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http://www.aromanian.net/



Vinirã di t alte locuri
Trã z veadã anoastre tropuri

They came from other places
To see our customs



"They are not all organized in villages, as the other peoples of Macedonia. Each of the Bulgarian villages round Castoria, for example, has its four or five houses of Vlachs. They live apart, rarely intermarrying with Slavs, upheld by some tradition of an ancient superiority which teaches them to despise the newer races. If they are timid people they are also singularly tenacious. A family may be scattered between Romania and Thessaly, but they never cease to be Vlachs; and the women move about their Bulgarian neighbors, never abandoning their neat costumes of navy-blue, more suggestive of Norway than of Balkan. They are the inn-keepers and the carriers of Macedonia" (Brailsford, 176-77).


Called Vlachs or Vlassi by Slavs, Kooutsovlachos by Greeks, Tchobans by Albanians, Tsintsars by Serbs and Macedo-Romanians by Romanians these Latin speaking people call themselves Aromanians. They are scattered throughout the Balkan Peninsula and are one of the historical, linguistic, and ethnological mysteries of the region.


Their name, Aromanian, is a clear reference to the Latin origin of their language, but are they really the descendants of the Roman colonists that inhabited the area? Some argue that they are, and what better proof than their language, and, some would add, their appearance. Others postulate the theory that they might be in fact Romanians from north of the Danube which have descended down into the Balkans and somehow maintained their Latin language. Finally, there are others, especially Hungarian historians, that try to justify the historical claim of Hungary over Transylvania (today part of Romania) by using the Aromanians. These historians argue that the Aromanians are in fact the last remnants of the Latin speaking population that inhabited the region south of the Danube. From there, they argue, the modern-day Romanians began their migration into Transylvania and north of the Danube in the twelfth century (Atanasov, 14-23 / Winnifrith, Shattered Eagles 30-31). While none of these theories can be completely refuted because of lack of clear evidences, today most historians agree that the Aromanians are the last remnants of the Latin speaking population that existed in the region since the incorporation of ancient Macedonia into the Roman Empire in 148 B.C. The argument that the Aromanians might be in fact Romanian colonists from the north, has been in recent years, refuted by linguistic studies. There are linguistic differences between the two dialects that point to a separation of Aromanian from Romanian around the seventh century, the moment of the Slavic invasion. The Slavs, consequently, have separated the two bodies of Latin speaking populations. The theory put forward by Hungarian historians was refuted by archeological evidences that stand proof of the Roman and later Romanian continuity north of Danube, even after the Aurelian retreat from the province of Dacia in 271-73 A.D. (Winnifrith, The Vlachs 74).


Many historians have also noted the fact that the territory inhabited today by Aromanians is situated just south or along Via Egnatia (Winnifrith, The Vlachs 68) the main road that once connected the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, Constantinople, with the capital of the Western Roman Empire, Rome. The road was, therefore, heavily guarded by Roman troops. This may also explain the presence of a Latin speaking population so far south, in an area considered by most historians to have been Greek-speaking in those times. "It was a characteristic of the Roman Empire that in the east generally where Latin met Greek, Greek invariably prevailed" (Wace, 266).


The fate of the Latin speaking population in the Balkans has been greatly influenced by two major historical events. One was the division of the Roman Empire in the fourth century, which transformed the Eastern Roman Empire into an Empire where, as suppose to Latin in the West, Greek was the lingua franca. Latin retained, however, a major role. It is important to mention the fact that as late as the tenth century some of the Eastern Roman Emperors and generals had Latin names and were known for speaking Latin fluently (Wace, 259). The second important event in Aromanian history was the fall of the defense line along the Danube in 602 B.C. which left the way open for the Slavic invasion of the region. This is the moment when, according to most historians, the separation of the body of Latin speakers took place. Those that remained in the south were further pushed down into the heart of the Greek speaking areas. Today it is not hard to observe that the areas inhabited by Aromanians are mountainous areas, inaccessible and very isolated, which may explain the lasting existence of these people in these regions. "Their villages are nearly always placed in the highest and least visible spots, the favorite position being a hole in the top of a hill. This custom no doubt originated in the time of the barbarian invasions when the plains were overrun with Slavs, Bulgarians, and Avars" (Odysseus, 410).


