Moldavia and Wallachia
Moldavia and Wallachia two states forming the so-called Danubian Principalities, but since December 23, 1861, united under one prince and administration, are now officially bearing the name Roumania. We treat them unitedly in this article, as this is the custom generally among geographers.
1. MOLDAVIA (Ger. Moldau, Turk. Bogdan or KeraIslak) is bounded on the N. and E. by Russia, on the S. by Wallachia and the Danube, and on the W. by the Austrian empire. Greatest length from north-west to south-east, 280 miles; greatest breadth, 128 miles; area, 20,118 square miles; population about 1,300,000. The country forms, geographically, part of the great undulating pastoral plains or steppes of South Russia, except towards the 'west, where spurs from the Carpathians give it a somewhat mountainous character. It is watered by the Pruth, the Sereth, and the Danube, and is almost everywhere fertile. The forests of Moldavia are also of great extent and importance. But the riches of the country consist mainly in its cattle and horses, of which immense numbers are reared on its splendid and far-stretching pastures. Swine and sheep are also numerous; and the rearing of bees, owing to the multitude of lime-trees, is extensively carried on. The great plagues of the land are locusts and earthquakes. Minerals and precious metals are said to be abundant, but they have not as yet been worked. The capital is Jassy, but the great centre of trade is Galatz. The principal exports are wool, lambskins, hides, feathers, maize, tar;: tallow, honey, leeches, cattle, and salt (in blocks); the imports are chiefly the manufactured products of Western Europe.
2. WALLACHIA, the larger of the united Danubian Principalities, is bounded on the N. by the Austrian empire and Moldavia, on the E. and S. by the Danube; and on the W. by. the Austrian empire and the Danube. Length from the western frontier to Cape Kaliakra on the Black Sea, 305 miles; greatest breadth, 130 miles; area, 27,930 square miles; population about 4.000,000. The greater part of Wallachia is quite flat; but in the north, where it borders on Hungary and Transylvania, it gradually rises up into a great mountain-wall, impassable save in five places. It is destitute of wood throughout almost its whole extent, and (especially along the banks of the Danube) is covered with marshy swamps miles upon miles in breadth. The principal river flowing through the country is the Aluta; which joins the Danube at Nikopol. The climate is extreme; the summer heats are intense, while in winter the land lies under deep snow for four months. The soil is rich, and would leave nothing to be desired, were it not for the ravages of locusts and the calamitous summer droughts. The principal products are corn, maize, millet, wine, flax, tobacco, and olive- oil. The vast treeless heaths afford sustenance to great herds of cattle, sheep, and horses. As in Moldavia, agriculture is an important branch of industry. In minerals — especially gold, silver, copper, and rock-salt — the soil is rich, but only the last of these is extensively worked. The imports and exports are the same as in Moldavia. In both countries they might be more than doubled, as scarcely one half of the soil, which is said to be everywhere good, is under cultivation.
3. History. — In ancient times what now constitutes Roumania formed an important part of Dacia. At the period of the migration of nations, and in the following centuries, it was the scene of the struggles between the Gothic, Hunnic, Bulgarian, and Slavic races. who left their traces among the Romanized Dacian inhabitants, and helped to form that composite people, the modern Wallachs, who in the 11th century were converted to the Christianity of the Eastern or Greek Church. Their incursions, however, frightfully devastated the country. In the 11th century the Kumans, a Turkish race, established in Moldavia a kingdom of their own. Two centuries later the great storm of Mongols broke over the land. It now fell into the hands of the Nogai Tartars, who left it utterly wasted, so that only in the forests and mountains was any trace left of the native Wallachian population. In the latter half of the 13th century a petty Wallach chief of Transylvania, Radu Negru of Fogarasch, entered Wallachia, took possession of a portion of the country, divided it among his nobles, founded a senate of twelve members and an elective monarchy, and gradually conquered the whole of Wallachia. Rather less than a century later (1354) a similar attempt, also successful, was made by a Wallach chief of the Hungarian Marmarosh, of the name of Bogdan, to repeople Moldavia. In the beginning of the 16th century both principalities placed themselves under the protection of the porte, and gradually the nobles or bovars lost the right of electing their own ruler, whose office was bought in Constantinople. After 1711 the Turks governed the countries by Fanariot princes, who in reality only farmed the revenues, enriched themselves, and impoverished the land. In 1802 the Russians wrested from Turkey the right of surveillance over the principalities. A great number of the nobles, through family marriages with the Fanariots, were now of Greek descent, the court tongue was Greek, and the religious and political sympathies of the country were the same: hence the effort of the principalities in 1821 to emancipate themselves from Turkish authority, which was only the prelude to the greater and more successful struggle in Greece itself. In 1822 Russia forced Turkey to choose the princes or hospodars of Wallachia and Moldavia from natives, and not from the corrupt Greeks of Constantinople, and after 1829 to allow them to hold their dignity for life. The principalities were united, as has been already mentioned, under one ruler in 1858, and under one administration in 1861. In 1866 the Wallachians refused to endorse the reign of Cusa, and, with the consent of Turkey and the great Powers, prince Charles of Hohenzollern was called to govern the united principalities. He was the first to call the country Roumania. To this day (1875) he remains its ruler.
