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Macedo-Romanians, Vlachs, Armãnji, Rrãmãnji
Vlachs Serres.jpg
Total population
cca. 100,000 - 300,000[1]
Regions with significant populations
 Greece 39,855 (1951 census) -
200,000 (est.)
 Albania 4,249 (1955 census) –
80,000 (1994 est.)
 Romania 26,500 (2006 est.) [5]
 Serbia 15,000 (est.) [6]
 Bulgaria 10,566 (2001 census) [7]
Republic of Macedonia Macedonia 9,695 (2001 census) - 100,000 (est.) [7][8]

Aromanian and other languages in the areas in which they live


Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism

Aromanians (Macedo-Romanians or Macedo-Rumans; in Aromanian they call themselves Armãnji, Armin, Rrãmãnji, or Vlaçi) ) are a people living throughout the southern Balkans, especially in northern Greece, Albania, Serbia, the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria, and as an emigrant community in Romania (Dobruja). They are the second most populous group of Vlachs, afrter the modern-day Romanians.

They speak the Aromanian language, a Romance language typically classed as distinct from Romanian proper, or Daco-Romanian, which has many slightly varying dialects of its own.[9] Due to the common language foundations, dating from the times of Latin language, historians believe that the language link with Romanian was interrupted between the 7th and 9th centuries.


Names and Classification

The name Armãn - EN Aromanian, just as Romanian, derives directly from Latin Romanus ("Roman") through regular sound changes. The initial a- is a regular epenthetic vowel, occurring when certain consonant clusters are formed (this a- is not, as folk etymology sometimes has it, related to the negative or privative a- of Latin). In Albania, the most common form is rrãmãnji or rrãmenji.

Nominated according to the geographic area, Aromanians are grouped into several "branches": "Pindians" (Aromanian "Pindenji" concentrated in and around the Pindus Mountains of Northern and Central Greece, Western region of Macedonia, and Southern Albania - a.k.a. Northern Epirus), "Gramustians" (Aromanian "Yrãmushcianji" from Gramos Mountains, an isolated area in the westernmost region of the Greek province of Macedonia near the borders with Epirus), "Muzachiars" (Aromanian "Muzachirenji" from Muzachia) "Farsherots" (Aromanian "Fãrsherotii" from Pharsala, concentrated in Epirus), "Moscopolitans" (Aromanian "Moscopoleanji" from the City of Moscopole; once an important urban center of the Balkans). The first three groups call themselves Armãnj, while the Farsherots (with a distinct dialect) call themselves Rrãmãnj. Most are called Vlahi in Greek. Vlachs was a term used in the Medieval Balkans, as an exonym for all the Romanic people of the region, but nowadays, it is commonly used only for the Aromanians and Meglenites, the Romanians being named Vlachs only in historical context (mostly because of Wallachia). The term Vlach has had its form changed into the following languages: Macedonian/Bulgarian: Vlasi, Albanian: Vllehe and Turkish: Ulahlar. Interesting to note that the term Vlach also meant "bandit" or "rebel" in medieval historiography. Vlach was further a name used by the Ottomans to denote Christians in Bosnia.

The Gramustians and Pindians are nicknamed in Greece Koutsovlachs (Κουτσόβλαχοι); this term is sometimes, but not always, taken as derogatory, as the first element of this term is from the Greek koutso- (κουτσό-) meaning 'lame'.[10] (This name has been noticed also among the Slavic peoples, especially in the folk stories cf. Marko Cepenkov). Another name used to refer to the Aromanians (mainly in the Slavic countries such as Serbia and Bulgaria) is "tsintsar" (also spelled tzintzar, cincar or similar), which is derived from the way the Aromanians pronounce the word meaning "five": "tsintsi". Some Vlachs are called "Arvanitovlachoi" (usually for the Farsherots, Moscopolitans and Muzachiars), meaning Albanian Vlachs, referring to their place of origin. Albanians also call them "Chobans" (from Turkish Çoban meaning shepherd), a word also used to refer to them in Greek ("chobani", "τσομπάνοι").


Aromanian shepherd in traditional clothes, photo from the early 1900s, Archive: Manachia Brothers.
The Jireček Line is an imaginary line that shows where Latin and Greek influences meet in the Balkans.

It is hypothesized that the Vlachs originated from the Roman colonisation of the Balkans and are the descendants of Latinised native peoples and Roman legionaries who had settled in the Balkans. The fact that the Roman colonisation of Epirus and Macedonia began earlier and lasted longer than that of Dacia would suggest that the Aromanian Vlachs may have preceded the Romanians in Balkan history.

There are many theories regarding the origins of the Aromanians. In Greece, they are believed to be descended from a local Greek population that was Latinised immediately following the Roman conquest of Greece, or later, during the first centuries of the Byzantine Empire when Latin continued to be the official language. On the contrary, in other neighboring countries they are considered to be the descendants of Thracian peoples who moved into the mountains of the southern Balkans after the Avar and Slavic invasions. Some Byzantine chroniclers have described them as descending from Thracian tribes;one of them being the Bessi.[11]

In total, the main theories regarding the origins of Aromanians describe them as descendants of the Romanized Thracians or Roman colonists and soldiers, who would receive agricultural lands as payments for their services, or Latin Greeks (Greco-Romans).

