Romanian History and Culture

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Transylvania, Vlachs, Slavs, Avars, Cumans, Pechenegs, Bulgars and the Magyars.  In Memoriam  Doctor Suzana (Juja) More Heitel-Heitelné Móré Zsuzsa

Canesii, Vlach Knezi

Rogerius mentions the abuses of canesii, the local collaborators appointed by the Mongols

contituerunt canesios id est balivios, qui justitiam erant canesii fere centum... Conveniebant canesii pene qualibet septimana...Elegi igitur potius cum ipsis canesiis ad exercitum ire...Canesii vero ad recipienda munera acceserunt

These canesii surely are the Romanian knyases known from 14-15th century in other regions. Hungarians or Slavs were not organized in knyesates. So, the population of central Transylvania was in 13th century (because Rogerius doesn't describe an isolated case) entirely Romanian.

Ruinele Bisericii din Interiorul Cetatii Alba Iulia, 1000AC

 DESCOPERIREA EXCEPŢIONALĂ DE LA ALBA IULIA: Au fost găsite ruinele celei mai vechi biserici creştine din Transilvania

Ruinele celei mai vechi biserici creştine din Transilvania, având peste 1.000 de ani, şi câteva sute de morminte din perioada medievală au fost descoperite de arheologi în interiorul cetăţii din Alba Iulia.

Coordonatorul lucrărilor de cercetare, arheologul Daniela Marcu Istrate, a declarat, vineri, într-o conferinţă de presă, că zidurile bisericii au fost descoperite în timpul unor lucrări de reabilitare a infrastructurii şi a reţelelor de apă şi canalizare din interiorul cetăţii din Alba Iulia.

 Ea a spus că arheologii au descoperit zidurile unei biserici creştine şi, după cercetarea întregii ruine, au stabilit că aceasta este cea mai veche biserică creştină din Transilvania, de tradiţie bizantină, construită în jurul anului 1000.

Potrivit sursei citate, în aceeaşi zonă au fost descoperite şi 400 de morminte din perioada medievală, iar scheletele din interiorul acestora vor fi cercetate la Institutul de Antropologie al Academiei Române, după care vor fi reînhumate.
"Această planimetrie, cât şi obiectele descoperite şi contextul stratigrafic în care se află ruina ne ajută stabilim datarea construcţiei în jurul anului 1.000. Demolarea bisericii a intervenit la mijlocul secolului al XI-lea, probabil atunci când s-a iniţiat construirea primei catedrale romano-catolice în imediata apropiere. În momentul de faţă, este cea mai veche biserică creştină din Transilvania, este o clădire sub influenţa arhitecturii bizantine şi va reprezenta un element important în descifrarea prezenţei Bizanţului în teritoriile de la nordul Dunării", a spus Daniela Marcu Istrate.
Potrivit sursei citate, ruinele bisericii descoperite la Alba Iulia vor fi cercetate până în 20 august, după care zona va fi acoperită şi descoperirea va fi marcată la suprafaţă.
Arheologii susţin că biserica ale cărei ruine au fost descoperite la Alba Iulia este ctitoria Sfântului Ştefan, întemeietorul Episcopiei Catolice a Transilvaniei.
Dan Lungu,

