Foundation of Wallachia
The foundation of Wallachia (Romanian: Descălecatul Ţării Româneşti), that is the establishment of the first independent Romanian principality, was achieved at the beginning of the 14th century, through the unification of smaller political units that had existed between the Carpathian Mountains, and the Rivers Danube, Siret and Milcov.
Prior to the consolidation of Wallachia, waves of nomadic peoples – the last of them being the Cumans and the Mongols – rode across the territory.The territory became a frontier area between the Golden Horde (the westernmost part of the Mongol Empire) and the Kingdom of Hungary after 1242.The Romanians in Muntenia, east of the Olt River, had to pay tribute to the Mongols; and west of the river, in Oltenia, they were oppressed by the Bans of Severin, appointed by the Kings of Hungary. The Golden Horde’s domination decreased in the region at the end of the 13th century, and at that time the Kingdom of Hungary also underwent a strong political crisis. These events enabled the incipient states of the territory to consolidate their autonomy.
One Romanian tradition records that Wallachia was founded when a certain Radu Negru (‘Radu the Black’) arrived from the Făgăraş region in the 1290s after crossing the Transylvanian Alps with “a great many following him”. More credible is the report that some Romanian lords in the Olt and Argeş valleys chose as leader one of their number, a certain Basarab.
It was Voivode Basarab I (c. 1310–1352) who broke off with the Kingdom of Hungary and refused to accept the king’s suzerainty.Basarab I received international support and the recognition of the autonomy of Wallachia due to his great military victory over King Charles I of Hungary (1301–1342) at Posada on November 12, 1330. The Metropolitan See of Wallachia, directly subordinated to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, was set up during the reign of Basarab I’s son, Nicolae Alexandru (1352–1364). The first silver and bronze coins were minted in Wallachia in 1365.
In the mists of time
Bezerenbam seems to be a Wallachian ruler mentioned in 1241 in the Persian chronicle of Fazel-Ullah-Raschid, with Mişelav. Country Ilaut prince was probably where they met Tatars during their invasion. Some researchers assume that was the predecessor of Litovoi, but not hazardează others in such statements due to the route difficult to determine, according to reports chronicle:
“Ordul, through Ilaut country has met and beat Bezerenbam. [And still Budjek] Sassanilor Mountains pass to enter the Kara-Ulag, karaulaghilor peoples faces, move mountains and enters the land of Mişelav, which beat the enemy that awaited him.”
Litovoi,also Litvoy, was a Vlach voivode in the 13th century whose territory comprised northern Oltenia (Romania).
He is mentioned for the first time in a diploma issued by king Béla IV of Hungary (1235–1270) on 2 July 1247.The diploma granted territories to the Knights Hospitaller in the Banate of Severin and Cumania, “with the exception of the land of the kenazate of Voivode Litovoi,” which the king leaved to the Vlachs “as they had held it”.
The king’s diploma also refers to the kenazates of Farcaş and John and to a certain voivode Seneslau.Although the names of Litovoi and Seneslau are of Slavic origin, they are expressly said to be Vlachs (Olati) in the king’s diploma.Bulgarian historian Vasil Zlatarski, based on an information[clarification needed] of Rashid-al-Din and other sources[clarification needed], suggests that the voivodeship of Litovoi was under the suzerainty of the Second Bulgarian Empire.
It seems that Litovoi was the most powerful of all the above local rulers.His territories were exempted from the grant to the knights,but half of the royal taxes generated by his land (terra Lytua) was assigned to the Hospitallers – except for the income from the Haţeg district (terra Harszoc in the diploma’s only surviving, papal copy), which the king kept all for himself. According to the Romanian historian Ioan Aurel Pop, the king had grabbed Haţeg from Litovoi shortly before 1247.
In 1277 (or between 1277 and 1280),Litovoi was at war with the Hungarians over lands king Ladislaus IV of Hungary (1272–1290) claimed for the crown, but for which Litovoi refused to pay tribute.Litovoi was killed in battle.This event is recounted in the king’s letter of grant of 8 January 1285, in which king Ladislaus IV donated villages in Sáros County (today in Slovakia) to Master George, son of Simon, who had been sent against Litovoi.
