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440 BCE - 2023

History of Romania

The history of Romania is rich and multifaceted, marked by a series of different historical periods. Ancient times were dominated by the Dacians, who were eventually conquered by the Romans in 106 CE, leading to a period of Roman rule that left a lasting influence on the language and culture. The Middle Ages saw the emergence of distinct principalities like Wallachia and Moldavia, which were often caught between the interests of powerful neighboring empires such as the Ottomans, the Habsburgs, and the Russians.

In the modern era, Romania achieved independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1877 and subsequently unified in 1918, encompassing Transylvania, Banat, and other regions. The interwar period was marked by political turmoil and economic growth, followed by World War II when Romania initially aligned with the Axis powers and then switched sides in 1944. The post-war era saw the establishment of a Communist regime, which lasted until the 1989 revolution that led to a transition to democracy. Romania's accession to the European Union in 2007 marked a significant milestone in its contemporary history, reflecting its integration into Western political and economic structures.

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6050 BCE Jan 1

Cucuteni–Trypillia Culture


The Neolithic-Age Cucuteni area in northeastern Romania was the western region of one of the earliest European civilizations, known as the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture.[1] The earliest-known salt works is at Poiana Slatinei near the village of Lunca; it was first used in the early Neolithic around 6050 BCE by the Starčevo culture and later by the Cucuteni-Trypillia culture in the pre-Cucuteni period.[2] Evidence from this and other sites indicates the Cucuteni-Trypillia culture extracted salt from salt-laden spring water through the process of briquetage.[3]

Scythian Raiders in Thrace, 5th century BCE ©Angus McBride
600 BCE Jan 1


Transylvania, Romania

Using the Pontic steppe as their base, the Scythians over the course of the 7th to 6th centuries BCE often raided into the adjacent regions, with Central Europe being a frequent target of their raids, and Scythian incursions reaching Podolia, Transylvania, and the Hungarian Plain, due to which, beginning in this period, and from the end of the 7th century onwards, new objects, including weapons and horse-equipment, originating from the steppes and remains associated with the early Scythians started appearing within Central Europe, especially in the Thracian and Hungarian plains, and in the regions corresponding to present-day Bessarabia, Transylvania, Hungary, and Slovakia. Multiple fortified settlements of the Lusatian culture were destroyed by Scythian attacks during this period, with the Scythian onslaught causing the destruction of the Lusatian culture itself. As part of the Scythians' expansion into Europe, one section of the Scythian Sindi tribe migrated during the 7th to 6th centuries BCE from the region of the Lake Maeotis towards the west, through Transylvania into the eastern Pannonian basin, where they settled alongside the Sigynnae and soon lost contact with the Scythians of the Pontic steppe.[115]

500 BCE - 271
Dacian and Roman Periods
Thracian peltasts anad Greek ecdromoi 5th century BCE. ©Angus McBride
440 BCE Jan 1 - 104


Carpathian Mountains

The Dacians, who are widely accepted to be the same people as the Getae, with Roman sources predominantly using the name Dacian and Greek sources predominantly using the name Getae, were a branch of Thracians who inhabited Dacia, which corresponds with modern Romania, Moldova, northern Bulgaria, south-western Ukraine, Hungary east of the Danube river and West Banat in Serbia.

The earliest written evidence of people living in the territory of present-day Romania comes from Herodotus in Book IV of his Histories, which was written in c. 440 BCE; He writes that the tribal union/confederation of the Getae were defeated by the Persian Emperor Darius the Great during his campaign against the Scythians, and describes the Dacians as the bravest and most law-abiding of the Thracians.[4]

The Dacians spoke a dialect of the Thracian language but were influenced culturally by the neighbouring Scythians in the east and by the Celtic invaders of Transylvania in the 4th century. Due to the fluctuating nature of the Dacian states, especially before the time of Burebista and before the 1st century CE, the Dacians would often be split into different kingdoms.

Geto-Dacians inhabited both sides of the Tisa river prior to the rise of the Celtic Boii and again after the latter were defeated by the Dacians under the king Burebista. It seems likely that the Dacian state arose as a tribal confederacy, which was united only by charismatic leadership in both military-political and ideological-religious domains.[5] At the beginning of the 2nd century BCE (before 168 BCE), under the rule of king Rubobostes, a Dacian king in present-day Transylvania, the Dacians' power in the Carpathian basin increased after they defeated the Celts, who held power in the region since the Celtic invasion of Transylvania in the 4th century BCE.

Celts in Transylvania
Celtic Invasions. ©Angus McBride
400 BCE Jan 1

Celts in Transylvania

Transylvania, Romania

Large areas of ancient Dacia, which were populated early in the First Iron Age by Thracian people, were affected by a massive migration of Iranian Scythians moving east to west during the first half of the first millennium BCE. They were followed by a second equally large wave of Celts migrating west to east.[105] Celts arrived in northwestern Transylvania in around 400–350 BCE as part of their great migration eastwards.[106] When Celtic warriors first penetrated these territories, the group seem to have merged with the domestic population of early Dacians and assimilated many Hallstatt cultural traditions.[107]

In the vicinity of 2nd century BCE Transylvania, the Celtic Boii settled in the northern area of Dunántúl, in modern-day southern Slovakia and in the northern region of Hungary around the centre of modern-day Bratislava.[108] Boii tribal union members the Taurisci and the Anarti lived in northern Dacia with the core of the Anarti tribe found in the area of the Upper Tisa. The Anartophracti from modern southeast Poland are considered part of the Anarti.[109] Scordiscan Celts dwelling southeast of the Iron Gates of the Danube may be considered a part of the Transylvanian Celtic culture.[110] A group of Britogauls also moved into the area.[111]

Celts penetrated first into western Dacia, then as far as north-west and central Transylvania.[112] A large number of archaeological finds indicate a sizeable Celtic population settling for a long period among the natives.[113] The archaeological evidence shows that these Eastern Celts were absorbed into the Geto-Dacian population.[114]

Kingdom of Burebista
Illustration of the Dacian dava discovered in Popești, Giurgiu, Romania, and a potential candidate for the site of the Dacian capital at the time of Burebista's accession, Argedava. ©Radu Oltean
82 BCE Jan 1 - 45 BCE

Kingdom of Burebista

Orăștioara de Sus, Romania

The Dacia of King Burebista (82–44 BCE) stretched from the Black Sea to the source of the river Tisa and from the Balkan Mountains to Bohemia. He was the first king who successfully unified the tribes of the Dacian kingdom, which comprised the area located between the Danube, Tisza, and Dniester rivers, and modern day Romania and Moldova. From 61 BCE onwards Burebista pursued a series of conquests that expanded the Dacian kingdom. The tribes of the Boii and Taurisci were destroyed early in his campaigns, followed by the conquest of the Bastarnae and probably the Scordisci peoples. He led raids throughout Thrace, Macedonia, and Illyria. From 55 BCE the Greek cities on the west coast of the Black Sea were conquered one after another. These campaigns inevitably culminated in conflict with Rome in 48 BCE, at which point Burebista gave his support to Pompey. This in turn made him an enemy to Caesar, who decided to start a campaign against Dacia. In 53 BCE, Burebista was murdered, and the kingdom was divided into four (later five) parts under separate rulers.

