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Vlachs or Walachians (pronounced /ˈvlɑːk/ or /ˈvlæk/) is a blanket term covering several modern Latin peoples descending from the Latinised population in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. English variations on the name include: Walla, Vallachians, Wallachians, Wlachs, Wallachs, Vlahs, Olahs or Ulahs; Groups that have historically been called Vlachs include: modern-day Romanians or Daco-Romanians, Aromanians, Morlachs, Megleno-Romanians and Istro-Romanians. Since the creation of the Romanian state, the term in English has mostly been used for those living outside Romania.

Branches of Vlachs/Romanians and their territories

The term Vlach is originally an exonym. All the Vlach groups used various words derived from romanus to refer to themselves: Români, Rumâni, Rumâri, Aromâni, Arumâni etc. (note: the Megleno-Romanians nowadays call themselves "Vlaşi", but historically called themselves "Rămâni"; The Istro-Romanians also have adopted the names Vlaşi, but still use Rumâni and Rumâri to refer to themselves).

The Vlachs are normally considered descendants of Romanised (Paleo-Balkanic) peoples such as the Thracians (incl. Dacians) and Illyrians[1], as well as other populations of the Balkans such as Greeks (Hellenes and Greco-Romans), though there are also some alternative theories[2][3].

The Vlach languages, also called the Eastern Romance languages, have a common origin from the Proto-Romanian language. Over the centuries, the Vlachs split into various Vlach groups (see Romania in the Dark Ages) and mixed with neighbouring populations: Slavs, Greeks, Albanians, Cumans, and others.

Almost all modern nations in Central and Southeastern Europe have native Vlach minorities: Hungary, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia, Greece and Bulgaria. In other countries, the native Vlach population have been completely assimilated by the Slavic population and therefore ceased to exist: Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Montenegro. Only in Romania and the Republic of Moldova, the Vlach (Dacoromanian or Romanian proper) population consist an ethnic majority today.

Contents

Etymology

The word Vlach is ultimately of Germanic origin, from the word Walha, a name used by ancient Germanic peoples to refer to Romance-speaking and Celtic neighbours. As such, it shares its history with several ethnic names all across Europe, including the Welsh and Walloons. Slavic people initially used the name Vlachs when referring to Romanic people in general. Later on, the meaning became narrower or just different. For example Italy is called Włochy in Polish, and Olaszország ("Olasz country") in Hungarian (although it is disputed, because the word "oláh" is also existing in Hungarian, but describing only peoples from historical Moldova and Wallacha). In the Old English poem Widsith, the Romans are referred to as Romwalas.The meaning of word Vlach most certainty may originate from Albanian word Vëlla (alb. geg dialet: vlla) which means Brother. It may be a surviving word from ancient Thraco-Illyrian Language since the Thracian and Illyrian languages were considered to be close to each other.

Through history, the term "Vlach" was often used for groups which were not ethnically Vlachs, often pejoratively - for example for any shepherding community, or for Christians by Muslims (Karadjaovalides). In the Croatian region of Dalmatia, Vlaj/Vlah (sing.) and Vlaji/Vlasi (plural) are the terms used by the inhabitants of coastal towns for the people who live inland or pejoratively: barbarians who came from the mountain. In Greece, the word Βλάχος (Vláhos) is often used as a slur against any supposedly uncouth or uncultured person, but literally it simply means countryperson and is often used as a synonym for Χωριάτης (Choriátis) which means villager.

Territories with Vlach population

Besides the separation of some groups (Aromanians, Megleno-Romanians) during the Age of Migration, many other vlachs could be found all over the Balkans, as far north as Poland and as far west as the regions of Moravia (part of the modern Czech Republic), and the present-day Croatia where the Morlachs gradually disappeared, while the Catholic and Orthodox Vlachs took Croat and Serb national identity.[4] They reached these regions in search of better pastures, and were called "Wallachians" ("Vlasi; Valaši") by the Slavic peoples.

