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DACIA

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Originally appearing in Volume V23, Page 833 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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DACIA. From the 6th to the r2th century, wave after wave of barbarian conquerors, Goths, Tatars, Slays and others, passed over the country, and, according to one school of historians, almost obliterated its original Daco-Roman population; the modern Vlachs, on this theory, representing a later body of immigrants from Transdanubian territory. According to others, the ancient inhabitants were, at worst, only sub-merged for a time, and their direct descendants are the Rumans of to-day. Each of these conflicting views is supported by strong evidence; and the whole controversy, too large and too obscure for discussion here, is considered under the heading VLACHS. Towards the close of the 13th century, Walachia and Moldavia were occupied by a mixed population, composed partly of Vlachs, but mainly of Slays and Tatars; in Great Walachia,' also called Muntenia, the Petchenegs and Cumanians The predominated. Rumanian historians have striven, by Vlachs in piecing together the stray fragments of evidence which the 13th survive, to prove that their Vlach ancestors had not, century. as sometimes alleged, been reduced to a scattered community of nomadic shepherds, dwelling among the Carpathians as the serfs of their more powerful neighbours. The researches of Hasdeu, Xenopol and other historians tend to show the existence of a highly organized Vlach society in Transylvania, Oltland and certain districts of Hungary and Moldavia; of a settled commonalty, agricultural rather than pastoral; and of a hereditary feudal nobility, bound to pay tribute and render military service to the Hungarian crown, but enjoying many privileges, which were defined by a distinct customary law (jus valahicum). Although the characteristic titles of voivode, knez and ban (all implying military as well as civil authority) are of Slavonic origin, and perhaps derived from the practice of the later Bulgarian (or Bulgaro-Vlachian) empire, the growth of Vlach feudal institutions is attributed to German influences, which permeated through Hungarian channels into the Vlach world, and transformed the primitive tribal chiefs into a feudal aristocracy of boiars or boyards 2 (nobles). With the 13th century, at latest, begins the authentic political history of the Vlachs in Rumania, but it is not the history of a united people. The two principalities of Walachia Growth of and Moldavia developed separately, and each has its Rumanian separate annals. About the year 1774 it first nation- becomes possible to trace the progress of these ality. Danubian Principalities in a single narrative, owing to the uniform system of administration adopted by the Turkish authorities, and the rapid contemporary growth of a national consciousness among the Vlachs. At last, in 1859, the two principalities were finally united under the name of Rumania. The subjoined history of the country is arranged under the four headings: Walachia, Moldavia, the Danubian Principalities and Rumania, in order to emphasize this historical development. (2) Walachia.—Tradition, as embodied in a native chronicle of the 16th century, entitled the History of the Ruman Land since the arrival of the Rumans (Istoria tiere1 Romdnesci de Foundacdndu au descdlicata Romdnif), gives a precise account lion of the of the founding of the Walachian state by Radu Negru, Princior Rudolf the Black (otherwise known as Negru Voda, parity the Black Prince), voivode of the Rumans of Fogaras in Transylvania, who in 1290 descended with a numerous people into the Transalpine plain and established his capital first at Campulung and then at Curtea de Argesh. Radu dies in 1310, and is succeeded by a series of voivodes whose names and dates are duly given; but this early chapter of Walachian history has been rudely handled by critical historians. A considerable body of Vlachs doubtless emigrated from Hungary at this time, and founded in Walachia a principality dependent i.e. Walachia east of the Olt, not to be confused with the MeyaXrt BAaxia in southern Macedonia (see BALKAN PENINSULA). 2 In later Rumanian history there arose a class who obtained their rank by merit or favour, and did not necessarily bequeath it to their heirs. But the hereditary aristocracy also survived, and feudalism remained characteristic of Rumanian society up to 186o. Dada. on the Hungarian crown; but material is lacking for a detailed description of the movement. In 1330 the voivode John Bassaraba 1 or Bazarab the Great (1310—38) succeeded in inflicting a crushing defeat on his Nun- suzerain King Charles I. of Hungary, and for fourteen garian years Walachia enjoyed complete independence. Louis Suprem- the Great (1342—82) succeeded for a while in restor- acy. ing the Hungarian supremacy, but in 1367 the voivode Vlad or Vladislav inflicted another severe defeat on the Hungarians, and succeeded for a time in ousting the Magyar governor of Turnu Severin, and thus incorporating Oltland in his own dominions. Subsequently, in order to retain a hold on the loyalty of the Walachian voivode, the king of Hungary invested him with the title of duke of Fogaras and Omlas, Ruman districts in Transylvania. Under the voivode Mircea (1386—1418), whose prowess is still celebrated in the national folk-songs, Walachia played for a Mircea. while a more ambitious part. This prince during the earlier part of his reign sought a counterpoise to Hungarian influence in close alliance with King Ladislaus V. of Poland. He added to his other titles that of " count of Severin, despot of the Dobrudja, and lord of Silistria," and both Vidin