Dacians the first inhabitants of Transylvania

Greek documents has mention about Transylvania’s inhabitants around 500 bC.
It was said of the Dacians that they had a differentiated social structure with peasants, noble rulers, and kings.

They had their craftsmen and their pottery workshops where they produced vessels with specific shapes and ornamentation.

The Dacians had few gods. Gebeleizis was the god of lightning and was surpassed in fame by a high priest who apparently lived in the 6th century BC, Zamolxis. So great was his prestige among the Dacians that after his death they looked upon him and honored him as a god.
Greek sources had said he had come from Greece where he had been a disciple of Pythagoras.

He is said to have returned to his country with much knowledge of what is in the world and in the sky, with the power to read in the stars and predict the future.

The Dacians built him an underground, secret dwelling, where he disappeared for 3 years, and when he reappeared, everyone believed that he had really been in the realm of the dead, where he had contacted the greatest sages of ancient times, who lived in the world beyond a life of eternal happiness.

The Dacians relied heavily on his words. After Zamolxe’s death, they began to believe that he had been an incarnation of the god Gebeleizis and valued and honored him as a god.

Once every 4 years, the Dacians drew lots and sent one of them with a message to Zamolxis. The messenger is sent as follows: some of the Dacians sitting in a row hold 3 spears up toward the sky and others grabbing the one who was to be sent to Zamolxis by swinging his hands and feet several times and then throwing him up over the spearheads. If, in the fall, man dies pierced, the Dacians remain confident that the god is benevolent to them; if he does not die then they blame the messenger, blaspheming him that he is a bad man; after blaming him, the Dacians send another. Everything they have to ask Zamolxis, the Dacians tell the messenger thrown in spears, as long as he is still alive.

Herodot, Greek historian, 500 bC

The Roman conquerors

After several quarrels with the Dacians in Rome, Emperor Trajan was appointed. In June 105 Trajan sets out for the Danube.

3 armed columns advanced through the mountains of Dacia to the capital of the Dacian king Decebalus, Sarmisegetusa located in Transylvania, in the current county of Hunedoara.

After heavy fighting, the Romanians managed to conquer Sarmisegetusa, which they burned and completely destroyed, as they had once done with Carthage.

Decebalus fled from the fortress to the east where he had other fortresses. But he is caught by the Roman cavalry. In order not to be taken prisoner and brought to Rome for the parade of the victors – as he had been a century and a half before the commander of the Gauls, Vercingetorix – the brave king decides to commit suicide, cutting his neck with his sword. This scene appears dramatically carved on the bas-relief of Trajan’s Column in Rome.

Dacia Felix-Roman colony

Dacia becomes a Roman colony. The news that gold was found in Dacia made Roman settlers from all corners of the empire to come here. In Dacia, gold, silver, copper and salt were exploited.

The Romans built stone or brick houses, forums (squares), temples, public baths, theaters, arenas, aqueducts and the streets of the fortresses were paved with stone.

The Roman province was so flourishing that it was called Dacia Felix (The Happy Dacia)

The invasion of the barbarians; The Roman legions leave Dacia

Gothic tribes

After 150 years from the occupation of Dacia, due to the repeated attacks of the Gothic tribes, the emperor Aurelian decided in 271 to withdraw the legions and the administration from Dacia, south of the Danube.

There is more evidence that not all the population left ancient Dacia.

The Huns

Latin tombs and inscriptions have been found from the following centuries, but it is known for sure that later, when the savage hordes invaded, such as those of the Huns, the cities were completely emptied and burned and destroyed.

However, the peasants and shepherds remained. They took refuge from nomadic riders closer to the mountains or in places surrounded by dense forests.

The Gepis

After the death of the Hun commander Attila, the Whip of God the Huns were defeated by a coalition of Germanic peoples. In Transylvania he ruled the Gepis tribe for more than 100 years.

The Avars

After that another horde coming from the borders of China drove the Gepis from the land of Transylvania and ruled it for 200 years the Avars, a warrior nation related as a language to the Turks, Tatars and Huns.

