the Dacian doctors many hundreds of years ago. Their religion was very close to Christianity, as much later preached by the Apostle Andrew. His teaching caught on so well with Daco Getae because he brought ideas already practiced by them; such as the soul`s immortality, one supreme god, across and the 10 Commandments. Around 50 B.C., Burebista, a great king of the Dacians, united under his leadership all the tribes of this great nation, managing to raise an army of 200.000 man raise an army of 200,000 men; an impressive figure for that time. He was later assassinated by the nobles who did not want to lose privileges, a story that is repeated several times over the period of our history.
After Burebista the state was decentralized, until after some years at the head of the kingdom camed Durpaneus-Decebal to continue the policy of strengthening the country against the most important enemy they ever had to its borders: the Roman Empire. When, in the year 86 Cornelius Fuscus and his legions tried to get into Dacia, he was defeated and killed, and the Dacians prepared now for what could be the end of their civilization: war with the Romans.
Before this, we should add that, the Romans and Dacians were kind of cousins. Remember- after the siege of Troy where they participated in the defence, the Thracians, Dardans and Bosforans, left them at sea to reach the coasts of Italy. Thereby mixing with the indigenous population they contributed to the birth of the great nations of the Romans including linguistic input.
How was Daco-Getae part of the great nation of the Thracians? it is easy to understand:-the Vulgar Latin (of the people) was very similar to Dacian language: meaning the Dacians and Romans could communicate very easily. Also due to this fact, the 165 years of Roman presence here was enough to Latinize the language, a modification of the lexical Dacian language and transform it to the Romanian language with obvious Latin roots. It is interesting to note that in Northern Africa where the Romans also stayed more than 165 years, this never occurred.
So, the two Dacian wars against the Romans, in the years 101-102 AD and 105-106AD ended with the defeat of the Dacians and suicide of their proud king, Decebal leading finally to the disappearance of their state. There followed a long period of time in which, as stated above, Roman domination in Dacia and Roman settlers gathering here on the eastern border of the empire, favoured by the 165 years of Roman presence, created the appearance of the Romanian people. However, the impact of Roman civilization was not felt fully because Dacians were more advanced in many ways than the Romans, such as in sciences but damage caused by the 'civilized' Roman army led to some irreparable loss of knowledge, medical, astronomical and language. After the withdrawal from Dacia, by the Roman army in 271 AD there remained throughout the entire territory of Dacia, which stretches from east to west between the river Nistru and Tisza river and from north to south between the northern limit of the Carpathian chain to the Danube, a heterogeneous population that we call Dacian-Romans which emerged because it was a mixture between the Roman settlers and the Dacian indigenous people. This population, which mainly survived by agriculture and grazing and was divided into administrative structures led by leaders elected from the ranks of nobility.
It is very important to emphasize again that, the year 271 Dacia saw the withdrawal from the south of the Danube only the Roman army, the civilian population remained. They went to the south of the Danube River because the migration period had begun and the river Danube represented a natural and larger border between the Roman Empire and those migrants. For example through here passed the Longobards, The Vandals, The Saxons, The Huns, The Hungarians, The Proto-Bulgarians, The Cumans, The Pecenegs, The Slavs and others.
For about 8 centuries we do not have documents to speak about the Wallachians from Transylvania. They reappear suddenly in the documents from XII century when the Hungarian Kingdom tried to conquer this territory.
These documents show that in this period Romanians continued to live in this territory and all over Romania; there are many different sources: names of rivers (Olt - Alutus , Mures - Maris, Arges - Argesis) names of places and documents from the court of the Hungarian kings confirmed by the Transylvanian Bishopric from Alba Julia, which confirmed possessions of the Romanian nobles in Transylvania, possessions which hadexisted since the time of the Hungarian King St. Isztvan (i.e. the year 1000) and even earlier.
