Seven hills – a geographical location found in the heart of Rome
Urbs (Latin) – city.
Jupiter was the Roman king of Gods, is even depicted on Trajan’s Column as supporting the Roman cause in their wars against the Dacians.
The eagle (Aquila in Latin) was a symbol for the Roman army, and a symbol for Rome as the ideal ruler in the global sphere.
Mare Nostrum (Latin) – the Mediterranean Sea, literally translated to ‘Our Sea.’
At the Battle of Carthage (146 BCE), the last to fall was the Temple of Eshmun, where the wife of a Carthagian commander sacrificed her sons right in front of the Romans, then killed herself. The Romans attacked out of revenge and greed, killed all Carthagians, then wiped the city off the face of the earth.
Plutarch wrote in Pompey, on the fall of the Roman Republic: “Greed and personal rivalry… had brought the empire to such a pass… here the whole manhood and might of single state was involved in self-destruction – a clear enough lesson of how blind and how mad a thing human nature is when under the sway of passion.”
For the greed (greed for power and land) of Roman Emperors prompted and accelerated the collapse of moral integrity and tradition, by propelling a corrupt political system that undermined trust. Glory and power belonged to the riches, skills and expertise were no longer appreciated and honored. On the other hand, poverty and virtue were considered a stigma, and soon even the masses became to welcome and fill themselves with greed, thus bringing the foundation of the Empire to collapse.
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African wild dog or die Afrika Wilde Honde in Afrikaans, is a wilding with as many nicknames as, well, a pack of dogs: African hunting dog, Cape hunting dog, wild dog, hyena dog, painted wolf, painted dog, or – my favorite – ornate wolf. To the scientific world it is known as Lycaon pictus.
When the Ndebele people migrated southwards in the 17th century, along the eastern coast of Africa, pushed by winds and floods, they brought with them their colorful geometric patterns, their beads, and their large, bright smiles. A century or so later they were joined by the Nguni people fleeing eastwards, away from the wars of King Shaka in Natal.
Be it a folktale drawn from a hunter’s observations, or a tale meant to teach youngsters a lesson, it is to them that we owe the story of why the wild dogs hunt impalas and zebras.
At the beginning of time, their story goes, right after God had finished creating all His animals and was wiping his brow, His creatures would all play and live together. It was exciting to be alive, to smell the wind and taste the water, to feel the rain on one’s fur – or skin, or scales, or feathers – and to bask in the sun, and wonder at the stars.
So when the first wild dog became sick – it was a mother wild dog tired after taking care of a big litter of pups – naturally that all the other animals showed their concern.
An Impala with softly curved horns went to seek Hare right away, for Hare had great healing knowledge. Hare gave Impala a calabash full of medicine for Mother Wild Dog. Then he warned Impala not to turn back on its way back to Wild Dog’s den.
Alas, soon Impala’s nostrils flared picking up the fresh scent of a leopard – instinct above all – and she turned back, looking for a safer path. She held the calabash tightly in her mouth, she did, Oxpecker saw her, and everyone knew that Impala and Oxpecker were as close as heat to fire. Matriarch saw her too. Yet the medicine inside the calabash spilled nevertheless, as Hare predicted. Had Impala perhaps leaped too? She could have… poor Impala.
Zebra went to see Hare next, to ask for medicine for Mother Wild Dog. By now word of Impala’s misfortune had reached Hare, so he wasn’t in the least worried that he had to brew the same potion, for the same patient. Yet when he handed the medicine-filled calabash to Zebra, he gave her the same advice. Do not turn back from your path.
Zebra neighed softly in agreement, a small cloud of steam leaving her nostrils in the cool African dawn. Her short mane shook a bit too, and then she was off at a leisurely walk. Not even a drop will she waste, careful as she was not to spill the calabash. She loved Mother Wild Dog who always made sure to share her findings of fresh grass. Tiny clouds of dust lifted as her hooves touched the ground, the earth still full with moisture and morning dew.
On Zebra went, and the shadows were still long. Focused on her path she was, till something caught her eye. A movement in the grass. A long shadow, a slither. Zebra’s long lashes battered against her soft cheek, her nostrils flared, and more of her front teeth showed off for in the grass, near the road, Black Mamba was nesting. Waiting.
Instinct took over and Zebra turned from her path and, no matter how hard she held onto the calabash, it broke. The medicine spilled, a dark patch on the sandy road still visible today, the Ndebele people whisper.
Zebra neighed like she never neighed before, an anguished high-pitched sound. Her ears flicked back and forth, her eye rolled in her head and she even flicked her tail, lifting then lowering it.
It seemed to last forever, and nobody could tell when the Zebra’s neigh stopped and when the dog’s yelping and howling started. For the Wil Dogs’ den was right behind the turn in the road. The den where Mother Wild Dog lay sick.
Alas, they all knew that the terrible had happened. Mother Wild Dog did not make it.
Wild Dog stepped outside his den and saw Zebra standing over the broken calabash just like he’d seen Impala the day before. Next, Wild Dog howled, and as he lowered his head the call turned into a cackle of laughter, then a rumble of short raspy shouts.
In a blink of an eye another wild dog joined the call, then another, and another. It was heartbreaking to listen, yet everyone knew that things will not end there.
It didn’t, for to this day Wild Dog and his family chase and hunt Impalas and Zebras, this being their revenge for the death of Mother Wild Dog, who could have been saved if only Impala and Zebra would have listened to Hare’s advice and not turn back from their path.
Wild dogs live like wolves in a pack led by a male and female pair. Soon, their annual litter becomes the center of their daily lives. The cubs stay with the pack for about two years. Afterwards, some will break away to form their own packs, while others will remain with their mother and father. The average pack consists of ten to fifteen dogs.
AfricanWild Dogs start and end each day with a greeting ceremony, wrestling and playng. If one of the dogs gets hurt, the other dogs will take care of him. They will lick his wounds and bring him food.
But the cubs get the most attention. The mother gives birth to up to fifteen babies. There are a lot of mouths to feed and each member of the pack has to help take care of the cubs. At first the pups stay close to the den and they often have a babysitter while the other dogs hunt. When the big dogs return, they bring along meat for the cubs. Sounds whimsical, and it is, as the little ones love these bits of fresh meat.
Young wild dogs start moving along with the pack from the time they are three months. The older dogs will hide them in the bushes before a hunt and will always fetch them after the prey has been caught. The cubs then stand at the front of the feeding queue.
Herds of wild dogs use all kinds of sounds to talk to each other. They bark, chirp and cry.
At one time there were wild dogs in sub-Saharan Africa almost everywhere, but now they only live in a few places. In South Africa there are only 400 left in the wild and they are southern Africa’s most endangered meat eater. The largest group of wild dogs is located in the Kruger National Park.
Wild dogs live in groups of up to fifty and are very social. They migrate over large areas and that’s why they started colliding with people’s new habitats, as humans started building villages and farming on the wild dog’s land. One way to preserve the wild dog is to release herds into new, safe areas.
Die Afrika Wilde Honde
Wildehone leef soos wolwe in ‘n trop wat deur ‘n mannetjie en ‘n wyfie gelei word. Hul jaarlikse werpsel word die middelpunt van hul daaglikse lewe. Die welpies bly vir omtrent twee jaar in die trop. Dan kan party van hulle wegbreek om hul eie trop te vorm, terwyl ander by hul ma en pa blye. Die gemiddelde trop bestaan uit tien tot vyftien honde. Hulle begin en eindig elke dag met ‘n groetseremonie: hulle stoei en speel hasieoor dat dit klap. As een van die honde seerkry, pas die ander honde hom op. Hulle lek sy wonde en bring vir hom kos.