It is clear, however, that until the 7th or 9th century, Romanians and Aromanians spoke the same eastern variant of Vulgar Latin, often known as Proto-Romanian. This term was not accepted by the Greek linguists, because it denoted a form of only Romanian language, thus supporting only the Romanian theory. This in fact puts the other two languages which developed from this form of Vulgar Latin: Megleno-Romanian and the Istro-Romanian in the same position as Aromanian. Modern linguists believe that the Istro-Romanians migrated to their present region of Istria about 1,000 (or 600) years ago from Transylvania.[12][13]


Map of the Roman Empire
Map of Byzantine Empire
Map showing areas with Romanian schools for Aromanians and Megleno-Romanians in the Ottoman Empire (1886)

The Roman Empire and its Latin language strongly influenced some of the ancient tribes of the Balkans. This was achieved by the construction of the Via Egnatia and the founding of Roman colonies. The Latinised peoples that originated from this region of the Roman Empire eventually retired into the vastness and security of the mountainous terrain and became specialized in nomadic pastoralism.

In the Middle Ages, Aromanians created semi-autonomous states on the territory of modern Greece, such as Great Wallachia, Small Wallachia and Upper Wallachia. Benjamin of Tudela, a Spanish Jew who travelled through south-eastern Europe and the Middle East between 1159 and 1173, alludes to the Vlachs in The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela. He claimed that they enjoyed some measure of independence on their Valachian mountain tops.

Aromanians played an important role in the independence wars of various Balkan countries: Bulgaria, Albania and Greece, against the Ottoman Empire. But also in 1905 the Aromanians were acknowledged as a separate nation (millet) of the Ottoman Empire, allowing them to have their own schools and liturgy in their own Aromanian language. This happened during the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid the Second, when the Aromanians even got their own representatives in the Great Porte. The day of the signing of the so-called Aromanian Iradeo or Turkish Irade, 23 of May is celebrated as the National Day of the Aromanians from the whole world and is celebrated as an official holiday in Macedonia.

In 1941, after the Nazi occupation of Greece, some Aromanian nationalists created an autonomous Vlach state under Fascist Italian control: the Principality of Pindus and Voivodship of Macedonia.

After the fall of Communism (i.e. Yugoslavia, Albania and Bulgaria) in 1989, the Aromanian nation formed its own cultural and political societies in the Balkans and started its new national re-awakening.


The president of Romania at The Days of Arman's Culture
  • The National Day of Aromanians is 23 May, and in Ex Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. these day is Official Celebration Day written in Constitution.
  • The 23 May is the National Day of Macedon/Arman people and is celebrated by armans all over the world.

Traditional Culture

See also:

To be completed

Aromanians today

In Greece

See also: Minorities of Greece#Aromanian-speaking

Map of Balkans with regions inhabited by Aromanians in red

In Greece, Aromanians are not regarded as an ethnic but as a linguistic -albeit unrecognized officially- minority, since most of them express an ethnic Greek identity. Generally, the use of the minority languages has been discouraged,[14] although recently, there have been efforts from the Greek presidency to preserve endangered languages (including Aromanian).

It is difficult to estimate the exact number of Aromanians, as no Greek census has recorded mother tongue statistics since 1951. Estimates on the number of Aromanians in Greece range between 40,000.[2] to 200,000.[15]

The majority of the Aromanian population lives in northern and central Greece. The main areas inhabited by these populations are the Pindus Mountains, around the mountains of Olympus and Vermion, and around the Prespa Lakes near the border with Albania. Some Aromanians can still be found in isolated rural settlements such as Samarina, Perivoli and Smixi. There are also Aromanians(Vlachs) in towns and cities such as Ioannina, Metsovo, Veria, Katerini, and Thessaloniki.

The Aromanian (Vlach) Cultural Society, which is associated with activist Sotiris Bletsas, is represented on the Member State Committee of the European Bureau for Lesser Spoken Languages in Greece.[16]

In Albania

Spread of Aromanians in Albania:
     Aromanians are the exclusive population in the settelement     Aromanians form a majority or a substantial minority in the settlement
Spread of Aromanians in the Republic of Macedonia:
     Localities where Aromanians are an officially recognised minority group      Other localities with an Aromanian population      Areas where Megleno-Romanians are concentrated

There is an Aromanian community in Albania, also called Vlachs (Vlah or Choban) counting between 100,000 and 200,000 people or more. In Albania there has traditionally been a significant presence of Vlachs. Vlachs have also made important economical, social, and cultural contributions in the country. The scholar Dr. Tom Winnifrith of the University of Warwick in England, placed the number of Albanian Vlachs at up to 200,000. There are currently timid attempts to establish education in their native language in the town of Divjaka. The Aromanians, under the name "Vlachs", are a recognized cultural minority in the Albanian law.