Bărbat was the brother and successor of voivode Litovoi whose territory had comprised northern Oltenia (Romania).
In 1277(or between 1277 and 1280), Litovoi renounced fealty to king Ladislaus IV of Hungary (1272–1290)when the king claimed lands for the crown, but Litovoi refused to pay tribute for them.King Ladislaus IV dispatched a punitive force,and Litovoi was killed during the battle against the Hungarian army.Bărbat was taken prisoner and sent to the royal court where he was forced not only to pay ransom but also to recognize Hungarian rule.After Bărbat accepted Hungarian suzerainty under the stress of circumstances, he returned to his country.
All these events are recounted in the king’s letter of grant of 8 January 1285, in which king Ladislaus IV donated villages in Sáros County (today in Slovakia) to Master George, son of Simon, who had been sent against Litovoi.
Basarab I of Wallachia
Basarab I the Founder (Romanian: Basarab Întemeietorul, also Basarab I the Great, Basarab cel Mare;was voivode or prince of Wallachia (c. 1310/1319–1352).His rise seems to have taken place in the context of the war between the Kingdom of Hungary and the Orthodox states in the north of the Balkan Peninsula.Around 1324 Basarab became a vassal of King Charles I of Hungary (1308–1342), but later the king called him ‘unfaithful’ on the pretext that Basarab had occupied crown territories.
Basarab I’s name was originally Basarabai and lost the ending -a when it was borrowed into Romanian. The name is of Cuman or Pecheneg origin and most likely meant “father ruler”. Basar was the present participle of the verb “to rule”, derivatives attested in both old and modern Kypchak languages. The Romanian historian Nicolae Iorga believed the second part of the name, -aba (“father”), to be an honorary title, as recognizable in many Cuman names, such as Terteroba, Arslanapa, and Ursoba.
In 1330 King Charles I launched an expedition into Wallachia to restore his authority over that area.On November 12, after three days of fighting, Basarab defeated the Hungarian forces at the battle of Posada.The battle marked the end of Hungarian rule and the appearance of the first independent Romanian principality.
Basarab founded the first Romanian ruling dynasty which was named after him.
From the mid-14th century onwards his name appears in Serbian, Hungarian, Moldavian and Polish sources as the name of Wallachia, and from the 15th century as a name for the territory between the lower reaches of the rivers Prut and Dniester. Bessarabia became the name of the whole land between the Prut and the Dniester ( today’s Republic of Moldova) only after the Russian conquest of the area in 1812.
Basarab was the son of a local potentate called Thocomerius whose status cannot be specified.Several Romanian historians suggest that Thocomerius followed Bărbat(the latter had been mentioned in a letter of grant of 8 January 1285 issued by King Ladislaus IV of Hungary as the brother and successor of Litovoi, a voivode in modern Oltenia).
Basarab was expressly stated to be a Romanian (Vlach); King Charles I of Hungary speaks of him as ‘our unfaithful Vlach’.
The linguist Sorin Paliga suggests that – despite many opposite hypotheses – his name may be one of the Thracian anthroponomical relics in Romanian, since the root bas-, bes- is well attested in Thracian (cf. Albanian besë ‘creed, faith’). He thinks that the name may be the continuation of the similar Thracian names (e.g., Bassaros, Bassos, Bassus) and may be connected to Bassarái (a garment of Bacchus priestesses).
Vassal of the king of Hungary
Toward the middle of the 13th century voivodates dependent on the Kingdom of Hungary began to form on the territories of future Wallachia, but evidence shows that they soon sought independence from the Hungarian drown. The trend toward unification seems to have begun with Litovoi who was at war with the Hungarians in 1277 and was killed in battle.
The Kingdom of Hungary underwent a strong political crisis at the end of the Árpád dynasty . The Golden Horde’s domination also decreased in the territories between the Carpathian Mountains and the river Danube at the end of the 13th century.These enabled the states in the sub-Carpathian regions to consolidate their autonomy and to progressively extend their authority over the Danube plains.
