Un articol pe care probabil unii dintre voi il cunoasteti deja, in care se trateaza (nu stiu cat de corect, dar in orice caz obiectiv...) problema etnogenezei romanilor:
The Vlach Connection
Whether what the emperor Justinian did, in recovering North Africa and Italy for the Empire, was a good idea is still argued by historians. At the same time, it is a bit ridiculous to sneer at the Eastern emperors because they weren't properly Roman, somehow, and then simultaneously fault the one who goes out and recovers nearly half of the old West from the Germans. Nevertheless, what Justinian was and what he did contain important elements of how the mediaeval world was becoming different from the ancient, and how the later empire was different from the earlier.
What Justinian was is a large but little noted part of the story. He is supposed to have come from a Latin speaking family in Macedonia. Now, a Latin speaking family in, say, Spain would mean people whose language would eventually evolve into Spanish; in Gaul, into French; etc. A Latin speaking family in Macedonia would thus be people whose language would eventually evolve into the Romance languages called "Vlach" south of the Danube and, north of the Danube, Romanian. So, in short, Justinian was a Romanian, whether in the modern or the ancient sense. A Romanian emperor of Romania.
This leads into several issues.
1. Vlach is itself an interesting word. It seems to be a derivative from the same Germanic word cognate to welsch in German and Welsh in English, both meaning Roman, whether the Romans be Latin-speaking or Celtic-speaking. Vlach itself is Slavic (taking that form in Czech) and could mean Italian or Romanian, though the same word, with appropriate case endings, turns up in mediaeval Latin (Blachi) and Greek (Blakhoi, pronounced Vlakhi), only applied to the Romance speakers of the Balkans. It also occurs in Polish as Wloch, in Hungarian as Olasz, in Russian as Volokh, in Yiddish as Walach, and in various other forms even in those same languages (cf. "Vlach," A Dictionary of Surnames, Patrick Hanks and Flavia Hodges [Oxford University Press, 1988], p. 558). Vlach also significantly turns up in the name of the first Romanian principality: Wallachia (or sometimes "Walachia"). Thus, we can imagine the word being left behind in the Balkan Sprachbund by the German tribes during their stay in Eastern Europe and the Balkans.
For many centuries Vlach was a spoken and not a written language. When it was committed to writing, the Cyrillic alphabet was used, in line with the Orthodox faith of the people. Later, a national consciousness arose in the principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, where the language came to be called "Romanian." The name was at first itself influenced by Turkish pronunciation, as Rumanian or Roumanian, but along with the adoption of the Latin alphabet and an attempt to Latinize the language more, the name also was more Latinized. For clarity, the language of modern Romania can be called Daco-Romanian. Several islands of Vlach speakers survive in Greece, Albania, and the former Yugoslavia, though the use of the word "Vlach" for these is dying out. Two islands of speakers in Albania and Greece are now said to speak Arumanian, while another island of speakers in Greek Macedonia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are said to speak Megleno-Rumanian. The Megleno-Rumanian speakers thus might be thought of as the descendants of Justinian's own people.
2. This throws an important perspective on the Eastern empire through the rest of its history. When Greek replaces Latin as the Court language under the emperor Heraclius, historians begin to think of the empire as a Greek empire, even as Western Europeans (Franks) tended to think of everyone in the empire as Greek. But of course nothing of the sort was true. Greek stood to the later empire just as Latin had stood to the earlier: the language of higher culture and universal communication, but not the spoken language of all the ethnic components of the whole. Greek had a bit of that role in the earlier empire as well: Marcus Aurelius did not become Greek because he kept his diary in that language. At the same time, real Mediaeval Greeks were even hesitant to call themselves Greeks: Hellenes, the Greek word for "Greeks," tended to imply the ancient pagan Greeks. Christian Greeks didn't need to call themselves anything but "Romans."
Besides Greeks, the later empire had a very large element of Armenians, other groups whose languages were not written until later, like Albanians and Vlach speakers, and finally other indigenous ethnic groups to whom there are occasional references, like the Isaurians and Phrygians, whose languages are not well attested and who actually disappear completely in the course of the Turkish conquest of Anatolia. Indeed, it is not clear just how and when many of the ancient indigenous peoples of Anatolia disappear or are assimilated -- people like the Phrygians, Lydians, Dacians, Galatians (who were Celts), Cappadocians, etc. After Basil II had finally conquered Bulgaria, a large Slavic element of Bulgars and Serbs, centuries after their having broken through the Danube frontier, was finally also integrated into the empire. Even the Latin Emperors in Constantinople, aware of the history and multi-ethnic nature of the Empire, still called it Romania.
