1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Vlachs

VLACHS. The Vlach (Vlakh, Wallach) or Ruman race constitutes a distinct division of the Latin family of peoples, Distribution of the Vlach race. widely disseminated throughout south-eastern Europe, both north and south of the Danube, and extending sporadically from the Russian river Bug to the Adriatic. The total numbers of the Vlachs may be estimated at 10,000,000 or 11,000,000. North of the Danube, 5,400,000 dwell in Rumaraa, 1,250,000 are settled in Transylvania, where they constitute a large majority of the population, and a still greater number are to be found in the Banat and other Hungarian districts west and north of Transylvania. Close upon 1,000,000 inhabit Bessarabia and the adjoining parts of South Russia, and about 230,000 are in the Austrian province of Bukovina. South of the Danube, about 500,000 are scattered over northern Greece and European Turkey, under the name of Kutzo-Vlachs, Tzintzars or Aromani. In Servia this element is preponderant in the Timok valley, while in Istria it is represented by the Cici, at present largely Slavonized, as are now entirely the kindred Morlachs of Dalmatia. Since, however, it is quite impossible to obtain exact statistics over so wide an area, and in countries where politics and racial feeling are so closely connected, the figures given above can only be regarded as approximately accurate; and some writers place the total of the Vlachs as low as 9,000,000. It is noteworthy that the Rumans north of the Danube continually gain ground at the expense of their neighbours; and even the long successful Greek propaganda among the Kutzo-Vlachs were checked after 1860 by the labours of Apostolu Margaritis and other nationalists.

A detailed account of the physical, mental and moral characteristics of the Vlachs, their modern civilization and their historical development, will be found under the headings Rumania and Macedonia.

All divisions of the race prefer to style themselves Romani, Romeni, Rumeni or Aromani; and it is from the native pronunciation of this name that we have the equivalent expression Ruman, a word which must by no means be confined to that part of the Vlach race inhabiting the present kingdom of Rumania.

The name “Vlachs,” applied to the Rumans by their neighbours but never adopted by themselves, appears under many Its name. allied forms, the Slavs saying Volokh or Woloch, the Greeks Vlachoi, the Magyars Olóh, and the Turks, at a later date, Ifflók. In its origin identical with the English Wealh or Welsh, it represents a Slavonic adaptation of a generic term applied by the Teutonic races to all Roman provincials during the 4th and 5th centuries. The Slavs, at least in their principal extent, first knew the Roman empire through a Teutonic medium, and adopted their term Volokh from the Ostro-Gothic equivalent of the Anglo-Saxon Wealh. It thus finds its analogies in the German name for Italy—Welschland (Walischland), in the Walloons of the Low Countries and the Wallgau of Tirol. An early instance of its application to the Roman population of the Eastern empire is found (c. 550-600) in the Traveller's Song, where, in a passage which in all probability connects itself with the early trade-route between the Baltic staple of Wollin and Byzantium, the gleeman speaks of Caesar's realm as Walaric, “Welshry.” In verse 140 he speaks of the Rum-walas, and it is to be observed that Rum is one of the words by which the Vlachs of eastern Europe still know themselves.

The Vlachs claim to be a Latin race in the same sense as the Spaniards or Provençals—Latin by language and culture, Its Latin character. and, in a smaller degree, by descent. Despite the long predominance of Greek, Slavonic and Turkish influence, there is no valid objection to this claim, which is now generally accepted by competent ethnologists. The language of the Vlachs is Latin in structure and to a great extent in vocabulary; their features and stature would not render them conspicuous as foreigners in south Italy; and that their ancestors were Roman provincials is attested not only by the names “Vlach” and “Ruman” but also by popular and literary tradition. In their customs and folk-lore both Latin and Slavonic traditions assert themselves. Of their Roman traditions the Trajan saga, the celebration of the Latin festivals of the Rosalia and Kalendae, the belief in the striga (witch), the names of the months and days of the week, may be taken as typical examples. Some Roman words connected with the Christian religion, like biserica (basilica) = a church, botez = baptizo, duminica = Sunday, preot (presbyter) = priest, point to a continuous tradition of the Illyrian church, though most of their ecclesiastical terms, like their liturgy and alphabet, were derived from the Slavonic. In most that concerns political organization the Slavonic element is also preponderant, though there are words like impärat = imperator, and domn = dominus, which point to the old stock. Many words relating to kinship are also Latin, some, like vitrig (vitricus) = father-in-law, being alone preserved by this branch of the Romance family. But if the Latin descent of the Vlachs may be regarded as proven, it is far less easy to determine their place of origin and to trace their early migrations.

