III.

THE BARBARIANS IN ROUMANIA

(A.D. 274-about 1250.)

FOR the next thousand years from the evacuation of Dada by the Romans, the history of that country is one long and confused series of barbarian invasions. One horde of savage tribes succeeds to another, sometimes merely marching through the land on its way to the South or West, at other times driving out the occupants and settling in their homes. During the period from the close of the third to the middle of the thirteenth century Roumania presents a number of kaleidoscopic changes, which leave no durable impression upon history. Tribes with names as uncouth as their manners appear and disappear by turn, leaving scarcely a trace behind them. The one permanent feature amidst this world of change was the Daco-Roman element, which had remained in the country after the withdrawal of the Roman officials. The native proverb truly say, "the Roumanian never dies." In that corner of Southeastern Europe, as in Italy, in Spain, in France, 26 27 THE GOTHS IN ROUMANIA. the Latin race manifested its enduring vitality. The torrent of barbarian invasion swept over it again and again, but it was not washed away, and when the floods at last subsided, it re-appeared above the waters just as it was before they rose.

The Gothic supremacy, which lasted for a century, was a period of comparative tranquillity. The victors lost much of their ferocity by contact with the vanquished; the natives pursued their agricultural pursuits without interference, and found ample occupation in cultivating the lands which their fellow- countrymen had abandoned when they migrated southwards. Once, for a moment, the exiles returned in the train of the Roman Emperor Constantine, who not only repulsed the attacks of the Goths upon the provinces south of the Danube about 330, but built a bridge across the river, like Trajan, though much lower down, between the present Bulgarian town of Nicopolis and the modern Roumanian village of Turnu-Magurele. The remains of the bridge still mark this second and merely temporary occupation by the Romans. Constantine, indeed, assumed the title of "restorer of Dacia," and boasted that he had repeated the exploit of Trajan. But he contented himself with compelling the Goths to furnish a force of auxiliaries, and soon withdrew from a position which he could not maintain. But his victory had one important effect; it introduced the doctrines of Christianity among the Goths. It is possible that the Daco-Roman colonists had already been converted, for we hear of a Dacian bishop at an early council of 28 THE BARBARIANS IN ROUMANIA. the Church. But their Gothic masters now for the first time embraced the new faith. By 360 Dacia was a part of Christendom.

The second hatch of barbarian invaders was much more terrible than the first. The Goths were mild and civilised as compared with the savage Huns, who entered Roumania in 375. The "shrill voice, the uncouth gestures and the strange deformity" of the Buns, their meals of wild grass or raw meat, their weird incantations and their pitiless cruelty, filled the inhabitants with horror and alarm. Many of the Goths were allowed by the Romans to settle on the other side of the Danube, while the natives either remained in the plains of Roumania or retreated to the fastnesses of the Carpathians, where they lived for centuries uncontaminated by the wild races which seized their country. The defeat of the I funs by the Roman Emperor Theodosius I. about 378 was only a temporary relief. The whole aspect of the land changed under its new masters; all settled habits of life disappeared, and nomad tribes ravaged the Danubian provinces almost without intermission. Then the "scourge of God," as Attila has been called, fell upon those unhappy regions. Modern Bulgaria, as well as modern Roumania, succumbed to his armies, and the Romans acknowledged him as the ruler of the latter country. But his own allies turned against him at a critical moment. The Gepidaa, a Gothic race, under their King, Ardaric, overthrew his dominion in Roumania and established there a new kingdom; Attila perished in 453, and with his death the Huns vanished from the Danube. 29 THE LOMBARDS AND AVARS.

The Gepidæ, the third of the barbarian races which occupied Roumania, maintained their hold upon the country for a century, and gave it their own name of Gepidia. They are the most obscure of all these motley bands, and we know little about them beyond the fact of their existence. At one moment they were at war with the Roman Empire, at another they were its allies. At one period, Justinian succeeded in capturing from them several towns, and even reassumed Constantine's old title of the "restorer of Dacia." But two far more formidable foes appeared about the middle of the sixth century in the persons of the Lombards and Avars, the former coming from the Baltic coast, the latter from the plains of Asia. United by the common desire for plunder, under the leadership of Alboin, these two tribes speedily overthrew the power of the Gepidæ, with such complete success that the vanquished race henceforth disappears. The Lombards did not stay long in the land. Accepting the invitation of the Emperor Justinian to enter his service, they crossed the Danube, leaving Roumania to the Avars. The latter ruled more or less continuously in the country for eighty years, though the seat of their empire was on the site of Attila's ancient capital in the midst of the great Hungarian plain, and not in Roumania itself. But they included it in their dominions until their defeat by the Emperor Heraclius in their campaign against Constantinople in 626. Their influence in the Balkan Peninsula never recovered the effects of that crushing blow, and by the middle of the seventh century Roumania knew them no more. Five different hordes of barbarians had 30 THE BARBARIANS IN ROUMANIA. swept over that unfortunate country since the Romans left, and still the descendants of the old Roman colonists remained in their mountain retreat, little affected by the waves which, one after another, had covered their land.

The Emperor had been aided in his victory over the Avars by the Bulgarian chief Kurt, or Kuvrat, a former vassal of the Avar king. The origin and early history of the Bulgarians will be narrated later, and it is therefore only necessary to state in this place their connection with Roumania. Kuvrat and his successors obtained power in the old Dacian province north of the Danube, as well as in what is now known as Bulgaria; and in the reign of their powerful chieftain Krum, who flourished about the year 810, they occupied a large part of Roumania. During the first Bulgarian Empire, which lasted from 893 to 1018, Roumania was largely in Bulgarian hands. The towns and petty communities, which had been founded by the Daco-Roman inhabitants after the withdrawal of the Avars westward, were more or less dependent upon the Bulgarian Czars, though governed by chiefs of their own. Such was the condition of Roumania when a fresh swarm of invaders descended upon it, and for the first time in Balkan history the name of the Hungarians meets the eye.