Roman Dacia
Legionaries in combat, Second Dacian War, c. 105 CE. ©Angus McBride
106 Jan 1 00:01 - 275 Jan

Roman Dacia

Tapia, Romania

After Burebista's death, the empire he had created broke up into smaller kingdoms. From the reign of Tiberius to Domitian, Dacian activity was reduced into a defensive state. The Romans abandoned plans of mounting an invasion against Dacia. In 86 CE the Dacian king, Decebalus, successfully re-united the Dacian kingdom under his control. Domitian attempted a hasty invasion against the Dacians that ended in disaster. A second invasion brought peace between Rome and Dacia for nearly a decade, until Trajan became emperor in 98 CE. Trajan also pursued two conquests of Dacia, the first, in 101–102 CE, concluded in a Roman victory. Decebalus was forced to agree to harsh terms of peace, but did not honour them, leading to a second invasion of Dacia in 106 CE that ended the independence of the Dacian kingdom.

After its integration into the empire, Roman Dacia saw constant administrative division. In 119, it was divided into two departments: Dacia Superior ("Upper Dacia") and Dacia Inferior ("Lower Dacia"; later named Dacia Malvensis). Between 124 and around 158, Dacia Superior was divided into two provinces, Dacia Apulensis and Dacia Porolissensis. The three provinces would later be unified in 166 and be known as Tres Daciae ("Three Dacias") due to the ongoing Marcomannic Wars. New mines were opened and ore extraction intensified, while agriculture, stock breeding, and commerce flourished in the province. Roman Dacia was of great importance to the military stationed throughout the Balkans and became an urban province, with about ten cities known and all of them originating from old military camps. Eight of these held the highest rank of colonia. Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa was the financial, religious, and legislative center and where the imperial procurator (finance officer) had his seat, while Apulum was Roman Dacia's military center.

From its creation, Roman Dacia suffered great political and military threats. The Free Dacians, allied with the Sarmatians, made constant raids in the province. These were followed by the Carpi (a Dacian tribe) and the newly arrived Germanic tribes (Goths, Taifali, Heruli, and Bastarnae) allied with them. All this made the province difficult for the Roman emperors to maintain, already being virtually lost during the reign of Gallienus (253–268). Aurelian (270–275) would formally relinquish Roman Dacia in 271 or 275 CE. He evacuated his troops and civilian administration from Dacia, and founded Dacia Aureliana with its capital at Serdica in Lower Moesia. The Romanized population still left was abandoned, and its fate after the Roman withdrawal is controversial. According to one theory, the Latin spoken in Dacia, mostly in modern Romania, became the Romanian language, making the Romanians descendants of the Daco-Romans (the Romanized population of Dacia). The opposing theory states that the origin of the Romanians actually lies on the Balkan Peninsula.

271 - 1310
Migration and Medieval Period
©Angus McBride
290 Jan 1 - 376



The Goths started penetrating into territories west of the river Dniester from the 230s.[23] Two distinct groups separated by the river, the Thervingi and the Greuthungi, quickly emerged among them.[24] The one-time province of Dacia was held by "the Taifali, Victohali, and Thervingi"[25] around 350.

The Goths' success is marked by the expansion of the multiethnic "Sântana de Mureş-Chernyakhov culture". Settlements of the culture appeared in Moldavia and Wallachia at the end of the 3rd century,[26] and in Transylvania after 330. These lands were inhabited by a sedentary population engaged in farming and cattle-breeding.[27] Pottery, comb-making and other handicrafts flourished in the villages. Wheel-made fine pottery is a typical item of the period; hand-formed cups of the local tradition were also preserved. Plowshares similar to those made in nearby Roman provinces and Scandinavian-style brooches indicate trade contacts with these regions. "Sântana de Mureş-Chernyakhov" villages, sometimes covering an area exceeding 20 hectares (49 acres), were not fortified and consisted of two types of houses: sunken huts with walls made of wattle and daub and surface buildings with plastered timber walls. Sunken huts had for centuries been typical for settlements east of the Carpathians, but now they appeared in distant zones of the Pontic steppes.

Gothic dominance collapsed when the Huns arrived and attacked the Thervingi in 376. Most of the Thervingi sought asylum in the Roman Empire, and were followed by large groups of Greuthungi and Taifali. All the same, significant groups of Goths stayed in the territories north of the Danube.

Constantine Reconquest of Dacia
©Johnny Shumate
328 Jan 1

Constantine Reconquest of Dacia

Drobeta-Turnu Severin, Romania

In 328 the emperor Constantine the Great inaugurated the Constantine's Bridge (Danube) at Sucidava, (today Celei in Romania)[6] in hopes of reconquering Dacia, a province that had been abandoned under Aurelian. In the late winter of 332, Constantine campaigned with the Sarmatians against the Goths. The weather and lack of food cost the Goths dearly: reportedly, nearly one hundred thousand died before they submitted to Rome. In celebration of this victory Constantine took the title Gothicus Maximus and claimed the subjugated territory as the new province of Gothia.[7] In 334, after Sarmatian commoners had overthrown their leaders, Constantine led a campaign against the tribe. He won a victory in the war and extended his control over the region, as remains of camps and fortifications in the region indicate.[8] Constantine resettled some Sarmatian exiles as farmers in Illyrian and Roman districts, and conscripted the rest into the army. The new frontier in Dacia was along the Brazda lui Novac line supported by Castra of Hinova, Rusidava and Castra of Pietroasele.[9] The limes passed to the north of Castra of Tirighina-Bărboși and ended at Sasyk Lagoon near the Dniester River.[10] Constantine took the title Dacicus maximus in 336.[11] Some Roman territories north of the Danube resisted until Justinian.

Hunnic Invasion
The Hun Empire was a multi-ethnic confederation of steppe tribes. ©Angus McBride
376 Jan 1 - 453

Hunnic Invasion


The Hunnic invasion and conquest of what is now Romania took place in the 4th and 5th centuries. Led by powerful leaders like Attila, the Huns emerged from the eastern steppes, sweeping across Europe and reaching the region of present-day Romania. Known for their fearsome cavalry and aggressive tactics, the Huns overran various Germanic tribes and other local populations, establishing control over parts of the territory.

Their presence in the region played a role in shaping the subsequent history of Romania and its neighboring areas. The Hunnic rule was transient, and their empire began to fragment after Attila's death in 453 CE. Despite their relatively brief dominance, the Huns had a lasting impact on the region, contributing to the migratory movements and cultural shifts that shaped the early medieval period in Eastern Europe. Their invasion also led to increased pressure on the Roman Empire's borders, contributing to its eventual decline.