and Sistora appear in his possession. A Walachian contingent, apparently Mircea's, aided the Servian tsar Lazar in his vain endeavour to resist the Turks at Kossovo (1389); later he allied himself with his former enemy Sigismund of Hungary against the Turkish sultan Bayezid I., who inflicted a crushing defeat on the allied armies at Nikopolis in 1396. Bayezid subsequently invaded and laid waste a large part of Walachia, but the voivode succeeded in inflicting considerable loss on the retiring Turks, and the capture of Bayezid by Timur in 1402 gave the country a reprieve. In the internecine struggle that followed amongst the sons of Bayezid, Mircea espoused the cause of Musa; but, though he thus obtained for a while considerable influence in the Turkish councils, this policy eventually drew on him the vengeance of the sultan Mahomet I., who succeeded in reducing him to a tributary position. During the succeeding period the Walachian princes appear alternately as the allies of Hungary or the creatures of the Re,b:ions Turk. In the later battle of Kossovo of 1448, between with the Hungarians, led by Hunyadi Janos and the sultan Hungary Murad II., the Walachian contingent treacherously and the surrendered to the Turks; but this did not hinder the Turks. victorious sultan from massacring the prisoners and adding to the tribute a yearly contribution of 3000 javelins and 4000 shields. In 1453 Constantinople fell; in 1454 Hunyadi died; and a year later the sultan invaded Walachia to set up Vlad IV. (1455—62), the son of a former voivode. The father of this Vlad had himself been notorious for his ferocity, but his son, during his Turkish sojourn, had improved on his father's example. He was known in Walachia as Dracul, or the Devil; and has left a name in history as Vlad the Impaler. The stories of his ferocious savagery exceed belief. - He is said to have feasted amongst his impaled victims. When the sultan Mahomet, infuriated at the impalement of his envoy, the pasha of Vidin, who had been charged with Vlad's deposition, invaded Walachia in person with an immense host, he is said to have found at one spot a forest of pales on which were the bodies of men, women and children. The voivode Radu (1462—75) was substituted for this monster by Turkish influence, and con-strained to pay a tribute of 12,000 ducats; but Vlad returned to the throne in 1476-77. The shifting policy of the. Walachian princes at this time is well described in a letter of the Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus (1458—90) to Casimir of Poland. " The voivodes," he writes, " of Walachia and Moldavia fawn alternately upon the Turks, the Tatars, the Poles and the Hungarians, that among so many masters their perfidy may remain unpunished." The 1 A. Sturdza gives a genealogical table, showing that Radu belonged to the great native dynasty of Bassarab (q.v.) or Bassaraba, which continued, though not in unbroken succession, to rule in Walachia until 1658, and in Moldavia until 1669.prevalent laxity of marriage, the frequency of divorce, and the fact that illegitimate children could succeed as well as those born in lawful wedlock, by multiplying the candidates for the voivodeship and preventing any regular system of succession, contributed much to the internal confusion of the country. The elections, though often controlled by the Turkish Divan, were still constitutionally in the hands of the boiars, who were split up into various factions, each with its own pretender to the throne. The princes followed one another in rapid succession, and usually met with violent ends. A large part of the population led a pastoral life, and at the time of Verantius's visit to Walachia in the early part of the 16th century, the towns and villages were built of wood and wattle and daub. Tirgovishtea alone, at this time the capital of the country, was a considerable town, with two stone castles. A temporary improvement took place under Neagoe Bassaraba (1512—21). Neagoe was a great builder of monasteries; he founded the cathedrals of Curtea de Argesh (q.v.) and Tirgovishtea, and adorned Mount Athos with his pious works. He transferred the direct allegiance of the Walachian Church from the patriarchate of Ochrida in Macedonia to that of Constantinople. On his death, however, the brief period of comparative prosperity which his architectural works attest was tragically interrupted, and it seemed for a time that Walachia was doomed to Turkish sink into a Turkish pashalic. The Turkish commander, oppres-Mahmud Bey, became treacherously possessed of Nea- soons• goe's young son and successor, and, sending him a prisoner to Stambul, proceeded to nominate Turkish governors in the towns and villages of Walachia. The Walachians resisted desperately, elected Radu, a kinsman of Neagoe, voivode, and succeeded with Hungarian help in defeating Mahmud Bey at Grumatz in 1522. The conflict was prolonged with varying fortunes until in 1524 the dogged opposition of the Walachians triumphed in the sultan's recognition of Radu. But the battle of Mohacs in 1526 decided the long preponderance of Turkish control. The unfortunate province served as a transit route for Turkish expeditions against Hungary and Transylvania, and was exhausted by continual requisitions. Turkish settlers were gradually making good their footing on Walachian soil, and mosques were rising in the towns and villages. The voivode Alexander, who succeeded in 1591, and like his predecessors had bought his post of the Divan, carried the oppression still further by introducing a janissary guard and farming out his possessions to his Turkish supporters. Meanwhile the Turkish governors on the Bulgarian bank never ceased to ravage the country, and again it seemed as if Walachia must share the fate of the Balkan States and succumb to