Thus, while the modern Romanians preserve that identity as speakers of a Romance language, mediaeval Romania meant an empire of many peoples, united by the history of the Roman Empire and the Church, and simply governed in Greek. The greatest "Byzantine" dynasty, the Macedonians, starting with Basil I, seems to have actually been Armenian in origin, even as two of the in-law emperors in the same dynasty, Romanus I and John Tzimisces, were also. In this respect, again, the Roman Empire had assumed more fully the characteristic of a Hellenistic state -- which simply meant that anyone who learned Greek gained full political equality.
3. There is finally the mystery of the Daco-Romanian speakers in their current territory. The Romance speakers of the Balkans enter history in the 12th century as the Vlachs: When the second Bulgarian kingdom broke away from Romania in 1186, the revolt was led by the Asen brothers, who were Vlachs themselves. John Asen styled himself, in Latin, imperator omnium Bulgarorum et Blacorum. When the German emperor Frederick Barbarossa passed through in 1189, the Vlach element seemed predominant, since John was referred to as "emperor of the Vlachs and of the most part of the Bulgarians," "emperor of the Vlachs and Cumans," or "emperor of the Vlachs who was called by them emperor of Greece" [History of the Byzantine Empire, A.A. Vasiliev, University of Wisconsin Press, 1964, p.442]. The Asens may have emphasized the Bulgarian element simply because that was the independent institutional precedent, of state and church, that they were claiming.
Since we do not previously hear about Romance speakers in the Balkans in any mediaeval history, and Vlach at that point was still not a written language, these people seem to just pop up out of nowhere. Much the same is true of the Albanians. Even more mysterious is the appearance of the Romance speakers north of the Danube, which had largely been terra incognita for the previous thousand years. Thus, anyone would wonder what had happened. Romance speech means Roman colonization, and we have to go back all the way to the 2nd and 3th centuries to find out about that.
Since Romanian nationalism naturally identifies itself with the present land of Romania, and also with the pre-Roman inhabitants of Dacia -- the plateau protected on south and east by the Carpathian moutains -- it stoutly maintains that Daco-Romanians have occupied the same territory continuously. On the other hand, the Hungarians, who ruled Transylvania (the same plateau) from the founding of their own state all the way, except for the Turkish occupation, to 1918, like to claim that they were actually there first, and that the Romanians came in later. These competing political claims, which often have overtones of self-interested ethnic myth-making, make it very difficult for outsiders to evaluate the arguments -- anyone might be reasonably suspicious of what any of the Daco-Romanian or Hungarian sources say.
What we know from Roman sources is that the province of Dacia, conquered and colonized by Trajan in 106, was abandoned around 271. This was, as we have seen, a very bad period for the Romans, and Dacia was a salient into territory mostly surrounded by increasingly active enemies. With the Roman withdrawl, the area drops out of recorded history for many centuries, and notice of Romance speakers there doesn't occur until something like the 14th century. Texts in the Vlach/Romanian language don't occur until the 16th century. Across the void of the Transylvanian plateau and Carpathian mountains, mediaeval historians only notice the passage of nomads -- Germans (Goths and Gepids), Huns, Avars, Bulgars, Magyars, Patzinaks, Cumans, and, last but not least, the Mongols. The locations of Wallachia and Moldavia seem like virtual nomadic no-man's lands during much of the Middle Ages, with no literate culture and no civil organization or political authority apart from the nomadic empires.
While the Romans withdrew their legions, administrators, and many colonists, it does seem unlikely that all the inhabitants of Dacia, which before the Roman conquest had been a fairly unified and formidable state, would have left. Any unassimilated rural population, especially, would have had no particular reason to leave -- rule by some Germans might not have seemed worse, and perhaps better, than Roman rule. The archaeology reported by modern Romanians indicates a continuity of the material culture, even if urban areas decline precipitiously and there is little in the way of epigraphic material. Romanians like to point out that rural costume even today looks like the Dacian costume of Trajan's Column in Rome. Coin hoards indicate, especially for the 4th century, a continuing cash economy, which means continuing trade contact with the Empire. That even allowed for the penetration of some Christianity. What percentage of this remaining population was Latin speaking, and what percentage was still using the old Dacian language, is impossible, in the absence of the records of a literate culture, to say.
