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Walachia or Wallachia (both: wälāˈkēə, wə–), historic region (29,568 sq mi/76,581 sq km), S Romania. The Transylvanian Alps separate it in the NW from Transylvania and the Banat; the Danube separates it from Serbia in the west, Bulgaria in the south, and N Dobruja in the east; in the northeast it adjoins Moldavia. Bucharest, the Romanian capital, is its chief city. The Oltul River, a tributary of the Danube, divides Walachia into Muntenia or Greater Walachia (20,265 sq mi/52,486 sq km) in the east and Oltenia or Lesser Walachia (9,303 sq mi/24,095 sq km) in the west.
With the rich Ploieşti oil fields and the industrialized area near Bucharest, Walachia is economically the most developed region of Romania. Its industries (notably chemicals, heavy machinery, and shipbuilding) provide employment for about half of the country's labor force. Walachia is also a rich agricultural area and the “breadbasket” of Romania. The overwhelming majority of the population is Romanian, but there are also Bulgarians and Serbs. The pre–World War II Jewish population of about 600,000 was reduced to about 18,000 by 1990, with the numbers still declining.
The region was part of the Roman province of Dacia and has retained its latinate speech despite centuries of invasion and foreign rule. Although theoretically part of the Byzantine Empire, Walachia was successively occupied (6th–11th cent.) by the Lombards, the Avars, and the Bulgarians. By the 12th cent. it had passed under the Cumans, who in turn succumbed (1240) to the Mongols.
When the Mongol wave receded, the native inhabitants descended from their mountain refuges, and the principality of Walachia was founded (c.1290) by their leader Radu Negru, or Rudolf the Black. The name Vlachs (or Walachs or Wallachs) was given them by their Slavic neighbors. Although some claim that the Vlachs are direct descendants of the Dacians (mainly on the ground that they preserved their Latin speech), it is more than likely that they represent a composite ethnic mixture. The sister principality, Moldavia, came into existence about the same time as Walachia. Cîmpulung, the earliest capital of Walachia, was later replaced by Curtea de Arges.
Mircea the Great of Walachia (reigned 1386–1418) shared in the defeats of Kosovo Field (1389) and Nikopol (1396) at the hands of the Turks and was obliged to pay tribute to the sultan. Walachia continued to be governed by its own princes under Turkish suzerainty. Like Moldavia, it was torn by strife among the great landowners (or boyars) and among rival claimants to the throne; lawlessness prevailed. Prince Vlad the Impaler (reigned 1456–62) restored some order by putting 20,000 persons to death within six years. He refused tribute to the sultan, defeated the Turks, and impaled the Turkish prisoners. His rivalry with Stephen the Great of Moldavia cost him his throne. A last attempt to free all Romanians from foreign domination was made (1593–1601) by Michael the Brave, who massacred the Turks in Walachia and conquered Transylvania and Moldavia. His death delivered Walachia back into the hands of the Turks.
The alliance (1711) of Prince Constantine Brancovan with Peter I of Russia and his subsequent downfall resulted in a tightening of Turkish control. Instead of native princes, governors (hospodars), mostly Greek Phanariots (see under Phanar), were appointed. In the Russo-Turkish Wars of the 18th cent. Walachia was repeatedly occupied by Russian and Austrian troops. The oppressive rule of the Phanariots lasted until 1822, when the Romanians rebelled against the Greeks, who at the same time began their war of independence against Turkey.
Native governors were again appointed, and the Treaty of Adrianople (see Adrianople, Treaty of) in 1829 made Walachia an almost autonomous state, tributary to Turkey but under Russian protection. A Romanian national uprising (1848–49) in Walachia was suppressed by Russian intervention. Russian troops occupied (1853) Walachia and Moldavia early in the Crimean War; however, to purchase Austrian neutrality, they evacuated the lands in 1854, and the two Danubian Principalities (as Walachia and Moldavia were called) passed under Austrian occupation. The Congress of Paris (1856), which ended the Crimean War, guaranteed the principalities virtual independence under the nominal suzerainty of Turkey. With the accession (1859) of Alexander John Cuza as prince of both Moldavia and Walachia, the history of modern Romania began.
(Rumanian, Tara Românească; literally, “Rumanian land”), a historical region in the southern part of the Rumanian Socialist Republic, between the Carpathian Mountains and the Danube River. The Olt River divides the territory of Walachia into two parts—Muntenia (Greater Walachia; Bucharest is its center) and Oltenia (Lesser Walachia; Craiova is its center). Administratively, the territory of Walachia has been included since 1968 in the districts of Argeş, Brăila, Buzău, Vîlcea, Gorj, Dolj, Dîmbo-viţa, Ilfov, Mehedinţi, Olt, Prahova, Teleorman, and Ialo-miţa.
