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«De manibus Valachorum scismaticorum ... »

Romanians and Power in the Mediaeval Kingdom of Hungary- The Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries

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Ioan-Aurel Pop

The medieval history of the Romanians in the Hungarian kingdom still represents one of the most delicate subjects in European history. This book is the product of more than thirty years of research, and thus provides new and balanced insights into that history, revealing both the rise and the decline of communities and individuals, as well as the diversity of these borderlands of Christian Europe.

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Introduction

Extract

The title above, albeit simple and clear in its structure, requires a few expla- nations. The first part of this title (“From the Hands of the Schismatic Vlachs”) – which seems somewhat metaphorical, but is not – expresses the ethnic es- sence of the mediaeval Romanian people: their Latinity, which is derived from the Western world and contained within the term Vallachi (“Vlachs”, “Vallachs”, Wallachians” etc) and their allegiance to Eastern spirituality, which is reflected by the word scismatici (“schismatics”). Both concepts were used by foreigners, not by the Romanians themselves, and although they rest on facts, not fiction, they clearly have derogatory overtones. The term “schismatic”, used in the Catholic world, has always carried tinges of contempt and condescension, while the word “Vlach” (with its variations), used by most foreigners, acquired such a meaning gradually, only in certain languages and under particular historical circumstances. The entire phrase that is placed under quotation marks in the title is drawn from a series of Latin documents which date back to 1377 and will be commented on below; the expression “from the hands of the schismatic Vlachs…” suggests the plunder of the (material, moral and spiritual) wealth that belonged to the patrimony of the Orthodox Romanians. It is this kind of pillage, denudation, despoilment and ravishment – not only of countries, estates, forests and villages, but also of beliefs and dreams – that sealed the fate of the Romani- ans for many centuries to come. All this will be explained at length in this study. The...

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