the direct government of the Ottoman. In the depth of the national distress the choice of the people fell on Michael, the son of Petrushko, ban of Craiova, the first dignitary of the realm, who had fled to Transylvania to escape Alexander's machinations. Supported at Constantinople by two influential personages, Sigismund Bathory, prince of Transylvania (1581—98 and 1601—2), and the English ambassador, Edward Barton, and aided by a loan of 200,000 florins, Michael succeeded in procuring from the Divan the deposition of his enemy and his own nomination. The genius of Michael " the Brave " (1593—1601) secured Walachia for a time a place in universal history. The moment for action was favourable. The emperor Rudolph IL. had Michael gained some successes over the Turks, and Sigismund the Brave. Bathory had been driven by Turkish extortions to throw off the allegiance to the sultan. But the first obstacle to be dealt with was the presence of the enemy within the walls. By previous concert with the Moldavian voivode Aaron, on the 13th of November 1594, the Turkish guards and settlers in the two principalities were massacred at a given signal. Michael followed up these " Walachian Vespers " by an actual invasion of Turkish territory, and, aided by Sigismund Bathory, succeeded in carrying by assault Rustchuk, Silistria and other places on the right bank of the lower Danube. A simultaneous invasion of Walachia by a large Turkish and Tatar host was successfully defeated; t ht Tatar khan withdrew with the loss of his bravest followers, and, in the great victory of Mantin on the Danube (1595), the Turkish army was annihilated, and its leader, Mustaf a, slain. The sultan now sent Sinan Pasha, " the Renegade," to invade Walachia with Ioo,000 men. Michael withdrew to the mountains before this overwhelming force, but, being joined by Bathory with a Transylvanian contingent, the voivode resumed the offensive, stormed Bucharest, where Sinan had entrenched a Turkish detachment, and, pursuing the main body of his forces to the Danube, overtook the rearguard and cut it to pieces, capturing enormous booty. Sinan Pasha returned to Constantinople to die, it is said, of vexation; and in 1597, the sultan, weary of a disastrous contest, sent Michael a red flag in token of reconciliation,' reinvested him for life in an office of which he had been unable to deprive him, and granted the succession to his son. In 1599, on the abdication of Sigismund Bathory in Transylvania, Michael, in league with the imperialist forces, and in conquest connivance with the Saxon burghers, attacked and of Trim- defeated his successor Andreas Bathory near Hermannaylvaala. stadt, and, seizing himself the reins of government, secured his proclamation as prince of Transylvania. The emperor consented to appoint him his viceroy (locum tenens per Transylvanian), and the sultan ratified his election. As prince of Transylvania he summoned diets in 1599 and 1600, and, having expelled the voivode of Moldavia, united under his sceptre three principalities. The partiality that he showed for the Ruman and Szekler parts of the population alienated, however, the Transylvanian Saxons, who preferred the direct government of the emperor. The imperial commissioner General Basta lent his support to the disaffected party, and Michael was driven out of Transylvania by a successful revolt, while a Polish army invaded Walachia from the Moldavian side. Michael's coolness and resource, however, never deserted him. He resolved to appeal to the emperor, rode to Prague, won over Rudolph by his singular address, and, richly supplied with funds, reappeared in Transylvania as imperial governor. In con-junction with Basta he defeated the superior Transylvanian forces at Gorosl6, expelling Sigismund Bathory, who had again aspired to the crown, and taking one hundred and fifty flags and forty-five cannon. But at the moment of his returning prosperity Basta, who had quarrelled with him about the supreme command of the imperial forces, procured his murder on the 19th of August 16or. Not only had Michael succeeded in rolling back for a time the tide of Turkish conquest, but for the first and last time in modern history he united what once had been Trajan's Dacia, in its widest extent, and with it the whole Ruman race north of the Danube, under a single sceptre. Michael's wife Florika and his son Nicholas were carried off into Tatar captivity, and erban or Sherban, of the Bassaraba family, was raised to the voivodeship of Walachia by imperialist influences, while Sigismund resumed the government of Transylvania. On his deposition by the Porte in Oro, there followed a .succession of princes who, though still for the most part of Ruman origin, bought their appointment at Stambul. Walachian contingents were continually employed by the Turks in their Polish wars, and the settlement of Greeks in an official or mercantile capacity in the principality provoked grave discontent, which on one occasion took the form of a massacre. The reign of the voivode Matthias Bassaraba (1633—54) was an interval of comparative prosperity. Matthias repulsed Matthias his powerful rival, Basil the Wolf, the voivode of Bassa- Moldavia and his Tatar and Cossack allies. His last rata. days were embittered, however, by an outbreak of military anarchy. His illegitimate son and successor, Constantine §erban (1654—58), was the last of the Bassaraba dynasty to rule over Walachia; and on his death the Turkish yoke again weighed heavier on his country. The old capital, Tirgovishtea, was considered by the Divan to be too near the Transylvanian frontier, and the voivodes were accordingly compelled to transfer their residence to Bucharest, which was finally made the seat of government in 1698.
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