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1310 - Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia

Beginning with the 10th century, the Byzantine, Slav and Hungarian sources, and later on the western sources mention the existence of statehood entities of the Romanian population - kniezates and voivodates - first in Transylvania and Dobrudja, then in the 12-13th centuries, also in the lands east and south of the Carpathians. A specific trait of the Romanian's history from the Middle Ages until the modern times is that they lived in three Principalities that were neighbors, but autonomous - Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania. This phenomenon - which is by no means unique in Mediaeval Europe - is extremely complex. The underlying causes pertain to the essence of the feudal society, but there are also specific factors. Among the latter, we wish to mention the existence of powerful neighboring empires, which opposed the unification of the Romanian state entities and even occupied - for shorter or longer periods of time - Romanian territories.

For instance, to the west the Romanians had to face the policy of conquests conducted by the Hungarian kingdom. In 895, the Hungarian tribes, who came from the Volga lands, led by Arpad, settled in Pannonia. They were stopped in their progress towards the west by emperor Otto I (995) so the Hungarians settled down and turned their eyes to the south-east and east. There they encountered the Romanians.

A Hungarian chronicle describes the meeting between the messengers sent by Arpad, the Hungarian king, and voivode Menumorut of the Biharea city in western Transylvania. The Hungarian ambassadors demanded that the territory be handed over to them. The chronicle has preserved for us the dignified answer given by Menumorut: "Tell Arpad, the Duke of Hungary, your ruler. Verily we owe him, as a friend to a friend, to give him all that is necessary because he is a foreigner and a stranger and lacks many. But the land that he has demanded from our good will we shall never give to him, as long as we are alive".

Despite the resistance of the Romanian kniezates and voivodates, the Hungarians succeeded in the 10-13th centuries to occupy Transylvania and make it part of the Hungarian kingdom (until the beginning of the 16th century as an autonomous voivodate.) In order to consolidate their power in Transylvania, where the Romanians continued to be, over the centuries, the great majority ethnic element, as well as to defend the southern and eastern borders of the voivodate, the Hungarian crown resorted to the colonisation of Szecklers and Germans (Saxons) in the 12-13th centuries in the frontier areas.

In the 14th century, with the decline of the neighboring imperial powers (the Poles, the Hungarians, the Tartars), south and east of the Carpathian Mountains range the autonomous feudal states were formed: Wallachia, under Basarab I (around 1310) and Moldavia, under Bogdan I (around 1359). The Polish and Hungarian kingdoms attempted in the 14-15th centuries to annex or subordinate the two principalities, but they did not succeed.

About the middle of the fourteenth century, Bogdan, Voivode of Maramarps in Transylvania, who rebelled against the suzerainty of Hungary in 1360, founded the Principality of Moldavia by overrunning the Carpathians and reducing under his sway the hilly country along the River Moldau. Both these Rumanian principalities had to contend with great difficulties from their foundation: on the one hand their independence was threatened by the neighbouring kingdoms of Hungary and Poland, while on the other domestic quarrels and a want of unity between the kindred principalities lessened their strength.

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Page last modified: 21-11-2011 17:29:46 ZULU