Wallachia (Romanian: Ţara Românească)

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The historic principality of Wallachia lasted from the 14th to 19th century. Parts of Dobruja have at times been rules from Wallachia or Romania, but are now split between Romania and Bulgaria. 

The centre to east is also known as Muntenia with the west known as lesser Wallachia, Wallachia Minor or Oltenia. The far west has at times been part of the 'Banat of Severin'. The south west is dominated by the  Bărăgan plain.

Brief history

Pre-history: Period of Roman rule

In the second Dacian war (105AD) the west of Oltenia became part of the Roman Dacian province with the rest of Wallachia in Moesia Inferior. The Roman fortification  Limes (patrol road with wooden lookout towers and forts at intervals) were initially along the Olt (119AD) and later in the 2nd century moved slightly east, from the Danube up to Rucar in the Carpathians mountains. The Roman line fell back to the Olt in 245AD, and in 271AD the Romans pulled out of the region.

Post Roman period of migrations

Much of the area of modern Romania had post Roman populations with elements of Goths, Dacians, and Sarmatian peoples know as the Mures-Cerneahov culture followed by waves of migratory tribes. In 328 AD the Romans built a bridge between Sucidava (Celei) and Oescus (Gigen) which indicates that there was a significant trade with the peoples north of the Danube.

The Goths attacked the Roman empire south of the Danube in 332 AD, settling north of the Danube then later to the south. The period of Goth rule ended when the Huns arrived in the area of modern Hungary and under Attila they attacked and destroyed some 170 settlements on both sides of the Danube.

Byzantine Empire influence is evident during the 5th to 6th century, such as the site at Ipoteşti-Cândeşti, but from the start of the 7th century Slavic peoples start settling and populating much of the Balkans.

Wallachia was under the control of the Pechenegs (a Turkic people) who extended their rule west through the 10th century until defeated around 1091 when the Cumans of southern Russia took control of the lands of Moldavia and Wallachia. The Mongol state in southern Russia known as the Khanate of the Golden Horde destroyed Kiev and the Cuman rule. In 1241 groups of Mongols separately attacked Poland, Bohemia, Hungary, and Bulgaria. The Mongols had control of Moldavia, but most of Wallachia was outside the Mongols' authority, and Transylvania was subjected to many Mongol attacks. The removal of pressure exerted from Hungary and Bulgaria no doubt helped the assertion of the Romanian feudal states which were to found Romania.

The formation of the Vlach lands known as Wallachia

One of the first items of documentary evidence of Romanian voivodes is of Litovoi in 1272 who ruled over land each side of the Carpathians, including Făgăraş in Transylvania, and refused to pay tribute to the Hungarian King Ladislaus IV. His successor was his brother Bărbat (1285-1288). The continuing weakening of the Hungarian state by further Mongol invasions (1285) and internal disputes opened the way for the process of unification of the Romanian political formations independent of the Hungarian king.

The formation of the Romanian state happened when Basarab I (1310-1352), son of Tihomir, united the Romanian voivodes either side of the Olt, creating a feudal state based at Câmpulung. He extended his lands to comprise those to be known as Wallachia together with the Banat of Severin, Făgăraş, southern Moldavia, the Danube Delta, and the lands between the Prut and Dniester which were to be later known as Basarabia (counties of Cahul, Ismail and Cetatae Albă). After Basarab's death his son Nicolae Alexandru ruled Wallachia (1352-1361), followed by his son Vladislav I (1364–1377).

For the next half century the Hungarian king repeatedly tried to regain control of the Romanian lands and force suzerainty of the voivodes.

Battles with the Turks

The next three and a half centuries were dominated by the expanding Turkish empire. For 150 years the Romanians succeeded in preventing Wallachia becoming a Turkish pashalik:

The conflicts of the boyars and powerful families of Wallachia with their kings led to the eventual surrender to the Turks:

Post Turkish rule and the formation of modern Romania


© Eliznik2005, Last updated Feb-08