History of Wallachia

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Location of Wallachia in Romania

The history of Wallachia as an independent state entity began de facto in the early 14th century, when in November 1330 Basarab I (1310-1352) defeated the Hungarians led by King Charles I Robert in the battle of Posada and thus gained independence the Hungarian crown was able to prevail. The emergence of Wallachia as a voivodeship was made possible by the power vacuum given the weakness of the powers that control this area. Thanks to a clever rocking policy and changing coalitions between the Tatars , Hungarians and the Bulgarian rulers, the local leaders were able to expand their scope of action and finally establish their own ruling association. At the beginning of the 15th and middle of the 16th century, the Ottoman suzerainty gradually asserted itself , the definitive form of which took place around the middle of the 16th century and culminated in the Phanariot period at the beginning of the 18th century. The growing decline in power of the Sublime Porte led Russia to claim at the beginning of the 19th century that it had a say in the fortunes of Wallachia as a protective power . Wallachia existed for more than half a millennium as a relatively clear political-administrative unit, as a ruling association under changing sovereignty and with largely stable borders until 1859 , when Alexandru Ioan Cuza was elected twice and the principalities of Wallachia and Moldova were united and thus the foundations of the modern Romanian state were laid.


The term Terra Transalpina (literally 'land beyond the (Transylvanian) Alps ', similar to the outdated Hungarian Havaselve 'land beyond the mountains'), used by the Kingdom of Hungary in the first half of the 13th century, corresponds to the Romanian name Muntenia (lit. . 'Bergland') a term for Wallachia that originated in Moldavia. In a narrower sense, these terms refer only to the part of Wallachia east of the Olt, the Great Wallachia . The area west of the Olt , Little Wallachia , continued to be referred to as the Banat of Severin even after it was integrated into the Wallachian rulership . The term Oltenia for Little Wallachia is a new creation that goes back to the second half of the 18th century. For a long time, this term was used to mean the area of ​​the Fogaraseh district in Transylvania . The ecumenical patriarchy established the term Ungrovlachia as a chancellery term in the middle of the 14th century as a general term for Wallachia, which encompassed both areas, east and west of the Olt . The name Vlachia was supplemented by the reference to neighboring Hungary, which claims fiefdom , in order to distinguish Wallachia north of the Danube from a number of other areas in southeastern Europe known under the name Vlachia . In the Church Slavonic chancellery language of Wallachia, the country name finally appears analogously from the second half of the 14th century as Zemlja Ungrovlachiskaja 'Ungrovlachiskaja', from the 16th century in Romanian as Tara Romäneascä 'Romanian country'. Occasionally, Wallachia was also referred to as Terra Bazarab , following its first ruler and founder of the dynasty in the 14th and 15th centuries , not to be confused with Bessarabia . Occasionally, from the second half of the 14th century, the sources also differentiated Maior Vlachia (Wallachia) from Minor Vlachia (Moldau), not to be confused with Little Wallachia.

Early history

Roman province of Dacia in the 1st century

Traces of human life can be traced back to the Paleolithic on the territory of Wallachia. In the 1st century BC The area was under the rule of the Dacian king Burebista for a short time . Since the year 106 AD, the western part of Wallachia belonged to the Roman Empire for 165 years as part of the Roman province of Dacia . The Roman rule east of the Olt in Great Wallachia lasted until 118 AD and was part of the province of Moesia inferior (Lower Wallachia ) together with part of the Little Wallachia . After the abandonment of the provinces north of the Lower Danube and the withdrawal of the Roman administration in the year 271 AD, a period of over a millennium began, from which only extremely sparse and unreliable information on the history of Wallachia is available.