Maar die welpies kry die meeste aandag. Die ma kry ‘n werpsel van tot vyftien babas. Dis ‘n klomp monde om te voer en elke lid van die trop moet help om die welpies te versorg. Eers bly die kleintjies naby die gat en hulle het dikwels ‘n babawagter terwyl die ander honde jag. Wanneer die grotes terugkom, bring hulle vleis vir die welpies op. Klink grillerig, maar die kleintjies is dol oor dié happies.
Jong wildehondebegin op drie maande saam met die trop trek. Die ouer honde steek hulle voor ‘n jagtog in die bosse weg en gaan haal hulle nadat ‘n prooi gevang is. Die welpies staan voor in die tou vir kos.
Troppe wildehonde gebruik allerhande klanke om met mekaar te praat. Hulle blaf, kwetter en huil.
Op ‘n tyd was daar suid van die Sahare byna oral wildehonde, maar nou leef hulle net op ‘n paar plekke. In Suid-Afrika is daar net 400 in die natuur oor en hulle is suider-Afrika se mees bedreigde vleiseter. Die grootste groep wildehonde is in die Kruger-wildtuin.
Wildehonde woon in groepe van tot vyftig saam en is baie sosiaal. Hulle trek oor groot gebiede en dis hoekom hulle met mense begin bots het. Mense het op hul grong begin dorpe bou en boer. Een manier om die wildehond te bewaar, is om troppe in nuwe gebiede los te laat.
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When it comes to Transylvania, this spellbound geographical and historical province of Romania, its origin and etymology have always stirred debates. From the identity of the first settlers to the rights over the land and even the etymology of its name, the two schools of thought still engage in heated discussions. For me, as a Romanian, the explanation is crystal clear, and a long and interesting story it is. Do read it and let me know what your conclusions are.
Transylvania, what is its origin and the origin of its Romanian people?
Transylvania is a historical province located at the heart of Romania, bordered by the lush forests of the Carpathian Mountains at the west and south and the Apuseni Mountains on the west.
Transylvania has known civilization hiking through its forests and swimming in its rivers since the Paleolithic era, as the cave paintings of horses from Cuciulat, near Someș river, prove. The Neolithic Precriş culture left us the boulder head of the locals’ burial rituals.
Near Turdaș the remains of a giant Neolithic fortress were recently discovered, perhaps the first ever kingdom in the history of the world. And archeological findings dating from the Bronze Age tell stories of a settled population busy with farming, animal breeding (later, the fast Dacian horses being renowned), as well as apiculture, viticulture, hunting, fishing, crafting, tool making.
Over 600 archeological sites of which 26 fortifications from the First Iron Age, Hallstatt, were discovered across the territory of Transylvania, and, of course, incredible pottery. For millenniums, Transylvania was known as a land rich in gold, silver, iron and salt- read all about it here.
Words of Dacian origin related to viticulture are still in use today in Romanian language: butuc (stump), strugure (grape), curpen (tendril).
During the middle of the first century BC the Dacians living on current day Romanian territory, especially Transylvania, were led by Burebista.
Burebista, “the first and greatest of the kings of Thrace.”
The Dionysopolitan decree made in honor of Acornion.
Why only Romanians speak a Latin Language in southeast Europe?
The origin of Romanian people
In 117 AD, when the Roman Empire had reached its most august magnitude under the ruling of Emperor Trajan, the Romanian territories at that time were known as Dacia and had just been conquered by Romans (after two bloody wars: 101-102, and 105-106).
Like with many other nations conquered by the Roman Empire, the local Geto-Dacian population (which was Thracian by origin) had to adopt and adapt to the Roman culture, including the Latin language. They had 150 years to do so, till the Roman Empire’s withdrawal from Dacia. Different times were those, with an average life expectancy of 30 to 35 years and maybe slightly longer for women. So what looks like two generations today, meant four or five generations during Classical Rome.
Today there are at least eighty words of Dacian origin still in use in the Romanian language, mostly names of plants, animals, forms of relief. For example, Romanian word for Danube: Dunăre, derving from Donawi, Dunawi.
How Latin language was assimilated by Dacians during Roman occupation
I was reading an article about how Latin was assimilated by Dacians and how the new, Latin words were used alongside the native vocabulary, still in use. Think of synonyms. For example white, alb in Romanian is still in use today. The Latin form, albus, denoted the color, generally speaking. But the synonym for white kept from Dacian language, bardzu (and still in use today in a few areas of Transylvania) is more specific, bălțată being used to describe animals whose fur is only speckled with white.
“The high number of Latin terms in agriculture, animal husbandry and the shepherds’ life prove that, besides the shepherds who drove their flocks throughout Romania’s territories, contributing by their movement to standardizing the language, there were also sedentary Romanians employed in farming and stock breeding”
Sextil Pușcariu, Limba română
After the Roman withdrawal from Dacia and until the 4th century AD many neighboring tribes came to Transylvania, stayed for a while, took what they could and then went their separate ways – as you can read in my previous blog post here. Then the Slavs also visited, stayed longer as they were peaceful tribes, mingled with the local Daco–Roman population. Till the 9th century when the Bulgarian Empire stretched over Transylvania, coming from the south of Danube river although the degree to which most of the territory in Transylvania was under Bulgarian control is disputed.
The period of late antiquity and early Middle Ages, especially in Eastern Europe, does not provide much information. Nor for local Daco-Romanian population, nor for invaders, be it Bulgarians or Hungarians. But what does remain is the language used by the local population, the Dacians, reflected in contemporary vocabulary as well as in the names of cities and the geographical forms of relief, especially rivers, and in the folklore and the local traditions.
As the Romans withdrew from Dacia (Transylvania included), I believe it is exactly the apparition of the new, various invaders who came in waves for almost 1 000 years that helped the native Daco-Romanian population outline and strengthen its national identity. A pattern of establishing new relationships between the inhabitants of Dacia, Latin speakers, and the invaders would have also developed, while the product would have emerged as Vlachs. And instead of one place we can pinpoint on a map, there would have been a multitude of such places of origin from where the newly formed nation and its spirit would have spread out to the larger areas, the ones we know of for certitude today.
During the last fifty years archeological discoveries have unearthed more than 2000 settlements and necropolises discovered over the entire territory of Romania and dating between the 9th and 11th centuries. They show a demographical concentration in the plains, hills, highlands, but also in the subcarpathian areas, revealing various degrees of political organization. For example at Biharea, where Menumorut’s fortress was located, and around it, were discovered by I. Crişan, the remains of 133 archeological sites of Romanian and Romanian-Slav villages, fairs, and citadels dating from the 8th – 11th century, proving the existence of a Romanian, indigenous civilization and culture.