For the last years there seems to be a renewal of the former policies of supporting and sponsoring of Romanian schools on the behalf of the Vlachs of Albania. As a recent article in the Romanian media points out, the kindergarten, primary and secondary schools in the Albanian town of Divjaka where the local Vlach pupils are taught classes both in Aromanian and Romanian were granted substantial help directly from the Romanian government. The only Aromanian language church in Albania, the 'Schimbarea la fata' of Korçë (Curceau in Aromanian) was given 2 billion lei help from the Romanian government too. Many of the Albanian Aromanians have immigrated to Greece as homogeneis, since they are considered part of the Greek minority in Albania.

In Macedonia

See also: Aromanians of Macedonia

According to official government figures (census 2002), there are 9,695 Aromanians, or Vlachs as they are officially called, in Macedonia, even though other sources estimate their numbers as high as 100,000 according to their associations and other estimates[3]. Aromanians are recognized as an ethnic minority, and are hence represented in Parliament and enjoy ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious rights and the right to education in their language.

They have also received financial support from the Romanian government, which made recognition of Macedonia's independence conditional on the extension of minority rights to the Aromanians[citation needed]. There are Aromanian cultural societies and associations such as the Union for Aromanian Culture from Macedonia, The Aromanian League of Macedonia, The International League of Aromanians, Comuna Armãneascã ("Frats Manachia", The Aromanian Community Manachia Brothers in Bitola), Partia-a Armãnjlor di tu Machedonia (The Party of the Aromanians from Macedonia) and Unia Democraticã-a Armãnjlor di tu Machedonia (The Democratic Union of the Aromanians from Macedonia).

There are Aromanian classes provided in primary schools and the state funds some Aromanian published works (magazines and books) as well as works that cover Aromanian culture, language and history. The latter is mostly done by the first Aromanian Scientific Society, "Constantin Belemace" in Skopje, which has organized symposiums on Aromanian history and has published papers from them. According to the last census, there were 9,596 Aromanians (0.48% of the total population). There are concentrations in Krusevo 1020 (11%), Stip 2074 (4.3%), Bitola 1270 (1.3%), Struga 656 (1%), Sveti Nikole 238 (1.4%), Kisela Voda 647 (1.1%) and Skopje 2557 (0.5%).[17]

In Bulgaria

In Bulgaria most Aromanians were concentrated in the region south-west of Sofia, in the region called Pirin, formerly part of the Ottoman Empire until 1913. Due to this reason, a large part of these Aromanians moved to the Southern Dobruja, part of the Kingdom of Romania since the Treaty of Bucharest of 1913, and after its reinclusion in Bulgaria with the Treaty of Craiova of 1940, moved to Northern Dobruja. Another group moved to northern Greece. Nowadays, the largest group of Aromanians in Bulgaria is found in the southern mountainous area, around Peshtera. Most Aromanians in Bulgaria originate from Gramos, with some from Macedonia, Pindus and Moscopole.[18]

After the fall of communism in 1989, Aromanians, Romanians and Vlachs have started initiatives to organize themselves under one common association.[19][20][21]

According to the 1926 official census, there were: 69.080 Romanians, 5.324 Aromanians, 3.777 Cutzovlachs, and 1.551 "Tsintsars".

According to the 2001 census, there are 1,088 Romanians and 10,566 Vlachs in Bulgaria [4]. The last figure includes Romanian and Aromanian speakers, as well as many Romanian-speaking Roma with a Romanian identity.

In Romania

Romanian and Aromanian shepherds on Mount Larga, in the Carpathians. 1927.
See Picture Gallery.

Since the Middle Ages, due to the Turkish occupation and the destruction of their cities, such as Moscopole, Gramostea, Linotopi and later on Krushevo, many Aromanians fled their native homelands in the Balkans to settle the Romanian principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, which had a similar language and a certain degree of autonomy from the Turks. These immigrant Aromanians were more or less assimilated into the Romanian population.

In 1925, 47 years after Dobruja was incorporated into Romania, King Carol II of Romania gave the Aromanians land and privilleges to settle in this region, in order to achieve relative majority of vlach-speakers in a region formerly inhabited mostly by Bulgarians, which resulted in a significant migration of Aromanians into Romania. Today, the 25% of the population of the region are descendants of Aromanian immigrants (especially from Thessaly, Epirus, Greek Macedonia and Vardar Macedonia).[citation needed]

There are currently between 50,000 and 100,000 Aromanians in Romania, most of which are concentrated in Dobruja. According to the Union for Aromanian Language and Culture there are some 100,000 Aromanians in Romania. Some Aromanian associations even place the total number of people of Aromanian descent in Romania as high as 250,000. Due to their cultural closeness to ethnic Romanians, most of them do not consider themselves to be a distinct ethnic minority but rather a "cultural minority"[citation needed].