The Slavs

With the Avars, a very large nation entered Transylvania, coming from the parts of Poland and Russia, the Slavs, who at that time were not a warrior people but had voluntarily submitted to the Kagan, that is, to the Avar emperor.

Hungarian nomads

Shortly before the year 900, the Hungarian nomads led by Arpad entered Europe and settled in the Pannonian plain. He became a Christian, converted to Catholicism and invaded Transylvania.
Here the Hungarians find three voivodships inhabited by Romanians and Slavs, those of Glad, Menumorut and Gelu.

Colonization of the Szeklers in Transylvania

The Szeklers were a tribe related to the Hungarians who were colonized in Transylvania as military peasants to defend the border from other very aggressive invaders, the Pechenegs.

The Pechenegs

The Pechenegs had settled in the present-day parts of Wallachia, southern Romania and Moldavia, eastern Romania for 200 years. From here they attacked Transylvania. Until they were destroyed in a battle by the Byzantine emperor.

The Cumans

The last great Asian migrant population was the Cumans (Polovtsi as the Russians called them), who lived in good understanding with the Daco-Romanian population in Wallachia and Moldavia and were supposed to have taught them the art of war.
The Cumans fought with the Hungarians who had occupied Transylvania.

1241 the great invasion of the Mongols

A huge army of Mongol nomads under the command of a nephew of Genghis Khan, Batu Han set out for Europe.
The Cumans seek refuge from the Hungarian king who colonizes them in Hungary.

All the Christian powers trying to keep the path of the Mongols are destroyed one after another: the Russians, the Poles, the Germans, the Czechs, the Hungarians. It would have been thought that the whole of Europe would be subjugated when the Mongol wave was stopped by the hand of God: from the capital of the Mongol empire, Karakorum, with fast messengers the news arrives that the great khan has died.
The army leaders return in a hurry to take part in the election of the new khan and the great Mongol army retreats to the east.

Colonization of Saxons in Transylvania

The Saxons arrived in Transylvania in the middle of the 12th century when Hungary’s king Geza the second invited them here to defend Transylvania against Tartar-Mongolian attacks. When the Mongol invasions threatened Transylvania, the Saxons of Transylvania invented a special architecture: fortified church like fortresses, in which the inhabitants could retreat when needed and survive for months. Currently these villages with fortified fortresses in Transylvania are part of the treasury of the Romanian state and are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The Saxons were a hardworking and modest people speaking a dialect of the German language and whose religion since the 16th century was Protestant Lutheranism.

Professor Adrian Cioroianu, 5 minutes of history – Saxons from Transylvania-TV show

Vlad the Impaler and Transylvania

During the internecine battles for the throne of Wallachia the young Vlad Dracul, Vlad the Impaler’s father had taken refuge in Sighisoara citadel in Transylvania with King Sigismund of Hungary, who was the suzerain of the Prince of Wallachia, and “Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation” ; the king has named Vlad a Knight of the Order of the Dragon, a great honor; at that time in the whole East there were only 3 foreign princes to whom he granted the proof of his trust.

The word dragon is similar in Romanian with the term “drac” meaning devil so the people nicknamed Vlad Dracul or Draculea.

The membership of the Order of the Dragon was hereditary; so the Sighisoara-Transylvania born son of Vlad Dracul, Vlad the Impaler was also called by the same nickname. And so it was that later Vlad the Impaler came to be known throughout Europe as Dracula Voivode.

In the summer of 1456, Vlad, the second son of Vlad Dracul becomes ruler of Wallachia. He will be called the Impaler, becouse many, far too many, will die on the stake during his reign.

Neagu Djuvara – From Vlad the Impaler to Dracula the Vampire

Transylvania an independent principality

When the Turks decisively defeated Hungary at the Battle of Mohács (1526), Transylvania effectively became independent. Afterward Hungary was divided between the Habsburgs and the Turks, and Transylvania was transformed into an autonomous principality that was subject to Turkish suzerainty (1566).

