In the 14th century, under favourable international political circumstances, relieved of the Hungarian interference and Tartar threat, the Romanian self-dependent states, Wallachia Major (Wallahia) and Wallachia Minor (Moldavia), constituted themselves South and East of the Carpathians. This ushered in the Romanian political state's life which would be illustrated in history by great values created in one province or the other and by imposing its originality and vigour internationally.
The continuous population movements from one province to the other, the intermigrations determined by socio-political circumstances, as well as the close economic, political and cultural relationships, facilitated by the existence of Romanian ethnic unity, helped the Romanians from Transilvania (Transylvania), Valahia (Wallachia) and Moldova (Moldavia) be growingly aware that they formed one people, with the same origin and identical ethnical and spiritual traits.The permanent external danger forced the Romanian rulers to carry out from the very beginning of the State life, a policy likely to ensure a progress-triggering State stability, to strenghten relationships and lead, little by little, to the union of the Romanian countries into a single unitary and independent State.
Beginning with the 14th century, many political leaders realized that the Romanian countries could efficiently defend themselves in close alliance alone. The change of political orientation of one country could influence and alter the other two countries' politics. The meaning of the interventions made by Mircea cel Batran in Moldova, Alexandru cel Bun in Wallahia, and Iancu de Hunedoara both in Transylvania and Moldavia, by Stefan cel Mare and Ioan Voda cel Cumplit in Wallahia, and Mihai Viteazul in Transylvania and Moldavia was the same: to ensure the military cooperation of the sister-countries by imposing faithful allies as their rulers. In time, this fact had real consequences upon the creation of a unitary state, given the existence of the Romanians' ethnic unity.
The political and military alliance of the Romanian countries in the 14th and 15th centuries, turned in the middle of the 15th century into a genuine reunion, which by the 16th century brought about the idea of the old Dacia's reconstitution by unifying under a unique leadership the whole Romanian space. It was Mihai Viteazul who succeeded to make this idea come true, even if shortlived, giving a definite view to those who followed him. He united under his reign the three Romanian countries, calling himself: "ruler of Wallahia, Transylvania and Moldavia".
Mihai Viteazul's political achievement proved to be extremely significant. It deeply moved the Romanian conscience and left lasting marks; it urged the following generations to create the unitary and independent state and the Calugareni hero became a simbol of national unity.
The Romanian people used the short moments of peace to develop its culture; this gave it the strength to assert its right to exist.
After the fall of the South-Danubian Slavic States and of Byzantium under Turkish domination, until the raise of Russia, Romanian countries have had the leader role in defending the Orthodox Christendom, as a shield of the Eastern Church and of its traditions. Greek and Slav scholars living in the Romanian countries carried on a vast activity promoting religious literature. Being helped by the voievodes or by the Romanian noble families, scholars printed religious books, spread in the South of the Danube territories, supporting by their intrinsic faith the conscience of nationality.
The cultural tradition of the Byzantine Empire was continued in the Romanian countries. Some of the Romanian rulers had the conscience of this mission and they acted in its name, Neagoe Basarab, Matei Basarab, Vasile Lupu, Constantin Brancoveanu, considered themselves as the true successors of the imperial tradition. In this capacity they assumed the role of protectors of the Orthodox Church and of successors of the Byzantine emperors' work. Their whole reign was animated by this thought; all their deeds were consequence of this conscience. They introduced in their courts the splendour and the ceremonial from the Byzantine emperors' courts. From the very beginning of the Romanian State life, the chancellories of the time had as a model the Byzantine one.
The Romanian art works - the mediaeval painting and architecture - have a remarkable originality. The Romanian art developed both on the basis of its tradition and in close contact with the art of the neighbouring countries; it unified in an original sinthesis elements from local tradition with the Byzantine, South-Slav and Western European ones. The broad economic, political and cultural relations between the Romanian countries and the other states favoured the dissemination of Romanian mediaeval culture abroad, and helped the Romanian countries actively participate in the development of the European culture.
At the end of the 17th century, the gradual weakening of the Ottoman Empire and the increasing power of the Russian and Austrian Empire, created a new international situation in the South-East of Europe. In order to slow down the process of the Romanian countries' liberation - after the Austrian Empire conquered Transylvania, the Banat and, temporarily, Oltenia - the Porte established the Phanariot regime, hoping to keep - due to the new rulers - its domination on Valahia and Moldova. But the Phanariot regime did not mean only an attempt to diminish the autonomous rights of the principalities South and East of the Carpathians, but also, at least for some of the Phanariot rulers, a policy of reforms, of adapting Romanian society to the new conditions as well as the development of a Neo-Hellenistic culture growing simultaneously with the Romanian cultural movement. They also created in Transylvania and Banat conditions for progress even if the Habsburgs ruling exploited these countries.
From the middle of the 18th century, the disintegration of the feudal structures on the whole Romanian territory brought about a more and more obvious development of the capitalist production relations and the creation of the modern Romanian nation, the affirmation of the national conscience and ideals. On the cultural plane, Scoala Ardeleana (the Transylvanian School) aroused the conscience, glorifying the past and opening prospects for a better future not only in Transylvania but also for all Romanians. Moreover, after the great Transylvanian peasants' uprising in 1784 and chiefly the revolution of 1821, lead by Tudor Vladimirescu, were not provincial episodes, but great moments of national history, a basis for the historical progress which was lead to the fall of feudalism and the creation of the Romanian modern state.
The 19th century recorded the end of Phanariot period, the beginning of a new process of irreversible modernization.
Last update: 1999, August 18