The first mention of the Aromanian presence in the Balkans comes from two historians in 579 A.D., Theophanes and Theophylact Simocatta who were accompanying a Byzantine army marching through the territory of present-day Bulgaria in search of the Avars. They recorded a soldier from the region shouting "Torna, torna frater," clearly a Latin expression which could be interpreted as either "Return, return, brother," or "It is slipping, brother." possibly referring to the baggage on the horse (Winnifrith, The Vlachs 85-87). A second mention of the Vlachs doesn't come until 976 A.D. when Cedrenus, a historian, talks about the assassination of David the brother of Samuel the Tsar of Bulgaria by wandering Vlachs (Wace, 257). From that point on, the mentions about Aromanians are numerous. The Aromanians become main actors on the historical scene when, in 1186, they rebel against a tax increase imposed by the Byzantine Emperor. The leaders of the uprising were two Vlachs, Peter and Asan, and one of their goals was also the creation of an independent Aromanian kingdom in the southern region of modern-day Bulgaria and around Thessalonika in Greece. They were successful in defeating the Byzantine armies and maintaining an independent kingdom until the rise of the Vlach Empire or the Second Bulgarian Empire during the fourth crusade of 1204. The next two hundred and fifty years are the height of the Aromanian struggle for independence and their moment of glory. There are numerous mentions of them, not only in Byzantine records, but also in Serbian and Bulgarian ones as well. The briefly flourishing Vlach kingdom in the death throes on the Byzantine Empire created a factor of relative authority in the Balkans. The Aromanians population must have been fairly compact and numerous at that time since the region around Thessaly came to be known as Vlachia (or Wallachia).


For the next six hundred years, the independent kingdoms of the Vlachs were defeated and brought under the authority of the Ottoman Turks. Although most historians "regard the years of Turkish rule as a wretched period, marred by cultural stagnation and economic depression, [...] for the Vlachs the reverse would seem to be the case. Traders, shepherds and craftsmen strive in peace, and are helped by strong rule" (Winnifrith, The Vlachs 123). However, the Ottoman rule poses a problem in tracing the history of the Aromanians in the empire. Often they are mentioned or included in relation to other nationalities of the empire under the term of Orthodox. What is clear, however, is the fact that by the time the nationalism was gaining ground in the Balkans, the Aromanians came to recognize the benefits of the unified rule of the Turks. "After the Greco-Turkish War of 1829 the Vlachs of Thessaly petitioned the Powers that they might be placed under the Ottoman, and not under the Greek rule. This petition was perhaps not quite unsolicited, but it was also not quite insincere, for the Vlachs are certainly a proof that Christians who have no political aims or ambitions can be happy and quiet under Turkish rule" (Odysseus, 416). Under the Ottoman Turks, the Aromanians enjoyed almost full rights. In 1905 they were recognized as a separate millet (nationality), which, in turn, gave them the right to have schools and a church of their own.


The Aromanians seem to be the losers of a grand historical game. From their political might in the twelfth century, their situation has continually worsened. Often they ended up as victims in the game of the Great European Powers to redraw the borders of the Balkans. They were placed under the authority of several kings, and in the end, the territory inhabited by Aromanians has been divided among four countries: Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, and the Republic of Macedonia.


None of the demands of the Aromanian representatives were met at the Berlin Congress which settled the question of the Ottoman presence in Europe and where the borders of Greece, Bulgaria, and Albania were drawn. Part of the reason lies with the Aromanians themselves. The Aromanians have been slow in developing a national conscience. "Unlike other nationalities, the Vlachs had no written language and no national myth like Skandenberg (Albanians) or Prince Lazar or Pericles (Macedonians) to sustain them" (Winnifrith, Scattered Eagles, 39).


Aromanian seems to owe its survival to the remoteness of the areas in which it is spoken and to the fact that through much of the history the Aromanian communities were situated in areas where more than one language was spoken. The growth of the monolithic national state in the twentieth century and the improvement in communication has weakened the chances that the Aromanian language will survive much longer. Unlike Basque and Romantsch speakers who have fought or are fighting for some kind of recognition of their cultural and linguistic autonomy, Aromanians seem perfectly content with their situation in the various national states they currently inhabit. For example, Greek Aromanians are among the most patriotic Greeks in a nation of patriots, and it is rare to hear an Aromanian in Macedonia expressing dissatisfaction with their newly found Macedonian nationhood.


Today, Aromanians are a good example of what is called a remnant nation. It is quite clear that at least as far as the Istro-Romanian community goes, which has less than 2000 speakers, there is no chance of survival, and the same might be true for the Megleno-Romanians. The only group which may have a chance for survival are the Macedo-Romanian speakers (the Aromanians) which has gained recognition and an official status in Macedonia and Albania. Their existence, however, continues to be threatened in Greece, the core area of the Aromanians.