Recently, there has been a growing movement in Romania, both by Aromanians and by Romanian lawmakers, to recognize the Aromanians either as a separate cultural group or as a separate ethnic group, and extend to them the rights of other minorities in Romania, such as mother-tongue education and representatives in parliament. Results of 2002 census : 25943 Constanta county - 16300 Tulcea county -3550 Bucharest -3274 Ilfov county - 1151 Ialomita county -665

In Serbia

Aromanians (Serbian: Cincari, Translated-English: Tzintzars) have lived in Serbia since the early Ottoman Turkish conquest of the Balkans. There are currently 15,000 Aromanians in Serbia. The majority of Aromanians in Serbia do not speak Aromanian anymore. The Aromanians of Serbia are either registered as Serbs, Vlachs or Romanians, belonging to the Serbian Orthodox Church and Romanian Orthodox Church. A small Aromanian settlement is situated in Knjaževac. An Aromanian association named "Lunjina" was founded in Belgrade in 1991.


Aside from the Balkan countries, there are also communities and groups of Aromanian emigrants living in the United States, Canada, France and Germany.

In Germany, at Freiburg, is situated one of the most important Aromanian organisations, the Union for Culture and Language of the Aromanians, and one of the largest libraries in Aromanian language.

In the United States, The Society Fărşărotul, is one of the oldest and most known associations of Aromanians, founded in 1903 by Nicolae Cican, an Aromanian native of Albania.

In France, the Aromanians are grouped in the Trâ Armânami cultural association.


Aromanians have played a major role in the history of almost all modern Balkan states, especially Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, and of course Romania. Prominent Aromanians include Pitu Guli, also known as "Peter the Vlach", (revolutionary), Ioannis Kolettis (Prime minister of Greece), Georgios Averoff (Greek magnate), Evangelos Averoff (Defence Minister of Greece), Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople, Andrei Şaguna, (Romanian Orthodox Metropolitan of Transylvania and Romanian patriot), the Ghica family (Wallachian and Moldavian voivodes and Romanian Prime Ministers), etc. (See List of prominent Aromanians).

In Greece there has been development of a Greco-Vlach identity on the part of many Aromanians. Besides the geographical/linguistic classification, another classification here divides the Aromanians into two branches: an anti-Greek and a philo-Greek faction. The graecophiles have been pejoratively called by the rest of the Aromanians as Grecomans respective "cataoni", "katchani" or "caciauni". Interesting to note is that the Sarakatsani, according to Romanian scholars, are a tribe of Aromanians, completely Hellenised at some point in the 18th and 19th centuries. They themselves, however, tend to reject any such connection to the Aromanians.

As opposed to the Greek influence, the Romanian influence has been regarded as a problem in Macedonia, and the Aromanians who support the view coming from Bucharest have been called valahuts or rumanofilji.

Aromanians from Serres.

Many Aromanians of Greece have locally specific ideas regarding their origin and role in Greek society and history. Many identify themselves as heirs of the Byzantine tradition, while pro-Greek vlachs argue that the Greek language of the Byzantine empire has a bearing on links to Greek culture. The early history of the Aromanians in Greece includes several struggles, usually for social reasons, and Aromanians in several countries have a tradition of rebellion and penchant for separateness and secession.

Byzantine period

In these times, their migratory lifestyle earned them a bad reputation. In 980 emperor Basil II conferred the dominion over the Vlachs of Thessaly on one Nicoulitza. The Vlachs in Thessaly and parts of Macedonia became very numerous during the 11th century revolt of the Vlachs in 1066 under their chieftain Verivoi, as attested by the Byzantine historian Kekaumenos, would provide total independence. As Kekaumenos records, a first revolt against imperial rule occurred in 1066, but it was not until after the collapse of the Empire in the Fourth Crusade that the Vlachs would set up their own, autonomous, principality - "Great Wallachia".[22] The chronicles of Nicetas Choniates, Benjamin of Tudela,[23] Geoffroy de Villehardouin, Henri de Valenciennes, Robert de Clary, and other sources account for the existence of this state, comprising Thessaly, as opposed to other two "Wallachias", "Little Wallachia" in Acarnania and Aetolia, and an "Upper Wallachia" in Epirus. This coincides with the period of the first Vlachian state entities across the Balkan Peninsula: Great Wallachia, Wallachia and Moldavia. Benjamin of Tudela, a Spanish Jew who visited Thessaly in 1173, describes the Vlachs as living in the mountains and coming down from them to attack the Greeks. In relation with the Byzantine Empire, he adds: "no Emperor can conquer them".[24] It is interesting to note that Benjamin of Tudela did not describe them as a separate ethnic group, but as a group of rebels, who may have had Jewish origins.

