[The following text was derived from the "classical" 11th Edition of the Encyclopedia Brittanica that was published in 1911 and does not necessarily accurate or representing the current state of knowledge and beliefs. The information is provided for historical purposes only.]
The Vlach (Vlakh, Wallach) or Ruman race constitutes a distinct division of the Latin family of peoples, Distriba- widely disseminated throughout south-eastern Europe, tion of both north and south of the Danube, and extending the Vlach sporadically from the Russian river Bug to the race. Adriatic. The total numbers of the Vlachs may be estimated [in 1911] at 10,000,000 or 11,000,000. North of the Danube, 5,400,000 dwell in Rumania; 1,250,000 are settled in Transylvania, where they constitute a large majority of the population; and a still greater number are to be found in the Banat and other Hungarian districts west and north of Transylvania. Close upon 1,000,000 inhabit Bessarabia and the adjoining parts of South Russia, and about 230,000 are in the Austrian province of Bukovina. South of the Danube, about 500,000 are scattered over northern Greece and European Turkey, under the name of Kutzo-Vlachs, Tzintzars or Aromani. In Servia this element is preponderant in the Timok valley, while in Istria it is represented by the Cici, at present largely Slavonized , as are now entirely the kindred Morlachs of Dalmatia. Since, however, it is quite impossible to obtain exact statistics over so wide an area, and in countries where politics and racial feeling are so closely connected, the figures given above can only be regarded as approximately accurate; and some writers place the total of the Vlachs as low as 9,000,000. It is noteworthy that the Rumans north of the Danube continually gain ground at the expense of their neighbours; and even the long successful Greek propaganda among the Kutzo-Vlachs were checked after 1860 by the labours of Apostolu Margaritis and other nationalists.
A detailed account of the physical, mental and moral characteristics of the Vlachs, their modern civilization and their historical development, will be found under the headings Rumania and Macedonia.
All divisions of the race prefer to style themselves Romani, Romeni, Rumeni or Aromani; and it is from the native pronunciation of this name that we have the equivalent expression Ruman, a word which must by no means be confined to that part of the Vlach race inhabiting the present kingdom of Rumania.
The name " Vlachs," applied to the Rumans by their neighbours but never adopted by themselves, appears under many allied forms, the Slavs saying Volokh or Woloch, the Its name. Greeks Vlachoi, the Magyars Oloh, and the Turks, at a later date, INok. In its origin identical with the English Wealh or Welsh, it represents a Slavonic adaptation of a generic term applied by the Teutonic races to all Roman provincials during the 4th and 5th centuries. The Slavs, at least in their principal extent, first knew the Roman empire through a Teutonic medium, and adopted their term Volokh from the Ostro-Gothic equivalent of the Anglo-Saxon Wealh. It thus finds its analogies in the German name for Italy - Welschland (Wtilischland), in the Walloons of the Low Countries and the Wallgau of Tirol. An early instance of its application to the Roman population of the Eastern empire is found (c. 550 - 600) in the Traveller's Song, where, in a passage which in all probability connects itself with the early trade-route between the Baltic staple of Wollin and Byzantium, the gleeman speaks of Caesar's realm as Walaric, " Welshry." In verse 140 he speaks of the Rum-walas, and it is to be observed that Rum is one of the words by which the Vlachs of eastern Europe still know themselves.
The Vlachs claim to be a Latin race in the same sense as the Spaniards or Provencals - Latin by language and culture, and, in a smaller degree, by descent. Despite the long predominance of Greek, Slavonic and Turkish influence, there is no valid objection to this claim, which is now generally accepted by competent ethnologists. The language of the Vlachs is Latin in structure and to a great extent in vocabulary; their features and stature would not render them conspicuous as foreigners in south Italy; and that their ancestors were Roman provincials is attested not only by the names " Vlach " and "Ruman " but also by popular and literary tradition. In their customs and folk-lore both Latin and Slavonic traditions assert themselves. Of their Roman traditions the Trajan saga, the celebration of the Latin festivals of the Rosalia and Kalendae, the belief in the striga (witch), the names of the months and days of the week, may be taken as typical examples. Some Roman words connected with the Christian religion, like biserica (basilica)=a church, botez = baptizo, duminica = Sunday, preot (presbyter) = priest, point to a continuous tradition of the Illyrian church, though most of their ecclesiastical terms, like their liturgy and alphabet, were derived from the Slavonic. In most that concerns political organization the Slavonic element is also preponderant, though there are words like imparat = imperator, and domn=dominus, which point to the old stock. Many words relating to kinship are also Latin, some, like vitrig (vitricus) = father-in-law, being alone preserved by this branch of the Romance family. But if the Latin descent of the Vlachs may be regarded as proven, it is far less easy to determine their place of origin and to trace their early migrations.