Great Migration

Empire of the Gepids in the 6th century

Wallachia, especially its eastern part as the foothills of the steppe areas north of the Black Sea , became a transit area for various tribal associations at the time of the migration of the peoples , which this region as a gateway and starting point for their war and raids into the Byzantine Empire south of the Danube or as a transit station used to move on to Transylvania and Pannonia . In the 3rd and 4th centuries, the Goths established themselves in eastern Wallachia . In the sources, the names Gutthiuda or Gothia appear for the area of ​​Wallachia. This was followed by the Huns in the 4th and 5th centuries, the Gepids west of the Olt in the 5th and 6th centuries, when the area of ​​Wallachia appears in the sources under the name Gepidia , and the Avars in the second half of the 6th century. Since the first half of the 6th century, Slavs settled in Wallachia in several waves . The First Bulgarian Empire also extended its rule north into Wallachia in the 8th or early 9th century. After that, the steppe peoples of the Pechenegs and Cumans ruled Wallachia from the 10th to the 11th centuries, until it finally came under the rule of the Tatars in the 13th and 14th centuries as part of the Golden Horde . During the whole time, however, there was no territorially organized empire formation with state expansion, rather a presumably very thin, sedentary, agriculture and cattle-breeding population, which was only locally organized and only locally organized, can be assumed to be very thin, after the 6th century strongly Slavic influenced, and nomadic to the changing overlords Steppe peoples was subject to tribute . According to some documents, Wallachians or Vlahen were between the Danube and the Southern Carpathians since the middle of the 11th century, and in writing only from the early 13th century.

middle Ages

Wallachia in the Middle Ages

After the complete incorporation of Transylvania into the Hungarian kingdom in the 12th century, it reached beyond the Carpathian Mountains to open up trade routes and border marks against the Bulgarian empire and the Cumans, which spanned the area of ​​the later Moldavia and eastern Wallachia - called Cumania in contemporary sources - ruled to set up. In the first half of the 13th century the Cumans recognized Hungarian sovereignty and around 1227 a Catholic diocese was established in Milcovul in the area of ​​today's city of Focşani . The Cuman territory reached in the west to the river Olt.

To the west of the Olt at the breakthrough of the Danube through the Carpathians at the Iron Gate in the far west of Wallachia, the Hungarian crown had established a border mark, the so-called Banat von Severin , which reached into Wallachia. By the invasion of the Tatars in 1241 the Hungarian influence in Wallachia was severely restricted, the area subsequently came under the domination of the Tatar ruling association of the Golden Horde. On both sides of the Olt in the Sub-Carpathian Mountains, small-scale Wallachian ruling districts under formal Hungarian sovereignty were mentioned around the middle of the 13th century. After the death of Khan Nogai in 1299, the power of the Golden Horde on the lower Danube was severely weakened. Thus, a ruling association could become independent from local formations to which Hungary nominally still lay claim, but which were still under the sovereignty of the Golden Horde, which ultimately led to the establishment of the Principality of Wallachia.

Principality of Wallachia

Wallachia around 1390
Basarab I.


By the 1320s at the latest, Wallachia, with its center in the Subcarpathian region and the residence in Argeș , at times also in Câmpulung , formed a separate ruling association from the amalgamation of various territories. In the Battle of Posada in November 1330, Basarab I (1310-1352) succeeded in defeating the Hungarians led by King Charles I Robert and enforcing his independence from the Hungarian kings. He founded the first country dynasty in Wallachia, the Terra Basarab . Basarab I is considered the founder of Wallachia.

His son Alexandru I (1352-1364) finally oriented the country to the Orthodox faith and founded the metropolis of Argeș. With the founding of the monasteries Tismana , Cozia , Curtea de Argeș, the establishment of an Orthodox church organization began in 1359.

In the decades after 1330, the entire area between the lower reaches of the Danube and the southern Carpathians was conquered by the Tatars and brought under control.


Division into Județe in the 14th-16th centuries century
Wallachia coat of arms
Wallachia coat of arms

The rulers of this country bore the title of voivode, a Slavic term that originally meant military leader . In the Kingdom of Hungary, however, also designated a royal representative. The succession plan was originally based on a mixed right of inheritance, whereby all male members of the voivod family were eligible. The boyars stood by the voivodes as aristocracy. The criteria of belonging to boyarism were not precisely regulated; in addition to descent from a boyar family and land ownership, the exercise of court offices played a decisive role from the 17th century at the latest.

The administrative units in Wallachia were the districts ( Romanian Județe ), whose names appeared sporadically from the end of the 14th century, but especially in the course of the 15th century. The Jews mostly formed along river valleys, from which they usually also took their name, an indication that they probably emerged from the merging of valley communities and not as castle districts .

