Age of migrations

The history of Transylvania is particularly illusive, even though it was on the trade route from the Black Sea to Western Europe, and the Apuseni mountains were the major European source of gold through from Dacian times. There is evidence that trade continued with the Romans after their departure from the area, and when the Saxons much later built their cities these were situated at the sites of earlier Dacian towns or on the trans-Carpathian trade routes.

There is a continuing debate regarding the origins of the Romanians; are they Romanised Dacians, or other Romanised peoples that moved there later, and if so, before or after the Magyars?

The map information comes mainly from “Kopeczi (1994), History of Transylvania, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Akademiai Kiado, Budapest”. For interest I have included the current ethnographic regions with old layer Romanian folklore on the maps together with the archaeology sites for the invaders. This would suggest that mountain peoples may have been able to share the area with the invaders.

Goths and Gepids 3rd to 6th centuries

Goths and Gepids 3rd to 4th century

The Goths and Gepids (270-567) were Germanic peoples from southern Scandinavia who migrated south to around the Black Sea in the 3rd century AD. The frequent incursions of the Ostrogoths (from modern Ukraine) and the Visigoths (from around the Danube) into the Roman Empire caused the Romans to abandon Dacia in 270.

Huns 4th to 5th centuries

The rule of the Goths was ended by the Huns (375-453), a Turkic tribe coming from the plains east of modern Russia. The Huns under the leadership of Attila were a major military force in central Europe and their rule covered much of modern Hungary and Transylvania.

Gepid kingdom 5th to 6th centuries

Gepid kingdom 5th to 6th centuries

The Gepid leader, Ardaric, was a favoured ally of the Huns. After Attila’s death the Huns left Europe. The Gepids occupied the area east of the Tiza (modern Hungary) where they remained within the Hun kingdom. After the fall of the Huns they briefly ruled much of modern Romania until they were forced out by the Ostrogoths. They were subsequently defeated by the Romans and disappeared from history.

Avars 6th to 8th centuries

Avars 6th to 8th centuries

Avars 6th to 8th centuries

The Avars (552-796), another Asian-Turkic tribe from the east, took control of parts of southern Russia and Eastern Europe from the Huns and Slavs. They occupied most of modern Hungary with their empire stretching from the Black Sea to the Baltic, but in the 8th century their empire shrank and was finally ended by Charlemagne in 805.

Slavs from the 6th century

Slavs 8th to 10th centuries

By the 6th century the Slavs were the largest European language group. Following the dissolution of the Hun Empire the Slavic peoples rapidly expanded populating modern Russia, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Romania. Little remains of Slavic Romania apart from many place and river names, and possibly the voivode and administrative organisation used by medieval Romanians and also inherited by the Magyars in Transylvania.


The Bulgars, a Turkic tribe from the east, having been forced from their kingdom around the Black Sea, formed the First State of Bulgaria (680), as rulers of the Slavs. Their kingdom covered the Danube plain to the north (modern Romania) and south (modern Bulgaria). Later the state of Bulgaria was extended further south into Thrace and Macedonia. The Bulgarian rule extended briefly into Transylvania

Magyar (Hungarian) from the 11th century

Hungarians 11th century

Five Magyar tribes and two Kun tribes entered the Danube basin in 896, settling within modern Hungary. Although these tribes had co-existed with Turkic peoples in the Steppe for a long time, their language structure is distantly related to the Ugrian peoples which is linked to the Finns, Estonians, and peoples of Siberia. In the following centuries the Magyars extended their rule in all directions forming the country now called Hungary after its previous rulers, the Huns.

Published on 14th August 2018, last modified on 15th August 2018