Basarab was a vassal of King Charles I of Hungary, who called him‘our voivode of Wallachia’in a diploma issued on 26 July 1324. He became the king’s vassal probably after 1321, because it was towards the end of 1321 or the beginning of 1322 when the king personally lead a campaign to the Banat that resulted in his recapture of the castle of Mehadia from the rebel Vejteh family. Basarab, however, was already referred to as ‘Basarab of Wallachia, unfaithful to the king’s Holy Crown’ in a diploma issued on 18 June 1325. The diploma also narrates that a certain Stephen, son of Parabuh, a Cuman count in Hungary, in the course of a dispute, stated that Basarab’s strength exceeded that of the Hungarian king himself.
The Hungarian historian István Vásáry suggests that the king must have referred to him as a rebellious vassal because Basarab had occupied the Banate of Severin, a province of the Kingdom of Hungary on the territory of modern Oltenia.The Romanian historian Tudor Sălăgean thinks that by 1325 Basarab had already been in possession of the strategic fortress of Severin as a result of a peace treaty between Hungary and Wallachia in 1324.Nevertheless, between 1324 and 1330 no reference can be found in the sources to any ban of Severin, so it must have been during these years that Basarab seized the province.
The fact that Pope John22 (1316-1334) addressed Basarab, in 1327, as a ‘devoted Catholic prince’ and praised his actions against the unfaithful seems to show some collaboration between the Romanian voivode and the Catholic world, but the precise details are missing
The battle of Posada (Viennese copy of Hungarian Illuminated Chronicle)
The battle of Posada and its background
Basarab gave his daughter in marriage to Ivan Alexander, a nephew of Tzar Michael Shishman of Bulgaria (1323–1330) who was an enemy of the Hungarian king. In a document issued on 27 March 1329, Basarab was mentioned among King Charles I’s enemies alongside the Bulgarians, the Serbs and the Tatars who constantly attacked the Hungarian confines. In 1330, Basarab took part in the military campaign Tzar Michael Sishman launched against Serbia, which ended on July 18 withthe Serb victory at Velbazhd .
Immediately following the Serbian defeat of the Bulgarians and Romanians at Velbazhd, King Charles I made an expedition against Basarab.When the Banate of Severin was retaken, Basarab offered to pay yearly tribute and 7,000 silver marks in compensation, and to recognize the king’s sovereignty; but his offers were rejected, and the king advanced into Wallachia as far as Curtea de Arges. However, the king was eventually forced to withdraw toward Transylvania without having engaged the Romanian army in battle, because difficulties rose in the provision of food supplies.
But a large contingent of Wallachian soldiers was waiting for the Hungarians at Posada, and as they were winding their way through a narrow valley, the Hungarians found themselves trapped. On November 12, after three days of fighting, the Hungarians were soundly defeated, the king managing with difficulty to escape with his life.
King Charles I fleeing from the battle at Posada
The independent Wallachia
The victory of 1330 sanctioned the independence of Wallachia from the Hungarian crown and also essentially altered its international position.Only a few month after his great victory, in February, 1331, Basarab contributed to the establishment of his son-in-law, Ivan Alexander on the throne of the tsars of Tarnova.In 1331-32, Wallachian troops supported the Bulgarians in a victorious war against Byzantium. During the same period Basarab seems to have regained the fortress of Severin.
A new Hungarian offensive took place between 1343 and 1345, after King Charles’ death and the coronation of his son King Louis I .This time, Basarab lost the fortress of Severin and his son, Nicolae Alexandru, probably associated to the throne, accepted paying the homage of vassalage to the king of Hungary.
Here are buried the first Wallchians princes ,and dates from the 70s.[Curtea de arges].Construction of the church began in the reign of Basarab I, to be continued by Nicholas Alexander (1352 – 1364) and end with mural paintings, mostly kept to this day, under the rule of Vlaicu Voda (1364-1377).