Germanic Tribes ©Angus McBride
453 Jan 1 - 566



The Gepids' participation in the Huns' campaigns against the Roman Empire brought them much booty, contributing to the development of a rich Gepid aristocracy.[12] A "countless host" under the command of Ardaric formed the right wing of the army of Attila the Hun in the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains in 451.[13] On the eve of the main encounter between allied hordes, the Gepids and Franks met each other, the latter fighting for the Romans and the former for the Huns, and seem to have fought one another to a standstill.

Attila the Hun died unexpectedly in 453. Conflicts among his sons developed into a civil war, enabling the subject peoples to rise up in rebellion.[14] According to Jordanes, the Gepid king, Ardaric, who "became enraged because so many nations were being treated like slaves of the basest condition",[15] was the first to take up arms against the Huns. The decisive battle was fought at the (unidentified) Nedao River in Pannonia in 454 or 455.[16] In the battle, the united army of Gepids, Rugii, Sarmatians and Suebi routed the Huns and their allies, including the Ostrogoths.[17] It was the Gepids who took the lead among the old allies of Attila, and establishing one of the largest and most independent new kingdoms, thus acquiring the "capital of esteem that sustained their kingdom for more than a century".[18] It covered a large part of the former Roman province of Dacia, north of the Danube, and compared to other Middle Danubian kingdoms it remained relatively un-involved with Rome.

The Gepids were defeated by the Lombards and Avars a century later in 567, when Constantinople gave no support to them. Some Gepids joined the Lombards in their subsequent conquest of Italy, some moved into Roman territory, and other Gepids still lived in the area of the old kingdom after it was conquered by the Avars.

Slavic Migrations to the Balkans
Slavic Migrations to the Balkans ©HistoryMaps
500 Jan 1

Slavic Migrations to the Balkans


The Slavic migrations to the Balkans began in the mid-6th century and first decades of the 7th century in the Early Middle Ages. The rapid demographic spread of the Slavs was followed by a population exchange, mixing and language shift to and from Slavic. The settlement was facilitated by the substantial decrease of the Balkan population during the Plague of Justinian. Another reason was the Late Antique Little Ice Age from 536 to around 660 CE and the series of wars between the Sasanian Empire and the Avar Khaganate against the Eastern Roman Empire. The backbone of the Avar Khaganate consisted of Slavic tribes. After the failed siege of Constantinople in the summer of 626, they remained in the wider Balkan area after they had settled the Byzantine provinces south of the Sava and Danube rivers, from the Adriatic towards the Aegean up to the Black Sea. Exhausted by several factors and reduced to the coastal parts of the Balkans, Byzantium was not able to wage war on two fronts and regain its lost territories, so it reconciled with the establishment of Sklavinias influence and created an alliance with them against the Avar and Bulgar Khaganates.

Lombard Warrior ©Anonymous
566 Jan 1 - 791


Ópusztaszer, Pannonian Basin,

By 562 the Avars controlled the lower Danube basin and the steppes north of the Black Sea.[19] By the time they arrived in the Balkans, the Avars formed a heterogeneous group of about 20,000 horsemen.[20] After the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I bought them off, they pushed northwestwards into Germania. However, Frankish opposition halted the Avars' expansion in that direction. Seeking rich pastoral lands, the Avars initially demanded land south of the Danube in present-day Bulgaria, but the Byzantines refused, using their contacts with the Göktürks as a threat against Avar aggression.[21] The Avars turned their attention to the Carpathian Basin and to the natural defenses it afforded.[22] The Carpathian Basin was occupied by the Gepids. In 567 the Avars formed an alliance with the Lombards—enemies of the Gepids—and together they destroyed much of the Gepid kingdom. The Avars then persuaded the Lombards to move into northern Italy.

Avars and Bulgars ©Angus McBride
680 Jan 1



The Turkic-speaking Bulgars arrived in the territories west of the river Dniester around 670.[28] At the Battle of Ongal they defeated the Eastern Roman (or Byzantine) Emperor Constantine IV in 680 or 681, occupied Dobruja and founded the First Bulgarian Empire.[29] They soon imposed their authority over some of the neighboring tribes. Between 804 and 806, the Bulgarian armies annihilated the Avars and destroyed their state. Krum of Bulgaria took the eastern parts of the former Avar Khaganate and took over rule of the local Slavic tribes. During the Middle Ages the Bulgarian Empire controlled vast areas to the north of the river Danube (with interruptions) from its establishment in 681 to its fragmentation in 1371–1422. Original information for the centuries-old Bulgarian rule there is scarce as the archives of the Bulgarian rulers were destroyed and little is mentioned for this area in Byzantine or Hungarian manuscripts. During the First Bulgarian Empire, the Dridu culture developed in the beginning of the 8th century and flourished until the 11th century.[30] In Bulgaria it is usually referred to as Pliska-Preslav culture.

Pechenegs ©Angus McBride
700 Jan 1 - 1000



The Pechenegs, a semi-nomadic Turkic people of the Central Asian steppes, occupied the steppes north of the Black Sea from the 8th to the 11th centuries, and by the 10th century they were in control of all of the territory between the Don and the lower Danube rivers.[31] During the 11th and 12th centuries, the nomadic confederacy of the Cumans and Eastern Kipchaks dominated the territories between present-day Kazakhstan, southern Russia, Ukraine, southern Moldavia and western Wallachia.[32]

Otto the Great crushes the Magyars at th battle of Lechfeld, 955. ©Angus McBride
895 Jan 1


Ópusztaszer, Pannonian Basin,

An armed conflict between Bulgaria and the nomadic Hungarians forced the latter to depart from the Pontic steppes and began the conquest of the Carpathian Basin around 895. Their invasion gave rise to the earliest reference, recorded some centuries later in the Gesta Hungarorum, to a polity ruled by a Romanian duke named Gelou. The same source also makes mention of the presence of the Székelys in Crişana around 895. The first contemporaneous references to Romanians – who used to be known as Vlachs – in the regions now forming Romania were recorded in the 12th and 13th centuries. References to Vlachs inhabiting the lands to the south of the Lower Danube abound in the same period.