To summarize, we can see that most of Romania was part of Roman Empire and remained so for five generations, as were all of today’s Latin speaking European countries. Geto-Dacians learned Latin, as the words of Latin origin still in use in Romanian language today prove. After Romans withdrew from Dacia, a solid Latin speaking population stayed behind, away from the main roads, inhabiting deserted Roman temples and the sacred mountains, where they found refuge and peace. The tribes that washed over Romanian territories in the following years influenced the language and the culture of the Romanian people, in turn borrowing from them into their own culture, co-habituating with the local Romanian population. Latin names of rivers, agricultural terms, animal husbandry and terms used in a shepherds’ life still in use today all prove the existance of a strong Latin civilasation living throughout the centuries in today’s Romania.
Nestor’s chronicle (Povest vremennykh let) on the history of Slavs in Romania and the presence of Romanians, Vlachs, in Transylvania
Chronicle of Nestor or Kiev Chronicle or The Russian Primary Chronicle is a medieval historical work offering detailed accounts of the early history of eastern Slavs to the beginning of the 12th century. The chronicle was compiled in Kiev around 1113, based on materials from Byzantine chronicles, Slavonic literary sources, official documents, and oral sagas. The earliest manuscript still existing is dated to 1377. While the authorship was traditionally attributed to monk Nestor, modern scholars considers the chronicle to be a composite work.
Nestor’s chronicle provides us with some of the oldest testimony of the Romanians by referring to relationships between the Wallachians, the white Ugrii, and the Slavs. The same chronicle refers to the Hungarian’s initial advance though the Verecke mountain pass towards the Tisa Plain, or Tizsa, and how the Hungarians fought the Wallachians and the Slavs living here (Tisa plains are located west of today’s north-west border of Romania).
For it was through the Verecke mountain pass that in 895 the Hungarian tribes entered the Carpathian Basin and during the next two centuries established the Kingdom of Hungary.
11th century Historian Gardizi and his Book, The Ornament ofHistories, on the Romanians living in Transylvania
Gardizi was an author and historian living in the mid-eleventh century. In his work The Ornament of Histories he mentions the people in the Roman Empire, placed between Russians, Bulgarians and Hungarians, on a territory north of Danube and a mountain that can be easily identified with the Carpathians. He describes them as people more numerous than the Hungarians, but politically weaker. Dare I say it out loud, Daco-Romans?
Țara, country, its etymology and what its use on Romania’s political map of the IX – XIII centuries means
Țara in Romanian means land or country. It has an archaic form țeară. It derives from the Latin terra, ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *ters- (“dry”). (Wikipedia)
What is the significance of Țara Bihorului, Țara Oașului, Țara Maramuresului, Țara Romanilor, Țara Iaşilor, Țara Severinului, Țara Hategului, Țara Zarandului, Țara Alba, Țara Fagarasului, Țara Oltului on the map of Romanian political counties during IX – XIII centuries above? It shows that those political entities had a judicial community and a leader, that small communities of Romanians were organised in counties, Țara. Thus were territories already inhabited – at the time of the Hungarian invasion of Transylvania’s west territories.
According to Romanian historian Gheorghe Bratianu:
“The equivalent of terra [Țara] from the medieval documents has the implication of a judicial community, of a region in which a certain local custom influences and determines the administration of justice… and which – as consensus – the leader of the country has to consider.”
Romanian historian Gheorghe Bratianu
The Latin etymological origin of the Transylvania noun
Transylvania, etymologically speaking, means beyond the forest.
Transylvania, etymologically speaking, means “beyond the forest.” In Latin, trans means “beyond” or “on the other side of”, deriving in turn from from Proto-Indo-European “trhnts,” from “terh-” meaning “through, throughout, over.” It is found in Celtic too, as “trānss”, keeping its meaning. And in Latin, silva means “wood, forest”.
It is easy to see why outlanders would refer to Transylvania as the land beyond the forest, surrounded as it was – and still is – by the Carpathian Mountains, rich in coniferous and secular, lofty oak trees.
Did you know? On the plains once found between the gentle slopes of the Apuseni Mountains (west on the map above) and the low plain of Tisa (the river along north-west and west on the map), once stood an impressive deciduous forest. It was during the 18th century, that it started to be cut down and to make space for agricultural fields.
Also… at the confluence of Tisa with quite a few rivers, among them Someş, Criş, Mureş, and Timiş on the map above, during antiquity and the Middle Age there was a rage of deltas and swamps.
In his book From Zalmoxix to Genghi Han, Romanian religious historian, philosopher and writer Mircea Eliade writes that when a nation’s ethnicity is the image of an animal, there is always a religious explanation behind it. We don’t know yet why, but we do know from Strabon that Dacians were the first to call themselves dáoi (wolves).
How interesting to discover this about Dacians, while the land where they lived, surrounded by forested mountains, was (later, in 10th century) known as “terra ultra silvam” -land beyond the forest. Then “Ultra Silvam” in a 1075 document, becoming Ultrasilvania in Medieval Latin, and eventually Transylvania.
A Mercurius Princeps Ultrasilvanus, a Transylvanian Voievode or ruler, was even mentioned in a document dated 1103.
The first Medieval Latin name for Transylvania, Ultrasylvania or terra Ultrasilvana dates from 10th – 11th century, at a time when Hungarian border still stretched to the west of the Apuseni Mountains (western Romanian Carpathians).
Codrul Frate cu Romanu’ – The Woodland, Romanian’s Brother – The forest in Romanian folklore and its symbology
From Dacian times, the woodland and the Romanians have been two inseparable entities. The forest has been, in turn, temple and refuge for the warrior, the citizen and, later, for the hajduk, haiduc (a Robin Hood-like figure from southeastern Europe during the 17th – 19th century). Even the rulers of the Ottoman Empire, during its two and a half centuries old warfare against the Romanians, had the thick forests of these lands on their three most difficult factors in fighting a war. The other two were the majestic Carpathian mountains and the cold winters.
the name of the Teleorman County (in south of Wallachia, Tara Romaneasca, by the Danube, comes from Turkish (Cumanic) Deli orman, crazy forest.
in Romanian folklore and mythology the trees (sanctuaries for Gods and Demons), especially the sycamore, fir tree, willow, and apple tree are seen as guides, accompanying a human’s soul along his last road.
in Romanian symbology the tree of life represents rebirth and forever life.
“Codru’ este mare Si lumina n-are; Codru este des Intri, nu mai iesi…”
“The woodland is wide And has no light; The woodland is thick You enter, never to leave…”
“Sufletul statea Si mi se ruga: Brade, brade! Sa-mi fii frate: Intinde-ti, intinde, Eu sa le pot prinde Varfurile tale, Sa trec peste ele”
“My soul stopped And it implored: Fir tree, fir tree! My brother thou be: Spread thou, spread Your tree tops shed, May I over ’em fled.”
Romanian ritualistic funeral song, translated from Romanian by Patricia Furstenberg
The Hungarian etymological origin of the Transylvania noun
The earliest Hungarian records of Gesta Hungarorum, Chronicleof Anonymous
One of the earliest Hungarian records is Gesta Hungarorum, The Deeds of the Hungarians, is a 12th century manuscript with a previous 11th century version. It tells the history of Hungarian tribes from the time they arrived on the Panonian Plains (west of today’s Romania) around 896 and until the times of King Andrei I (1046 – 1060).
In Gesta Hungarorum we find some of the earliest Hungarian records of the three Romanian duchies existing in Transylvania and to its west at the time of the first Hungarian invasion. Vlachs, Slavs and Bulgarians lived here, “Sclavi, Bulgarii et Blachii ac pastores Romanorum“(Blachii meaning Vlachs, the shepherds of Romans).