The centre of gravity of the Vlach or Ruman race is at present unquestionably north of the Danube in the almost circular Its original home. territory between the Danube, Theiss and Dniester, and corresponds roughly with the Roman province of Dacia, formed by Trajan in A.D. 106. From this circumstance the popular idea has arisen that the race itself represents the descendants of the Romanized population of Trajan's Dacia, which was assumed to have maintained an unbroken existence in Walachia, Transylvania and the neighbour provinces, beneath the dominion of a succession of invaders. The Vlachs of Pindus, and the southern region generally, were, on this hypothesis, to be regarded as later immigrants from the lands north of the Danube. In 1871, E. R. Roesler published at Leipzig, in a collective form, a series of essays entitled Romänische Studien, in which he absolutely denied the claim of the Rumanian and Transylvanian Vlachs to be regarded as autochthonous Dacians. He laid stress on the statements of Vopiscus and others as implying the total withdrawal of the Roman provincials from Trajan's Dacia by Aurelian, in A.D. 272, and on the non-mention by historians of a Latin population in the lands on the left bank of the lower Danube, during their successive occupation by Goths, Huns, Gepidae, Avars, Slavs, Bulgars and other barbarian races. He found the first trace of a Ruman settlement north of the Danube in a Transylvanian diploma of 1222. Roesler's thesis has been generally regarded as an entirely new departure in critical ethnography. As a matter of fact, his conclusions had to a great extent been already anticipated by F. J. Sulzer in his Geschichte des Transalpinischen Daciens, published at Vienna in 1781, and at a still earlier date by the Dalmatian historian G. Lucio (Lucius of Traü) in his work De Regno Dalmatiae et Croatiae, Amsterdam, 1666.

The theory of the later immigration of the Rumans into their present abodes north of the Danube, as stated in its most extreme form by Roesler, commanded wide acceptance, and in Hungary it was politically utilized as a plea for refusing parity of treatment to a race of comparatively recent intruders. In Rumania itself Roesler's views were resented as an attack on Ruman nationality. Outside Rumania they found a determined opponent in Dr J. Jung, of Innsbruck, who upheld the continuity of the Roman provincial stock in Trajan's Dacia, disputing from historic analogies the total withdrawal of the provincials by Aurelian, and the reaction against Roesler was carried still farther by J. L. Pič, Professor A. D. Xenopol of Jassy, B. P. Hasdeu, D. Onciul and many other Rumanian writers, who maintain that, while their own race north of the Danube represents the original Daco-Roman population of this region, the Vlachs of Turkey and Greece are similarly descended from the Moeso-Roman and Illyro-Roman inhabitants of the provinces lying south of the river. On this theory the entire Vlach race occupies almost precisely the same territories to-day as in the 3rd century.

On the whole it may be said that the truth lies between the two extremes. Roesler is no doubt so far right that after 272, and throughout the early middle ages, the bulk of the Ruman people lay south of the Danube. Pič's view that the population of the Roman provinces of Moesia and Illyria were Hellenized rather than Romanized, and that it is to Trajan's Dacia alone that we must look for the Roman source of the Vlach race, conflicts with what we know of the Latinizing of the Balkan lands from inscriptions, martyrologies, Procopius's list of Justinian's Illyrian fortresses and other sources. This Roman element south of the Danube had further received a great increase at the expense of Trajan's colonial foundation to the north when Aurelian established his New Dacia on the Moesian side of the river. On the other hand, the analogy supplied by the withdrawal of the Roman provincials from Riparian Noricum tells against the assumption that the official withdrawal of the Roman colonists of Trajan's Dacia by Aurelian entailed the entire evacuation of the Carpathian regions by their Latin-speaking inhabitants. As on the upper Danube the continuity of the Roman population is attested by the Vici Romanisci of early medieval diplomas and by other traces of a Romanic race still represented by the Ladines of the Tirol, so it is reasonable to suppose a Latin-speaking population continued to exist in the formerly thickly colonized area embracing the present Transylvania and Little Walachia, with adjoining Carpathian regions. Even as late as Justinian's time (483-565), the official connexion with the old Dacian province was not wholly lost, as is shown by the erection or restoration of certain fortified posts on the left bank of the lower Danube.

We may therefore assume that the Latin race of eastern Europe never wholly lost touch of its former trans-Danubian Early migrations. strongholds. It was, however, on any showing greatly diminished there. The open country, the broad plains of what is now the Rumanian kingdom, and the Banat of Hungary were in barbarian occupation. The centre of gravity of the Roman or Romance element of Illyricum had now shifted south of the Danube. By the 6th century a large part of Thrace, Macedonia and even of Epirus had become Latin-speaking.