Hungarian Rule
©Angus McBride
1000 Jan 1 - 1241

Hungarian Rule


Stephen I, the first crowned king of Hungary whose reign began in 1000 or 1001, unified the Carpathian Basin. Around 1003, he launched a campaign against "his maternal uncle, King Gyula" and occupied Transylvania. Medieval Transylvania was an integral part of the Kingdom of Hungary; however, it was an administratively distinct unit. In the territory of modern Romania, three Roman Catholic dioceses were established with their seats in Alba Iulia, Biharea, and Cenad.[36]

Royal administration in the entire kingdom was based on counties organized around royal fortresses.[37] In modern Romania's territory, references to an ispán or count of Alba[38] in 1097, and to a count of Bihor in 1111 evidence the appearance of the county system.[39] The counties in Banat and Crişana remained under direct royal authority, but a great officer of the realm, the voivode, supervised the ispáns of the Transylvanian counties from the end of the 12th century.[40]

The early presence of Székelys at Tileagd in Crişana, and at Gârbova, Saschiz, and Sebeş in Transylvania is attested by royal charters.[41] Székely groups from Gârbova, Saschiz, and Sebeş were moved around 1150 into the easternmost regions of Transylvania, when the monarchs granted these territories to new settlers arriving from Western Europe.[42] The Székelys were organized into "seats" instead of counties, and a royal officer, the "Count of the Székelys" became the head of their community from the 1220s. The Székelys provided military services to the monarchs and remained exempt of royal taxes.

Teutonic Knights fighting Cumans in Cumania. ©Graham Turner
1060 Jan 1



The arrival of the Cumans in the Lower Danube region was first recorded in 1055.[43] Cuman groups assisted the rebelling Bulgarians and Vlachs against the Byzantines between 1186 and 1197.[44] A coalition of Rus' princes and Cuman tribes suffered a sound defeat by the Mongols in the Battle of the Kalka River in 1223.[45] Shortly thereafter Boricius, a Cuman chieftain,[46] accepted baptism and the supremacy of the king of Hungary.[47]

Transylvanian Saxon Migration
Medieval Town 13th century. ©Anonymous
1150 Jan 1

Transylvanian Saxon Migration

Transylvanian Basin, Cristești

The colonization of Transylvania by ethnic Germans later collectively known as Transylvanian Saxons began under the reign of King Géza II of Hungary (1141–1162).[48] For several consecutive centuries, the main task of these medieval German-speaking settlers (as that of the Szeklers for example in the east of Transylvania) was to defend the southern, southeastern, and northeastern borders of the then Kingdom of Hungary against foreign invaders stemming most notably from Central Asia and even far East Asia (e.g. Cumans, Pechenegs, Mongols, and Tatars). At the same time, the Saxons were also charged with developing agriculture and introducing Central European culture.[49] Later on, the Saxons needed to further fortify both their rural and urban settlements against invading Ottomans (or against the invading and expanding Ottoman Empire). The Saxons in northeastern Transylvania were also in charge of mining. They can be perceived as being quite related to the Zipser Saxons from present-day Spiš (German: Zips), north-eastern Slovakia (as well as other historical regions of contemporary Romania, namely Maramureș and Bukovina) given the fact they are two of the oldest ethnic German groups in non-native German-speaking Central and Eastern Europe.[50]

The first wave of settlement continued well until the end of the 13th century. Although the colonists came mostly from the western Holy Roman Empire and generally spoke Franconian dialectal varieties, they came to be collectively referred to as 'Saxons' because of Germans working for the royal Hungarian chancellery.[51]

Organized settling continued with the arrival of the Teutonic Knights in Ţara Bârsei in 1211.[52] They were granted the right to freely pass through "the land of the Székelys and the land of the Vlachs" in 1222. The knights tried to free themselves from the monarch's authority, thus King Andrew II expelled them from the region in 1225.[53] Thereafter, the king appointed his heir, Béla,[54] with the title of duke, to administer Transylvania. Duke Béla occupied Oltenia and set up a new province, the Banate of Severin, in the 1230s.[55]

Vlach-Bulgarian Rebellion
Vlach-Bulgarian Rebellion ©Angus McBride
1185 Jan 1 - 1187

Vlach-Bulgarian Rebellion

Balkan Peninsula

New taxes imposed by imperial authorities caused a rebellion of Vlachs and Bulgarians in 1185,[33] which led to the establishment of the Second Bulgarian Empire.[34] The Vlachs' eminent status within the new state is evidenced by the writings of Robert of Clari and other western authors, who refer either to the new state or to its mountainous regions as "Vlachia" until the 1250s.[35]

Founding of Wallachia
Mongol Invasions of Europe ©Angus McBride
1241 Jan 1 00:01

Founding of Wallachia

Wallachia, Romania

In 1236 a large Mongol army was collected under the supreme leadership of Batu Khan and set forth to the west, in one of the greatest invasions in world's history.[56] Although some Cuman groups survived the Mongol invasion, the Cuman aristocracy was slain.[58] The steppes of eastern Europe were conquered by Batu Khan's army and became parts of the Golden Horde.[57] But the Mongols left no garrisons or military detachments in the lower Danube region and did not take direct political control of it.

After the Mongol invasion, a great many (if not most) of the Cuman population left the Wallachian Plain, but the Vlach (Romanian) population remained there under the leadership of their local chiefs, called knezes and voivodes. In 1241, Cuman domination was ended—a direct Mongol rule over Wallachia was not attested. Part of Wallachia was probably briefly disputed by the Kingdom of Hungary and Bulgarians in the following period,[59] but it appears that the severe weakening of Hungarian authority during the Mongol attacks contributed to the establishment of the new and stronger polities attested in Wallachia for the following decades.[60]

1310 - 1526
Wallachia and Moldavia
Independent Wallachia
The Basarab I of Wallachia's army ambushed Charles Robert of Anjou, king of Hungary and his 30,000-strong invading army. The Vlach (Romanian) warriors rolled down rocks over the cliff edges in a place where the Hungarian mounted knights could not escape from them nor climb the heights to dislodge the attackers. ©József Molnár
1330 Nov 9 - Nov 12

Independent Wallachia

Posada, Romania

In a diploma, dated July 26, 1324, King Charles I of Hungary refers to Basarab as "our voivode of Wallachia" which indicates that at that time Basarab was a vassal of the king of Hungary.[62] In short time, however, Basarab refused to accept the suzerainty of the king, for neither Basarab's growing power nor the active foreign policy he was conducting on his own account to the south could be acceptable in Hungary.[63] In a new diploma, dated June 18, 1325, King Charles I mentions him as "Basarab of Wallachia, unfaithful to the king's Holy Crown" (Bazarab Transalpinum regie corone infidelem).[64]

Hoping to punish Basarab, King Charles I mounted a military campaign against him in 1330. The king advanced with his host into Wallachia where everything seemed to have been laid waste. Unable to subdue Basarab, the king ordered the retreat through the mountains. But in a long and narrow valley, the Hungarian army was attacked by the Romanians, who had taken up positions on the heights. The battle, called the Battle of Posada, lasted for four days (November 9–12, 1330) and was a disaster for the Hungarians whose defeat was devastating.[65] The king was only able to escape with his life by exchanging his royal coat of arms with one of his retainers.[66]

The Battle of Posada was a turning point in Hungarian-Wallachian relations: though in the course of the 14th century, the kings of Hungary still tried to regulate the voivodes of Wallachia more than one time, but they could only succeed temporarily. Thus Basarab's victory irretrievably opened the way to independence for the Principality of Wallachia.