Transylvania lived up to its nickname being a pastoral land. Its wide valleys are fertile and its mountain slopes offer lush grazing for countless flocks of sheep.
Proof that Vlachs, Romnaians, lived here is the use of word duca, ducatus in Gesta Hungarorum. Duca derives from Latin dux, ducis, meaning leader. Only Romanians living here would have called their leader duca, although eventually it was replaced by the Slavonic Voievod.
The Hungarian etymological explanation for the noun Transylvania
During the X – XI centuries, pushed by tribes of Bulgars and Pechenegs, the Hungarian tribes left he north steppe and settled on the plains of Crișana, between Tisa river on the west, Apusei Mountains to the east, Someș river in the north and Mureș river in the south, where they would have found tribes of Slavs and Avars, with Romaniansalready setteled higher up on the slopes.
Slavs have lived on the plains of Crișana for a few centuries now, while the highland region to the east, over the forests and into Transylvania, has a predominant Romanian, Latin-speaking population.
So the plain-loving Magyars of Hungarians found themselves surrounded by waters from three sides, and only forests on the rim of mountainous Transylvania shutting them off on the east. For Magyars, the space they took over was on this side of the forest, while what lay over the forest, on the other side of the forest, (ultra, trans) was unknown – the Duchy of Gelou.
In Hungarian erdő and ardo means forest. The first Hungarian name for Transylvania was Erde-elw, then Erdély, meaning the country over the forest.
It was only after year 1000 when King Stephen I of Hungary mass-converted the Hungarians to Christianity that Latin became the official language of Hungarian chancellery, thus Erdély translated to Ultransilvana, then Transilvana and eventually Transilvania, Transylvania. Various combinations have also been encountered, such as princeps Ultrasilvanus (for a leader), Provincia Transilvana, Ultrasilvam Regnum (Kingdom).
The first written evidence is from 1075: “Ultra silvam ad castrum quod vocatur Turda,” translating to “Beyond the forest to the castle which is Turda.”
The socio-cultural and historical setting at the time when Hungarian tribes settled west of Transylvania
To summarize the ethnogenesis of the Romanian people, the largest nation in southeast Europe (except for the Turkish one), we must list the three main constitutive ethnic elements: the native population (Geto-Dacians), the conquerors (Romans), and the migrating people (the Slavs).
The Slavs, who preferred the plains, called the mountainous region inhabited by the Geto-Dacian speakers of Latin either Zagoria (Slavic Zagore means beyond the mountains) or Vlahia.
When Hungarians first settled on the plains west of Apuseni Mountains the Slavs lived there. Hungarians call a Vlach Olah, which suggests that they borrowed from the Slavs the first information about neighboring places and peoples.
What the modern DNA analysis saysabout the origin of Romanians
Throughout millennia, Romania found itself on the chessboards of many empires, and a major crossroad between Europe and Asia.
What can the study of Romanian DNA tell us that we don’t already know, or can it shine a light on a new concept regarding the continuity of Romanian people on these lands?
A recent study analyzed mtDNA (Mitochondrial DNA) sequences from Romanian Neolithic samples.
Mitochondrial DNA, unlike nuclear DNA, is inherited from the mother, while nuclear DNA is inherited from both parents. Thus mtDNA is important because testing mtDNA allows for investigation into one’s maternal line and can help identify living relatives whose mtDNA is similar to yours, as well as ancient migration routes your maternal ancestors may have taken.
For this study, mtDNA from ten sites from the current territory of Romania, spanning a time-period from the Early Neolithic to the Late Bronze Age, were analyzed.
mtDNA data from Early Neolithic farmers of the Starčevo Criş culture in Romania (the sites of Cârcea in south, Gura Baciului in north, and Negrileşti to the east on the map below) confirm their genetic relationship with those of the LBK culture (Linienbandkeramik Kultur, Linear Pottery Culture) in Central Europe Neolithic, 5500–4500 BC, and they show little genetic continuity with modern European populations.
mtDNA data from Middle-Late Neolithic cultures of Boian (south east of Decea Muresului), Zau (east of Decea), and Gumelniţa (south east) had a much stronger effect on the genetic heritage of the European populations.
This study shows that Middle Neolithic populations, ‘M_NEO’,that lived in what is present-day Romania/Transylvania and modern populations from Romania are very close, in contrast with Middle Neolithic and modern populations from Central Europe.
Such genome analyses of living populations show that intra-European diversity is a continuum (with small exception). Romanians’ DNA is close to that of their Balkan and East European neighbors. Here, Romanian DNA is closest to that of Albanians, Greeks, and Bulgarians, then Macedonians, and further from the DNA of central and eastern Europeans like Hungarians, Czechs, Poles and Ukrainians.
On the other hand, the Balkans, because of the various migrations, are the most genetically diverse region in Europe.
But the Romans themselves, were a genetic pool already when their Empire reached its peak, think of the massive immigration into Rome and its vast army alone, spanning three continents, and tens of millions of people across Europe, the Near East, and North Africa.
The connection between central European mtDNA and mtDNA from the Romanina provinces, Transylvania, Wallachia, Dobrudja, and Moldavia
genetic affinities, illustrated by the mtDNA haplogroup frequencies, among the four Romanian provinces;
gene flow between Moldavia-Wallachia and Moldavia-Transylvania, suggesting gene flow between these provinces (mainly due to the substantial workforce movement from Moldavia towards these two provinces throughout the communist period);
genetic similarity of the Wallachia, Moldavia, and Dobrudja groups with the Balkans, especially the Slavic population;
Transylvania population closely related to the Central European groups, as influenced by the topology of the Romanian territory.
The Genetic pool of Roman Empire at the time of Dacian occupation
As we can see from the genetic map of Imperial Rome at the time they conquered Dacia, presented below, Rome and the Roman Empire was already a cosmopolitan place, people with different ancestry mingled and cohabited.
This is the genetic pool (eastern-Mediterranean, near-eastern, European, Mediteranean) that would have mingled with the Geto-Dacian own genetic pool – to later form the Romanian DNA.
You can follow the short explanation below, where Stanford researchers and their European colleagues drew on ancient DNA to construct the first genetic history of Rome. Their data reveal major shifts in the ancestry of people living in Rome, as well as several smaller shifts corresponding to important events in the history and politics of Rome. The original research is here.
I am still to find a more recent study looking at how present-day southeastern European populations was created, perhaps by aligning Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman, and Medieval groups mtDNA and comparing them to present-day mtDNA of various European populations – while considering that there is a higher population density in the eastern Mediterranean Europe than it is in the west. Also, I would like to read a study looking into genetic links between past populations inhabiting the Romanian territories.
Sources used in Transylvania, Romania, Its Origin and Etymology
Aurel-Pup, I., Radacinile Medievale ale regiunii (provinciei) istorice Transilvania (secolele IX – XIII) Bogdan, Gh., Memory, Identity, Typology: An Interdisciplinary Reconstruction of Vlach Ethnohistory Chronicle of Nestor, The Russian Primary Chronicle, Britannica Cocoş, R., Schipor, S., Hervella, M. et al. Genetic affinities among the historical provinces of Romania and Central Europe as revealed by an mtDNA analysis. BMC Genet18, 20 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12863-017-0487-5 Collins., N. Stanford researchers lay out first genetic history of Rome Djuvara, N., O Scurta Istorie a Romanilor Povestita celor Tineri Hervella M, Rotea M, Izagirre N, Constantinescu M, Ancient DNA from South-East Europe Reveals Different Events during Early and Middle Neolithic Influencing the European Genetic Heritage Sfrengeu, F., Dr. Aspects Regarding the Evolution of the Political Organization in North-Western Romania at the Beginning of the Middle Age Ziarul Renasterea, Transilvania sau Ardeal, Prof. I. Lupas, Cluj, Editia 18 Februarie 1940
Released at the end of a year overshadowed by a pandemic, Fincher’s movie Mank reveals itself like the glowing star atop the Christmas tree, and we look here at the significant symbols and symbolism Mank the movie carries.
