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Romanians ( Români or Rumâni )
Total population 23.8 million
Settlement areas As a national people in Romania and the Republic of Moldova and as a minority in Ukraine , Hungary , Bulgaria , Greece , Serbia , North Macedonia , Croatia and Albania
language Romanian
religion Mostly Orthodox ; seldom also Catholic and Protestant Romanians.
Related ethnic groups Romanians, Vlachs , Istro-Romanians , megleno-romanians

Among Romanians (mostly in present-day Romanian Romani , outdated and rarely Rumani ) is defined as:

  1. the state population of Romania
  2. the members of the Romanian ethnic group (s) inside and outside Romania and the Republic of Moldova with a Romanian language and / or Romanian culture . In addition to the Dakor -Romanian- speaking population, the Aromanians , Meglenorumans and the Istrian- Romanians are also counted here, as far as their languages ​​are considered dialects of the Romanian language and a common descent from the Proto-Romanians is assumed.

While the Romanians' own name has always been Romanians , they were called Wallachians by foreigners until the middle of the 19th century - a term that stands for a Romanesque population and is related to the term Welsche .


Distribution of Romanians, Moldovans, Wallachians, Aromanians, Meglenorumans and Istrian Romanians in Southeastern Europe

Romanians as an ethnic group make up the majority of the inhabitants of Romania and the Republic of Moldova . Large ethnic minorities live alongside them in both countries ; On the other hand, Romanians also live as a long-established ethnic minority in some countries in the region (especially in Ukraine , Serbia and Hungary ). The Wallachians of Eastern Serbia are also ethnic Romanians. Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, many Romanians have settled in western, southern and central European countries through labor migration . In 2008 there were 625,278 Romanian citizens living in Italy , making them the largest single group of foreigners there. At the end of 2010 there were around 850,000 Romanians living in Spain .

Romanian ethnogenesis

In dealing with the ethnogenesis of the Romanians, historians, linguists and nationalists have been and still are heavily disputed three questions.

  1. Which ethnic element dominated the merging of Romans and Dacians to form the Dako-Romanes or Romanians - the Roman element (such as the Francophile or Italophile Latinists ) or the Dacian (such as the partly Germanophile autochtonists, but also the Russophiles Communists)? Was there even a genetic mixture and amalgamation or only assimilation and acculturation?
  2. Where did the merging of Romans and Dacians take place - in the area of ​​the former Dacia (Transylvania, Oltenia, Banat) north of the Danube (continuity theory) or in the Roman retreats south of the Danube, from where the Dako-Romanians only later returned to the today's Romania have immigrated (migration theory)?
  3. How large was the proportion of the Slavs (East Slavs, South Slavs) in Romanian ethnogenesis or did a Slavic element even have a (genetically) sustainable part in it? In this context, the question arises when the Romanian ethnogenesis was largely complete - before or after the immigration of the Slavs?

Dacians and Romans

Romanian ethnogenesis according to the continuity theory

A controversial question in science and politics to this day is whether the ethnogenesis of the Romanians took place largely in today's Romanian area or rather outside of today's Romania. This dispute does not concern the formation of the Romanian nation within the last five centuries, but it does concern the time before. There are two main currents in historical studies: While one side tends towards the Romanians coming from the southwestern Balkans, the other side insists that the Romanians are descended from the Romanized population of Dacia. In terms of this dispute, what happened in the centuries after 271 in the formerly Roman Dacia plays an important role . Two theses are presented in this context:

  1. Not only were the Roman troops withdrawn, but the population was also evacuated across the Danube into what is now Serbia . The Romansh-speaking mobile shepherd population of the Central Balkans spread throughout Southeast Europe in the Middle Ages. a. also to today's Romania. This is the migration theory .
  2. Only the Roman army and the state administration were withdrawn, the rest of the population remained in Dacia. The continuity theory , according to the remains of Roman colonists and Romanized Dacian population withdrew after deduction of the Roman troops and administration in the mountains, where the times of migratory populations survived ( " myth of the unorganized state ").