During the next century Transylvania—ruled by the Báthory dynasty (1570–1613, with interruptions), István Bocskay (reigned 1605–06), Gábor Bethlen (reigned 1613–29), and György Rákóczi I (reigned 1630–48)—played off the Turkish sultan against the Habsburg emperor to retain its independent status. It emerged from a series of internal religious struggles, accompanied by Habsburg intervention, as a power of international importance, a defender of Hungarian liberties against Habsburg encroachments, and a bulwark of Protestantism in eastern Europe.

Adam Augustyn – Britannica

Michael the brave, the first union of Romanian speaking provinces by a Romanian

In 1599 Michael, voivode of Wallachia entered through the Buzău pass with his army of mercenaries and Wallachian soldiers. After the battle of Selimbăr, the Transylvanian army was shattered and on November 1, 1599, it triumphantly entered Alba Iulia.

The following year, Mihai Viteazul entered Moldova to remove it from Polish influence and to attach it to his rule. In May 1600 he expelled Jeremiah Movila, the puppet of the Poles.

On July 6, 1600, Mihai Viteazul is recorded in documents from that day as lord of Wallachia, Transylvania and Moldavia. However, the unification did not last long. In about a year, Mihai Viteazul loses one by one Transylvania, Moldova and even Wallachia, and his desire to recover them will eventually bring him death.

The prospect of a new union did not suit Emperor Rudolf II, by whose order Michael the Brave was killed by a handful of Walloon mercenaries in August 1601.

It was the first time that a Romanian united the 3 Romanian-speaking principalities. The unification of the Romanian principalities took place before Mihai Viteazu, just as temporarily, under the leadership of other Transylvanian princes: – 1552-1665: Giovani Batista Castaldo, self-titled “Daciae Restitutori Optimo”, meaning unifier of ancient Dacia and from 1595 until 1596: Sigismund Bathory who created medals (and paintings were painted) in which he claimed the title of “Serenissim prince of Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldavia”

Transylvania part of the Hapsburg Empire

The Turks were defeated before Vienna (1683). The Transylvanians, their land overrun by the troops of the Habsburg emperor, then recognized the suzerainty of the emperor Leopold I (1687); Transylvania was officially attached to Habsburg-controlled Hungary and subjected to the direct rule of the emperor’s governors. In 1699 the Turks conceded their loss of Transylvania (Treaty of Carlowitz)


Transylvania reunites with Romania after the Great War

When Austria-Hungary was defeated in World War I, the Romanians of Transylvania in late 1918 proclaimed the land united with Romania.

In 1920 the Allies confirmed the union in the Treaty of Trianon. 


Transylvania taken by the fascist Hungary

On August 30, 1940, the documents of the fascist German-Italian “arbitration” (Vienna Dictate) were signed in Vienna, by which the northern part of Transylvania (43,492 square kilometres and 2,667,000 inhabitants, mostly Romanians) was taken from Romania and handed over to fascist Hungary.

Transylvania is coming back to Romania after WW2

After the overthrow of the Antonescu government on August 23, 1944 Romania begins to fight against Nazi Germany, the Romanian army participated in the autumn of 1944 in the fights for the liberation of Northern Transylvania. The Soviet Union accepted that Northern Transylvania should return to Romania, provided that a pro-communist government was established in Bucharest.

Soviet ocupation of Transylvania

Soviet troops entered Romania in early 1944, when the country was under German occupation and Transylvania ceded to the Hungarian fascists.

In August 44 Romania became an ally with the Allies against the Axis forces. However, the Soviet army remained in Romania until 1958, when Russian soldiers were paid as coordinators of the Romanian army and Soviet communism was politically and economically imposed.

The economy became centralized and private initiative in the economy was banned.

It went so far that the name of the city of Brasov was changed to the City of Stalin.

Deportation of Saxons in Soviet Union for forced labor

In January 1945, out of Stalin’s desire for revenge against Hitler, 100,000 Romanian citizens were sent by train to forced labor in Russia – the Saxons of Transylvania.

