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Romania Table of Contents


Defense of Romanian Lands in Ancient Times and the Middle Ages

As early as 500 B.C., the Persians, Macedonians, and Romans threatened the Getae and Dacians, the two tribes from which modern Romanians descended (see Early History, from Prehistory to the Eleventh Century , ch. 1). The Roman legions of Emperor Trajan (A.D. 98--117) conquered much of the region in the early years of the second century and occupied it for almost two centuries.

During the Middle Ages, the forebears of today's Romanians depended on the protection of a local military leader ( voivode--see Glossary), who defended them in exchange for their allegiance and tribute. In times of danger, the free peasantry provided soldiers for local voivodes to command. The principalities of Moldavia and Walachia staved off the depredations of nomadic barbarians and avoided absorption by more powerful neighbors, but the Kingdom of Hungary and Hungarian noblemen ruled over the peasant descendants of the ancient GetoDacians in Transylvania and the Banat. All peoples of southeastern Europe, including the early Romanians, were soon subjected to several centuries of domination by an external power.

Data as of July 1989