The withdrawn colonists, probably all or mostly Latin speaking, were settled just across the Danube in the Roman province of Moesia Superior (Upper Moesia). That province was later subdivided into Upper Moesia (Moesia I) and, of all things, Dacia. This is now in the part of Serbia south of the Danube and east of Belgrade. This Dacia was later subdivided in two. These provinces were then collected, with Upper Moesia and other nearby provinces into the Diocese of Dacia. In late Roman times the area was Latin speaking and outside where Greek was commonly used (cf. A History of the Byzantine State and Society, Warren Threadgold [Stanford University Press, 1997], p.6). It is not hard to imagine the contacts that continued between the inhabitants north of the Danube, Romanized to a greater or lesser extent, and those who had withdrawn to the south, even as late Roman trade crossed back and forth all along the Rhine-Danube frontier.
Not only did the original Dacia drop out of history in 271, but the later Dacias did so also, after the Avars and Slavs breached the Danube frontier and poured into the Balkans in 602. Only the conversion of Bulgaria to Christianity in 879, with the introduction of the Cyrillic alphabet, returned the region to literacy. As it happens, only one other place in the Roman Empire dropped out of history in quite the same way. That was Britain. The withdrawl of Roman forces in 410 drops Britain into a void very similar to that of the Dacias, and for a while all that is apparent is the descent of sea-going Germans -- the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. When literate culture returns, dramatically evident in the history of the English church written by the Venerable Bede in 731, we suddenly see the results. Roman Britain has disappeared from most of the island, with Romanized Celtic speakers pushed into Wales and Cornwall. The Cornish were under such pressure that many of them crossed over to Brittany. The Celtic speakers of Cornwall have today disappeared, but the Bretons are very much alive and aware of their past. Although the Angles and Saxons inherited the old Roman place names, and came to tell the King Arthur stories by which the conflicts of the 5th century were vaguely remembered, Saxon England owed little enough to the culture it had displaced.
Roman Britain survives in Wales and Brittany. Even pre-Roman culture survives in Spain, where the mountains in the North harbor the Basques, whose language has no obvious affinities to any other. This is revealing. The geography of England poses few obstacles to conquest, but both the Welsh and the Basques held out in mountains -- relatively modest mountains perhaps, no more than 3000 feet in Wales and not much more than 7500 feet on the south side of the Ebro valley in Spain (though over 11,000 feet in the nearby Pyrenees), but something that could impose significant costs to invaders -- in the Middle Ages, the Basque country was the basis of the long independent Kingdom of Navarre. Americans need only remember how the Appalachians, which don't get much over 6000 feet, originally hindered westward movement. The Transylvanian plateau, in comparison to these, provides a formidable redoubt. The Danube River itself tells the tale, since it must make a broad detour to the south, around the whole area. The southern branch of the Carpathians, the Transylvanian Alps, has peaks over 8000 feet high, and even the western side goes up to 6000 feet in the Bihor mountains. This makes it immediately obvious why nomads tended to pass around, like the Danube. Nomads like flat grasslands, which are present on the Hungarian plain and in the Danube Valley of Wallachia, but not in the mountains or up on the Transylvanian plateau. We should expect to find an autochthonous population in Daco-Romania just as must as in Wales or Navarre.
Consequently, it is no more difficult imagining the Dacians surviving than it is explaining the Welsh or the Basques. On the other hand, this makes it somewhat more difficult to explain why the original Dacian language would not have survived. The area of Daco-Romania was under Roman rule for a shorter time, about a century and a half, than Britain, about three and a half centuries, or than Spain, more like six and a half centuries. A Romance language did not take root in Britain, and even all the Romance dominance in Spain failed to entirely displace Basque. So why does the pre-Roman language not survive in modern Romania? The relatively brief Roman occupation hardly seems like the kind of thing that could have done so thorough a job, especially in the face of the organization and resistance that the Dacians originally offered. Nor was it Roman policy to deliberately stamp out local languages -- that was just a side effect of Roman colonization and the use of Latin as the administrative, literary, and, later, religious (i.e. Roman Catholic) language. The dominance of Romance speech in Daco-Romania thus might require some other impetus of Latinization.
We may find that by asking what happened to all the Latin speakers south of the Danube, in the later Dacian provinces and diocese. If we look there now, one thing we find is that there are still Romance speakers. In the bend of the Danube River, where it breaks through the mountain barrier at the Iron Gate, which corresonds to the north part of the Roman Province of Dacia Ripensis, there is a Daco-Romanian speaking area even today, as part of Serbia. These are people who need not have moved in 1700 years. But most of the area of the Roman Dacias is occupied by speakers of Serbian or Bulgarian. On the other hand, the Vlach languages to the south, as I understand it, do not betray the influence of Greek that they should, had they originated in Macedonia and Albania. And there is, of course, the pocket of Istro-Rumanian, which is all the way West in Istria, which was part of Austria until World War I. Since all the Romance languages of the Balkans appear to come from one proto-language -- Proto-Romanian -- the dispersed pockets, like Arumanian, in Albania and Epirus, and Istro-Rumanian, must have originated in the same area. That looks to be the Late Roman Dacias. The event to have have scattered the languages would have been the Avar/Slavic breakthrough in 602.
