The problem of the origin and formation of the Rumanian nation has always provided matter for keen disputation among historians, and the theories which have been advanced are widely divergent. Some of these discussions have been undertaken solely for political reasons, and in such cases existing data prove conveniently adaptable. This elastic treatment of the historical data is facilitated by the fact that a long and important period affecting the formation and the development of the Rumanian nation (270-1220) has bequeathed practically no contemporary evidence. By linking up, however, what is known antecedent to that period with the precise data available regarding the following it, and by checking the inferred results with what little evidence exists respecting the obscure epoch of Rumanian history, it has been possible to reconstruct, almost to a certainty, the evolution of the Rumanians during the Middle Ages.
A discussion of the varying theories would be out of proportion, and out of place, in this essay. Nor is it possible to give to any extent a detailed description of the epic struggle which the Rumanians carried on for centuries against the Turks. I shall have to deal, therefore, on broad lines, with the historical facts—laying greater stress only upon the three fundamental epochs of Rumanian history: the formation of the Rumanian nation; its initial casting into a national polity (foundation of the Rumanian principalities); and its final evolution into the actual unitary State; and shall then pass on to consider the more recent internal and external development of Rumania, and her present attitude.
Formation of the Rumanian Nation
About the fifth century B.C., when the population of the Balkan-Carpathian region consisted of various tribes belonging to the Indo-European family, the northern portion of the Balkan peninsula was conquered by the Thracians and the Illyrians. The Thracians spread north and south, and a branch of their race, the Dacians, crossed the Danube. The latter established themselves on both sides of the Carpathian ranges, in the region which now comprises the provinces of Oltenia (Rumania), and Banat and Transylvania (Hungary). The Dacian Empire expanded till its boundaries touched upon those of the Roman Empire. The Roman province of Moesia (between the Danube and the Balkans) fell before its armies, and the campaign that ensued was so successful that the Dacians were able to compel Rome to an alliance.
Two expeditions undertaken against Dacia by the Emperor Trajan (98-117) released Rome from these ignominious obligations, and brought Dacia under Roman rule (A.D. 106). Before his second expedition Trajan erected a stone bridge over the Danube, the remains of which can still be seen at Turnu-Severin, a short distance below the point where the Danube enters Rumanian territory. Trajan celebrated his victory by erecting at Adam Klissi (in the province of Dobrogea) the recently discovered Tropaeum Traiani, and in Rome the celebrated ‘Trajan’s Column’, depicting in marble reliefs various episodes of the Dacian wars.