Even after its incorporation into the Wallachian rulership, Little Wallachia retained a special position under a functionary with the title of a Ban , in the tradition of the Banat of Severin . As the highest dignitary after the voivode and as his deputy in Little Wallachia with his own court, he had extensive administrative, judicial and military powers, such as blood justice .

The voivode was the sovereign par excellence, ruler of the country and its subjects, the highest military commander , judge and legislator, and head of the Church . No distinction was made between the Lord's personal income and the state's income. They consisted of property taxes and duties .

An important institution was made boyars formed Herrenrat ( Romanian Consiliul Domnesc ) the following positions belonged: interior and justice ministers ( Romanian vornic ), Palatine ( Romanian palatin ), (Chancellor romanian logofăt or cancelar ), treasurer ( Romanian vistier or tezaurar ) military commander ( Romanian late ), cupbearer ( Romanian paharnic ), table master ( Romanian stolnic ), foreign minister ( Romanian postelnic ).

The state assemblies met on important matters . The meetings consisted of the high clergy , boyars, courtiers and military leaders .

The legal principle , the Ius Valachicum , came from the late Romanesque period and from the period of the Great Migration and was based on customary law . At the same time, the principalities introduced their own laws based on the Byzantine model. These were summarized by the lawyer Stefan Werböczy in 1517 in the form of a code of law in three parts, tripartite . The Syntagma des Matei Vlastares was used most frequently . The legal authorities were numerous, starting with the village elder, over the feudal lord, up to the highest ruler. The sovereign could also grant the Pallasch right to feudal lords. The church justice played an important role. They had the right to confirm, the role of today's notaries .

Church organization

The growing influence of Hungary south of the Carpathians around the middle of the 14th century prompted the Wallachian voivode Alexandru I to set up an Orthodox metropolis in Constantinople in 1359 depending on the ecumenical patriarch . The church organization was supposed to put a stop to the further Hungarian expansion, which among other things used the Catholic mission as a means. The decision in favor of Orthodoxy was therefore also justified in terms of power politics. The reference to Byzantium was characterized by the desire to break away from Hungarian influence. The canonical incorporation into the Orthodox church hierarchy was also connected with a close cultural and dynastic reference to the Orthodox, South Slavic empires of the Bulgarians and Serbs. This found its expression, for example, in the construction of the monastic system , which was strongly influenced by South Slavic and Greek influences. Last but not least, Church Slavonic, based on Central Bulgarian , and later Serbian, established itself as the office language . The metropolitan of Wallachia resided in Curtea de Argeş until 1517 , in Târgovişte until 1668 and then in Bucharest .

Ottoman rule

Wallachia under Mircea the Old
Vlad the Impaler

The beginning of Ottoman domination cannot be precisely dated; on the contrary, the subordination of Wallachia to the Ottoman Empire took place in a step-by-step process interrupted by setbacks. In historiography, this point in time is established between the early 15th and mid-16th centuries. The definitive form of Ottoman suzerainty took place around the middle of the 16th century.

One of the most important princes of Wallachia was undoubtedly Mircea cel Bătrân (1397-1418). He consolidated the country economically, politically and socially. After he had to cede the Danube ports of Brăila , Turnu and Giurgiu to the Ottomans, Mircea concluded an agreement with Sultan Mehmed I , whereby the Turks recognized the autonomy of Wallachia in return for an annual tribute of 3,000 gold coins.

After Vlad III. Drăculea (1448; 1456–1462; 1476) was crowned Prince of Wallachia, he devoted himself primarily to the anti-Ottoman struggle. He refused to pay the tribute demanded by the Turks on Romanian children and rose against the enemy with rare violence. The punishment for the captured enemies was mostly the stake , which earned him the nickname Vlad Țepeș ( German  "Vlad the Impaler" ). Finally, Mehmed II had him arrested and forced Vlad into exile in Hungary. Ultimately, Vlad was forced to renew the contract concluded by Mircea cel Bătrân in 1411 with the Turks in 1460 and undertook to pay tribute and taxes to the Turks. After his death, Wallachia's resistance to the Ottomans weakened considerably.

Neagoe Basarab (1512-1521) withdrew to the promotion of churches and monasteries. Among other things, he was the founder of the Curtea de Argeş monastery.