Some of the people stayed more or less put, like the Welsh, while others scattered in the face of the invaders, like the Bretons. Since there are no historical records of this, as there are none for the Slavic migration itself, we are left with nothing but the evidence of the results. From Istro-Rumanian, we know that some went West. From Megleno-Rumanian and Arumanian, we know that some went South. However, the most obvious thing for them to do would have been to go north-east right back into the original Dacia. This was now no worse than heading south or west, which offered no real refuge (Roman authority having collapsed so completely), and could easily have been considered better, since they likely would have known from rumor that the invaders had mostly passed around the highlands.
Hidden from history, like other Dark Age migrations, the Roman evacuees from Dacia could well have, in returning, provided the additional impetus of Latinization that erased the vestiges of the ancient Dacian language. Nor need this have been an all-at-once process. It looks like mediaeval Serbia started a bit west of the Moesia region, in modern Bosnia, and gradually moved east. In the meantime, the Roman Dacias, which included parts of modern Bulgaria, like the city of Sofia (Roman Serdica), could well have remained largely Vlach. This seems to be no less than what we see in the age of the Asens. As the second Bulgarian empire declined, however, the Serbs pushed to the east. This may have motivated continued Vlach exodus. The continued movement of peoples even in the modern period is a claim of the Serbs themselves, who say that Albanians moved into Kosovo after the Turkish conquest. This is very possible. It also makes possible the movement from the Roman Dacias.
If this view of events is correct, then both Romanian and Hungarian nationalists are, after a fashion, correct. There was continuous Daco-Romanian occupation of Transylvania, and there was migration from what had been Roman Moesia, south of the Danube. Not south by much, however. The areas are still contiguous today. This is worse for Hungarian claims than for Romanian. What continued migration explains is the purely Romance character of Daco-Romanian.
It also explains something else, however, which is the nature of the Romanian Church. The early Daco-Romanians of Transylvanian did not convert en masse or in any organized way to Christianity, or we would have heard about their bishops at the Ecumenical Councils, and they very well could have been Arians, like the Goths. Nor did Daco-Romanians acquire the religion of the Hungarians, for that would have been allied to the Church of Rome, not of Constantinople. Instead, the Romanian Church goes back to the conversion of the Bulgars. The appearance of "Roumanian" in the Cyrillic alphabet, as well as the influence of Old Church Slavonic, the liturgical language of the Bulgarian Church, on Daco-Romanian, are all evidence of that. After the conquest of Bulgaria by Basil II and the century and a half of rule form Constantinople, the Bulgarian Church was revived by the Vlach Asens, with the Patriarchate at Trnovo. "The Primate of all Bulgaria and Vlakhia" (totius Bulgariae et Blachiae Primas, in Latin) is what the Patriarch called himself. This seat, and that of Russia, were the only independent Orthodox Churches authorized from Constantinople. As Bulgaria declined and Serbia arose, an independent Serbian Patriarchate was established at Peç (Kosovo) in 1346, just in time for the coronation of Stephan Dushan as "Tsar of the Serbs and Romans." Bulgaria, Serbia, and Wallachia, however, were soon all overrun by the Turks. By 1483, in the still, for the time being, independent Moldavia, there was metropolitan established in Suceava for the Romanian Orthodox Church. I have not found yet the year in which this was actually done, but the Romanian Church has been autonomous ever since [note]. The Orthodox faith of Romanians in Transylvania cannot have originated there except directly under the influence of the Bulgarians, who ruled it at the time of their conversion, or because of migration and influence of Vlachs, who had converted closer to the center of Bulgarian power. Once Transylvania passed to Hungary, any influence would have been for Catholicism, which evidently is something that we do not see.
This is about the best I can do, for the moment, with the mystery of the Dark Ages in both Daco-Romania and the Late Roman Dacias. It might not satisfy all Romanians, and certainly not many Hungarians, but dealing with such an issue, outside the sphere of historical records, is intrinsically speculative and uncertain. At the same time, it is nice that somewhere the name of "Romania" is preserved in a modern nation, and it is also well worth remembering that there were people in the Balkans who spoke Latin, as we understand from Justinian's own family.