Paramit ºteam, paramit a spuº,
Nu ºtiu cum feþu, mâ nu v araº.

I knew a tale, I have told a tale,
How well I do not know, but I have not deceived you.











:cry:
 

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lupisor lupetto said:
http://www.aromanian.net/
For example, Greek Aromanians are among the most patriotic Greeks in a nation of patriots, and it is rare to hear an Aromanian in Macedonia expressing dissatisfaction with their newly found Macedonian nationhood.
:D At the same time the Romanian Aromanians are among the most patriotic Romanians...
 

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Fascinating! I love history, thanks for the infor lupisor. Wow I had no idea they had such a thriving time of independence in the 1200's
 

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Fantastic topic, the etnogenesis of the Romanians and the Roman period in Eastern Europe are some of my favourite topics and this article was one that I found very interesting. The most interesting part was how the Aromanians lived in high mountains to protect themselves and their Latin language from barbarians and invaders. This is similar to what the Dacian-Romanian population did in Dacia after the Romans pulled out. The same willingness to do anything to preserve one's culture. Anyway, I liked finding out more about Hagi's people.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Aromanians in Romania

www.aromanian.net




Although Romania is not one of the original areas inhabited by Aromanians it has played in the past, as well as now, a key role in the life of this community. Most Aromanians have regarded Romania as a homeland and Romanians as brothers. Romanians, in their struggle to define their national identity in the late nineteenth century, have, naturally, become interested in the other Romanian speaking people in the Balkans, the Aromanians.


In the Middle Ages, the Romanian kingdoms, with their degree of autonomy from the Turks and their relative prosperous economy and stable government offered a safe heaven for the Aromanians coming from the south. This movement has become even more predominant with the national awakening in the Balkans. With the support of the Romanian government, the Macedo-Romanian Committee that was functioning in Bucharest beginning in 1860 was able to open seven years later the first Romanian school in Greece. Many more followed, up to almost 100 schools in Greece, Macedonia, and Albania. At the same time the migration of Aromanians to Romania steadily increased, being even encouraged by the Romanian government.


In 1925, not long after Dobrudja (Dobrogea in Romanian) was united with Romania (part of the Ottoman Empire until 1878), the Romanian king, Carol II gave land to Aromanians to settle in the region. This was done in order to alter the ethnic composition of this newly acquired province. In 1878, Dobrudja was a mosaic of nationalities where Romanians represented, at the most, 40 percent of the population. The rest were mainly Turks and Bulgarians. Following the population exchanges with Bulgaria in the late part of the nineteenth century most of the Bulgarians left the province. Today much of central Dobrudja is inhabited by Aromanians and in the two counties (judeþ in Romanian), Tulcea and Constanþa, they might represent as much as fifteen percent of the population. These Aromanians came mostly from what is today northern Greece and the southern part of the Republic of Macedonia. Consequently, they spoke the Macedo-Romanian dialect, although there might have been a few Megleno-Romanian speakers that came during the same period of time.


"The survival of the Aromanians as a separate group in Romania is remarkable for three reasons. In the first place there was the hardship and the moving from pillar to post, sadly familiar in Eastern Europe, but in the case of some of the Dobrudja Vlachs suffered by people who had only just been uprooted from their ancestral habitat. Secondly, Vlachs in Romania did not receive even the limited help that was given to Vlachs in Greece. Finally, the Vlachs in Romania appear to defy a fundamental law of linguistic. This law states that minority languages are most at risk when they are fairly closely resemble the majority language of the state" (Winnifrith, Shattered Eagles, 68-81).


Aromanians in Romania make up a relatively large group of about 50,000 people and although they consider themselves to be Romanians many of them still have retained some sense of distinctiveness. They are not recognized as a national minority but rather as a cultural one. It seems that there is a great deal of interest, especially from linguists in preserving and studying these Romanian dialects.


The Aromanians in Romania have raised their voices in demanding a firmer attitude of the government in Bucharest concerning the cultural rights of the Aromanian communities throughout the Balkan peninsula. Their impact was the most visible when the Romanian government conditioned the recognition of the Republic of Macedonia to the fate of the Romanian speaking community living there. A similar attitude is expected from the Romanian government vis-a-vis the treatment of the Aromanian community in Greece where they lack the most basic cultural and linguistic rights.
 

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Re: Aromanians in Romania

lupisor lupetto said:
Aromanians in Romania make up a relatively large group of about 50,000 people
This has got to be a typo...There's at least that many Aromanians in Dobrogea alone....I think theAromanian Population for all of Romania is much higer...
 
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