The Hungarian Point of View


Christian Cultic Places in

The Western-Roman Empire came to an end during the years of the Great Migrations due to the endless
attacks of barbarians. The Empire was devastated by the Huns in the fifth century, and the southward movements of the
Slays immediately begun from the territories of present day Poland. They managed to reach the Elbe River in the west,
the Danube in the southwest. During the sixth century they got into Pannonia, Thrace and Macedonia.
The Western-Roman Empire was gradually replaced by the newly founded Christian feudal states. As the
consequences of the division of the Roman Empire, the Greek-Catholic (Orthodox) Church took shape in the east, and
was strongly intertwined with the state. At the same time, the Papal supreme power was developed in the Western
Christianity, as we have seen, used to be a persecuted religion. The northern banks of the Danube River
known by the name Dacia Traiana (part of later Transylvania, and Oltenia) were the only exceptions to the persecutions
after 271 A.D., when Aurelianus withdrew his legions and colonuses (settlers) from those territories. The exception
lasted for a couple of decades, until the first flocks of migrating people, the Goths, appeared.
If there had been a Romanized population on these territories, the houses of congregations (domus ecclesiae)
or cathedrals of theirs would have been built. However, there are no buildings or even traces of these to be found.
Neither do we have any documents or other data proving their existence, even though - it is needless to say - after the
withdrawal of the Roman legions in 271, until the appearance of the first barbarian people, the Goths, Christianity could
spread free of pressure of any kind and persecution by the Roman administration in Dacia Traiana.
When discussing the theory of Daco-Roman continuity, it is necessary to investigate the situation also south
of the lower Danube, in the Balkan Peninsula. Let us give a broad outline of the Byzantine Church Architecture and the
itecture affected by the Byzantine style in the 4th- 12th centuries in addition to works of art and other paintings
parallel to the spread of Christianity.
We have already referred to the first Christian Churches built by Constantine and Theodosius. The Byzantine
art’s most outstanding architectural work, the monumental Hagia Sophia (532-537), was built in Constantinople during
the reign of Justinianus, Eastern-Roman Emperor (482-565). The construction of the San Vitale Cathedral in Ravenna,
financed by a rich Syrian banker, Julianus Argentarius, started before 532 and ended in 547.
The Bulgarians adopted Christianity in 865. According to a Greek source from the 11th century, their reigning
Prince Boris I. (852-889) ordered the building of seven churches already in the same year, i.e. in 865. The era’s biggest
church, the Great Basilica is the most important art work of the Bulgarian architecture from the 9th-lOth centuries. The
John the Baptist Church in Nesebar, on the shore of the Black Sea, was built in the tenth century. The most monumental
and most imposing relic of the Bulgarian architecture, the monastery of Rila was built between 927 and 942 in a small
basin on the southern slope of the Maljovica. The second oldest monastery built in 1070, can be found in the environs of
At the beginning of the 10th century there were no other states in the area, which would have been able to
compete with the strength and power of the Bulgarian state. The state’s main goal was the full conquest of Byzantium.
However, after the death of Tsar Simeon and the long military campaigns, the country’s economical and military power
became so weak that the State’s internal order could not be restored. The Bulgarian State totally collapsed in 1018. The
once great Bulgarian Empire became one of Byzantium’s provinces. A considerable part of the monasteries were
destroyed — especially in the surroundings of Pliska and Preslav, by the endless attacks of the raiding barbarian tribes
from the North.
The Saint Demeter Church was built in Tirnovo, the capital, in 1186. After the foundation of the second
Bulgarian Empire (1185), the tradition has it that the Saint Peter and Paul Monastery was also built during the second
Bulgarian Empire on the Arbanas Mountain. According to the legend the Saint Elias monastery of in Plakovo was also
built during the second Bulgarian State. In Skripu near Athens, in Greece, another monastery, originated from 873-874,
can be found.
According to an early Russian chronicle, Vladimir, great reigning Prince of Kiev (980), entrusted ten
scientists to travel around other people’s territories and survey the great religions such as the Muslim, Christian and
Greek- Catholic. The scientists gave accounts to the Prince of the monumental Hagia Sophia’s fascinating beauty in
Constantinople3. According to a chronicle, the great reigning prince converted — on the scientists’ recommendation —
to Greek-Catholicism with his people. The Russians had already known Christianity, since the Saint Nicholas Cathedral
in Kiev has been mentioned since 882.
Vladimir ordered all his subjects to embrace Christianity in 988-989. Under the reign of his son, Jaroslav the
Wise, 1019-1054, the Hagia Sophia Cathedral was erected in Kiev. The Saint George Cathedral was built between 1119
and 1130, while the construction of the Saint Demeter Church in Vladimir-Suzdal lasted from 1194 to 1197. Building of
additional churches was prevented by the Tartar conquests.
After the Byzantine style church architecture, let us examine the Byzantine art, which exerted a considerable
influence on remote territories of the earth.
Byzantine masters made the mosaics of the Hagia Sophia Church in Kiev between 1037 and 1061. The
frescos in Vladimir were painted around 1195. The Norman kings of Sicily built their churches with Byzantine masters
between 1143 and 1200. The San Marco Cathedral was patterned after the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. Its earliest
mosaics from the 11th century are also Byzantine masters’ work. The gold and enamel Pala d’Oro of the high altar is
also an art work from Constantinople. Fresco painting at the end of the 12th century met very high standards in Cyprus
under the Byzantine governors’ reign4.
We have to go deeply into the question of the Byzantine church architecture and works of art, because their
trend setting spread to the Balkan Peninsula. We will have to look for Vlach (Rumanian) church constructions. We have
to look for the Vlach Orthodox chapels and churches of the 7th-l2th centuries along the southern and northern banks of
the Danube River. If we accept some Rumanian statements, the Rumanian cultic places shall also be found in
Transylvania. We have to look for these cultic places especially from the first half of the 9th century.
Prince Krum, Bulgarian ruler, captured some bishops, priests and Christians sometime around 812. He
forcibly relocated them to the left bank of the Danube, where they converted a lot of Bulgarians to orthodox Christianity.
Around 870, Dacia Traiana and a part of Transylvania also were placed under the authority of Boris who ruled Bulgaria.
If Daco-Romans (Rumanians) had lived there, they would have had to yield to the brutal Bulgarian force used against
them and convert to Orthodox Christianity. However, we cannot find any contemporary traces of Vlach church
architecture, neither on the Balkans nor in Transylvania. The historical sources do not mention the “Romanized
Dacians” or the Rumanians in Dacia until the 12th century, although numerous sources talk about the Vlach people on
the Balkan Peninsula since the 10th century (976).
Considering the monumental paintings of the Byzantine Empire in the “successor” states, such as Serbia,
Bulgaria and Trapezunt, it can be said that there is no mention of the artistic impact of those paintings on the territories
north of the Danube. This would not have been imaginable, if the Rumanians, as native people, had lived in Dacia
Traiana and the other areas in question during the 11th- 12th centuries. As the influence of Byzantine art had reached
Hungary, for example Szekszárd, it undoubtedly should have reached Dacia Traiana also.
The state founding Magyars had some contacts with the Christians before they settled in the Carpathian Basin.
The fact, that they did not devastate the cultic places can be explained by their good relationship with the Christians. If
the Magyar conquerors had found such Daco-Roman cultic places in Transylvania, those cultic places with their
Christian followers would have survived the original invasion of the Magyars as they did in Hungary. These
circumstances indicate the Balkan link to the orthodox clerical organizations of the Rumanians; the Bulgarian-Slav
liturgical language and the language of the Royal Chancellery; and several features of the early Rumanian culture
referring to the close Bulgarian-Slav relationship5.
The first Rumanian state organizations were founded several hundred years later than those of the surrounding
peoples: Wallachia in the second half of the 13th century, and at the beginning of the 14th century; Moldavia at the
beginning and the middle of the 14th century.
The Hungarian conquerors took possession of a territory having considerable artistic tradition6. The ruins of
Christian Cultic Places in Transylvania
the Roman province and the art of the Slays living within the boundaries of the Hungarian State increased the artistic
culture of the Hungarians. The same can hardly be said about the Vlachs. The oldest Rumanian Orthodox church was
built in the 13th century, it can be found in Demsus. According to Károly Kós “ is a primitive Rumanian art-work of
Byzantine style”7. László Köváry said: “It is probably a crypt raised over an early Christian church, the Longinus’ ruins..
.Considering its size it is very small even for a Vlach church8. It is one of the most marvelous and oldest buildings in our
country [historical Hungary]. Its steeple originated from the 10th century. Some of our historians think that it is a Roman
church, while others believe it is of Gothic origin.”
The church, as we have mentioned, was built in the 13th century. This in accordance with the fact that a
Hungarian document,, which mentions a Rumanian population in Southern Transylvania for the first time, originated
from 12109. The late date of the building of the first Vlach church indicates that there were no Vlach inhabitants in
Transylvania in the period of the Hungarian settlement, and that the first Vlachs could not have appeared in the area
before the 12th century.
Neither the Roman society and its institutions, nor the settlements’ continuity can undoubtedly be determined.