Statal Entities:

Regions:

People

Map of Balkans with regions inhabited by Vlachs/Romanians highlighted

Genetics

Vlachs have a similar genetic structure compared to other southeastern Europeans. Population genetics analyses have demonstrated significant molecular variance among different Vlach groups, suggesting that they do not constitute a homogeneous group. Instead, most of the tested Vlach groups outside Romania were genetically similar to their Greek and Slavic-speaking neighbours.

Bosch et al. attempted to analyze whether Vlachs are the descendents of Latinized Dacians, Illyrians, Thracians, Greeks, or a combination of the above. No hypothesis could be proven due to the high degree of underlying genetic similarity possessed by all the tested Balkan groups. The linguistic and cultural differences among various Balkan groups were thus deemed to be have not been strong enough to prevent significant gene flow among the above groups.[6]

Culture

Many Vlachs were shepherds in the medieval times, driving their sheep through the mountains of Southeastern Europe. The Vlach shepherds reached as far as Southern Poland and Moravia in the North (by following the Carpathian range), Dinaric Alps in West, the Pindus mountains in South, and as far as the Caucasus Mountains in the east [7].

In many of these areas, the descendants of the Vlachs have lost their language, but their legacy still lives today in cultural influences: customs, folklore and the way of life of the mountain people, as well as in the place names of Romanian or Aromanian origin that are spread all across the region.

Another part of the Vlachs, especially those in the northern parts, in Romania and Moldova, were traditional farmers growing cereals. Linguists believe that the large vocabulary of Latin words related to agriculture shows that they have always been a farming Vlach population. Just like the language, the cultural links between the Northern Vlachs (Romanians) and Southern Vlachs (Aromanians) were broken by the 10th century, and since then, there were different cultural influences:

  • Romanian culture was influenced by neighbouring people such as Slavs and later on Hungarians, and developed itself to what it is today. The 19th century saw an important opening toward Western Europe and cultural ties with France.
  • Aromanian culture developed initially as a pastoral culture, later to be greatly influenced by the Byzantine and Greek culture.

Religion

The religion of the Vlachs is predominantly Eastern Orthodox Christianity, but there are some regions where they are Catholics and Protestants (mainly in Transylvania) and a few are even Muslims (around 500 Megleno-Romanians from Greece who converted to Islam and have been living in Turkey since the 1923 exchange of populations). The Istro-Romanians are entirely Roman Catholics.

History

The first record of a Balkan Romanic presence in the Byzantine period can be found in the writings of Procopius, in the 5th century. The writings mention forts with names such as Skeptekasas (Seven Houses), Burgulatu (Broad City), Loupofantana (Wolf's Well) and Gemellomountes (Twin Mountains). A Byzantine chronicle of 586 about an incursion against the Avars in the eastern Balkans may contain one of the earliest references to Vlachs. The account states that when the baggage carried by a mule slipped, the muleteer shouted, "Torna, torna, fratre!" ("Return, return, brother!"). However the account might just be a recording of one of the last appearances of Latin (Vulgar Latin).

Blachernae, the suburb of Constantinople, was named after a certain Duke from Scythia named "Blachernos". His name may be linked with the name "Blachs" (Vlachs).

In the 10th century, the Hungarians arrived in the Pannonian plain, and, according to the Gesta Hungarorum written around 1146 by the anonymous chancellor of King Bela III of Hungary, the plain was inhabited by Slavs, Bulgars, Vlachs or pastores Romanorum (shepherds of the Romans) (in original: sclauij, Bulgarij et Blachij, ac pastores romanorum). In the 12-14th century they came under the Kingdom of Hungary, the Byzantine Empire and the Golden Horde.[8]

In 1185, two noble brothers from Tarnovo named Peter and Asen (their ethnicity is still disputed, some historians claim they were Vlachs, while others put forward different origins) led a Bulgarian and Vlach rebellion against Byzantine Greek rule and declared Tsar Peter II (also known as Theodore Peter) as king of the reborn state. The following year, the Byzantines were forced to recognize Bulgaria's independence and the Second Bulgarian Empire was established. Peter styled himself "Tsar of the Bulgarians, Greeks, and Vlachs" (see Vlach-Bulgar Rebellion), though the reference to Vlachs in the style fell out by the early 13th century.