Another precious document about the state formation of Wallachia – showing the same thing that happened in Transylvania - is the document named Gesta Hungarorum (The Facts of the Hungarians) wroten by an anonymous notary at the court of the Hungarian King Béla III
The document contains precious information about the state structures which existed in Transylvania. We had three big states : one in the north-west headed by Menumorut, the second in south-west headed by Glad and the third in the centre ruled by Gelu. These three Romanian rulers became the vassals of the Hungarian king or were killed in battle like Gelu. After the conquest of Transylvania, the Hungarian crown started to colonise Transylvania with Saxon colonists brought here from the left side of the river Rhine in Germany, and the German order of the Teutonic Knights. The purpose was to build cities and fortifications in the south east corner of the province to defend it from the Turks, Tartars and Wallachians who entered Transylvania through here. They came from the year 1220 and built new cities like Brasov, Sighisoara or Sibiu.
In parallel with this activity, the Hungarian kingdom, a catholic one, tried to convert the orthodox religion of the Romanians who were and continued to be the 80% majority in this province.
To do this, they passed laws against them and took away all the social and political rights of the Romanians forcing them to embrace the catholic religion and declare themselves as Hungarians. This activity failed after about 900 years because the Romanian majority refused to change their religion and national identitiy from Romanians, and fought continuously for their rights.
Starting in 1300 the Hungarian king tried to extend his territory beyond the Carpathians chain in the east and south. In the south as you know already, was Wallachia and in the east the future state Moldova. IN 1236,
the Cumans gathering together in Moldova requested the Hungarian king to send them a bishop to baptise them in the catholic religion and let them to have settlements in Transylvania. This was a good opportunity for the Hungarian royalty to extend their influence beyond the Carpathians and gain newe allies very necessary because in 1241 from the east arrived the Mongol wave to Budapest.
The Mongol hoard arrived at the borders of Transylvania in 1241. The big Mongol army spread in 3 huge lines entering Transylvania from the north and south east. The northern line struck in the Maramures region (extreme north of Transylvania) in the mines region in Baia Mare and Rodna which inspired a catholic monk, named Rogerius to write a story called Carmen Miserabile (Threnody) about the events which happened during the invasion.
The second line entered Transylvania using the Oituz pass in the east Carpathians. There they were met by a small army of the Saxons and Hungarians from the city of Brasov which was a fortified city in a primary phase. The Saxons and Hungarians were destroyed by the Mongols who burned Brasov, Harman and Prejmer and then went to Budapest which was their next target. In a first battle they destroyed the Hungarian army and were ready to finish them off but had to go home because their Khan Ogoday died and they must attend the funerals. On the way back home some tribes of Tartars was settled to the north of the Black Sea and caused many, many problems during the coming years by their attacks against the Romanian countries.
As I said before, the policies of assimilitation used against the Romanians were very aggressive and not all the Romanian nobles resisted it. So some families, changed their religion to catholic and language to Hungarian. Two of those families, Dragos becaming Dragfi, and the Hunedoara family known as Hunyadi, switched sides. The Dragos family was from Maramures, on the northern side of Transylvania, and with their help the Hungarian king formed a state in Moldova to defend Transylvania from there against the Tartars. The Dragos family was expelled from Moldova by Bogdan, another Romanian noble family which in the end crossed the Carpathians into Moldavia and founded the basics of the new Romanian state from there.
The Hunedoara (Hunyadi in Hungarian ) family started from a small Romanian noble called Voicu who received from the Hungarian king, the domain and castle of Hunedoara (which now is the largest medieval castle in Romania). The legend said, that on the way to Hunedoara, Iancu was a children, and was playing with the ring received by his father from the Hungarian king Sigismund of Luxemburg as a proof that he is the new master of the domain and castle. Suddenly, a raven stolen the ring but the children Iancu took an arrow killing the bird and recovering the ring. Since then, the other name of the family became Corvin ( from corvus=raven in latin) and later when Iancu of Hunedoara became one of the most important governor of Transylvania and fighter against the turks, his name was, Iancu Corvin de Hunedoara, known in Hungary as Hunyady Janos. His son, Mathias, became under the name of Mathias Corvin the most important Hungarian king from the 15-een century. Of course many Hungarian historians and journalists, tried to made up roman origins of this king, inventing a roman family called Corvinia to justify the name Corvin and to deny that he was half Romanian after his father or, even 100% Romanian because in those times the nationality of the children was given by the father not mather. This is the way Transylvania developed as a feudal state: beeing occupied, conquered by the Hungarian kingdom.