Ottoman period

During the Ottoman period, Aromanian culture and economic power became more evident, as Vlachs concentrated in major urban centers. For example the city of Moscopole at that time was one of the largest cities of the Balkans, having a population of 60,000 (for comparison, at that time Athens was a village inhabited by 8,000 people). Moscopole had its own printing houses and academies, flowing water and sewerage network. They enjoyed some degree of religious and cultural autonomy within the Greek Orthodox millet (a Turkish term for a legally protected ethnic and religious minority groups). They enjoyed a special status, being formally exempted from the law prohibiting non-Muslims from carrying weapons,[25] only having to pay a modest tribute to the Ottomans. In 1778 however, Moscopole was razed to the ground by the troops of Ali Pasha. This episode and the Orthodox religion of the Vlachs were the factors which caused a violent and energetic struggle against the Ottomans, assigning to the Vlachs a major role in the various wars and revolutions against Ottoman rule that culminated in the creation of the states which they now inhabit: Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Greece.

People of Aromanian origin were to be found among the protagonists of early Greek political life, as they found opportunities to establish themselves in this new state. This is explained by the fact that many Aromanians, who, as mentioned, belonged to the Greek Orthodox millet, adopted the Greek language under the influence of the Greek schools and churches, the only ones entitled by the Ottomans to function and to by maintained by the Patriarchs of Constantinople. Thus, in Ottoman eyes, they were practically equated with Greeks. For instance, the future Patriarch Athenagoras, born in Ottoman Epirus, was considered a Greek by descent. But some Vlachs wanted to preserve their language, customs and culture, and as might be expected there was a strong reaction against this policy of Hellenization. Sir Charles Eliot clearly states his work "Turkey in Europe" that "...The Bulgarians, Serbs and Vlachs have Millets of their own and do not cooperate in the Hellenic cause" and that "we hear of Vlach bands who are said to contend (fight against) Greeks in the region of Karaferia (Veria)"".[26] There was also pressure on Aromanians to become linguistically assimilated, which can be traced back to the 18th century, when assimilation efforts were encouraged by the Greek missionary Cosmas of Aetolia (1714-1779) who taught that Aromanians should speak Greek because as he said "it's the language of our Church" and established over 100 Greek schools in northern and western Greece. The offensive of the clergy against the use of Aromanian was by no means limited to religious issues but was a tool devised in order to convince the non-Greek speakers to abandon what they regarded as a "worthless" idiom and adopt the superior Greek speech: "There we are Metsovian brothers, together with those who are fooling themselves with this sordid and vile Aromanian language... forgive me for calling it a language", "repulsive speech with a disgusting diction".[27][28]

Following the destruction of their major urban centers, historiography speaks about a "re-pastoralization" of the Vlachs, returning to their basic traditional occupation, animal husbandry.[citation needed] Several thousands of Vlachs, many of them belonging to the Aromanian intelligentsia, emigrated northward to Wallachia, Moldavia, Serbia or the Habsburg Empire (notably to Vienna and Budapest).

Awakening of the Aromanian identity, and Romanian sponsorship

Their arrival there coincided with the spreading in Europe of the ideals of the French Revolution: nationhood, equality, mother tongue and "human rights". In Habsburg-occupied Transylvania, they would connect with the latinophile Romanian intelligentsia, as part of what was known as the Transylvanian School. These intellectuals promoted the ideas which would spark the period known as the National awakening of Romania, which, after a century's time ceased to be under de jure Ottoman rule. It is in these times that Aromanian personalities became prominent, such as Gheorghe Roja, the author of "Untersuchungen uber die Romanier oder sogenannten Wlachen, welche jenseits der Donau wohnen" ("Researches upon the Romanians or the so-called Vlachs, who live beyond the Danube"; Pesth, 1808). The first attempt to create a literary language for those described as "Macedo-Romanians" was Roja's "Maiestria ghiovasirii romanesti cu litere latinesti, care sant literele Romanilor ceale vechi"(Buda, 1809). Another Vlach emigrant was Mihail G. Boiagi. In 1813, he would publish in Vienna the book "Aromunisch oder Mazedowalachisch Sprachlehre" (Aromanian or Macedo-Vlach grammar). In the foreword to his work, Boiagi wrote: "Even if the Vlachs would claim, say Hotenton origin, even in that case they ought to have the right and duty to cultivate themselves in their mother tongue, as the most appropriate way to fulfill their creed". The Metsovo-born D.D. Cozacovici would publish in 1865 in Bucharest the "Gramatica Romaneasca tra Romanilii dit drepta Dunarelei lucrata de D. Athanasescu, si typarita cu spesele D.D. Cosacovici, Roman din Metsova, spre an inaugura prima scoala Romana din Macedonia" ("Romanian Grammar to serve the Romanians South of the Danube worked by D. Athanasescu and printed from the donations of D.D. Cozacovici, Romanian of Metsovo, in order to inaugurate the first Romanian school of Macedonia").

Cover of Les Aroumains, of Aromanian writer Nicolae Trifon.