Symbolism means an artistic or a lyrical expression obtained by using an image to reveal an idea or an emotion, to unmask a hidden concept or a state of mind.
In a movie, many things can be symbolic such as color, an object, the setting, the use of light in a scene, camera angle, the transition from one scene to the next, even a feeling.
What is exciting about symbolism in a movie, a book, or a work of art is that it can carry different meanings to different viewers, based on their perception and life experiences, and even based on the state of mind while watching the film or reading the novel.
Let’s look at three symbols that appear in David Fincher’s movie Mank. Attention, this blog post contains spoilers.
The Symbolism behind Marion and Mank atop the Scaffolding
Mank’s (Herman J. Mankiewicz) first meeting with actress Marion Davies takes place in 1929 (as we learn from one of his flash-backs), while Marion is filming a glamorous Old West movie on the grounds of Hearst’s massive estate, San Simeon.
Marion is about to be burned at the stake atop a pyramidal scaffolding and, during a shooting break, she asks Mank for a “ciggie”. Mank recognizes her as well as her wit and, although he wrestles a drunkard migraine, climbs the stairs to offer the diva a cigarette, like the gentleman he is.
“Watch those stairs. They’re treacherous,” Marion calls out. “Every moment of my life is treacherous,” Mank replies in jest.
Mank by David Fincher, after a screenplay by Jack Fincher
The two enjoy a vivid conversation atop the scaffolding. We see them profiled against a brilliant sky, lined with fluffy Hollywood-style clouds (with their own symbol).
This scene takes place eleven years before the major events of the movie (Mank’s six weeks job of writing a script for Orson Welles), and both Mank and Marion are on top of the world (see the sky profiled in the background ad the height they are placed on); both are still filled with ideals, and both are still in the process of throwing themselves into their dreams – represented by the brilliant clouds overhead.
We see them standing above the Hollywood crowd, above L. B. Mayer and William Randolph Hearst, who will later reduce both Mank and Marin to pawns.
But we also see Mank and Marion on a scaffolding, like lambs about to be sacrificed if they don’t give up their dreams (Mank doesn’t, Marion does) – for this is Hollywood, and here everything is worth sacrificing for the sake of ‘the magic of the movies.’
The low angle camera shot used during this scene highlights Mank and Marion’s moral superiority during this time in the story.
I thought that this particular shot is a nod towards ‘Gone with the Wind’. It makes a reference to a scene between Scarlett and her father, Gerald O’Hara. His words were:
‘Do you mean to tell me, Katie Scarlett O’Hara, that Tara, that land, doesn’t mean anything to you? Why, land is the only thing in the world worth workin’ for, worth fightin’ for, worth dyin’ for, because it’s the only thing that lasts.’
Gone with the Wind by by Victor Fleming, produced by David O. Selznick, based on a book by Margaret Mitchell
In the movie Mank, the only thing that matters (for Mank and Marion) is the quality of the work they produce.
Symbolism behindMank and Marion’s Moonlight Stroll about the Zoo Garden Owned by Hearst
Leading to this scene:
It is 1933. During one of Mank’s flashbacks, we join a glamorous birthday party at San Simeon where the Julia Morgan–designed castle and Hearst’s inheritance are located. Champagne flows, all are gay, and a live piano punctuates a careless conversation.
When the discussion turns to Hitler’s speech followed by kissing babies, as witnessed by Marion Davies during the newsreel of a movie she watched recently, only Mank and Marion point out the potential danger of the growing Nazi regime, while L.B. Mayer (MGM’s co-founder and Birthday Boy at Heart’s party) and Irvin Thalberg (Mayer’s right hand and head of production) reveal their ignorance of the Nazi leader. Then the conversation turns to current affairs and the political climb of socialist Upton Sinclair, Marion makes a faux pas and leaves the party room.
Next, we witness a nod from Sara Mankiewicz towards her husband, showing us how well she knows him. Thus Mank, always the emotional caregiver, always the indulgent father, follows Marion into the garden to comfort her.
Mank and Marion enjoy a Moonlight Stroll through Hearst’s Zoo Garden:
We find Mank and Marion outdoors, away from the glitz and glam of the party, and we witness a true camaraderie blossoming between two fellow New Yorkers, both outcasts in their own way here, in Hollywood (Davies the child of a working-class family from Brooklyn, Mankiewicz the child of German-Jewish immigrants). Mank seems to be the only man (in a world dominated by boys) to notice and appreciate Davies’ intellect. While Marion Davies looks up at Mank, asking him for advice to further her career as an actress, and not only as a prized mistress of a newspaper magnate (Hearst.)
And now we discover the symbolism behind Mank and Marion’s garden walk.
It is past dusk, the sky is laden with plumb and here and there, between the trees, we spot Hearst’s castle-like mansion. The gardens Mank and Marion stroll through have pathways bordered with neatly trimmed hedges in heavy shades of iron and charcoal, while Marion’s dress gleams in the moonlight like a gray pearl.
What is the symbol behind Marion’s gleaming party dress?
We don’t know what color her dress is. It could be gold, after all, she is a top-ranked Hollywood movie star, but it could just as well be satin pink, to match her rosy cheeks, as Mank states, or perhaps to match Hearst’s private nickname for her, Rosebud.
Further they stroll, past monkeys in a cage, just as Marion laments that ‘people think because you’re on the cover of “Modern Screen,” they know you.’ The monkeys flare up and Marion turns towards them and shouts out her anger, ‘Nobody, but nobody makes a monkey out of William Randolph Hearst!’ – then laughs.
The monkeys jump on the cage’s walls, yet they can’t reach Marion – much like a symbol for a flash of paparazzi.
And on Mank and Marion’s stroll, under the moonlight, until they reach the maze made of shrubs, punctuated by garden statues and topiary. We get a sense of opulence even here, away from Hearst’s mansion. The maze is a symbol for crafting one’s future, a task that is never a straight walk. The menagerie of wild animals is a symbol for whimsy, for the make-believe that movie-business is.
The scene is lit by ball-shaped garden lights on stands. They glow in the night like one hundred moons, all casting their light on Hearst’s collection of wild animals. Are Mank and Marion part of this collection? We now spot elephants in the far background.
There is a visual game of sharp shadows here, with Marion’s platinum blond curls glowing as if under their own spotlight, even in the darkness of the night, as though she has a designated spotlight forever shining brightly down on her. It is the spotlight Hearst keeps her under by the use of his newspapers, building her fame, for which he spends millions of dollars.
But Marion’s glowing curls seem to be lighting up the garden as much as the ball-shaped garden lights, presenting her like another one of Hearst’s prized possessions. This media-magnate who controls the news and owns a zoo, with caged monkeys, herds of silent elephants, and giraffes too, also has his very own movie Star, always kept under a spotlight, lit from above.