4. Social Condition. — The Roumanians, claiming to be the descendants of the ancient Dacians, betray that origin largely in their language, which is a Latin dialect, three fourths of the words being Latin (the Dacian has disappeared), the other fourth being made up of words indicating a Grecian, Gothic, Slavic, or Turkish origin. A Grammatica Daco-Romana was published by Johann. Alexi (Vienna, 1826), and a Historia Linguae Daco-Romance by Laurianus (Vienna, 1849). A large Latin-Romanic- Hungarian Dictionary was carefully executed by the bishop of Fogarasch, Joh. Bob (Klausenburg, 1839, 3 volumes). The nobles of the land generally speak French, and indeed — French ideas and customs are in favor with the Roumanians, particularly the young. There is no middle class. The common people, though very poor, are on the whole good-humored, frugal, sober, and cleanly; murder and larceny are almost unknown. Their dwellings, however, are, as may be supposed, of the most wretched description; composed chiefly of interlaced willow-withes, covered with mud, cane, and straw; and often, even in the large towns, they are only of mud; a cloak serves for a bed, and the whole house-furniture is comprised in a few kitchen utensils. The education of the country is not in a very forward condition, but promises under the present administration to take advanced ground. The trade of the country is largely in the hands of foreigners, especially Jews, who fare badly. Gypsy communities are an important element in the population; upwards of 150,000 of this mysterious race are serfs belonging to the rich boyars and the monasteries. In 1844 about 30,000 were emancipated, and settled in colonies in different parts of the land; they are ruled by a Bataf, or king, of their own choice, of which every gypsy village has one: they call themselves Romnitschel or Romni.
5. Religion. —
(1) Ecclesiastical Status. — The established religion of "Roumania" is that of the Greek Church, but all forms of Christianity are tolerated, and their professors enjoy equal political rights. At the head of the Greek clergy stands a metropolitan archbishop chosen by the general assembly of the different estates, confirmed in his office by the prince, and serving 4,275,000 members. Every bishop is assisted by a council of clergy, and has a seminary for priests; the superintendent of the preaching clergy is the Proto-papa of the diocese. In Moldavia there are 1795 churches, 3268 priests, and 491 deacons; also 7622 married secular clergy and 60 monasteries, of which the richest is. that of Niamtz, with 1300 monks. In Wallachia there are 4171 churches (of which 2587 are wooden), 36,638 persons belonging to the families of married priests, 10,749 deacons, 9500 monks and nuns, and 202 monasteries and nunneries. The property belonging to the priesthood of the principalities is immense, and at present (1875) efforts are being made by the government to have it secularized. The Roumanians are very superstitious, and care little for human life. The catechism of their morals contains scarcely anything more than fasting and hospitality. They hate all foreigners except the Latin races, and are especially severe against the Jews, who are there in large numbers, and are invaluable for the commercial interests of the country. They number over 400,000. Public persecutions against Jews have continued until very recently, and in consequence the great powers have threatened armed intervention. The United States has pursued a humane policy in selecting a Jewish representative.
(2) Evangelism. — Christianity must have early made its way to these parts, and been strengthened during Gothic invasion. St. Nicetas, who flourished about 400, is regarded as the apostle of Roumania. The barbarians in part removed Christian influences, and in 861 Cyril attempted anew the Christianizing of the people, especially the Bulgarians. In consequence the Slavonian language secured a foothold, and in the conflict between Constantinople and Rome this Danubian country sided with the Eastern Church. Rome made repeated efforts to regain her hold, but ineffectually. For political reasons princes now and then favored Rome, but in the 15th century, when it became a dependency of the Turks, the Greek Church gained absolute adherence. In the days of the Reformation Wallachia remained unmoved, but in Moldavia — John Heraclides (Jacob Basilius), an adventurer who had gained the throne, favored Protestantism (1561-63). Twenty years later the prince was again Protestant-Janked Sass, "the Lutheran" (1584). From that time but little was heard for Protestantism, and even today, though ruled by a Prussian prince, there is only 1 Protestant for 6 Armenians, 50 Romanists, 1450. Greek Catholics, and 280 Jews. Protestant societies exist at Bucharest (one Lutheran and one Reformed), at Crajona, in Wallachia, and at Jassy and Galatz, in Moldavia. Besides these, Protestants live scattered in different places. See Michel de Koyalmtchan, Histoire de la Valachie, de la Moldavie, et des Valaques Transdanubiens; the Reports of the Gustavus Adolphus Society, St. John, in Lond. Acad. August 15, 1874, page 181; Prof. Wells, in Meth. Qu, Rev. January 1873, art. 1; Stanley, East. Ch. page 104.