A century later, almost 100 Romanian schools were opened in the Ottoman territories of Macedonia and Albania, starting as early as 1860. It is noted that this initiative was proposed by the Aromanian Diaspora living in Bucharest. The first nucleus of the Vlach schooling in Macedonia and Pindus was to be established in 1860 and its initiators were a group of Aromanians then living in Bucharest: D.D. Cozacovici (native of Metsovo), Zisu Sideri, Iordache Goga (native of Klissoura) and others. Together they initiated the "Society for Macedo-Romanian Culture", under the endorsement of the then Romanian ruling class. "Societatea Culturala Macedo-Romana" ("The Macedo-Romanian Cultural Society") had as its members (together with its Aromanian founding core represented by D.D. Cozacovici, Sideri, Goga, Grandea etc.) also the acting Prime and Foreign Ministers, as well as the Head of the Romanian Orthodox Church, and the elite of the Romanian political class: Mihail Kogălniceanu, Ion Ghica, Constantin Rosetti, etc.

One of the greatest figures during the Aroumanian awakening was Apostol Margarit, a native of Avdela in southern Macedonia, on the slopes of the Pindus mountains. As early as 1862, Apostol Margarit introduced the vernacular in the school of the large prosperous town of Klissoura(Vlaho-Klisura), in the Kastoria region of Macedonia. Nicepheros, the Greek bishop of Kastoria tried for many years to close down the school, but without success. In December, 1879, the first unsuccessful attempt on the life of Apostol Margarit took place. Margarit was wounded during a second attempt on his life during December 1890. There were Vlach schools in Klissoura, Krushevo, Nizepole, Trnovo, Gopesh, Ohrid, old Avdela in the Pindus mountains and new Avdela near Veria. Later more schools were founded in Macedonia, and then a Vlach high school was established in Bitola(Monastir) in the 1880s. The Greeks were naturally alarmed by the national reawakening of the Vlachs. At their peak, just before the Balkan Wars,there were 6 secondary gymnasiums, and 113 primary schools, teaching in Vlach. Due to the ongoing pressures from the Greek Church in the Ottoman provinces of Rumelia, Vlachs and their schools were viewed with suspicion. In 1880 Greek guerrillas attacked some villages near Resen because the village priests had committed the unpardonable sin of using Vlach in the church services. In the same year the Greek bishop of Kastoria had the schoolmaster in Klissoura arrested because he taught in the Vlahs'native language. A momentous date in the history of the Vlachs was May 23, 1905, when the Sultan issued a decree officially recognizing the Vlachs and affirming their rights to maintain their schools and churches. Following the proclamation of the decree, the Greek bishops, and the armed terrorist bands they supported, unleashed a campaign of terror on the Aromanians to discourage them from taking advantage of their rights. In 1905, the Vlach abbot of the Holy Archangel monastery in the Meglen region was murdered by a Greek band. In the summer of 1905 some villages near Bitola were attacked. On October 27, 1905, Greek guerillas attacked the village of Avdela in the Pindus, birthplace of Apostol Margarit, and razed it to the ground. Then in 1906, in the town of Véria(Berea), the priest Papanace was murdered as he was on his way to church to serve the Divine Liturgy in Vlach. The Romanian Vlach school in the village of Avdhela in Pindus, which was one of the first Romanian sponsored Vlach schools, active as early as 1867, was burned and razed to the ground on 27 October 1905 by Greek guerrillas.[29] This event prompted street anti-Greek demonstrations in Bucharest in the autumn of 1905 of the Aromanians living there, and a rupture of diplomatic relations between Romania and Greece.[30]

Romania continued to subsidize schools until 1948, when the communist regime ended all links. George Padioti, an Aromanian author (born and living all his life in Greece) describes one of the last liturgy services in Vlach:

February 1952, the Aromanian Church 'Biserica ramana Santu Dumitru', burned by German troops in spring 1944. The priest Costa Bacou officiated the last allowed liturgy in Aromanian language. Afterwards, he was not permitted anymore because he refused to forcibly officiate the divine service in Greek language.[31]

According to Sevold Braga in his treatise Die Aromunische Minderheit in Griechenland (Albumul Macedo-Roman II, Freiburg 1964), the Romanian help suddenly stopped with the coming of Communism. Braga's explanation was that in fact Romania had shown its true face, having used the Aromanians for its own purposes during the Ottoman rule, but afterwards throwing them away and disowning them.

Greek historians, when mentioning the Vlachs that attended the Romanian-sponsored churches and schools of Macedonia, Epirus and parts of Albania, describe them as being victims of Romanian propaganda, suggesting that they sent their children to schools where they were taught that they are Romanians.[citation needed]

Due to the sponsoring of the schools, the Kingdom of Romania was accused by Greece of alliance with the Ottomans.[citation needed] The Vlachs, recognized as a separate nation by the 1878 Treaty of Berlin, were for the first time incorporated in Greece only in 1881, when Thessaly and a part of Epirus were offered to Greece by the Great Powers. Having been split into two by the new borders, the bulk of the Vlachs of these province petitioned[32] the Great Powers of the time to be let to stay within the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire, but in vain. Greece followed a policy of creating a Greater Greece, according to the "Megali Idea". Most of the Aromanians became part of the Greek state in 1913 after the rest of Epirus and parts of Macedonia became part of Greece after the First Balkan War.