In the one-time Roman cities, where traces of German and Avar settlements can be found, cemeteries and different buildings are providing proof that people used up parts of the ruined cities as building material for their houses10.
Mircea Pácurariu, professor of the Theological University in Nagyszeben (Sibiu)11, states, “In Doboka
(Dábîca), near Kolozsvár, some Christian churches that originated from the 10th- 11th centuries, were newly
discovered.” He did not state, what kind of churches are in question. Since he considers that these churches were built in
the 10th- 11th centuries, they must in all likelihood have been Hungarian churches. Pácurariu would probably talk about
the churches in greater details, if he could consider them of Rumanian origin.
The Vlach churches between the 14th and 17th centuries, following that of Demsus, were built by the
Moldavian and Wallachian voivodes, vassals of Hungary, on the estates in fee granted to them by the Hungarian kings
and the Hungarian voivodes in Transylvania. (We will talk about them later in chapter VII.)
Nicolae Stoicescu writes12 that Christian cemeteries, originating from the time before the Árpád’s conquest of
Hungary, were found in Dacia, in a part of present day Transylvania. Such tombs might have been found, but this does
not necessarily mean that they belonged to Rumanians, since there were Christians among the peoples of the Great
Migration, and they were buried as Christians. Objects, indicating their Christian belief, were placed with their bodies. (more on line)


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