The centre of gravity of the Vlach or Ruman race is at present unquestionably north of the Danube in the almost circular territory between the Danube, Theiss and Dniester; Its and corresponds roughly with the Roman province original of Dacia, formed by Trajan in A.D. 106. From this home. circumstance the popular idea has arisen that the race itself represents the descendants of the Romanized population of Trajan's Dacia, which was assumed to have maintained an unbroken existence in Walachia, Transylvania and the neighbour provinces, beneath the dominion of a succession of invaders. The Vlachs of Pindus, and the southern region generally, were, on this hypothesis, to be regarded as later immigrants from the lands north of the Danube. In 1871, E. R. Roesler published at Leipzig, in a collective form, a series of essays entitled Romdnische Studien, in which he absolutely denied the claim of the Rumanian and Transylvanian Vlachs to be regarded as autochthonous Dacians. He laid stress on the statements of Vopiscus and others as implying the total withdrawal of the Roman provincials from Trajan's Dacia by Aurelian, in A.D. 272, and on the non-mention by historians of a Latin population in the lands on the left bank of the lower Danube, during their successive occupation by Goths, Huns, Gepidae, Avars, Slavs, Bulgars and other barbarian races. He found the first trace of a Ruman settlement north of the Danube in a Transylvanian diploma of 1222. Roesler's thesis has been generally regarded as an entirely new departure in critical ethnography. As a matter of fact, his conclusions had to a great extent been already anticipated by F. J. Sulzer in his Geschichte des Transalpinischen Daciens, published at Vienna in 1781, and at a still earlier date by the Dalmatian historian G. Lucio (Lucius of Trail) in his work De Regno Dalmatiae et Croatiae, Amsterdam, 1666. 1666.
The theory of the later immigration of the Rumans into their present abodes north of the Danube, as stated in its most extreme form by Roesler, commanded wide acceptance, and in Hungary it was politically utilized as a plea for refusing parity of treatment to a race of comparatively recent intruders. In Rumania itself Roesler's views were resented as an attack on Ruman nationality. Outside Rumania they found a determined opponent in Dr J. Jung, of Innsbruck, who upheld the continuity of the Roman provincial stock in Trajan's Dacia, disputing from historic analogies the total withdrawal of the provincials by Aurelian; and the reaction against Roesler was carried still farther by J. L. Pie, Professor A. D. Xenopol of Jassy, B. P. Hasdeu, D. Onciul and many other Rumanian writers, who maintain that, while their own race north of the Danube represents the original Daco-Roman population of this region, the Vlachs of Turkey and Greece are similarly descended from the Moeso-Roman and Illyro-Roman inhabitants of the provinces lying south of the river. On this theory the entire Vlach race occupies almost precisely the same territories to-day as in the 3rd century.
Its Latin character
On the whole it may be said that the truth lies between the two extremes. Roesler is no doubt so far right that after 272, and throughout the early middle ages, the bulk of the Ruman people lay south of the Danube. Pie's view that the population of the Roman provinces of Moesia and Illyria were Hellenized rather than Romanized, and that it is to Trajan's Dacia alone that we must look for the Roman source of the Vlach race, conflicts with what we know of the Latinizing of the Balkan lands from inscriptions, martyrologies, Procopius's list of Justinian's Illyrian fortresses and other sources. This Roman element south of the Danube had further received a great increase at the expense of Trajan's colonial foundation to the north when Aurelian established his New Dacia on the Moesian side of the river. On the other hand, the analogy supplied by the withdrawal of the Roman provincials from Riparian Noricum tells against the assumption that the official withdrawal of the Roman colonists of Trajan's Dacia by Aurelian entailed the entire evacuation of the Carpathian regions by their Latin-speaking inhabitants. As on the upper Danube the continuity of the Roman population is attested by the Vici Romanisci of early medieval diplomas and by other traces of a Romanic race still represented by the Ladines of the Tirol, so it is reasonable to suppose a Latin-speaking population continued to exist in the formerly thickly colonized area embracing the present Transylvania and Little Walachia, with adjoining Carpathian regions. Even as late as Justinian's time (483-565), the official connexion with the old Dacian province was not wholly lost, as is shown by the erection or restoration of certain fortified posts on the left bank of the lower Danube.