Roughly at the same time, the first studies regarding the Aromanians were published by western observers. Among these, names like Rebecca West, Osbert Lancaster or Sir Charles Eliot's are worth to be mentioned. Lancaster, who visited Greece in 1947, stated:

Although Metsovo, with its gigantic plane tree in the middle of the little square, its stone paved streets and abundant gardens, is typical of many a village in Epirus, in respect of its inhabitants it is unique. The Vlachs, to which race this people belong, are nomads, claiming with some degree of probability to partial descent from the Roman colonists of the Danube valley. In former times they were far more numerous than to-day, occupying the larger part of Thrace and Macedonia and establishing in the twelfth century a Bulgaro-Vlach empire in Thessaly which survived in practical independence until the coming of the Turk.

Although for the most part herdsmen, horse-breeder and shepherds following their beasts from pasture to pasture and living in temporary encampments of round wattle huts, the existence of urban settlements, of which Metsovo is the most considerable, would seem to afford evidence that, their nomadism is not natural but acquired. In general they are fairer in complexion and more industrious in their habits than the Greeks whom they affect to despise.[33]

The Vlachs, this very interesting people are not Greek at all but a race of nomads, who come down from the Balkan lands in the winter with their flock and pass the cold months in Greece. They are shepherd by business, and their tribal name has become a sort of synonym for an ancient profession. Generally they are a people as kindly as they are picturesque, patriarchally hospitable and good sportsmen, as many an English Consul knows, and by no means ill favoured[34]

Interbellum and World War II

The Inter-war period is of great interest regarding Aromanian history. The main event was the immigration of the Aromanians in the first decades of the 20th century. One of the reasons for the sudden departure of the Vlachs, had to do with the policies of the Greek state, who had to accommodate one and a half million of Greeks of Asia Minor following the 1923 exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey. In addition, the Romanian state had offered them land and privilleges, in order to populate its new province of Dobruja, soon after annexing it from Bulgaria. The 25% of the region's population still traces its origins in Greece.

The last important episode concerns the Principality of Pindus episode. During World War II, the Italian occupation of Greece provided an opportunity for some Aromanians to create what they called "Vlach homeland". This fascist puppet state would not survive even nominally past Italy's exit from the war in September 1943. Modern Greek historiography describes the Aromanians as victims of Romanian "agents", which infiltrated Greece to spread "Italo-Romanian Propaganda".

Post-war situation in Greece

Aromanians today come after more than 50 years after the closure of the last school and church in the Vlach language. The old term "Vlachos" is still used as a "pejorative" by Greeks.[35]. After the Regime of the Colonels fell in 1974 however, the first local cultural organizations were formed to prevent the extinction of the language and culture. These organisations never had government support. Aromanian language had never been included in the educational curriculum of Greece, as it had always been considered a vulgar language. On the contrary, their use has been strongly discouraged. Such attitudes have led many Vlach parents to discourage their children from learning their mother tongue in order to avoid discrimination and maltreatment.[14] Currently there is no education for Aromanian children in their mother tongue, and there are no public television or radio stations broadcasting fully or partially in Aromanian.

The European Parliamentary Assembly examined a report on the Aromanians in 1997 which reported the critical situation of the Aromanian language and culture (see the report), and adopted a recommendation that the Greek government should do whatever is necessary to respect their culture and facilitate education in Aromanian and to implement its use in schools, churches and the media. The Greek Vlachs oppose the introduction of the language into the education system as EU and leading Greek political figures have suggested, viewing it as an artificial distinction between them and other Greeks. For example, the former education minister, George Papandreou, received a negative response from Aromanian mayors and associations to his proposal for a trial Aromanian language education programme. The Panhellenic Federation of Cultural Associations of Vlachs (Πανελλήνια Ομοσπονδία Πολιτιστικών Συλλόγων Βλάχων) expressed strong opposition to EU's recommendation in 1997 that the tuition of Aromanian be supported so as to avoid its extinction.[5]. On the other hand, there is a small minority within the community which strongly supports such efforts.[citation needed] On a visit to Metsovo, Epirus in 1998, the Greek President Costis Stephanopoulos called on Aromanians to speak and teach their language, so as not to be lost. There are currently no schools or churches teaching and holding services in Aromanian language.