This warlike race, which has just been celebrating the thousandth anniversary of the kingdom which it founded, took up its abode in the eastern part of Roumania about 839. The strange habits and fierce disposition of the early Hungarians made them a terror to all their neighbours; their career of devasta 31 MIGRATION OF THE HUNGARIANS. tion recalled the memory of Attila's campaigns. Their food was the raw flesh of animals; their drink the milk of mares or the blood of their enemies. Fortunately for Roumania they did not remain there Iong. The Bulgarian monarch, Simeon, then at the zenith of his power, inflicted a severe defeat upon those who had dared to cross the Danube and approach his Balkan capital. During their temporary absence on a western campaign he devastated their settlements in Bessarabia, and, finding their home destroyed, they wandered westward again, and made the present country of Hungary their headquarters. In the eleventh century they annexed Transylvania to the Hungarian kingdom, to which, after various vicissitudes of fortune, it still belongs.

While the Hungarians migrated to the West across the Carpathians, another tribe, called Patzinakitai, had entered the Roumanian land. We know little of this race beyond the fact that its leaders made frequent incursions into Bulgaria, and even dared to defy the majesty of the Byzantine Empire. Powerful in Roumania in the tenth and eleventh centuries, the Patzinakitai are heard of two hundred years later, when they became merged in the Hungarian nation, leaving no traces of their separate existence behind them. Another barbarian tribe, the Kumani, had driven them from their seats on the Danube.

After the First Bulgarian Empire had fallen, the old Dacian province north of the Danube gradually came under the rule of the Kumani, and received from them the name of Kumania. It was an era of comparative peace for the inhabitants of that distressful country. 32 THE BARBARIANS IN ROUMANIA. The barbarian inroads had ceased, and the descendants of the old Daco-Roman colonists could cultivate their farms without disturbance upon paying a tribute to their masters. The commercial importance of Roumania became recognised abroad, and a diploma of 1134 acknowledges the flourishing condition of the region round the town of Berlad, not far from the Pruth, where a sort of democratic commonwealth existed under an elected magistrate. There the products of the Levant were exchanged for the merchandise of Russia, Hungary, and Bohemia, and a brisk business was carried on with the Greek traders of the Black Sea.

During this period the name of the Wallachs first becomes prominent. Treatises without end have been written on the origin of this remarkable race, which gave its own designation to one of the two Danubian principalities, Moldavia and Wallachia, which are united in the modern Roumanian kingdom. The most probable view is that the Wallachs were none other than our old friends the descendants of the Daco-Roman colonists, who in the course of ages reappear under this new name. Some of them remained in Dacia, north of the Danube; others migrated to "Aurelian's Dacia," south of it, and this accounts for the existence of Wallachs in Bulgaria as well as in Roumania. In the Middle Ages the descent of these people from the old Romans, who had colonised Dacia, was generally recognised, and in the next part of this work we shall find a Bulgarian monarch dubbing himself "Emperor of the Bulgarians and Wallachs." This has been interpreted as mean 33 END OF BARBARIAN INROADS. ing that he was lord of a part of what is now Roumania, as well as Bulgaria, and a "Wallacho-Bulgarian Empire" has been constructed on this hypothesis. But what the phrase really means is that the "Wallachs," over whom the Bulgarian Czar claimed authority, were not those of Roumania, but those of Bulgaria. In that sense he was "Emperor of the Wallachs," but he was never head of an empire which included the Wallachs north of the Danube, who were at that time subject to the rule of the Kumani. The theory arose at a later period when the only Wallachs whom people knew were the natives of the principality of Wallachia. The Wallachs, who are first mentioned by that name at the beginning of the eleventh century as allies of the Byzantine Emperor Basil, "the Bulgar-slayer," are frequently alluded to after that date, and the descriptions given of them clearly prove that they were of Roman origin.

The long era of barbarian rule in Roumania was drawing at last to a close. The Kumani, who were converted to Christianity in 1227, ceased to be dangerous soon afterwards, and succumbed to the attacks of the Mongol Tartars about 1240. This was the final irruption of savage hordes into the country. The only other foreigners who exercised power there at this period were men of a very different stamp, the Teutonic Knights and the Knights of St. John, who for a score of years at the beginning of the thirteenth century obtained grants of Roumanian land from the King of Hungary. But the stay of these military orders was as short as that of the Tartar hordes. The 4 34 THE BARBARIANS IN ROUMANIA. former soon quarrelled with the King of Hungary and had to leave, the latter, after making the old Dacian province a desert in less than three years, migrated to Russia and troubled the Balkan states no more.

The land had, indeed, rest. For a thousand years, since the Roman legions left, it had been the prey of one set of invaders after another. The lamp of history sheds but little light upon the gloom of this Iong period. We can see in the dim distance the figures of the barbarians moving in lengthy procession across the scene, but we cannot discern their features or observe their gestures. From this point we are able to see more clearly the leading actors in the drama. With the foundation of the two principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia in the thirteenth century, a new epoch of Roumanian history begins. Then, for the first time, the Roumanian people attempted to establish an independent national existence. True, it was not long before the all-conquering Turks subjected them too to the overlordship of the Sultan. But the national sentiment, which had been awakened, was never wholly extinguished. History possesses few instances of a nation preserving its own individuality so steadfastly and so long. Like those rivers in the Balkan Peninsula, which suddenly disappear beneath the mountains and as suddenly issue forth unpolluted miles away, the Roumanian race pursued for centuries a hidden course only to emerge with undiminished vigour at the end.