Sunday, December 31, 2017

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.

The Battle of Posada in the Chronicon Pictum is depicted in the top background to this website.