Arguments in favor of the migration thesis

  • Today there are few place names from Roman times, but Latin river names. The toponymy for today's Romanian area also shows numerous place names originating from Hungarian (especially in Transylvania) and Slavic (throughout Romania). Particularly in the case of important Roman cities, which in other provinces have kept their names in a different form even when the population changes (e.g. London, Cologne, Regensburg, Augsburg, Vienna), there is no continuity in Dacia: Sarmizegetusa - Grădiște (Slavic); Apulum - Bălgrad (Slavic); Potaissa - Turda (Hungarian); Porolissum - Moigrad (Slavic).
  • Especially in the abandoned provinces on the Roman northern border (e.g. Noricum, Pannonia, Roman Germania, Britain), evacuation or emigration or later the assimilation of the Roman / Romanized population was common. The question arises why this should have been different for the much shorter Roman-occupied Dacia (Dacia Superiora) . Late ancient historians (e.g. Eutrop , Flavius ​​Vopiscus and Sextus Rufus ) also describe that Dacia was evacuated in 271 and 275 and that the population was resettled in the areas south of the Danube.
  • There are 90 to 140 similarities in the vocabulary of the Romanian and Albanian languages. These are easiest to explain if one assumes a temporary direct neighborhood, for example in the area of ​​southern Serbia and Kosovo . But they can also be traced back to the preservation of common Thracian and Roman language roots in mountainous countries such as Albania in the Balkans and Romania in the Carpathian Mountains.
  • If the Romanian language had developed in Dacia, no doubt Old Germanic words would have flowed into Romanian during the rule of Germanic peoples from the end of the 3rd century to AD 567 (Goths and Gepids), as would French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese have been incorporated. In Romanian, however, there is not a single old Germanic loan word. This only leads to the conclusion that Romanian must have developed in an area that was only briefly or not at all inhabited by Germanic tribes: the Balkans.
  • In no area of ​​the Roman Empire did the Romanization of the population take place within just 170 years. Language change lasted several centuries (e.g. with Etruscans , Gauls ) and in the case of the Welsh , Albanians and especially the Basques this was not completed even by 600 years of Roman rule. In a more favorable starting position than in Dacia, only a fraction of the population in Britain has been Romanized within 350 years of Roman rule (mainly townspeople), who were left to themselves after the withdrawal of the Roman troops and were either re-Celtized or assimilated by Anglo-Saxons or along with the Roman cities were destroyed. Since the Romanian language is based on a non-Roman substrate , there must have been a Romanization of a previously non-Romanic people, for which the short period of 170 years of Roman rule in Dacia leaves little likelihood. The Romanization of the Romanians can only have occurred in another area that had existed for a longer time under Roman rule.
  • Climatic and economic reasons rule out the possibility of an unnoticed existence of the Romanian pastoral population between the 3rd and 13th centuries. The climate of Dacia (today Transylvania) allows the cultivation of the mountain pastures (which offer a possibility of hiding) only from mid-May to September. After that, the cattle have to be driven into the valleys due to the severe cold. Even in the valleys there should have been stables to protect the cattle from freezing and from wolves and bears, and at the same time there should have been houses for the Romanians. During this forced time in the valleys, the Romanians would not have gone undetected from other peoples for more than 1000 years. For this period there are no written sources that mention Romanians (or Wallachians) in Transylvania, although the existence of Goths, Huns , Gepids, Avars , Slavs, Bulgarians and Hungarians in Transylvania is known to the Byzantine, Arab and Western chroniclers was.

Arguments in favor of the continuity thesis

  • Nowhere in the ancient sources is there any mention of the alleged complete withdrawal. On the contrary, many archaeological finds prove the survival of a Dako-Romanesque or a Romanized Dacian culture in Transylvania, even after the Aurelian retreat from Dacia.
  • In many countries the language of the (underprivileged) classes was written down relatively late. The predominant languages ​​in the writing were Latin / Greek , also Church Slavonic and partly the idiom of the ruling or privileged classes. This could explain why the evidence of Romanian language in Transylvania in the Middle Ages, e.g. T. is difficult. Romanian written documents have only been around since the 15th century.
  • The first theory wasn't born until later, when the Hungarians tried to substantiate their claim to Transylvania. It is very unlikely that an entire nation will be evacuated, especially since the capital of the Dacians was on the soil of Transylvania and still had a busy life after the conquest of Dacia.
  • The lack of Romanian place names is a controversial argument: This raises the question of what is really Romanian, especially since Romanian is a Romance language . It is a fact that many place names were renamed in the course of the Magyarization of Transylvania , and it is also undisputed that the development of the Romanian language was suppressed during the Austro-Hungarian rule, so that the Romanian population was no longer allowed to own schools and Romanian names more often have been translated.
  • Today the Romanians form the majority in large parts of Transylvania. It is unlikely that Romanians continually immigrated to Transylvania until they formed a majority during the Hungarian suppression of the Romanian language and culture from the 17th to the early 20th centuries. Greek and Western European chroniclers only testify to Romanian immigration from the 11th century.

The issue of Transylvania became a political issue. For obvious political reasons, the first thesis was mainly supported by Hungarian researchers. Conversely, Romanian researchers always take the second point of view from the opposite point of view.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. , The countries of origin of the foreigners registered in Italy, source: Istituto Nazionale di Statistica , official Italian statistical office, as of January 1, 2008
  2. , Job crisis: Spain closes the labor market for Romanians , July 21, 2011