The Battle of Mohács (1526)
Mihai the Brave

Around the middle of the 16th century it became customary to appoint a voivode directly through the High Porte , usually against bribery , disregarding the country's at least formally respected right to vote . Wallachia was now surrounded on all sides by Ottoman territories, as the Ottoman Empire had expanded its sphere of influence to central Hungary and Transylvania after the fall of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary in the Battle of Mohács (1526) , and Moldova had also become dependent on the Ottoman Empire. The expansion did not stop at Wallachia. The Danube ports of Turnu Măgurele , Giurgiu and Brăila , some of which had already been conquered , were placed under direct Ottoman administration in the first half of the 16th century until 1829. Apart from that, Wallachia remained as an autonomous voivodeship under Ottoman sovereignty and was never formally incorporated directly into the Ottoman Empire. In the Ottoman understanding, Wallachia had the function of a buffer zone between the actual territory of the empire and the Christian empires, which were viewed as enemy territory. The obligations mainly consisted of the delivery of tribute and taxes .

The efforts of Mihai Viteazul (1593–1601) to preserve the independence of his fatherland make him a celebrated national hero . From November 1594 to February 1595 he cleared Wallachia of Turks and Tatars, and on September 6, 1595, in the battle of Călugăreni, he suffered a heavy defeat for the vastly superior army of Koca Sinan Pasha . After Mihai defeated Andreas Báthory at Schellenberg near Sibiu on October 28, 1599 and Ieremia Movilă from Moldova at the beginning of 1600 , he was proclaimed Prince of Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania on July 1, 1600 in Alba Iulia and thus completed the first unification of the three principalities. On July 16, however, he lost the battle of Mirăslău against General Basta and was assassinated on August 19 on Basta's orders in the Turda camp.

The last important native prince of Wallachia was Matei Basarab (1632-1654). He defended the country against internal pretenders, against the Prince of Moldova Vasile Lupu and against the Turks. He improved the administration, wrote a civil code, founded schools, churches and monasteries, and printed Romanian church registers. During his tenure, Prince Basarab had more than 45 churches and monasteries built.

In the period 1716–18 and 1737–39, Little Wallachia came under Habsburg administration. This relatively short division of Wallachia was the only time that a larger territory was separated from Wallachia and came under the direct administration of a foreign power.

Phanariot period

Constantin Mavrocordat

With the progressive integration into the Ottoman sphere of influence, Christian persons from the Ottoman Empire achieved an important position , who increasingly began to play an important role in trade, handicrafts, hospitality, in the credit system and administration, but also in the church from the 17th century . It was a heterogeneous group of different social and ethnic origins: Greeks , southern Slavs , Albanians , Balkan Vlachians , Armenians , who were able to expand their influence at the expense of the long-established boyar families and were collectively referred to as "Greeks". The leading social class in Wallachia was greatly changed as a result, the local upper class was Graecized and orientalized in the cultural field, with a simultaneous increase in the importance of the Romanian language in administration, church and chronicle.

In view of the unreliability of local voivodes, who often secretly sought contact with Christian powers, the practice, which began in 1715 and continued until 1821, of only appointing foreigners as voivodes began. For the appointment, the Hohe Pforte relied on representatives of influential Christian families from the Ottoman Empire, after the Constantinople district of Phanar , commonly referred to as Phanariotes .

Constantin Mavrocordat was without a doubt the most representative ruler of the Phanariot period . He was ruler of Wallachia six times and abolished serfdom in 1746 .

The Greek hetary of 1821 and the uprising under Tudor Vladimirescu heralded the beginning of the decline of the Phanariot rule. Tudor's uprising in Little Wallachia was aimed at the Turks and Greeks and was guided by national motives. Alexander Ypsilantis (General) had him and his band assassinated near Târgovişte on May 27, 1821. As a result, the Hohe Pforte decided to appoint only local princes in the future.

Russian protectorate

Russo-Turkish War (1768–1774)
Grigore Ghica

Russia used the increasing weakness of the Ottoman Empire in favor of its own expansion. The growing decline in power of the Sublime Porte led Russia to claim to be a protective power in determining the fortunes of Wallachia.

