Romania/History

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Background: The territory of today's Romania was inhabited in the antiquity by Dacians, a Thracian tribe. Eventually, a state emerged. The Dacian state sustains a series of conflicts with the expanding Roman Empire. It is finally conquered in 106 by the Roman emperor Trajanus, during the reign of the dacian king Decebalus.

Roman conquest brings colons, the Latin language - whose descendant is the Romanian language - and christianism.

Face to succesive invasions of germanic tribes, the roman administration withdraws two centuries later. Multiple waves of invasion follow. We mention only the slavs in the 7th century, the hungarians in the 9th century, and the tatars in the 13th century.

References to native political entities disappear during these "dark ages" until the 10th century.

The larger principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia emerge in the 14th century. Transylvania is, at the same period, a largely autonomous part of the Hungarian kingdom, result of the conquest in the 11th to 13th century of the pre-existent smaller political formations.

The end of the same 14th century also brings the Ottoman Turks to the Danube. Their expansion runs fast. In 1453 Constantinople falls and in 1541 all the Balkans and most of Hungary became provinces of the Ottoman Empire. At the same time, Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transylvania remain autonomous, under Ottoman suzerainty.

The year 1600 brings the first unification of the three principalties by Wallachian prince Mihai Viteazul (Michael the Brave for the english-speakers). The union does not last, since Mihai is killed only one year later by a German Empire general.

At the end of the 17th century Hungary and Transylvania become part of the Austrian Empire, following the defeat of the turks. It is now the Austrians that advance fast. In 1718 an important part of Wallachia is incorporated to the Austrian Empire and is only returned in 1793.

The eastern province of Moldavia has not had a simpler destiny. In 1775 the Austrian Empire occupies the north-western part of Moldavia, later called Bukovina. In 1812, Russia occupies the eastern halfof the principality, calling it Bessarabia.

As in most European countries, 1848 brings revolution to the Moldova, Wallachia, and Transylvania. Its goals - complete independence and national emancipation - remain unfulfilled, but they are the basis of the subsequent evolutions. Also, they help the population of the three principalities realize a bit more its remarkable unity of language and interests.

In 1859, prince elections (yes, elections) hold in both Moldavia and Wallachia choose the same person as prince. Thus, Romania is created. In 1866 the german prince Carol (Charles) of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen is appointed as prince, in a move to assure German backing to unity and future independence.

In 1877, following a Russian-Romanian-Turk war, Romania becomes completely independent, and in 1881 it becomes a kingdom.

In 1916 Romania enters the first World War on the Entente side. At the end of the war, Austrian and Russian empires disappear. Governing bodies created in Transylvania and Bessarabia choose union with Romania.

The resulting "Great Romania", does not resists World War II.

In 1939 Germany and the Soviet Union sign the Ribbentrop-Molotov treaty, that stipulates, between other, the soviet "interest" in Bessarabia.

As a result, in 1940, Romania looses territory in both east and west:

In June 1940 the Soviet Union takes Bessarabia and Bukovina after issuing an ultimatum to Romania. Two thirds of Bessarabia are collated to a small part of URSS to form the "Moldavian Soviet Republic". The rest is appointed to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic.

In August 1940 half of Transylvania - later called the Northern Transylvania - is "given" by Germany and Italy to the fascist Hungarian state.

Both regions have a population that is romanian in majority.

At the end of WWII, Northern Transylvania returns to Romania, while the Moldavian Soviet Republic becomes independent only in 1991.

Soviet occupation following World War II led to the formation of a communist Peoples Republic in 1947 and the abdication of the king. The decades-long rule of President Nicolae CEAUSESCU became increasingly draconian through the 1980s. He was overthrown and executed in late 1989. Former communists dominated the government until 1996 when they were swept from power. Much economic restructuring remains to be carried out before Romania can achieve its hope of joining the EU.