Among all this madness Mank and Marion share a heart-to-heart conversation by the water fountain. He is in the shadows, she is under the spotlight; a man of many dark shades (a big mouth and addictions) and a glowing Diva.
Mank and Marion’s night garden stroll is their last innocent game before all hell brakes loose; MGM gets involved in politics, Marion Davies leaves MGM for Warner Brothers, Mank writes his script based on Hearst (pulling Marion in it).
Mank and Marion’s night garden stroll is a playful exchange of wits. On one side, we have a gifted actress who is clever enough to understand and accept the compromises she has to make in exchange for ‘making an exit’. On the other side, we have an alcoholic writer who chooses the exact opposite course of action, that of being a participant observer who eventually learns that words throw long shadows even after their entertaining value has evaporated.
Their garden moonlight stroll reveals a game of light and shadow, of night and day, of right and wrong, co-existing, much like life at Hollywood must be, for actors and writers.
Mank’s Shades of Black and White
The idea of a black and white film might put off some movie-viewers, yet once watched, the monochrome Mank movie makes sense through its multiple gray-shaded pigments.
It was in keeping with Jack Fincher’s wish, his father and the writer of the original Mank script back in the ‘80s that David Fincher held the production until a production company (Netflix International Pictures) finally accepted to shoot Mank in black and white.
By shooting Mank in black and white, David Fincher forces the viewer to focus on the story and its characters, eliminating the distraction added by splashes of color. The black and white film draws the eye into following the actors, it emphasizes their performance. It is the perfect recipe for a movie that deals with actors portraying other actors.
By shooting Mank in black and white Fincher zoomed in, and brought the story-line and the ‘40s Hollywood drama into focus. His zooming creates an instant nostalgia, but not over a by-gone era, yet over a loss of moral values. It symbolizes Mank’s nostalgia over the debut of his career at Hollywood when all the doors were open, and were gilded, and he seamed to have reached the stars. It is Marion’s nostalgia too, over a time when her career was still on the rise and Hollywood was just that, a movie-making industry, not a business.
Yet Mank is not monochrome per se. It has plenty of silver in it and this gives the film an aura of eerie wistfulness as if Fincher does more than re-creating the past, he communicates with it, just as Mank does with his flash-backs (communicating in a way with his past self). The use of black and white makes the story-line feel more intense, it has immediacy, we sense Mank approaching his six weeks deadline; we taste his impending need for alcohol; we witness his climbing of the Hollywood ladder and his rapid falling out with Hearst.
Because the movie is in black and white, the audience can relate to Mank’s point of view. Hollywood is not all that glamorous as Mank thought it to be when he first arrived, moving from the east coast and trading his career as a playwright and drama critic for that of a Hollywood screenwriter.
Life in Hollywood is filled with threat, layered corruption, even an underworld of crime that creates weaponized movies, and no-one can escape its suppression. Mank believes he can, by going after Hearst the magnate, by exposing him, escaping his toxic friendship. Mank hopes he can free the monkey in the parable of the “organ grinder’s monkey” (see below for the symbology behind the “organ grinder’s monkey”).
Yet Mank, after the release of the American (Citizen Kane) is never to write another script again. He never works again, he never writes an original screenplay again. And he will never fight for credit again.
Shooting in black and white also afforded Fincher his darkness and shadow signature. At times, Mank the movie looks like a glossy ‘40s magazine, especially when it affords Marion Davies to glow in the scene. And this, the old-world glamour, is something Fincher is familiar with since the times he filmed Madonna’s ‘’Vogue,’ and it is how he shakes off any old-fashioned connotations that might come with making a black-and-white movie in the 21st century.
By shooting in black-and-white, Fincher created a delicate, old-world look that is fit for a contemporary of Citizen Kane rather than a film merely about Kane’s creator (Mank). And Fincher, or rather Ren Klyce, the sound designer, gave it a sound fit for Hollywood’s golden age, warm, albeit crackly, popping, that evokes a sense of remembrance, of daydreaming rather than reality.
Black and white (with the many gray shades in between, with the glistening silver, the pearls, the glowing beige) symbolizes the glamour of classical cinematography. Even the music for the movie has been recorded with older microphones.
The symbolism behind Fincher’s use of black and white to shoot Mank resides in the kaleidoscope of shades of greys found between dark and light, evil and righteousness, corruption and idealism. The two timelines that spiral around one another in Mank, each with their own threads of plots, form a symbolic kaleidoscope-like image in shades of grey, as there is no right or wrong in Hollywood, there is no good choice or bad choice, anything goes as long as it’s for the sake of the movie.
Fincher and Erik Messerschmidt (Mank’s director of photography) used a RED specially-made black-and-white camera, the RED Monstro Monochrome (Monstrochrome).
‘The Monstrochrome captures black and white imagery with more precise resolution and enhanced light sensitivity. Capturing monochrome natively is better than shooting in color and then eliminating the saturation in post. What you will get is a real, pure, stunning, accurate black, and white artistic image.’
Fincher tells Mark Harris for Vulture that they shot the movie in super-high resolution, then they softened it ‘to an absurd extent to try to match the look of the era’, and added ‘little scratches and digs and cigarette burns.’
Symbolism Behind the Parable of the Organ Grinder Monkey
The parable of the organ grinder monkey is mentioned only twice in Mank, yet it is what fuels Mank in going after Hearts, it is the motor that pushed the action forward.
Mank is the first to mention the parable of the organ grinder monkey to John Houseman.
John Houseman: Why Hearst? Outside his own blonde Betty Boop, you were always his favorite dinner partner. Herman Mankiewicz: Are you familiar with the parable of the organ grinder’s monkey?
Mank the Movie
What is the parable of the organ grinder’s monkey?
Tagging someone as an “organ grinder’s monkey” means that they do anything a powerful person wants them to do, without having any real power. They make money for their boss without whose presence they are nothing – yet they don’t know it.
Mank first heard about the parable of the organ grinder’s monkey from ‘Willie’ Hearts, during what was to be their last encounter, albeit a drunken one for Mank.
At this moment in time Hearts sees Mank as his grinder monkey, whom he thought to be a “Shakespeare of talking pictures.” Yet Hearts knows that Mank would not have been afforded the audience and the connections he made has it not been for Hearst and his glamorous parties.
And Mank understands the parable of the grinder monkey and his associate with the ape, but it is now, after Sinclair lost the campaign due to Meyer and Thalberg’s smear campaigns; after his friend and co-worker Shelly Metcalf commits suicide, that he just discovers that his words are important. That he can be a monkey without an organ-grinder.
But can he?
It is the same parable, placing Mank as the grinder monkey, that Mank refers to at the beginning of the story, when he chats to Houseman.
Yet Mank sees himself as a monkey who can prove his organ grinder wrong. A monkey who will free himself and will still be able to sing, dance, and receives everyone’s attention. On his own. This is why Mank went after Hearst. This is why he fought his demons and finished the screenplay.
Yet no one can destroy the parable of the organ grinder’s monkey, for without his organ-grinder, the monkey is just a primate. While without his monkey, the organ grinder, by definition, can always find himself another monkey.