From then on, the most important, activity of the Romanians, around 80% of the population, was to eliberate themselves from the Hungarian repression and fight for their rights. A fight which lasted 720 years. Between X-XIV centuries, the Romanian administration - political units of Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldova started to unite under a single ruler. This is what happened in Wallachia with Negru Voda coming from Transylvania and starting in 1290 to build the future feudal state in the southern Romanian Carpathians. Later his son Basarab the I,continued the work of his father, defeating the Hungarian King Carol Robert of Anjou in 1330 - obtaining eventually an independent country further from the Hungarian crown.
In the same way things happened in Moldova - where in 1365 a Romanian voievodes (military leader) from Maramures, called Bogdan, rose up against the protectorate of the Hungarian kingdom. All the Romanians living in Moldova became the basis of the feudal state of Moldova.
I will present you below one of the most important leaders of the Romanian Countries :
* Basarab I (1310-1352) – who obtained the independence of his country;
* Nicolae Alexandru (Nicholas Alexander) (1352-1364) – who founded the first Bishopric;
* Vlaicu Voda (1364-1377)- who forced King Ludovic I of Anjou to build Bran Castle to defend Transylvania by the invasion of Vlaicu;
* Mircea cel Batran (Mircea the Great) (1386-1418) - The single Christian prince who defeated an army lead on the battlefield by the sultan himself;
* Iancu de Hunedoara (1440 -1456) - governor of Transylvania and father of king Matyas Defender of Hungary
* Stefan cel Mare (Stephen the Great) (1456-1504) The defender of Christianity in the 15th century against the ottoman Empire;
* Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler) (1431 -1477),
* Mihai Viteazul (Michael the Brave) (1593-1601) - The first unifier of the Romanian Countries;(view photo below )
Alexandru Ioan Cuza (1859-1866) - The one who made the „small union“ between Moldova and Romanian Country and was the founder of modern Romania.
Of all the great rulers it was only Mircea the Great who had the capacity to halt on May 17-th 1395, the invasion of Turkish troops of Baiazid Ildirim (Lighting) on their way to Western Europe, holding them back for at least 20 years. His nephew Vlad Tepes known as Dracula, was a skillful leader famous for his notorious night attack in 1462 against the Ottoman Empire`s army under the command of the conqueror of Constantinopole , Sultan Mohammed II.
For those who do not know the story, in the summer of 1462, Mohammed's army entered Wallachia intending to kill Vlad and place on the throne handsome Radu (a brother of Vlad) and a lover of the Sultan. In a night attack Vlad attacked the Sultan`s camp with only 100 soldiers disguised in the Turks` uniforms, and after unsuccessful attempts to kill the Sultan in his own tent - he was not inside – withdrew from the camp - leaving the Turks to kill each other until morning, because of the confusion.
Taking the others in turn: Iancu of Hunedoara Romanian governor of Transylvania and tireless fighter against Ottoman expansion helped Stefan cel Mare to take the throne of Moldavia in 1457 and to start a glorious chapter in the history of the Romanians.
In the 47 years that he lead Moldova, Stefan not only defeated Muhammad twice (Vaslui in 1475, and in the summer of 1476), but also placed his country among the great European nations.
After the death of Stefan cel Mare in 1504, followed a long period of silence in our military history without many military achievements but more cultural development. Here we are talking about Neagoe Basarab 1512-1521 in Wallachia, and the commandment under which was built the church of the monastery Curtea de Arges.
In 1593 ascends the throne of Wallachia, Michael the Brave, son of Patrascu cel Bun. He comes to reign after the historic custom, buying with the money from creditors, the Wallachian throne from the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
After less than 2 months he convened in Bucharest all his Turskish creditors and burned them, declaring an open war on the Sultan. There followed many actions by the Danube along the Turkish border, attackungs and conquering Turkish fortresses. All these culminated in sending across the Danube, Sinan Pasa in 1595 with a great army to control Wallachia. The battlewas in the swamp around the Neajlov river, close to Bucharest, and ended with Michael’s victory.
