Romania in The Middle Ages

Romania In The Middle Ages

The Middle Ages in Romania began with the withdrawal of the Mongols, the last of the migrating populations to invade the territory of modern Romania, after their attack of 1241–1242. It came to an end with the reign of Michael the Brave (1593–1601) who managed, for a short time in 1600, to rule Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania, the three principalities whose territories were to be united some three centuries later to form Romania.

Over most of this period, Banat, Crişana, Maramureş and Transylvania – now regions in Romania to the west of the Carpathian Mountains – were part of the Kingdom of Hungary. They were divided into several types of administrative units, such as "counties" and "seats". The heads of the Transylvanian counties or "counts" were subordinated to a special royal official called voivode, but the province was seldom treated as a single unit, since the Székely and Saxon seats were administered separately. In the kingdom, Romanian peasants, being Orthodox, were exempt from the tithe, an ecclesiastical tax payable by all Roman Catholic commoners. However, Romanian noblemen slowly lost the ability to participate in political life, as the 14th-century monarchs pursued a zealous pro-Catholic policy. Their position became even worse after 1437 when the so-called "Union of Three Nations", an alliance of the Hungarian noblemen, the Székelys, and the Saxons, was formed in order to crush the Bobâlna peasant uprising.

Wallachia, the first independent medieval state between the Carpathians and the lower Danube was created when Basarab I (c. 1310–1352) terminated the suzerainty of the king of Hungary with his victory in the battle of Posada in 1330. The independence of Moldavia, to the east of the Carpathians, was achieved by Bogdan I (1359–1365), a nobleman from Maramureş, who led a revolt against the former ruler who was appointed by the Hungarian monarch. The independence of the two principalities, however, was rarely secure, and vassalage to multiple states became an important aspect of their diplomacy. Although Wallachia paid tribute to the Ottoman Empire from 1417, and Moldavia from 1456, their two medieval monarchs, Mircea the Old of Wallachia (1386–1418) and Stephen the Great of Moldavia (1457–1504) conducted successful military operations against the Ottoman Turks. The two principalities' trade with other parts of Europe began to decrease after the last decades of the 15th century. Before this the sale of hides, grain, honey, and wax to the Holy Roman Empire, Venice and Poland, and the import of silk, weapons and other manufactured goods from these areas had been widespread, but by the end of the 16th century the Ottoman Empire became the main market for Romanian products.

Transylvania, together with the neighboring counties, gained the status of an autonomous state under Ottoman suzerainty after the central territories of the Kingdom of Hungary had been annexed by the Ottomans in 1541. The fall of the kingdom also deprived Wallachia and Moldavia of their main ally in the struggle against the Ottoman Empire. In 1594 Michael the Brave of Wallachia joined an anti-Ottoman alliance initiated by Pope Clement VIII. After a series of victory over the Ottomans, he turned against Transylvania and Moldavia where pro-Polish and pro-Ottoman princes were reigning. He invaded and occupied Transylvania in 1599, and Moldavia in 1600. Although the union of the three countries collapsed in four months, it served as an ideal for later generations working for the unification of the lands that now form Romania.

Read more about Romania In The Middle Ages:  Background, Age of Michael The Brave (1595–1601), After The First Union

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