Founding of Moldavia
Voivode Dragoș's hunt for the bison. ©Constantin Lecca
1360 Jan 1

Founding of Moldavia

Moldavia, Romania

Both Poland and Hungary took advantage of the decline of the Golden Horde by starting a new expansion in the 1340s. After a Hungarian army defeated the Mongols in 1345, new forts were built east of the Carpathians. Royal charters, chronicles and place names show that Hungarian and Saxon colonists settled in the region. Dragoș took possession of the lands along the Moldova with the approval of King Louis I of Hungary, but the Vlachs rebelled against Louis's rule already in the late 1350s.

The founding of Moldavia began with the arrival of a Vlach (Romanian) voivode (military leader), Dragoș, soon followed by his people from Maramureș, then a voivodeship, to the region of the Moldova River. Dragoș established a polity there as a vassal to the Kingdom of Hungary in the 1350s. The independence of the Principality of Moldavia was gained when Bogdan I, another Vlach voivode from Maramureș who had fallen out with the Hungarian king, crossed the Carpathians in 1359 and took control of Moldavia, wresting the region from Hungary. It remained a principality until 1859, when it united with Wallachia, initiating the development of the modern Romanian state.

Vlad Tepes
Vlad Tepes ©Angus McBride
1456 Jan 1

Vlad Tepes

Wallachia, Romania

Independent Wallachia had been near the border of the Ottoman Empire since the 14th century until it had gradually succumbed to the Ottomans' influence during the next centuries with brief periods of independence. Vlad III the Impaler was a Prince of Wallachia in 1448, 1456–62, and 1476.[67] Vlad III is remembered for his raids against the Ottoman Empire and his initial success of keeping his small country free for a short time. The Romanian historiography evaluates him as a ferocious but just ruler.

Stephen the Great
Stephen the Great and Vlad Tepes. ©Anonymous
1457 Jan 1 - 1504

Stephen the Great


Stephen the Great is thought to be the best voivode of Moldavia. Stephen ruled for 47 years, an unusually long period for that time. He was a successful military leader and statesman, losing only two out of fifty battles; he built a shrine to commemorate each victory, founding 48 churches and monasteries, many of which have a unique architectural style. Stefan's most prestigious victory was over the Ottoman Empire in 1475 at the Battle of Vaslui, for which he raised the Voroneţ Monastery. For this victory, Pope Sixtus IV nominated him as verus christianae fidei athleta (a true Champion of the Christian Faith). After Stephen's death, Moldavia also came under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire during the 16th century.

1526 - 1821
Ottoman Dominance and Phanariot Era
Ottoman Period in Romania
©Angus McBride
1541 Jan 1 - 1878

Ottoman Period in Romania


The expansion of the Ottoman Empire reached the Danube around 1390. The Ottomans invaded Wallachia in 1390 and occupied Dobruja in 1395. Wallachia paid tribute to the Ottomans for the first time in 1417, Moldavia in 1456. However, the two principalities were not annexed, their princes were only required to assist the Ottomans in their military campaigns. The most outstanding 15th-century Romanian monarchs – Vlad the Impaler of Wallachia and Stephen the Great of Moldavia – were even able to defeat the Ottomans in major battles. In Dobruja, which was included in the Silistra Eyalet, Nogai Tatars settled and the local Gypsy tribes converted to Islam. The disintegration of the Kingdom of Hungary started with the Battle of Mohács on 29 August 1526. The Ottomans annihilated the royal army and Louis II of Hungary perished. By 1541, the entire Balkan peninsula and northern Hungary became Ottoman provinces. Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transylvania came under Ottoman suzerainty but remained fully autonomous and until the 18th century, had some internal independence.

Principality of Transylvania
John Sigismund pays homage to the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent at Zemun on 29 June 1566. ©Anonymous Ottoman author
1570 Jan 1 - 1711

Principality of Transylvania

Transylvania, Romania

When the main Hungarian army and King Louis II Jagiello were slain by the Ottomans in the 1526 Battle of Mohács, John Zápolya—voivod of Transylvania, who opposed the succession of Ferdinand of Austria (later Emperor Ferdinand I) to the Hungarian throne—took advantage of his military strength. When John I was elected king of Hungary, another party recognized Ferdinand. In the ensuing struggle Zápolya was supported by Sultan Suleiman I, who (after Zápolya's death in 1540) overran central Hungary to protect Zápolya's son John II. John Zápolya founded the Eastern Hungarian Kingdom (1538–1570), from which the Principality of Transylvania arose. The principality was created after the signing the Treaty of Speyer in 1570 by king John II and emperor Maximiliam II, thus John Sigismund Zápolya, the Eastern Hungarian king became the first prince of Transylvania. According to the treaty, the Principality of Transylvania nominally remained part of the Kingdom of Hungary in the sense of public law. The Treaty of Speyer stressed in a highly significant way that John Sigismund's possessions belonged to the Holy Crown of Hungary and he was not permitted to alienate them.[68]

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1593 Jan 1 - 1599

Michael the Brave


Michael the Brave (Mihai Viteazul) was the Prince of Wallachia from 1593 to 1601, Prince of Moldavia in 1600, and the de facto ruler of Transylvania in 1599-1600. Known for unifying the three principalities under his rule, Michael's reign marked the first time in history that Wallachia, Moldavia, and Transylvania were united under a single leader. This achievement, although brief, has made him a legendary figure in Romanian history.

Michael's desire to free the regions from Ottoman influence led to several military campaigns against the Turks. His victories gained him recognition and support from other European powers, but also many enemies. After his assassination in 1601, the united principalities quickly fell apart. However, his efforts laid the groundwork for the modern Romanian state, and his legacy is celebrated for its impact on Romanian nationalism and identity. Michael the Brave is considered a symbol of courage, a defender of Christianity in Eastern Europe, and a key figure in the long struggle for independence and unity in Romania.

Long Turkish War
Allegory of the Turkish war. ©Hans von Aachen
1593 Jul 29 - 1606 Nov 11

Long Turkish War


The Fifteen Years' War broke out between the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburgs in 1591. It was an indecisive land war between the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire, primarily over the Principalities of Wallachia, Transylvania, and Moldavia. Overall, the conflict consisted in a large number of costly battles and sieges, but with little gain for either side.

Great Turkish War
Sobieski at Vienna by Stanisław Chlebowski – king John III of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania ©Image Attribution forthcoming. Image belongs to the respective owner(s).
1683 Jul 14 - 1699 Jan 26

Great Turkish War


The Great Turkish War, also called the Wars of the Holy League, was a series of conflicts between the Ottoman Empire and the Holy League consisting of the Holy Roman Empire, Poland-Lithuania, Venice, Russian Empire, and the Kingdom of Hungary. Intensive fighting began in 1683 and ended with the signing of the Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699. The war was a defeat for the Ottoman Empire, which for the first time lost large amounts of territory, in Hungary and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, as well as part of the western Balkans. The war was significant also by being the first time that Russia was involved in an alliance with Western Europe.