Perhaps this is what David Fincher and his father Jack Fincher, who wrote the screenplay, tried to prove in the first place, by focusing on Mank’s character. That the monkey can live outside the parable of the organ grinder’s monkey. As Fincher told Mark Harris for Vulture, in an interview, ‘My dad, […] was a journalist, lived by the axiom that the greatest entertainment was written by people who understood the real world.’.
Have they succeeded in giving the monkey a new life in the spotlight? Had they aimed as high as Mank did when writing his screenplay? Or have they shows that the parable is true and that the monkey’s chance of survival without his organ grinder is just in the monkey’s perception?
Either way, I think that the parable of the organ grinder’s monkey will prove to be that gold thread that will render the movie Mank timeless.
Mank by David Fincher is a kaleidoscope in black and white, portraying the golden era of Hollywood in a modern way, with its good and bad, with its stars adorned atop a scaffolding and its moonlit secrets, and with its monkey and organ grinder too. Perhaps Fincher placed less symbols in his movie than I enjoyed picking, but this is the magic of ‘the magic of the movies,’ isn’t it?
In Wish I May, Wish I Might, Own Transylvania by Tonight I tell the story of the very first attempt to conquer Transylvania led by Hungarian tribes (Magyars).
This is the third post in my series on Transylvania, living and understanding the history of this Romanian historical province. During the last year I read extensively on the subject as part of my research for an upcoming historical novel set in Medieval Transylvania.
Join me and let’s dive into the turbulent waters of the Balkan history since this area from the southeastern Europe was often the subject of imperial greed and national goals.
Many said, few believed, yet they all came to see for themselves, and to take with both hands when the legend proved true… many said that the gold found in the Carpathian Mountains bordering Transylvania, as well as the salt and the iron found here underfoot, in the Carpathian Basin, were the best gold, the strongest iron, and the whitest salt there was.
If you read Stories and History of Transylvania, Prehistory to Roman Dacia and Transylvania during the Roman Dacia and until 4th century AD, you will definitely want to find out:
First, what happened in Transylvania between the 4th and the 9th century?
Starting with the end of the 3rd century the Carpathian-Danubian space has witnessed an intense process of migrations. First were the German tribes, the Goths (235 – 376). They soon disappeared south of Danube, chased away by Huns and Mongolian horsemen, (375 – 454), living from predatory expeditions and soon disappearing too, like a quick fire, after being defeated.
Then the Slavs arrived, people that were more sedentary, less predatory, between the 7th and the 9th century, choosing to settle in the valleys and the planes of Dacia (mostly Moldavia in east and Muntenia at the north of Danube), while the remainder of the Dacian population still occupied the forested hills and the mountains, living as farmers and shepherds – in an attempt to hide, as Christians, from the pagan tribes.
But they did mingled, eventually, and truth is that the Slavonic language influenced the Latin language spoken by the Romanians. Although the Slavs learned Latin too, but speaking it with a heavier accent that, in turn, seemed to have been adopted by the Romanian population. And we can hear it today, as Romanian is pronounced different compared to the other Romance languages such as French, Italian, Sardinian, Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, Provenҫal, Rhaeto -Romanic (and let’s remember the lost Dalmatian too).
Romanian words of Dacian origin relate to household, body parts and animals:
“The high number of Latin terms in agriculture, animal husbandry and the shepherds’ life prove that, besides the shepherds who drove their flocks throughout Romania’s territories, contributing by their movement to standardizing the language, there were also sedentary Romanians employed in farming and stock breeding”
I. I. Rusu, Elemente autohtone în limba română – Romanian words of Dacian origin
The origin of the Romanians is to be found in the “Getae who had once ruled Dacia and the Romans commanded by Flacus”
Johannes Honterus, 16th century Transylvanian Saxon, renaissance humanist, Protestant reformer, theologian
When Slavs immigrated into the Dacian territory they did not give new names to places, but adopted their Daco-Roman names already in use, something that was only possible if there was a Daco-Roman population to tell them those names: Alutus became Olt, Maryssus became Mureș, Samus is Someș, Ordessos is Argeș, Pyretos-Porata became Prut.
Next, between the 8th century when the Avars visited and the 10th century when the Magyars came forward, the Bulgarian Tsar had time to extend his authority north of Danube, over a part of our lands, Muntenia and Transylvania. Much later more neighboring tribes visited, as well as the Székely and the Saxons (German migrants) in Transylvania, culminating with the Tatars in 1241.
Why would a neighboring tribe invade another land? For the promise of a better life, abundance of food and resources. A greener pasture. Although one must admit that their visit gave economy and social relations a boost,
Again, the wealth of resources found in the Southern Carpathians and Transylvania, salt, copper, iron and gold, becomes the reason of intense trade as well as foreign interest in this old territory of today’s Romania. The salt was a rare commodity in these regions and was essential for the nomadic herders, thus trade flourished along the Danube and its tributaries. And through trade, various cultures influenced one another.
The word român was first ever recorded in Romanian in The Book Palia de la Orăștie, 1581, the first Romanian translation of the Old Testament.
When the Hungarians (Magyars) arrived in Transylvania
The Hungarians (Magyars, how they call themselves), are people of Fino-Ugric descent who traveled from the Ural Mountains along Volga, then south west and settled in the Pannonic plain in the dusk of the first millennium.
Thus, it is written (by Anonymous) in Gesta Hungarorum, The Deeds of the Hungarians (a 12th century manuscript with a previous 11th century version), that Tuhutum (or Tétény) was one of the Seven Magyar Chieftains that lived with their clans along the Ural Mountains during the 9th – 10th centuries, around year 934. Tuhutum did not live to become chieftain based on his fighting skills alone, but through good planning and a cunning mind too.
One day Tuhutum heard of a rich land, called the Land Beyond the Forest, or Transylvania. And he felt his money pouch suddenly too light for his liking. And the more he thought about the riches they said that Transylvania owned, the more he felt his mouth water.
Perhaps he was a visionary too – and some might argue my reasoning. For he saw greener pastures where his people could live a better life. A land with enough iron for strong weapons, with forests filled with game and valleys drenched in sweet rivers, rich in fish. A land where a local population of not really warriors, but herders established within transhumance already lived. A land where life was good and promising.
Had Tuhutum’s mind worked like this? None can tell for sure, but we can presume. For the decision he made changed the lives of two nations, for ever.
Except that one thing stood in his way. More precise, three people: Gelou, Glad and Menumorut.
Gelou was the brave Vlach (ruler of Transylvania) – as mentioned in Gesta Hungarorum. Glad ruled over Banat (today south-west of Romania and part of Serbia). Menumorut ruled in the west, the lands between the rivers Mureș, Someș and Tisza . Oh, and the fact that the land he wanted so much was not his. Yet.
Wish I May, Wish I Might, Own Transylvania by Tonight – Tuhutum thought.
First, what was a Vlach? Where did the word came from and what does it mean?
Etymology of the term Vlach
A Vlach, from Proto-Germanic walhaz, is a Romance-speaker person or group of people, a speaker of a Latin language.
The first proto-Germanic word known to be used with this connotation was walhiska during Roman Iron Age, when on a bracteat (disc made of gold and engraved) was written in runic alphabet walhakurne, “Roman/Gallic grain” (gold coin).
The prefix walh– / walha-/ later wala– is important as it means foreign. In the Frankish Table of Nations compiled in 520 there is a mention of a the Walagothi or Ualagothi people, the Romance-speaking Goths, probably the Visigoths of Spain.