The ancient history of Walachia dates to the second century A.D. The territory of Walachia, which was settled by Getae (Dacian) tribes, was conquered by the Roman Empire in 106 and remained part of it until 271. Walachia was invaded by the Goths and Gepidae at the end of the third century and by the Huns and Avars during the fourth to sixth centuries. Slavic tribes appeared in Walachia in the sixth century. The language and culture of the local tribes evolved through intercourse with the Slavs. From the late eighth to tenth centuries, a substantial portion of the territory of Walachia belonged to the First Bulgarian Kingdom. During this period feudal relations formed, and the process of the creation of the Eastern Romanic nationality—the Vlachs, or Volochs—was completed. During the 11th and 12th centuries, Walachia was attacked by the Pechenegs, Polovtsy, and Torks; in the 13th century, part of Walachia came under the yoke of the Tatar-Mongol invaders. Walachia became an independent state in about 1324. During the 15th century and the first half of the 16th century, Walachia, Moldavia, and Transylvania waged a difficult struggle against the Ottoman Empire, which was attempting to subjugate the Danubian principalities. However, the feudal Walachian state was still insufficiently consolidated, and it was forced to accept dependence on the Turkish sultanate. Walachia started paying it tribute in the 15th century, and during the 16th century it fell completely under Turkey’s dominion. Serf relations were legally formalized in Walachia during the 16th and first half of the 17th centuries. At the end of the 16th century, during the reign of the Walachian hospodar Michael the Brave (ruled 1592-1601), the Turkish troops were crushed, and Walachia, Moldavia, and Transylvania were united into a single state. However, this state soon disintegrated, and the dependence of the Rumanian principalities on the Ottoman Empire was renewed. The political ties of Walachia and Moldavia with Russia grew stronger beginning in the late 16th century on the basis of a common struggle against Turkish aggression. During the late 17th and early 18th centuries, under hospodar C. Brincoveanu, Walachia established permanent diplomatic relations with Russia. After 1716, Turkey began appointing the hospodars primarily from among Greek Phanariots. The struggle against socioeconomic and national political oppression intensified in Walachia. The haiduk movement became extensive. During the second half of the 18th century, cloth, paper, glass, and other enterprises of the manufactory type began to appear in Walachia.
A powerful national liberation movement unfolded in Walachia and Moldavia from the 1820’s to the 1850’s. The Walachian Uprising of 1821 led by T. Vladimirescu—the largest in the country’s history—was suppressed by Turkish troops. It did, however, put an end to the Phanariot regime in Walachia. Internal self-government was reestablished in Walachia as a result of the Akkerman Convention of 1826, concluded by Russia and Turkey. The Treaty of Adrianople of 1829, which concluded the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-29, secured Walachia’s autonomy, with Russia as its guarantor. From 1829 to 1834, Walachia was under Russian administration. The first constitution was introduced in Walachia in 1831—the so-called Organic Statute. The customs border between Walachia and Moldavia was abolished in 1847. The revolutionary democratic movement, prominently represented by N. Bälcescu, spread throughout the public life of Walachia in the 1840’s. A bourgeois-democratic revolution took place in Walachia in 1848 (under the influence of the revolutions in a number of European countries), but it was suppressed. The striving for union with Moldavia into a single state grew among the population of Walachia. On Jan. 24, 1859, the Electoral Assembly (which consisted essentially of landlords and merchants) convened in accordance with the Convention of Paris of 1858, which was concluded by Great Britain, Austria, France, Russia, Prussia, Turkey, and Piedmont, chose Colonel A. Cuza hospodar of Walachia. On Jan. 5, 1859, he had been elected to the throne of Moldavia. Thus, the unification of Walachia and Moldavia into a single state, which soon became known as Rumania, was completed.
REFERENCESPalauzov, S. N. Rumynskie gospodarstva Valakhiia i Moldaviia v istoriko-politicheskom otnoshenii. St. Petersburg, 1859.
Vinogradov, V. N. Rossiia i ob”edinenie rumynskikh kniazhestv. Moscow, 1961.
Daicoviciu, H. Dacii. Bucharest, 1965.
Studii privind Unirea Principatelor. Bucharest, 1960.