Transylvania under Habsburg Rule
©Angus McBride
1699 Jan 1 - 1920

Transylvania under Habsburg Rule

Transylvania, Romania

The Principality of Transylvania reached its golden age under the absolutist rule of Gábor Bethlen from 1613 to 1629. In 1690, the Habsburg monarchy gained possession of Transylvania through the Hungarian crown.[69] By the late 18th century and early 19th century, Moldavia, Wallachia and Transylvania found themselves as a clashing area for three neighboring empires: the Habsburg Empire, the newly appeared Russian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. After the failure Rákóczi's War of Independence in 1711[70] Habsburg control of Transylvania was consolidated, and Hungarian Transylvanian princes were replaced with Habsburg imperial governors.[71] In 1699, Transylvania became a part of the Habsburg monarchy following the Austrian victory over the Turks.[72] The Habsburgs rapidly expanded their empire; in 1718 Oltenia, a major part of Wallachia, was annexed to the Habsburg monarchy and was only returned in 1739. In 1775, the Habsburgs later occupied the north-western part of Moldavia, which was later called Bukovina and was incorporated to the Austrian Empire in 1804. The eastern half of the principality, which was called Bessarabia, was occupied in 1812 by Russia.

Bessarabia in the Russian Empire
January Suchodolski ©Capitulation of Erzurum (1829)
1812 May 28

Bessarabia in the Russian Empire


As the Russian Empire noticed the weakening of the Ottoman Empire, it occupied the eastern half of the autonomous Principality of Moldavia, between the Prut and Dniester rivers. This was followed by six years of warfare, which were concluded by the Treaty of Bucharest (1812), by which the Ottoman Empire acknowledged the Russian annexation of the province.[73]

In 1814, the first German settlers arrived and mainly settled in the southern parts, and Bessarabian Bulgarians began settling in the region too, founding towns such as Bolhrad. Between 1812 and 1846, the Bulgarian and Gagauz population migrated to the Russian Empire via the River Danube, after living many years under oppressive Ottoman rule, and settled in southern Bessarabia. Turkic-speaking tribes of the Nogai horde also inhabited the Budjak Region (in Turkish Bucak) of southern Bessarabia from the 16th to 18th centuries but were totally driven out prior to 1812. Administratively, Bessarabia became an oblast of the Russian Empire in 1818, and a guberniya in 1873.

1821 - 1877
National Awakening and the Path to Independence
Weaking Ottoman Hold
Siege of Akhaltsikhe 1828 ©January Suchodolski
1829 Jan 1

Weaking Ottoman Hold

Wallachia, Romania

After their defeat to the Russians in the Russo-Turkish War (1828–1829), the Ottoman Empire restored the Danube ports of Turnu, Giurgiu and Braila to Wallachia, and agreed to give up their commercial monopoly and recognize freedom of navigation on the Danube as specified in the Treaty of Adrianople, which was signed in 1829. The political autonomy of the Romanian principalities grew as their rulers were elected for life by a Community Assembly consisting of boyars, a method used to reduce political instability and Ottoman interventions. Following the war, Romanian lands came under Russian occupation under the governance of General Pavel Kiselyov until 1844. During his rule, the local boyars enacted the first Romanian constitution.

Wallachian Revolution of 1848
Tricolore Bleu Jaune Rouge de 1848. ©Costache Petrescu
1848 Jun 23 - Sep 25

Wallachian Revolution of 1848

Bucharest, Romania

The Wallachian Revolution of 1848 was a Romanian liberal and nationalist uprising in the Principality of Wallachia. Part of the Revolutions of 1848, and closely connected with the unsuccessful revolt in the Principality of Moldavia, it sought to overturn the administration imposed by Imperial Russian authorities under the Regulamentul Organic regime, and, through many of its leaders, demanded the abolition of boyar privilege. Led by a group of young intellectuals and officers in the Wallachian Militia, the movement succeeded in toppling the ruling Prince Gheorghe Bibescu, whom it replaced with a Provisional Government and a Regency, and in passing a series of major progressive reforms, announced in the Proclamation of Islaz.

Despite its rapid gains and popular backing, the new administration was marked by conflicts between the radical wing and more conservative forces, especially over the issue of land reform. Two successive abortive coups were able to weaken the Government, and its international status was always contested by Russia. After managing to rally a degree of sympathy from Ottoman political leaders, the Revolution was ultimately isolated by the intervention of Russian diplomats, and ultimately repressed by a common intervention of Ottoman and Russian armies, without any significant form of armed resistance. Nevertheless, over the following decade, the completion of its goals was made possible by the international context, and former revolutionaries became the original political class in united Romania.

Unification of Moldavia and Wallachia
Proclamation of the Moldo-Wallachian union. ©Theodor Aman
1859 Jan 1

Unification of Moldavia and Wallachia


After the unsuccessful 1848 revolution, the Great Powers rejected the Romanians' desire to officially unite in a single state, forcing the Romanians to proceed alone in their struggle against the Ottoman Empire.[74]

The aftermath of the Russian Empire's defeat in the Crimean War brought the 1856 Treaty of Paris, which started a period of common tutelage for the Ottomans and a Congress of Great Powers—the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the Second French Empire, the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, the Austrian Empire, Prussia, and, though never again fully, Russia. While the Moldavia-Wallachia unionist campaign, which had come to dominate political demands, was accepted with sympathy by the French, Russians, Prussians, and Sardinians, it was rejected by the Austrian Empire, and looked upon with suspicion by Great Britain and the Ottomans.

Negotiations amounted to an agreement on a minimal formal union, to be known as the United Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia but with separate institutions and thrones and with each principality electing its own prince. The same convention stated that the army would keep its old flags, with the addition of a blue ribbon on each of them. However, the Moldavian and Wallachian elections for the ad-hoc divans in 1859 profited from an ambiguity in the text of the final agreement, which, while specifying two separate thrones, did not prevent the same person from occupying both thrones simultaneously and ultimately ushered in the ruling of Alexandru Ioan Cuza as Domnitor (Ruling Prince) over both Moldavia and Wallachia from 1859 onwards, uniting both principalities.[75]

Alexander Ioan Cuza carried out reforms including abolishing serfdom and started to unite the institutions one by one in spite of the convention from Paris. With help from unionists, he unified the government and parliament, effectively merging Wallachia and Moldavia into one country and in 1862 the country's name was changed to United Principalities of Romania.

1878 - 1947
Kingdom of Romania and World Wars
Romanian War of Independence
Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878). ©Alexey Popov
1878 Jul 13

Romanian War of Independence


In an 1866 coup d'état, Cuza was exiled and replaced with Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. He was appointed Domnitor, Ruling Prince of the United Principality of Romania, as Prince Carol of Romania. Romania declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire after the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878), in which the Ottomans fought against the Russian empire.