George Bibescu, Prince of Wallachia, 1844

The first native prince, after the Phanariot period, was Grigore IV. Ghica (1822-1828). He was appointed by the Sublime Porte in 1822, but had to give way to the Russian invasion of 1828. The Peace of Küçük Kaynarca (1774) as a result of the Russo-Turkish War (1768–1774) had laid the foundation for the Russian protectorate in the Danube principalities. Each subsequent Russo-Turkish treaty expanded the powers of Russia more and more, while restricting the rights of the Gate and annihilating those of the principalities.

In 1832 the new Basic Law " Organic Regulations " was imposed as an administrative code by Russia's claim to power , which now also appointed the rulers: Alexandru II Ghica (1834–1842) and Gheorghe Bibescu (1842–48). These were nothing more than Russian governors , who received their orders from Saint Petersburg even for internal administrative affairs .

Nation state

Romania 1859
Alexandru Ioan Cuza

The incipient Romanian national movement , which was initially supported by a thin layer of boyarism that opened up to Western European influences, began in the second quarter of the 19th century to formulate unification with neighboring Moldova and state independence as goals.

Under the influence of the French Revolution of 1848, riots broke out in Wallachia. On June 11 jul. / June 23,  1848 greg. Prince Bibescu signed the new constitution under pressure from a powerful popular movement, thanked on June 13th jul. / June 25,  1848 greg. and left Bucharest, where a Provisional Government was installed.

With the double election of Alexandru Ioan Cuza in 1859, the union of the principalities of Wallachia and Moldova was completed. With that the history of Wallachia as a state actually ends. The foundations of the modern Romanian state were laid through the union of the principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia .

Wallachia played the central role within the newly formed Romanian state and shaped the new state significantly. With Bucharest the capital lay in this part of the country, including in economic and cultural terms she had an important role to play. After the expansion of Romania by a number of other territories as a result of the First World War , this function was in a way retained to this day thanks to the strong centralism .


The great distance from the imperial centers meant that the area of ​​Wallachia was usually on the farthest edge of the spheres of influence of surrounding empires. So there was a constant overlap of the spheres of interest in the area of ​​Wallachia, but on the other hand this prevented a permanent establishment of one of the empires due to the mutual competition. For a long time, Wallachia remained outside the community of medieval European rulers. Located at the intersection of three large cultural and historical areas, the Eurasian steppe belt / Eastern Europe , East Central Europe , and Southeastern Europe , whose influences overlap here, Wallachia has always been an area open to the outside, especially to the east and south . After the creation of the voivodship, the main direction of orientation slowly shifted from east to south after a transition period in the 14th century. Not only the direct Ottoman influence is important, but also the uptake and maintenance of the Byzantine heritage of the lost Orthodox empires of Southeast Europe. In the late 18th century the main orientation towards Western Europe began . The history of Wallachia is therefore also the history of the confluence, the superposition and synthesis of currents from different large regions.

See also


Web links

  • daniel-ursprung.ch (PDF; 2.5 MB), Daniel Ursprung (Zurich): Wallachia as a historical region. Interface of European interdependencies on the periphery
  • historia.ro , Barbarii cumani, strămoşii noştri?

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r daniel-ursprung.ch (PDF; 2.5 MB), Daniel Ursprung: Wallachia as a historical region - the interface of European interdependencies on the periphery . In: Thede Kahl, Michael Metzeltin , Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu (eds.): Romania. Space and population. History and images of history. Culture. Society and politics today. Winschaft. Law and constitution. Historic regions . LIT Verlag, Vienna / Berlin 2006. pp. 806–824.
  2. historia.ro , Barbarii cumani, strămoșii noștri?
  3. a b c d e f g h i j k Thede Kahl , Michael Metzeltin , Mihai Răzvan Ungureanu : Romania. Space and population. History and images of history. Culture. Society and politics today. Winschaft. Law and constitution. Historical Regions , LIT Verlag, Vienna / Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-7000-0593-3 , 978-3-8258-0069-7
  4. ^ A b books.google.de , Edgar Hösch, Karl Nehring, Holm Sundhaussen, Konrad Clewing: Lexicon for the history of Southeast Europe, Southeast Institute Munich
  5. Wissen.de , Patriarchate of Romania
  6. a b c d e retrobibliothek.de , Wallachei (history)