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Great Wallachia - South of danube

 Great Wallachia

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Byzantine Empire (in pink) and Wallachian Thessaly (in dark blue)

Great Wallachia (Greek: Μεγάλη Βλαχία Megáli Vlachía; Romanian: Vlahia Mare), also Thessaly Wallachia, was a medieval state (twelfth and thirteenth century) of the Aromanians (Vlachs), which included the mountains of Thessaly in Greece, the southern and central ranges of Pindus and extending over part of Macedonia.

Anna Komnene in the second half of the eleventh century was the first author to write about the Vlach settlements of the mountains of Thessaly. Benjamin of Tudela, the next century, wrote the earliest account of the independent state of "Great Wallachia" in the mountains. He wrote that "No man can go up and battle against them and no king can rule over them".

After the Latin conquest of Constantinople in 1204, Great Wallachia was included in the enlarged Despotate of Epirus, but it soon reappeared as an independent principality under its old name.

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History of the Aromanians

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This article is about the history of the Aromanians. For the history of Northern Vlachs (Romanians), see History of Romania.



[edit] Origins

Vlachs originate from the Romanized people of south-eastern Europe; from a mix of Roman colonists (from various Roman provinces) and indigenous peoples who were Latinised. The Vlach peoples from the south Balkans have generally been identified with the indigenous populations of Thracian and or Illyrian origin. Many Vlachs settled into the less-accessible mountainous areas of Greece and the northern Balkan region because of the Germanic and Avar-Slav invasions and immigration of the 5th-7th centuries.

Their more exact place of origin is hard to determine as they can be found all over the Balkan peninsula. Aromanians can be found in Greece, Bulgaria, Albania and the Republic of Macedonia, while Romanians in Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Serbia and Hungary. Their occupations were mostly trading, shepherding and craftsmanship. It is not known exactly when the Vlachs who were the ancestors of present day Aromanians broke off from the general body of Vlach people; historians point to a period between the 5th--9th Centuries.

Byzantine period

The history of the Vlachs is a long struggle for achieving own statehood and separateness and was marked by rebellions against foreign and imperial rule.

In 579 AD, two Byzantine chroniclers, Theophanes and Theophylactus, provided accounts of the language of the Armani (Vlachs)[citation needed].


976 ---  The Byzantine chronicler John Skylitzes shows that David, one of the four sons of Count Nicola, was killed by the "Chervanari" Vlach (or carters), on the territory between Castoria and Prespa, at a place called "Stejarii frumosi" (The Beautiful Oaks).

The Slavic-derived exonym Vlachoi ("Vlachs") became a substitute for the term Armani when it was first used in 976 AD. In 1020, Basil II specifically placed the "Vlachs of all Bulgaria" under the jurisdiction of the new Archbishop of Ochrida. In 1027 they are included in Western accounts (the Annales Barenses) of a Byzantine expedition to Italy.

Another Byzantine historian, Kekaumenos mentions a revolt of Vlachs of Thessaly in 1066, and their ruler Verivoi. One of the first full description is given in the Strategikon of Kekaumenos, where the presence of numerous Vlach shepherds in Epirus and Thessaly is noted, as well as their provenance in the Danube valley and their descent from ancient tribes. Because of their nomadic and migratory lifestyle, Kekaumenos writes, they enjoyed a bad reputation.

According to the 12th-century Byzantine historian Anna Comnena, they founded the independent state of Great Walachia, which covered the Pindus Mountain ranges and part of Macedonia. The Vlachs of Thessaly and Macedonia appear regularly in Anna Comnena's Alexiad

The Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela, a Spanish Jew who traveled through out South-Eastern Europe and the Middle East between 1159 and 1173 wrote about the Vlachs coming down from the mountains to attack the Greeks. He also described them as a group of rebels, who may have had Jewish origins. Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela while traveling through Thessaly describes the Vlachs as nimble mountaineers. Referring to the Vlachs of Macedonia he said: "no Emperor can conquer them". He visited Constantinople, during the reign of Manuel Comnenus (1143-1180 AD), and writes of the Emperor's special sympathy for the Vlachs because of his origins from that people.

After the collapse of the Byzantine Empire in the Fourth Crusade, the numerous Aromanians (Valachians) of Thessaly and the southern regions of Macedonia and Epirus established their own state, and the area was known as Great Wallachia(Vlahia).

Choniates wrote, between 1202 and 1214, that the Thessalian mountain region was called "Great Wallachia". After the establishment of the Latin Empire at Constantinople in 1204, Great Wallachia was absorbed by the Greek Despotate of Epirus; later it was annexed by the Serbs, and in 1393 it fell to the Turks. Another Vlach region, called Little Walachia, was located in Aetolia and Acarnania(department in west central Greece).

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