In the 1878 Treaty of Berlin, Romania was officially recognized as an independent state by the Great Powers.[76] In return, Romania ceded the district Bessarabia to Russia in exchange for access to the Black Sea ports and acquired Dobruja. In 1881,Romania's principality status was raised to that of a kingdom and on 26 March that year, Prince Carol became King Carol I of Romania.

Second Balkan War
Greek troops advancing in the Kresna Gorge ©Image Attribution forthcoming. Image belongs to the respective owner(s).
1913 Jun 29 - Aug 10

Second Balkan War

Balkan Peninsula

The period between 1878 and 1914 was one of stability and progress for Romania. During the Second Balkan War, Romania joined Greece, Serbia and Montenegro against Bulgaria. Bulgaria, dissatisfied with its share of the spoils of the First Balkan War, attacked its former allies, Serbia and Greece, on June 29 - Aug 10 1913. Serbian and Greek armies repulsed the Bulgarian offensive and counterattacked, entering Bulgaria. With Bulgaria's also having previously engaged in territorial disputes with Romania[77] and the bulk of Bulgarian forces engaged in the south, the prospect of an easy victory incited Romanian intervention against Bulgaria. The Ottoman Empire also took advantage of the situation to regain some lost territories from the previous war. When Romanian troops approached the capital Sofia, Bulgaria asked for an armistice, resulting in the Treaty of Bucharest, in which Bulgaria had to cede portions of its First Balkan War gains to Serbia, Greece and Romania. In the Treaty of Bucharest of 1913, Romania gained Southern Dobruja and established the Durostor and Caliacra counties.[78]

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1916 Aug 27 - 1918 Nov 11

Romania in World War I


The Kingdom of Romania was neutral for the first two years of World War I, entering on the side of the Allied powers from 27 August 1916 until Central Power occupation led to the Treaty of Bucharest in May 1918, before reentering the war on 10 November 1918. It had the most significant oil fields in Europe, and Germany eagerly bought its petroleum, as well as food exports.

The Romanian campaign was part of the Eastern Front of World War I, with Romania and Russia allied with Britain and France against the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria. Fighting took place from August 1916 to December 1917 across most of present-day Romania, including Transylvania, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the time, as well as in Southern Dobruja, which is currently part of Bulgaria.

The Romanian campaign plan (Hypothesis Z) consisted in attacking Austria-Hungary in Transylvania, while defending Southern Dobruja and Giurgiu from Bulgaria in the south. Despite initial successes in Transylvania, after German divisions started aiding Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria, the Romanian forces (aided by Russia) suffered massive setbacks, and by the end of 1916 out of the territory of the Romanian Old Kingdom only Western Moldavia remained under the control of the Romanian and Russian armies.

After several defensive victories in 1917 at Mărăști, Mărășești, and Oituz, with Russia's withdrawal from the war following the October Revolution, Romania, almost completely surrounded by the Central Powers, was also forced to drop out of the war. It signed the Treaty of Bucharest with the Central Powers in May 1918. Under the terms of the treaty, Romania would lose all of Dobruja to Bulgaria, all the Carpathian passes to Austria-Hungary and would lease all of its oil reserves to Germany for 99 years. However, the Central Powers recognized Romania's union with Bessarabia who had recently declared independence from the Russian Empire following the October Revolution and voted for union with Romania in April 1918. The parliament signed the treaty, but King Ferdinand refused to sign it, hoping for an Allied victory on the western front. In October 1918, Romania renounced the Treaty of Bucharest and on 10 November 1918, one day before the German armistice, Romania re-entered the war after the successful Allied advances on the Macedonian front and advanced in Transylvania. The next day, the Treaty of Bucharest was nullified by the terms of the Armistice of Compiègne.

Greater Romania
Bucharest in 1930. ©Image Attribution forthcoming. Image belongs to the respective owner(s).
1918 Jan 1 - 1940

Greater Romania


Before World War I, the union of Michael the Brave, who ruled over the three principalities with Romanian population (Wallachia, Transylvania and Moldavia) for a short period of time,[79] was viewed in later periods as the precursor of a modern Romania, a thesis which was argued with noted intensity by Nicolae Bălcescu. This theory became a point of reference for nationalists, as well as a catalyst for various Romanian forces to achieve a single Romanian state.[80]

In 1918, at the end of World War I, the union of Romania with Bukovina was ratified in 1919 in the Treaty of Saint Germain,[81] and some of the Allies recognized the union with Bessarabia in 1920 through the never ratified Treaty of Paris.[82] On 1 December, the Deputies of the Romanians from Transylvania voted to unite Transylvania, Banat, Crișana and Maramureș with Romania by the Proclamation of Union of Alba Iulia. Romanians today celebrate this as the Great Union Day, that is a national holiday.

The Romanian expression România Mare (Great or Greater Romania) refers to the Romanian state in the interwar period and to the territory Romania covered at the time. At that time, Romania achieved its greatest territorial extent, almost 300,000 km2 or 120,000 sq mi[83]), including all of the historic Romanian lands.[84] Today, the concept serves as a guiding principle for the unification of Romania and Moldova.

Romania in World War II
Antonescu and Adolf Hitler at the Führerbau in Munich (June 1941). ©Image Attribution forthcoming. Image belongs to the respective owner(s).
1940 Nov 23

Romania in World War II


In the aftermath of World War I, Romania, which fought with the Entente against the Central Powers, had greatly expanded its territory, incorporating the regions of Transylvania, Bessarabia, and Bukovina, largely as a result of the vacuum created by the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires. This led to the achievement of the long-standing nationalist goal of creating a Greater Romania, a national state that would incorporate all ethnic Romanians.

As the 1930s progressed, Romania's already shaky democracy slowly deteriorated toward fascist dictatorship. The constitution of 1923 gave the king free rein to dissolve parliament and call elections at will; as a result, Romania was to experience over 25 governments in a single decade. Under the pretext of stabilizing the country, the increasingly autocratic King Carol II proclaimed a 'royal dictatorship' in 1938. The new regime featured corporatist policies that often resembled those of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.[85] In parallel with these internal developments, economic pressures and a weak Franco-British response to Hitler's aggressive foreign policy caused Romania to start drifting away from the Western Allies and closer to the Axis.[86]

In the summer of 1940 a series of territorial disputes were decided against Romania, and it lost most of Transylvania, which it had gained in World War I. The popularity of the Romanian government plummeted, further reinforcing the fascist and military factions, who eventually staged a coup in September 1940 that turned the country into a dictatorship under Mareșal Ion Antonescu. The new regime officially joined the Axis powers on 23 November 1940. As a member of the Axis, Romania joined the invasion of the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa) on 22 June 1941, providing equipment and oil to Nazi Germany and committing more troops to the Eastern Front than all other allies of Germany combined. Romanian forces played a large role during fighting in Ukraine, Bessarabia, and in the Battle of Stalingrad. Romanian troops were responsible for the persecution and massacre of 260,000 Jews in Romanian-controlled territories, though half of the Jews living in Romania itself survived the war.[87] Romania controlled the third-largest Axis army in Europe and the fourth largest Axis army in the world, only behind the three principal Axis powers of Germany, Japan, and Italy.[88] Following the September 1943 Armistice of Cassibile between the Allies and Italy, Romania became the second Axis Power in Europe.[89]

The Allies bombed Romania from 1943 onwards, and advancing Soviet armies invaded the country in 1944. Popular support for Romania's participation in the war faltered, and the German-Romanian fronts collapsed under the Soviet onslaught. King Michael of Romania led a coup d'état that deposed the Antonescu regime (August 1944) and put Romania on the side of the Allies for the remainder of the war (Antonescu was executed in June 1946).

