Modern and contemporary history
The history of the Romanians has no meaning outside the territory on which their people was born about two millennia ago and on which they still live.
The Romanian land lies in the southeast of Europe, north of the Balkan Peninsula of which many mistakenly think it depends. The chain of the Carpathians Mountains goes right through it and the river Danube, largest river in Europe, borders the land south before taking its course amid both Romanian banks to the mouth at the Black Sea.
This territory is rich in every natural treasure conceivable, from salt to gold and oil, yet thought by the Moldavian chronicler Grigore Ureche to be "in the way of wickednesses".
In ancient times this region we are talking about was populated by the Dacians, also known as Getae. The Dacians are a strain of the widely spread people of the Thracians, Indo-European branch and therefore akin to the Illyrians, the Latins, the Greeks, the Germans, the Slavs and the Celts.
The first historical record of the existence of this people comes from Herodotus, father of history, who describes them as "bravest and most correct among the Thracians". He also provides two different accounts of their monotheist religion and their worship of their god Zalmoxis. The political formation of this people reached its peak during the first century before Christ, when a powerful Dacian kingdom formed under the leadership of Burebista (70-44 B.C.), on a territory roughly corresponding to the one of the present-day Romania and Republic of Moldova. Token of this power is the support he gave to Pompey against Caesar in the struggle for power and the fact he compelled the Dacians to cut down their grapevines and lead a thoughtful and sober life.
The following century Dacia flourished again under the rule of king Decebalus (87-106 A.D.). The threat posed by Decebalus, who had defeated a Roman attack force early in his reign and had become client of Rome (meaning at the time that Rome had to pay a certain amount of money to stay at peace), caused worry to the Roman Empire. The emperor Trajan decided to take action against his neighbor to the north-east launching two attacks, the first in 101-102, the second in 105-106, which resulted in the complete destruction of the Dacian kingdom and its transformation into a Roman province. The conquest of Dacia marked the pinnacle of Roman power as it would be the last province added to the empire - celebrations took 123 days, 10.000 gladiators being implied and 11.000 beasts killed. The majestic Column of Trajan still stands in Rome, only that the statue of Saint Peter took the place of the one the emperor had atop the column, to satisfy some pope.
The Roman rule in Dacia stretched from 106 to 271 or 275, period during which the province was colonized, many cities were build and brought to the rank of municipium or even colonia. Cluj-Napoca, the most important city in present Transylvania is municipium from 124 A.D.. Several mints in Dacia struck coin, by the way.
The defeat in 106 brought death to many male Dacians, many committed suicide quickly thereafter (the king himself) and large numbers were taken to Rome as slaves and sold. To solve the underpopulation issue but not only because of that Roman veterans from all the empire, from Hispania to Syria, were settled here. Several problems should be unraveled now. The veterans were adult male soldiers that completely satisfied their military service and retired, receiving a piece of land, retirement fees and other rights. The Romanian word "b„trÓn", descending from the Latin "veteranus", means today "old" and has a feminine form too.
The newcomers, usually veterans but also merchants and other categories, were bound by a common language - Latin. In fact, Latin already had a strong influence in Dacian lands as contacts between Dacians and Romans dated several centuries before the conquest. Powerful cultures supported by powerful states having great armies had influenced the language used by the ancestors of today Romanians and of the Romanians centuries after time and again, adding new words to the vocabulary without changing the Latin nature of the language spoken by the later. This phenomenon is supposed to have started before the Roman conquest and thus the Romanian affinity for foreign languages must be inherited. As descendants of the Dacians, the Romanians easily learnt and spoke Greek, French, Russian and then English as the merciless urge of time required.
During 165 years, Dacia as Roman province received superior culture, Latin and Christianity. The Apostle Andrew had baptized on the present Romanian territory, but the main role is attributed to the Christian Roman veterans settled in Dacia. Christianity was easier to accept here, between the rivers Tisa, Danube and Nistru (Dniestr maybe on old maps), coming to a monotheist people. The Dacians, the Hebrews and the old Persians were the only peoples so advanced in religious conceptions before Christ.
It's quite ridiculous to assume that after the Roman retreat the population in Dacia ceased relation with Rome. Numerous coin struck afterwards were discovered all over Romania.
The name of Romania says it all - a Romanian could contain the history of this people in a single sentence "Our whence is Rome".
The basic body of the Romanian people are the ancient Dacians and the culture and speech are due to the Romans from which they inherited so much. The Romanians have had a unitary historical evolution within the Carpathians and Danubian area comprised between the present borders of Romania, Republic of Moldavia and even more. Despite territorial division owing to various factors - the most important being the incorporation of Transylvania into the Hungarian Empire and later in the Austria-Hungarian Empire - the Romanian population of the three separate feudal states - Moldavia, Walachia and Transylvania - shared common features thanks to their unity of descent, language and customs and their uninterrupted economic, political and cultural interrelations.