Thus far tradition. Roumania possesses no historical records of the period, but the discovery of manuscripts in Hungary, Poland, and elsewhere, has established certain facts that are beginning to serve as a solid foundation upon which the early history of the country is being based.
First, it is admitted that the plains and the slopes of the Carpathians were inhabited by communities ruled over by chieftains of varying power and influence. Some were banates, as that of Craiova, which long remained a semi-independent State; then there were petty voivodes or princes, as the Princes of Zevrin or Severin, Farcas, Seneslas, &c.; and besides these there were khanates, called in French kinezats, and in German knesenschaften (from the Slav. kniaz, a prince), some of which were petty principalities, whilst others were merely the governorships of villages or groups of them. These are only a few of the small rulerships, which are every day multiplied as the State records of the neighbouring countries are being more and more carefully investigated.
The names of prominent chieftains, too, are becoming clearer in the obscurity of the period. In or about 1285 a Prince Liteanu conquered and united three Wallachian principalities, and declared himself independent of the crown of Hungary, which claimed suzerainty over the western part of Wallachia. He was attacked by the Magyars under George Sowar, and slain in battle, while his brother was taken prisoner and executed. Some of the successors of this prince were more fortunate, and one of them, Tugomir, succeeded for a time in securing his independence. The clan Bassarab was mentioned at even an earlier period, a ban of that name having resisted the Tartars. Much confusion exists as to the origin of this clan, and whilst some writers call Tugomir (just referred to) by that name, others confound him with the Negru Voda of tradition. Whatever may be the obscurity, however, in which their rise is buried, it is certain that the Bassarab family gave many princes and rulers to Wallachia, and, after intermarrying with other members of the ruling classes, only became extinct about the year 1685.
In the mountains the state of affairs was somewhat different. There, no doubt from their greater proximity to the centre of Magyar rule, the tie between the petty princes and the Hungarian crown seems to have been closer, and whilst some writers affirm that the Wallachs (or Roumanians, as their countrymen like to call them) enjoyed privileges amounting to a quasi-independence, the Austrian chroniclers maintain that they were mere vassal retainers of the Court of Hungary. So, for example, they say that Bogdan, ruler of Marmaros, broke his allegiance to the King Louis of Hungary, and about 1359 descended, with a largo body of Wallachian followers, amongst whom were his sons, into the lower lands of what was already called Moldavia, and took possession of the country.