What had occurred in Trajan's Dacia in the 3rd century was consummated in the 6th and 7th throughout the greater part of the South-Illyrian provinces, and the Slavonic and Avar conquests severed the official connexion with eastern Rome The Roman element was uprooted from its fixed seats, and swept hither and thither by the barbarian flood. Nomadism became an essential of independent existence, while large masses of homeless provincials were dragged as captives in the train of their conquerors, to be distributed in servile colonies. They were thus in many cases transported by barbarian chiefs—Slav, Avar and Bulgarian—to trans-Danubian and Pannonian regions. In the Acts of St Demetrius of Thessalonica (d. A.D. 306) we find an account of such a Roman colony, which, having been carried away from South-Illyrian cities by the Avar khagan (prince), and settled by him in the Sirmian district beyond the Save, revolted after seventy years of captivity, made their way once more across the Balkan passes, and finally settled as an independent community in the country inland from Salonica. Others, no doubt, thus transported northwards never returned. The earliest Hungarian historians who describe the Magyar invasion of the 9th century speak of the old inhabitants of the country as Romans, and of the country they occupied as Pascua Romanorum, and the Russian Nestor, writing about 1100, makes the same invaders fight against Slavs and Vlachs in the Carpathian Mountains. So far from the first mention of the Vlachs north of the Danube occurring only in 1222, as Roesler asserts, it appears from a passage of Nicetas of Chonae that they were to be found already in 1164 as far afield as the borders of Galicia, and the date of a passage in the Nibelungenlied, which mentions the Vlachs, under their leader Râmunc, in association with the Poles, cannot well be later than 1200.

Nevertheless, throughout the early middle ages the bulk of the Ruman population lay south of the Danube. It was in the Balkan lands that the Ruman race and language took their characteristic mould. It is here that this new Illyrian Romance first rises into historic prominence. Already in the 6th century, as we learn from the place-names, such as Sceptecasas, Burgualtu, Clisura, &c., given by Procopius, the Ruman language was assuming, so far as its Latin elements were concerned, its typical form. In the somewhat later campaigns of Commentiolus (587) and Priscus, against the Avars and Slavs, we find the Latin-speaking soldiery of the Eastern emperor making use of such Romance expressions as torna frate! (turn, brother!), or sculca (out of bed) applied to a watch (cf. Ruman a se culca = Italian coricarsi+ex(s) privative). Next we find this warlike Ruman population largely incorporated in the Bulgarian kingdom, and, if we are to judge from the names Paganus and Sabinus, already supplying it with rulers in the 8th century. The blending and close contact during this period of the surviving Latin population with the Slavonic settlers of the peninsula impregnated the language with its large Slavonic ingredient. The presence of an important Latin element in Albanian, the frequent occurrence of Albanian words in Rumanian, and the remarkable retention by both languages of a suffix article, may perhaps imply that both alike took their characteristic shapes in the same region. The fact that these peculiarities are common to the Rumans north of the Danube, whose language differs dialectically from that of their southern brothers, shows that it was this southern branch that throughout the early periods of Ruman history was exercising a dominating influence. Migrations, violent transplantation, the intercourse which was kept up between the most outlying members of the race, in its very origin nomadic, at a later period actual colonization and the political influence of the Bulgaro-Vlachian empire, no doubt contributed to propagate these southern linguistic acquisitions throughout that northern area to which the Ruman race was destined almost imperceptibly to shift its centre of gravity.

Byzantium, which had ceased to be Roman, and had become Romanic, renewed its acquaintance with the descendants of the Latin provincials of Illyricum through a Slavonic medium, and applied to them the name of Vlach, which the Slav himself had borrowed from the Goth. The first mention of Vlachs in a Byzantine source is about the year 976, when Cedrenus (ii. 439) relates the murder of the Bulgarian tsar Samuel's brother “by certain Vlach wayfarers,” at a spot called the Fair Oaks, between Castoria and Prespa. From this period onwards the Ruman inhabitants of the Balkan peninsula are constantly mentioned by this name, and we find a series of political organizations and territorial divisions connected with the name of Vlachia. A short synopsis may be given of the most important of these, outside the limits of Rumania itself.

1. The Bulgaro-Vlach Empire.—After the overthrow of the older Bulgarian tsardom by Basil Bulgaroktonos (976-1025), the Vlach Political and territorial divisions. population of Thrace, Haemus and the Moesian lands passed once more under Byzantine dominion; and in 1185 a heavy tax, levied in kind on the cattle of these warlike mountain shepherds, stirred the Vlachs to revolt against the emperor Isaac Angelus, and under the leadership of two brothers, Peter and Asen, to found a new Bulgaro-Vlachian empire, which ended with Kaliman II in 1257. The dominions of these half-Slavonic half-Ruman emperors extended north of the Danube over a great deal of what is now Rumania, and it was during this period that the Vlach population north of the river seems to have been most largely reinforced. The 13th century French traveller Rubruquis speaks of all the country between Don and Danube as Asen's land or Blakia.