At the behest of the Soviet command in Bucharest, ethnic Germans from Transylvania were sorted and sent to the Soviet Union to forced labor to rebuild what Hitler had destroyed. Their only fault was that they were ethnic Germans.

All men between the ages of 17 and 45 and women between the ages of 18 and 35 were deported to forced labor in the USSR. Through their work they redeemed the misfortune of speaking the same mother tongue with Adolf Hitler.

Of the approximately 100,000 Germans, an estimated 20% have never returned. Some of them died, or in happier cases founded new families in the Soviet Union. But most returned to Transylvania.

Adrian Cioroianau-5 minutes of history: Deportation of the Germans from Romania to the USSR, TV Show

In March 1945, the Soviet administration withdrew from Northern Transylvania and the Romanian administration returned.

Transylvania under comunism

Romanians lived extremely hard times during the communist period, most of them having to face the cold in the apartments during the winter, the lack of hot water, to stand in endless queues for a piece of meat or a bottle of oil or to resist with their ration of bread.

Oranges and Christmas bananas were a luxury for most Romanians and were often sold at the black markets, as were Chinese toys, for which parents sometimes paid a quarter of their salary to make their children happy. But the most terrible face of communism was the terror induced by the Securitate.

Romanian revolution from 1989 in Transylvania

In December 1989 in Timisoara a demonstration against the evacuation of a priest gained emphasis against the totalitarian regime. Slogans such as “Down with Ceausescu!”, “Freedom!”, “Justice!”, “Democracy!” Are chanted; “Wake up Romanians” is sung. The crowd returns in even greater numbers to Maria Square, where violent clashes with militia forces take place for several days.

Workers from Craiova, Calafat, Băileşti and Caracal were dressed in patriotic guard uniforms, armed with sticks and sent by special trains to Timişoara to quell “hooligan actions”. Once there and understanding what it was about, they fraternized with the people of Timisoara.

A few days later, in Bucharest, in the Republic Square, begins the rally requested by Ceausescu in order to calm the unrest in Timisoara and to talk about the imperative need to defend the country from attacks by “foreign forces”. Shortly after taking the floor, Ceausescu was booed by the crowd. The radio-TV transmission is interrupted. People gathered in the University Square. The entire center of Bucharest was occupied by protesters.

On December 22 Around 12:06, Ceausescu and his wife leave the Central Committee building with a helicopter. Around 15:00 they are arrested near Târgovişte.

The headquarters of the National Radio and the National Television are occupied by the demonstrators. The radio broadcasts live events. Television has become the communication channel of the revolutionaries.

The Ceausescus were sentenced to death and their property confiscated. The sentence was executed around 14:50 on Christmas day. Shortly after the execution, the communiqué on the execution of the Ceausescus was read on the national television station. The hostilities of the “terrorists” almost completely cease.

The number of victims of the revolution was 1142 dead and 3,338 wounded

Post communist Transylvania and transition to democracy

In December 1989, Romania embarked on the path of historical transformation of communist totalitarianism into democratic capitalism. The Romanian communists use to impose and then maintained virtually unchanged, until the final fall, the Stalinist, rigid, authoritarian and ultra-centralized model of the planned economy. In the harsh conditions of this “Stalinism for eternity”, as V. Tismaneanu called it, in Romania there was never anything like “workers’ self-government” in Yugoslavia, private land ownership in Poland or “goulash communism” in Hungary.

Cerna Silviu Un sfert de veac de tranziție

Unlike other communist countries, in which some economists raised the issue of changing the existing economic system, even if communist party control is maintained, in Romania these ideas did not exist and individual entrepreneurship had been seen as something bad, antisocial.

These things have made the country’s transition to a market economy difficult

European Transylvania nowadays

Romania is an EU member country: since 1 January 2007

Romania has committed the euro once it fulfils the necessary conditions.

Schengen: Romania is currently in the process of joining the Schengen area.

Romania | European Union – Europa EU

Romania and Ireland, the highest annual economic growth in the EU.

In 2007 a Transylvanian city, Sibiu, was European Capital of Culture.

In 2015 the Transylvanian city of Cluj Napoca was European Youth Capital