There followed a period in which Michael provided political and military support to Prince Sigismund Bathory of Transylvania, when needed for fighting, and to complete his secret plan to unite all Romanians from Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldova into a single powerful state. He passed the Carpathians in 1599 and at Selimbar defeated the armies of Sigismund Bathory entering triumphantly in Alba Iulia, where he was crowned as prince of Transylvania and a few months later in 1600, Moldova surrendered without fighting. For the first time in history, the Romanians were united under the leadership of one man in one country, making Michael the Brave, Prince of Wallachia, Transylvania and of Moldova.
He was assassinated in 1601 because the Emperor of Austria, Rudolf, was not pleased that Transylvania and Wallachia and Moldova could not longer be controlled by him, indirectly, trough the prince of Transylvania.
After 1600, following a difficult period in which the Wallachian army and Romanian rulers almost disappeared, until, in the eighteenth century, they are gradually replaced with those brought from the Greek neighborhood of Istanbul called Fanar. In Moldova, the same situation applied- this state of things took over in 1859, when the colonel Alexandru Ioan Cuza was elected ruler both in Moldova and Wallachia.
Then, two Romanian principalities united under the protection of France and other European great powers of the time, and were given the name of Romania. The prince made many reforms: school, agricultural (giving land to the peasants), religious, and moving assets into state ownership and requiring the use of one language throughout the Romanian church with Latin spelling. As was said by Mihail Kogalniceanu - Prime Minister -: “Our Constitution designates a new era and your highness is called to open it. Be, good, be gentle, be good especially for those whose past rulers were careless or bad (...)”.
After seven years of brilliant reign, Alexandru Ioan Cuza was removed by those who saw their interests affected by the reforms of the new prince. In his place was placed Carol Hohenzollern Sigmaringen, a German prince and distant relative of the French emperor Napoleon III.
The new ruler came to Romania in August 1866 and began his reign under the name of Charles I.
It was a long reign of 48 years, and rich in events. A prince who helped Romania to progress and brought independence in 1877, on the battlefield in northern Bulgaria. In that year, a war began between Russia and the Ottoman Empire which was nearing the end of its existence. Romania allowed the Russian army to go via the national territory of Bulgaria to the north, but not receiving great acceptance there, lead Nicholas, the Russian armed forces commander to join them in war.
However, over several weeks, the Russians were forced by the stubborn resistance of the Turks inside the fortifications from Plevna, Grivita, Rahova, to request support from Prince Carol I of Romania. Nowthe Romanian army appeared on a battlefield after 277 years, and was filled with the glory that won admiration from all of Europe. At the end of the war in 1878, the Peace Congress of Berlin, Romania is recognized as an independent state, and in 1881 is proclaimed the Romanian Kingdom.
In 1914, King Carol I died, leaving behind an independent and prosperous country. Prince Ferdinand followed King Carol I to the throne. He was the nephew of the king and the one who entered the history of the Romanian people by the Act of 1 December 1918, when the union of Transylvania with Romania was proclaimed at Alba Iulia fulfilling the dream of centuries the Romanian people to live together within the same state borders.
Next , came perhaps the most prosperous period in the history of modern Romania, when Romania became the granary of Europe, and cultural and social life knew great advances.
All these years of peace and prosperity ended the moment when Germany started the invasion of Poland which began World War II.
There follows a period of 75 years in which we have had 3 world wars (two 'hot' and one 'cold'), which put together could be seen as one long war of 75 years as Mr. Neagu Djuvara consider in his books.(between 1917 Bolshevik revolution in Russia and 1992 with the collapse of the Soviet Union).
Communism in Romania deserves special attention, and I will say the following: it started on December 31st 1947 when the king was forced to abdicate by the communists. Then, in 1948, they falsified the elections and started to transform the country. First eliminating all the intellectuals of the country and then starting to implant in the minds of the rest of the population that only communism is the solution for their problems. This continued for 40 years until the Revolution for 1989, Dec. 21-st was come.