2. Great Walachia (Μεγάλη Βλαχία).—It is from Anna Comnena, in the second half of the 11th century, that we first hear of a Vlach settlement, the nucleus of which was the mountainous region of Thessaly Benjamin of Tudela, in the succeeding century, gives an interesting account of this Great Walachia, then completely independent. It embraced the southern and central ranges of Pindus, and extended over part of Macedonia, thus including the region in which the Roman settlers mentioned in the Acts of St Demetrius had fixed their abode. After the Latin conquest of Constantinople in 1204, Great Walachia was included in the enlarged despotate of Epirus, but it soon reappears as an independent principality under its old name, which, after passing under the yoke

of the Serb emperor Dushan, was finally conquered by the Turks in 1393. Many of their old privileges were accorded to the inhabitants, and their taxes were limited to an annual tribute. Since this period the Megalovlachites have been largely Hellenized, but they are still represented by the flourishing Tzintzar settlements of Pindus and its neighbourhood (see Macedonia).

3. Little Walachia (Μικρά Βλαχία) was a name applied by Byzantine writers to the Ruman settlements of Aetolia and Acarnania, and with it may be included “Upper Walachia,” or Ανώβλαχα. Its inhabitants are still represented by the Tzintzars of the Aspropotamo and the Karaguni (Black Capes) of Acarnania.

4. The Morlachs (Mavrovlachi) of the West.—These are already mentioned as Nigri Latini by the presbyter of Dioclea (c. 1150) in the old Dalmatian littoral and the mountains of what is now Montenegro, Herzegovina and North Albania. Other colonies extended through a great part of the old Servian interior, where is a region still called Stara Vlaška or “Old Walachia.” The great commercial staple of the east Adriatic shores, the republic of Ragusa, seems in its origin to have been a Ruman settlement, and many Vlach traces survived in its later dialect. Philippus de Diversis, who described the city as it existed in 1440, says that “the various officers of the republic do not make use either of Slav or Italian, with which they converse with strangers, but a certain other dialect only partially intelligible to us Latins,” and cites words with strong Ruman affinities. In the mountains above Ragusa a number of Vlach tribes are mentioned in the archives of that city, and the original relationship of the Ragusans and the nomadic Alpine representatives of the Roman provincials, who preserved a traditional knowledge of the old lines of communication throughout the peninsula, explains the extraordinary development of the Ragusan commerce. In the 14th century the Mavrovlachi or Morlachs extended themselves towards the Croatian borders, and a large part of maritime Croatia and northern Dalmatia began to be known as Morlacchia. A Major Vlachia was formed about the triple frontier of Bosnia, Croatia and Dalmatia, and a “Little Walachia” as far north as Požega. The Morlachs have now become Slavonized (see Dalmatia).

5. Cici of Istria.—The extreme Ruman offshoot to the north-west is still represented by the Cici of the Val d'Arsa and adjoining Istrian districts. They represent a 15th-century Morlach colony from the Isles of Veglia, and had formerly a wider extension to Trieste and the counties of Gradisca and Gorz. The Cici have almost entirely abandoned their native tongue, which is the last remaining representative of the old Morlach, and forms a connecting link between the Daco-Roman (or Rumanian) and the Illyro- or Macedo-Roman dialects.

6. Rumans of Transylvania and Hungary.—As already stated, a large part of the Hungarian plains were, at the coming of the Magyars in the 9th century, known as Pascua Romanorum. At a later period privileged Ruman communities existed at Fogaras, where was a Silva Vlachorum, at Marmaros, Deva, Hatzeg, Hunyad and Lugos, and in the Banat were seven, Ruman districts. Two of the greatest figures in Hungarian history, the 15th-century rulers John Corvinus of Hunyad and his son King Matthias, were due to this element. For its later history see Transylvania.

See, in addition to the books already mentioned, J. L. Pič, Über die Abstammung der Rumänen (Leipzig, 1880); A. D. Xenopol, Les Roumains au moyen âge (Jassy, 1886); B. P. Hasdeu, “Stratǔ ši Substratǔ: Genealogia poporelorǔ balcanice,” in Annalele Academieǐ, ser. 11, vol. 14 (Bucharest, 1893); D. Onciul, “Romaniǐ in Dacia Traiana,” &c., in Enciclopedia Româna, vol. iii. (Bucharest, 1902).