While many Aromanians identify themselves as both Vlachs and Greeks, a small segment of the native Vlach inhabitants of Greece identify themselves as fully separate from the Greeks. This appears to be the case of some of the more remote villages of Pindus, where, sheltered somehow from contact with the dominant Greek culture, the older generation of the Vlachs converses in a separate language and customs. Dr. Thede Kahl, whose broader perspective on the Aromanian community in Greece is questioned by members of that community, argues in his study "Ethnologica Balkanica ("The Ethnicity of Aromanians after 1990: the Identity of a Minority that Behaves like a Majority")":

There are still pro-Vlach Aromanians in Greece, especially in villages in which strong Vlach communities were once accepted by the Greek authorities, above all in Avdhela, Perivoli, Samarina, Vovusa, Krania, Edessa, Veria and surrounding areas, as well in a few villages in the district of Kastoria and Ioannina. On a whole, they are a minute and dwindling number of Aromanians.[36]

Debate and discussion continues, with differing perspectives ; Vlachs in Greece insist they are happy in practicing their dual identity. Some Vlachs outside Greece suggest difficulties may still be illustrated by the Sotiris Bletsas case [6] [7]. Bletsas distributed copies of EBLUL material covering linguistic minorities in Greece at an Aromanian festival held in Greece in 1995. He was put on trial on 2 February 2001 and was first convicted, but was subsequently cleared on 18 October 2001.[37]

See also

References and footnotes


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b According to INTEREG - quoted by Eurominority: Aromanians in Greece
  3. ^ Ethnologue report for language code:rup
  4. ^ According to INTEREG - quoted by Eurominority: Aromanians in Albania, Albania's Aromanians; Reemerging into History
  5. ^ "Aromânii vor statut minoritar", in Cotidianul, 9 December 2006
  6. ^ Ethnologue
  7. ^ a b 2001 census
  8. ^ Macedonian Minorities: the Slav Macedonians of Northern Greece and the Treatment of Minorities in the Republic of Macedonia, a report issued by the British Helsinki Human Rights Group, Oxford, 1994.
  9. ^ According to Encyclopedia Britannica
  10. ^ Weigand, Gustav. 1888. Die Sprache der Olympo-Walachen, p. 4. Leipzig: Johann Amborsius Barth.
  11. ^ Curta, Florin and Stephenson, Paul. Southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 500-1250. Cambridge University Press, 2006. ISBN 0521815398
  12. ^ Istro-Romanian Community Worldwide, a site created by Istro-Romanians
  13. ^ Istro-Romanians of Croatia
  14. ^ a b Greek Monitor of Human and Minority Rights vol I. No 3 December 1995
  15. ^ According to
  16. ^ EBLUL - European Bureau for Lesser-Used Languages - Member State Committees - Greece
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Армъните в България ("The Aromanians in Bulgaria")" (in Bulgarian). Архитектурно-етнографски комплекс "Етър" - Габрово. Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  19. ^ - Ministerul Afacerilor Externe
  20. ^ [2]
  21. ^ Romanian Global News - singura agentie de presa a romanilor de pretutindeni
  22. ^ D. Seward and S. Mountgarret - Byzantium: A Journey and a Guide; Harrap, London 1985 (p.183 etc.): Metsovo is the Greek capital of this shepherd race. After the Empire's temporary collapse in 1204 the Vlachs even set up their own kingdom of Great Wallachia
  23. ^ Libro de Viages de Benjamin de Tudela, Volume VIII, p. 63.
  24. ^ Libro de Viages de Benjamin de Tudela.
  25. ^ N. Malcom: “Bosnia: A Short History, p. 66.”
  26. ^ Sir Charles Eliot: “Turkey in Europe”, London 1908, re-printed: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd - London 1965, pp.370-379;
  27. ^ Neofytos Doukas, "Logos peri katastaseos skholeion"
  28. ^ Thede Kahl, Ethnizität und räumliche Verteilung der Aromunen in Südeuropa. Münster, 1999
  29. ^ Constantin Papanace: “A Memorandum to the United Nations in favour of the Macedo-Romanians”, 1955
  30. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition; 1911
  31. ^ George Ap. Padioti - Cantitii Farserotesti - Tragoudia Farsarioton Arvanitovlahon - Published by Etaireia Aromanikou (Vlahikou) Politismou, Athens: January 1991, p. 71
  32. ^ Sir Charles Eliot - "Turkey in Europe" - London 1908, re-printed 1965 (pp. 370-382; 430 - 441): "..After the Greco-Turkish war the Vlachs of Thessaly petitioned the Powers that they might be placed under Ottoman and not Greek Government." [...]
  33. ^ Osbert Lancaster - Classical Landscape with Figures - London, 1975, John Murray
  34. ^ W.A. Wigram D.D. - Hellenic Travel, Faber and Faber Ltd., London 1947 (pp.109-11)
  35. ^ John Nandris - "The Aromani" (In "World Archaeology" 17/1985, p. 261)
  36. ^ Dr. Thede Kahl - Ethnologica Balkanica ("The Ethnicity of Aromanians after 1990: the Identity of a Minority that Behaves like a Majority" 6/2002, p.154)
  37. ^ Thede Kahl, Istoria Aromânilor, Editura Tritonic, 2005, Bucureşti, ISBN 973-733-041-2, p. 133-134


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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




  1. Plural form of Aromanian.

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