Later, a Walhaz(in proto-Germanic) became the name a Celtic tribe neighboring the Germanic people and known to Romans as Volcae (after a northern legend). By extension, Walhōzwas applied to any southern neighbors of the Germanic people – who by then were all Romanised. German speakers soon used the term Walhōz to name any Celt or Romanised tribe.
Walh– and walhiskfrom Old High German (750 – 1050) became Walch and welschin Middle High German (1050 – 1350), and Welsche in Early New High German (1350 – 1650) and Swiss German as the exonym (external name for a group of people) for Romance speakers.
Before 7th century, in Central and Eastern Europe Walhswas used in Proto-Slavonic (volxъ) to describe the Romance people, although the first source of Walhs usage comes from an 11th century writing by a Byzantine historian, George Kedrenos.
From the Slavs, Walhs was passed on to Hungarians, becoming Oláh when referring to Romanian Vlachs and Olasz when referring to Italians. From Hungarians and Romanians it sipped into the Ottoman Empire, the Turks using Ulahlar (to denote native Balkan Christian due to the cultural link between Christianity and Roman culture), to the Polish people (Włoch), while the Byzantines used Βλάχοι, Vláhi. In Serbia the term Vlach (Serbian Vlah, plural Vlasi) is used to refer to any Romanian speakers.
From 1222 we have the first written document (signed by Andrew II of Hungary) mentioning the Romanians in Transylvania and referring to the land where they lived as Vlach lands (“Terra Blacorum“). It was the Făgăraș Region. All these forms refer to the same group of people, Latin speaking people of the Balkans, living north and south of Danube – and later also to shepherd, as this was the occupation of many of the Vlachs of Central and Eastern Europe.
The Hungarian tribes under Tuhutum attack Vlach Gelou’s Transylvania
So Tuhutum sighed, and sighed some more, and thought of the easiest way to gain this rich land. Wish I May, Wish I Might…
First he sent a spy, a sly and clever man by the name of Ogmand, his most trusted man for their minds worked the same, to steal into that land of riches, like a fox would, and observe its people, their habits and trades, and mostly check if the land’s fertility is just as everyone said it was. Then return and report, and advise – will it be possible? Will it be easy for Tuhutum to gain ownership of this land? For Tuhutum wished for fame and riches.
Not long after, Ogmand returned in quick gallop and told Tuhutum that he felt like a wolf among lambs, for as far as human eyes could see the earth was fertile, fed by the sweetest of rivers, naming quite a few of them for they shone with the gold that mingled with sand through their riverbeds. He said next that the gold found here was of the purest kind, that salt is abundant too, as is the water from the wells.
When Tuhutum inquired of the people living in Transylvania, Ogmand said that they are of the worst kind, the Blachi (medieval Latin term for Vlach) and the Slavs, for they only know agriculture and forestry, trade and mining, but nothing of war.
“és azon föld lakosai az egész világon a leghitványabb emberek, mivel oláhok és szlávok, s mivel íjjon és nyilon kívül más fegyverük nincs, és hogy vezérük Gelou sem igen bátor és nincsenek körötte jó vitézek, hogy ellene mernének állni a magyarok merész-“
“and the inhabitants of that land are the worst people in the world, Olahs and Slavs, because except for the bow and arrow they do not have no other weapon and that their leader is Gelou, nor is he very brave, and there are no good knights around him, that they would dare to oppose the bold”
And then he added that they, the Olahs, have the poorest of weapons, even those kept for hunting, bows and arrows only and so is their leader, Duke Gelou, who does not own a great personal army nor is his army strong, especially after the continuous attacks of the neighboring tribes of Cumans and Pechenegs.
‘Can I take them?’ thundered Tuhutum and his eyes shone at the thought, life flooding in his cheeks, his mouth watering, thinking to himself ‘Wish I May, Wish I Might, Own Transylvania by Tonight.’ ‘An easy catch. They will not know how to fight you,’ said Ogmand with a bow.
On hearing about the richness of the Land Beyond the Forest, of its pure gold and abundant salt mines, this white gold his people craved (for cattle and for preserving the meats), and what easy a pray would be for him to take it all, and even from the mouth of his own man, Tuhutum rubbed his hands. Choosing to desert the other two Hungarian warlords, Zobolsu and Thosu, who were already fighting the Dutchy of Menumorout, Tuhutum sent ambassadors to sigh at the ears of Duke Arpad (the Arpads were the ruling dynasty of the Principality of Hungary in the 9th and 10th centuries and of the Kingdom of Hungary from 1000 to 1301), and to ask permission for him to march with his mighty troops beyond the forest, to Transylvania, and attack Gelou and its people.
Attack, not take over the land. And his request for attack was soon granted permission.
Word soon reached Gelou of invaders coming his way and perhaps of other Magyar troops having conquered the land of Menumorut, to the west. And Gelou gathered his army and rode as fast as the wind to the west border of his intra-Carpathian Duchy, to stop the Hungarian invaders. But Tuhutum had divided his army and sent one part upstream, to cross the Almaş water and surprise Gelou. The two troops indeed met and fought near Almaș and then Gelou was killed on the banks of the Căpuș River, while retreating to his Liteni Fortress on Someș, where only vultures dared. (Some sources mention Fortress Dăbâca as being Gelou’s stronghold).
Eventually Tuhutum’s wish came true and he became the ruler the Land Beyond the Forest, Transylvanian, a title he kept for himself as well as for his sons and their son’s sons.
This is how by the end of the early Middle Ages Transylvania had known a prosperous cultural diversity on a strong Dacian-Roman foundation, still assimilating newcomers. Now it was the Hungarian’s turn to explore its rich and prosperous land.
Over eighty voievods ruled Transylvania after Tuhutum until 1441 whenIancu de Hunedoaratook over(aka John Hunyadi, perhaps the first Transylvanian ruler of Romanian origin after Gelou), and forty more till 1599 when Mihai Viteazul (Michael the Brave) “unified” for the first time Wallachia, Transylvania and Moldavia.Around year 1000, when St. Stephen I become Prince of Hungarian, Transylvania is annexed to the Hungarian Kingdom.
Sextil Pușcariu noted that a number of Latin words from Daco-Romanian were preserved exclusively in Western Transylvania, Apuseni mountains, as regionalisms, this supporting the idea that here, in Transylvania, lived one of the main groups of the Daco-Roman population: ai (garlic), păcurar (shepherd), nea (snow), june (youth), pedestru (pedestrian).
The Hungarian conquest of Transylvania started as a small migration of tribes in search of a greener pasture (perhaps pushed by the Bulgar-Pecheneg coalition), while exploiting local conflicts and slowly strengthening their position in the Intra-Carpathian region, Transylvania, and to its west through military raids, gradually establishing a Christian Hungarian monarchy.
Also to read (coming soon): Romanian Transylvania, It’s Origin and Etymology
Sources for Wish I May, Wish I Might, Own Transylvania by Tonight:
Brie, Mircea, A Social History of Romanian Space. From the Beginning of Dacian state until the rise of Modernity Giurescu, Constantin C., The Making of the Romanian People and Language Hanners, Melodie, The History of the Romanian Language Niculescu, Alexandru. Outline History of the Romanian Language Rusu, I.I., Elemente autohtone în limba română Internet Archive, A magyar honfoglalás mondái – Gesta Hungarorum Pușcariu, Sextil, Limba română