We may therefore assume that the Latin race of eastern Europe never wholly lost touch of its former trans-Danubian strongholds. It was, however, on any showing greatly migra- diminished there. The open country, the broad plains of what is now the Rumanian kingdom, and the Banat of Hungary were in barbarian occupation. The centre of gravity of the Roman or Romance element of Illyricum had now shifted south of the Danube. By the 6th century a large part of Thrace, Macedonia and even of Epirus had become Latin-speaking.
What had occurred in Trajan's Dacia in the 3rd century was consummated in the 6th and 7th throughout the greater part of the South-Illyrian provinces, and the Slavonic and Avar conquests severed the official connexion with eastern Rome. The Roman element was uprooted from its fixed seats, and swept hither and thither by the barbarian flood. Nomadism became an essential of independent existence, while large masses of homeless provincials were dragged as captives in the train of their conquerors, to be distributed in servile colonies. They were thus in many cases transported by barbarian chiefs - Slav, Avar and Bulgarian - to trans-Danubian and Pannonian regions. In the Acts of St Demetrius of Thessalonica (d. A.D. 306) we find an account of such a Roman colony, which, having been carried away from South-Illyrian cities by the Avar khagan (prince), and settled by him in the Sirmian district beyond the Save, revolted after seventy years of captivity, made their way once more across the Balkan passes, and finally settled as an independent community in the country inland from Salonica. Others, no doubt, thus transported northwards never returned. The earliest Hungarian historians who describe the Magyar invasion of the 9th century speak of the old inhabitants of the country as Romans, and of the country they occupied as Pascua Romanorum; and the Russian Nestor, writing about 1 i oo, makes the same invaders fight against Sla y s and Vlachs in the Carpathian Mountains. So far from the first mention of the Vlachs north of the Danube occurring only in 1222, as Roesler asserts, it appears from a passage of Nicetas of Chonae that they were to be found already in 1164 as far afield as the borders of Galicia; and the date of a passage in the Nibelungenlied, which mentions the Vlachs, under their leader Ramunc, in association with the Poles, cannot well be later than 1200.
Nevertheless, throughout the early middle ages the bulk of the Ruman population lay south of the Danube. It was in the Balkan lands that the Ruman race and language took their characteristic mould. It is here that this new Illyrian Romance first rises into historic prominence. Already in the 6th century, as we learn from the place-names, such as Sceptecasas, Burgualtu, Clisura, &c., given by Procopius, the Ruman language was assuming, so far as its Latin elements were concerned, its typical form. In the somewhat later campaigns of Cornmentiolus (587) and Priscus, against the Avars and Sla y s, we find the Latin-speaking soldiery of the Eastern emperor making use of such Romance expressions as torna frate! (turn, brother!), or sculca (out of bed) applied to a watch (cf. Ruman a se culca=Italian coricarsi+ex-(s-) privative). Next we find this warlike Ruman population largely incorporated in the Bulgarian kingdom, and, if we are to judge from the names Paganus and Sabinus, already supplying it with rulers in the 8th century. The blending and close contact during this period of the surviving Latin population with the Slavonic settlers of the peninsula impregnated the language with its large Slavonic ingredient. The presence of an important Latin element in Albanian, the frequent occurrence of Albanian words in Rumanian, and the remarkable retention by both languages of a suffix article, may perhaps imply that both alike took their characteristic shapes in the same region. The fact that these peculiarities are common to the Rumans north of the Danube, whose language differs dialectically from that of their southern brothers, shows that it was this southern branch that throughout the early periods of Ruman history was exercising a dominating influence. Migrations, violent transplantation, the intercourse which was kept up between the most outlying members of the race, in its very origin nomadic, at a later period actual colonization and the political influence of the Bulgaro-Vlachian empire, no doubt contributed to propagate these southern linguistic acquisitions throughout that northern area to which the Ruman race was destined almost imperceptibly to shift its centre of gravity.
Byzantium, which had ceased to be Roman, and had become Romanic, renewed its acquaintance with the descendants of the Latin provincials of Illyricum through a Slavonic medium, and applied to them the name of Vlach, which the Slav himself had borrowed from the Goth. The first mention of Vlachs in a Byzantine source is about the year 976, when Cedrenus (ii. 439) relates the murder of the Bulgarian tsar Samuel's brother " by certain Vlach wayfarers," at a spot called the Fair Oaks, between Castoria and Prespa. From this period onwards the Ruman inhabitants of the Balkan peninsula are constantly mentioned by this name, and we find a series of political organizations and territorial divisions connected with the name of Vlachia. A short synopsis may be given of the most important of these, outside the limits of Rumania itself.
See, in addition to the books already mentioned:
This page compliments of Marisa Ciceran