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History[edit | edit source]
The first of the Romanian principalities, Wallachia, was formed in 1330, gaining independence from the kingdom of Hungary. The second, Moldavia, was founded in 1350 east of the Carpathians on the Prut River valley, and became a vassal state of the kingdom of Poland. However, by 1396 Wallachia became a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire; Moldavia became a vassal state in 1512. After the Turks conquered Hungary in 1526, Transylvania enjoyed a brief period of autonomy, becoming a Turkish vassal in 1541. In 1552 the Banat also fell under Ottoman rule. Although these principalities paid annual tribute to the Ottoman sultan, Transylvania, Moldavia, and Wallachia retained their autonomous status under Turkish sovereignty. The Austro-Hungarians drove the Turks from Transylvania in 1606 and from the Banat in 1701. Austria received the Bukovina area of Moldavia in 1775 for assistance in a war against Russia.
Romanian nationalism began to rise in the mid-1800s. Insurrections arose in Wallachia, Moldavia, and Transylvania in 1848 but were suppressed by the Ottomans and the Russians. In 1859, Wallachia and Moldavia joined to form the United Principalities of the Danube. Romania was recognized as an independent state in 1878 at the Treaty of Berlin following the Fifth Russo-Turkish War. The treaty also awarded the coastal area of Dobrogea to Romania. Romania was raised to the rank of a Kingdom in 1881 with a Hohenzollern monarchy.
Romania entered World War I with the Allies, but the Central Powers soon occupied Bucharest and much of the country. After the war and with the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, Transylvania, Bukovina, part of Banat, and the Russian province of Bessarabia were added to the Kingdom of Romania, bringing it to its largest extent. This area is still referred to as Greater Romania.
In 1923 a new constitution granted citizenship to Jewish residents. In the 1930s a fascist political movement similar to those in Germany and Italy appeared in Romania; Romania entered into an alliance with Germany. By 1941 500,000 German soldiers were occupying Romania, and a joint German-Romanian army was formed to invade the Soviet Union. By 1944 Soviet troops controlled the country. Under their occupation Romania's economy and political life were coordinated with the Soviet Union, as was the rest of eastern Europe.
A coup led by King Michael and opposition politicians, with the support of the army, deposed the Antonescu dictatorship on August 23, 1944. An armistice, secretly negotiated at Cairo, was signed September 12 and brought Romanian forces into the war on the side of the Allies against the Germans in Transylvania, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. Romania had suffered extensive losses in the war against the U.S.S.R. and now incurred additional heavy casualties.
A peace treaty signed at Paris on February 10, 1947 confirmed the Soviet annexation of Bessarabia and northern Bukovina, occupied since 1940, and ceded the largely Bulgar-populated southern part of Dobruja to Bulgaria. It also reincorporated into Romania the portion of northern Transylvania that had been granted to Hungary in 1940 under a German and Italian arbitration between Romania and Hungary. In addition, the treaty required substantial war reparations by Romania to the Soviet Union.
The Soviet occupation forces in Romania supported Communist organizers; non-Communist political leaders were purged from positions of authority. In March 1945, King Michael was forced to appoint a Communist-front government. In December 1947, Romania's king abdicated under pressure and the Romanian People’s Republic was declared. Once in power, the Communists, effectively subordinated Romania's national interests to those of the Soviet Union. In 1965, a new constitution was adopted, changing the name of the country to the Socialist Republic of Romania.
In 1989 the Ceauşescu government was overthrown and a new non-Communist constitution was adopted in 1991. In 2007, Romania became a member state in the European Union.
Timeline[edit | edit source]
1593 - 1606 During the Long Turkish War, Wallachian Prince Michael the Brave briefly reigned over the three medieval principalities of Wallachia, Moldavia, and Transylvania, covering most of present-day territory of Romania
1877 – 1878 In the Russo-Turkish War Romania fought on the Russian side, and in the aftermath, it was recognized as an independent state both by the Ottoman Empire and the Great Powers by the Treaty of San Stefano and the Treaty of Berlin. The new Kingdom of Romania underwent a period of stability and progress until 1914
1916 - 1918 Total military and civilian losses within contemporary borders, were estimated at 748,000
1942 - The Holocaust in Romania, copied the Nazi policies of oppression and genocide of Jews and Roma, mainly in the Eastern territories reoccupied by the Romanians from the Soviet Union. In total between 280,000 and 380,000 Jews in Romania were killed during the war and at least 11,000 Romanian Gypsies were also killed
1946 - Romania remained under the direct military occupation and economic control of the USSR until the late 1950's
1948 - Anti-Communist resistance was one of the most long-lasting in the Eastern Bloc. A 2006 Commission estimated the number of direct victims of the Communist repression at two million people
1989 - Romanian Revolution in which thousands were killed or injured
Religious History[edit | edit source]
Christianity in Romania dates back almost to the time of Christ. According to Romanian tradition, the Apostle Andrew first taught the gospel in Romania. Archeologists have found Christian churches and artifacts dating to the second century in Apuseni and Carpathians mountains, as well as in Dobrogea and other areas of Romania. In the third century, slaves brought in from Asia Minor by the Goths included Christians who then taught the Daco-Roman people. In the sixth century, a metropolitan was established in Tomis, a city in Dobrogea. The metropolitan was under the bishop and later Patriarch of Constantinople. Thus, when the schism occured between Catholic Rome and Orthodox Constantinople, the Romanian parishes became orthodox. The Tomis Metropolitanate is the foundation of the Romanian Orthodox Church, which became an independent church in 1878.
Roman Catholicism was introduced into Transylvania and Banat when the Hungarians took over those areas in the 10th century. The number of Romanians who chose to remain Orthodox in this area led to a number of conflicts. For example, the Edict of Turda in 1389 deprived all Orthodox Romanians of their civil rights.
The Protestant Reformation introduced Calivinism and other sects among Hungarians and Germans in Transylvania and Banat in the 16th century. A counter-reformation occurred in the 17th century but was unsuccessful. Transylvania and the Banat became a cosmopolitan mix of Calvinist Reformed, Evangelical Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic and Jewish religions. After Austro-Hungary reestablished its control in 1698, the orthodox metropolitan of Transylvania, under political pressure, asked the Pope to pledge their loyalty to the Roman Catholic pope in return for the maintenance of their Eastern (Byzantine) liturgy and traditions, thus creating the Greek Catholic Church or Uniate Church in Romania.
Since 1991, Romania has enjoyed full religious freedom.
Religious Affiliation in Romania[edit | edit source]