Under the 1947 Treaty of Paris, the Allies did not acknowledge Romania as a co-belligerent nation but instead applied the term "ally of Hitlerite Germany" to all recipients of the treaty's stipulations. Like Finland, Romania had to pay $300 million to the Soviet Union as war reparations. However, the treaty specifically recognized that Romania switched sides on 24 August 1944, and therefore "acted in the interests of all the United Nations". As a reward, Northern Transylvania was, once again, recognized as an integral part of Romania, but the border with the USSR and Bulgaria was fixed at its state in January 1941, restoring the pre-Barbarossa status quo (with one exception).

1947 - 1989
Communist Period
Socialist Republic of Romania
The Communist government fostered the personality cult of Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife Elena. ©Image Attribution forthcoming. Image belongs to the respective owner(s).
1947 Jan 1 00:01 - 1989

Socialist Republic of Romania


Soviet occupation following World War II strengthened the position of Communists, who became dominant in the left-wing coalition government that was appointed in March 1945. King Michael I was forced to abdicate and went into exile. Romania was proclaimed a people's republic[90] and remained under military and economic control of the Soviet Union until the late 1950s. During this period, Romania's resources were drained by the "SovRom" agreements; mixed Soviet-Romanian companies were established to mask the Soviet Union's looting of Romania.[91] Romania's leader from 1948 to his death in 1965 was Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, the First Secretary of the Romanian Workers' Party. The Communist regime was formalized with the constitution of 13 April 1948. On 11 June 1948, all banks and large businesses were nationalized. This started the process of the Romanian Communist Party to collectivize the country's resources including agriculture.

After the negotiated withdrawal of Soviet troops, Romania under the new leadership of Nicolae Ceauşescu started to pursue independent policies, including the condemnation of the Soviet-led 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia—Romania being the only Warsaw Pact country not to take part in the invasion—the continuation of diplomatic relations with Israel after the Six-Day War of 1967 (again, the only Warsaw Pact country to do so), and the establishment of economic (1963) and diplomatic (1967) relations with West Germany.[92] Romania's close ties with Arab countries and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) allowed to play a key role in the Israel-Egypt and Israel-PLO peace processes by intermediating the visit of Egyptian president Sadat to Israel.[93]

Between 1977 and 1981, Romania's foreign debt sharply increased from US$3 to US$10 billion[94] and the influence of international financial organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank grew, in conflict with Ceauşescu's autarchic policies. Ceauşescu eventually initiated a project of full reimbursement of the foreign debt; to achieve this, he imposed austerity policies that impoverished Romanians and exhausted the nation's economy. The project was completed in 1989, shortly before his overthrow.

Modern Romania
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1989 Dec 16 - Dec 30

Romanian Revolution


Social and economic malaise had been present in the Socialist Republic of Romania for quite some time, especially during the austerity years of the 1980s. The austerity measures were designed in part by Ceaușescu to repay the country's foreign debts.[95] Shortly after a botched public speech by Ceaușescu in the capital Bucharest that was broadcast to millions of Romanians on state television, rank-and-file members of the military switched, almost unanimously, from supporting the dictator to backing the protesters.[96] Riots, street violence and murder in several Romanian cities over the course of roughly a week led the Romanian leader to flee the capital city on 22 December with his wife, Elena. Evading capture by hastily departing via helicopter effectively portrayed the couple as both fugitives and also acutely guilty of accused crimes. Captured in Târgoviște, they were tried by a drumhead military tribunal on charges of genocide, damage to the national economy, and abuse of power to execute military actions against the Romanian people. They were convicted on all charges, sentenced to death, and immediately executed on Christmas Day 1989, and were the last people to be condemned to death and executed in Romania, as capital punishment was abolished soon after. For several days after Ceaușescu fled, many would be killed in the crossfire between civilians and armed forces personnel which believed the other to be Securitate ‘terrorists’. Although news reports at the time and media today will make reference to the Securitate fighting against the revolution, there has never been any evidence to support the claim of an organised effort against the revolution by the Securitate.[97] Hospitals in Bucharest were treating as many as thousands of civilians.[99] Following an ultimatum, many Securitate members turned themselves in on 29 December with the assurance they would not be tried.[98]

Present-day Romania has unfolded in the shadow of the Ceaușescus along with its Communist past, and its tumultuous departure from it.[100] After Ceaușescu was toppled, the National Salvation Front (FSN) quickly took power, promising free and fair elections within five months. Elected in a landslide the following May, the FSN reconstituted as a political party, installed a series of economic and democratic reforms,[101] with further social policy changes being implemented by later governments.[102]

1990 Jan 1 - 2001

Free Market


After the Communist rulership ended and the former Communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu was executed in the midst of the bloody Romanian Revolution of December 1989, the National Salvation Front (FSN) seized power, led by Ion Iliescu. The FSN transformed itself into a massive political party in short time and overwhelmingly won the general election of May 1990, with Iliescu as president. These first months of 1990 were marked by violent protests and counter-protests, involving most notably the tremendously violent and brutal coal miners of the Jiu Valley which were called by Iliescu himself and the FSN to crush peaceful protesters in the University Square in Bucharest.

Subsequently, the Romanian government undertook a programme of free market economic reforms and privatization, following a gradualist line rather than shock therapy throughout the early and mid 1990s. Economic reforms have continued, although there was little economic growth until the 2000s. Social reforms soon after the revolution included easing of the former restrictions on contraception and abortion. Later governments implemented further social policy changes.

Political reforms have been based on a new democratic constitution adopted in 1991. The FSN split that year, beginning a period of coalition governments that lasted until 2000, when Iliescu's Social Democratic Party (then the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, PDSR, now PSD), returned to power and Iliescu again became President, with Adrian Năstase as Prime Minister. This government fell in the 2004 elections amid allegations of corruption, and was succeeded by further unstable coalitions which have been subject to similar allegations.

During the recent period, Romania has become more closely integrated with the West, becoming a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 2004[103] and of the European Union (EU) in 2007.[104]



Regions of Romania

Regions of Romania
Regions of Romania ©Romania Tourism


Geopolitics of Romania

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Romania's Geographic Challenge

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