See also

Further reading

  • Theodor Capidan, Aromânii, dialectul aromân. Studiul lingvistic ("Aromanians, Aromanian dialect, Linguistic Study"), Bucharest, 1932
  • Victor A. Friedman, "The Vlah Minority in Macedonia: Language, Identity, Dialectology, and Standardization" in Selected Papers in Slavic, Balkan, and Balkan Studies, ed. Juhani Nuoluoto, et al. Slavica Helsingiensa:21, Helsinki: University of Helsinki. 2001. 26-50. full text Though focussed on the Vlachs of Macedonia, has in-depth discussion of many topics, including the origins of the Vlachs, their status as a minority in various countries, their political use in various contexts, and so on.
  • Asterios I. Koukoudis, The Vlachs: Metropolis and Diaspora, 2003, ISBN 960-7760-86-7
  • George Murnu, Istoria românilor din Pind, Vlahia Mare 980-1259 ("History of the Romanians of the Pindus, Greater Vlachia, 980-1259"), Bucharest, 1913

External links

Footnotes

  1. ^ Badlands-Borderland: A History of Southern Albania/Northern Epirus [ILLUSTRATED] (Hardcover) by T.J. Winnifruth,ISBN 0715632019,2003,page 44,"Romanized Illyrians, the ancestors of the modern Vlachs"
  2. ^ http://smroc.link2net.net/culture.html
  3. ^ Historians and The History of Transylvania: Issue 332 of East European Monographs; Volume 332 of Clinical Approaches to Tachyarrhythmias (]ILLUSTRATED] by László Péter, ISBN 0880332298, 9780880332293,East European Monographs, 1992
  4. ^ Hammel, E. A. and Kenneth W. Wachter. "The Slavonian Census of 1698. Part I: Structure and Meaning, European Journal of Population". University of California. http://www.demog.berkeley.edu/~gene/hammel_1-fmt.html. 
  5. ^ "Peoples of Europe". Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 2002 ISBN 0761473785, 9780761473787. http://books.google.ro/books?id=gwqL95lflz4C&pg=PA408&dq=vlachs+maramures&as_brr=3#PPA391,M1. 
  6. ^ E Bosch et al. Paternal and maternal lineages in the Balkans show a homogeneous landscape over linguistic barriers, except for the isolated Aromuns. Annals of Human Genetics, Volume 70, Issue 4 (p 459-487)
  7. ^ Silviu Dragomir: "Vlahii din nordul peninsulei Balcanice în evul mediu"; 1959, p. 172;
  8. ^ Mircea Muşat, Ion Ardeleanu-From ancient Dacia to modern Romania, p.114
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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

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Wikipedia

Etymology

Via Slavonic but ultimately of Germanic origin, from the word Walha, a name used by ancient Germanic peoples to refer to (mainly) Romance-speaking neighbours.

Pronunciation

Noun

Vlach populations in modern Europe.

Singular
Vlach

Plural
countable and uncountable; plural Vlachs

Vlach (countable and uncountable; plural Vlachs)

  1. A Romanian (Daco-Romanian, Aromanian, Istro-Romanian or Megleno-Romanian). The antiquated exonym refering to a member of a people forming the principal ethnic group of Romania and Moldova, also located in small populations in other parts of the Balkan Peninsula.

Synonyms

Proper noun

Vlach

  1. Any of the dialects of the Romanian language/Eastern Romance languages: Daco-Romanian, Aromanian, Istro-Romanian or Megleno-Romanian.

Related terms

External links


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