History of Romania

From Academic Kids

Romania Coat of Arms
Part of the series
History of Romania
The Middle Ages
National awakening
Kingdom of Romania
World War II
Communist Romania
Romania since 1989

This article provides only a brief outline of each period of the History of Romania; details are presented in separate articles (see the links in the box and below).



Main article: Dacia

The territory of today's Romania was inhabited since at least 513 BC by the Getae-Dacians, a Thracian tribe. Under the leadership of Burebista (70-44 BC) the Dacians became a powerful state which threatened even the regional interests of the Romans. Julius Caesar intended to start a campaign against the Dacians, but was assassinated in 44 BC. A few months later, Burebista shared the same fate, assassinated by his own noblemen. His powerful state divided in four and did not become unified again until 95, under the reign of Decebalus. The Dacian state sustained a series of conflicts with the expanding Roman Empire, and was finally conquered in 106 AD by the Roman emperor Trajan, during the reign of the Dacian king Decebalus. Faced by successive invasions of the Goths and Carpi, the Roman administration withdrew in 271.

Romania in the Middle Ages

Main article: Romania in the Middle Ages

Multiple waves of invasion followed: such as the Slavs in the 6th century, the Bulgars and Magyars in the 9th century, and the Tatars in the 13th century.

Many small local states were created, but only in the 13th century the larger principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia emerged to fight the danger of a new threat in the form of the Ottoman Turks, who conquered Constantinople in 1453. By 1541, the entire Balkan peninsula and most of Hungary became Ottoman provinces. In contrast, Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transylvania, came under Ottoman suzerainty, but conserved fully internal autonomy and, until 18th century, some external independence.

By the 12th century, Transylvania became a largely autonomous part of the Kingdom of Hungary. Kings of Hungary invited the Pechenegs and Cumans from Wallachia to settle in Transylvania, and also the Szecklers, the Teutonic Order and the Saxons and Schwabs.

In the year 1600, Wallachia, Moldova and Transylvania principalities were united by Wallachian Ban (prince) Mihai Viteazul, but the unity dissolved after Mihai was killed, only one year later, by the soldiers of an Austrian army general Giorgio Basta.

In 1699 Transylvania became a possession of Austrian Empire, following the defeat of the Turks. The Austrians, in their turn, rapidly expanded their empire: In 1718 an important part of Wallachia, called Oltenia, was incorporated to the Austrian Empire and was only returned in 1739.

In 1775 the Austrian Empire occupied the north-western part of Moldavia, later called Bukovina, while the eastern half of the principality (called Bessarabia) was occupied in 1812 by Russia.

National awakening of Romania

Main article: National awakening of Romania

As in most European countries, 1848 brought revolution to Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transylvania, announced by Tudor Vladimirescu and his Pandurs attempt in 1821. The goals of the revolutionaries - complete independence for the first two and national emancipation in third - remained unfulfilled, but were the basis of the subsequent evolutions. Also, the uprising helped the population of the three principalities recognise their unity of language and interests.

Heavily taxed and badly administered under the Ottoman Empire, in 1859, people in both Moldavia and Wallachia elected the same "Domnitor" (ruler) - Alexandru Ioan Cuza - as prince.

Kingdom of Romania

Main article: Kingdom of Romania

The Old Kingdom

In 1866, the German prince Carol I (Charles or Karl) of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was appointed as Domnitor of the Principality of Romania, to end the rivalry and struggle for the seat of power by the Romanian boyar factions. In 1877, Romania declared independence from the Ottoman Empire and, following a Russian-Romanian-Turkish war, its independence was recognized by the Treaty of Berlin, 1878, making it the first independent national state in the eastern half of Europe. Following the war Romania acquired Dobruja, but it was forced to cede southern Bessarabia to Russia. Domnitor Carol I was proclaimed the first King of Romania on March 26, 1881.

The new state, squeezed between the great powers of the Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, and Russian empires, looked to the West, particularly France, for its cultural, educational, military and administrative models. In 1916 Romania entered World War I on the Entente side. By the end of the war, the Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires were gone; governing bodies created in Transylvania, Bessarabia and Bukovina chose union with Romania, resulting in Greater Romania.

Greater Romania

The acquisition of these territories transformed Romania "...from a small country with a largely ethnically homogenous population to the second largest country of East Central Europe with all the problems of a multi-national state." [Riff, 1992, 34]

Most of Romania's pre-WWII governments maintained the form, but not the substance, of a liberal constitutional monarchy. The Iron Guard nationalist movement, became a major political factor by exploiting fear of communism, and resentment of alleged foreign and Jewish domination of the economy. In 1938, in order to prevent the formation of a government that would have included Iron Guard ministers, King Carol II dismissed the government and instituted a short-lived royal dictatorship.

In 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which stipulated, amongst other things, the Soviet "interest" in Bessarabia.

Romania during World War II

Main article: Romania during World War II

As a result, in 1940, Romania lost territory in both east and west: In June 1940, after issuing an ultimatum to Romania, the Soviet Union occupied Bessarabia and northern Bukovina. Two thirds of Bessarabia were combined with a small part of USSR to form the Moldavian SSR. Northern Bukovina and Bugeac were apportioned to the Ukrainian SSR. In August 1940, Northern Transylvania was awarded to Hungary by Germany and Italy through the Second Vienna Arbitration.

As a result of the ratification by King Carol II of the yielding of Northern Transylvania to Hungary, southern Dobrudja to Bulgaria, and Bessarabia and northern Bukovina to USSR in 1940, general Ion Antonescu was supported by the army to seize the leadership of Romania. Romania entered World War II under the command of the German Wehrmacht in June 1941, declaring war to the Soviet Union in order to recover Bessarabia and northern Bukovina. Romania was awarded the territory between Nistru and the Southern Bug by Germany to administrate it as Transnistria.

In August 1944, a coup led by King Michael, with support from opposition politicians and the army, deposed the Antonescu dictatorship and put Romania's armies under Red Army command. Romania suffered additional heavy casualties fighting the Nazi Army in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

The Paris Peace Treaty at the end of World War II rendered the Vienna Diktat void, Northern Transylvania returning to Romania having an autonomous status for several years, but Bessarabia, northern Bukovina and southern Dobrogea weren't recovered. The Moldavian SSR became independent only in 1991, under the name of Republica Moldova.

Communist Romania

Main article: Communist Romania

Soviet occupation following WWII led to the formation of a communist Peoples' Republic in 1947 and the abdication of king Michael, who went into exile.

In the early 1960s, Romania's communist government began to assert some independence from the Soviet Union. Ceauşescu became head of the Communist Party in 1965 and head of state in 1967. Ceauşescu's denunciation of the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and a brief relaxation in internal repression helped give him a positive image both at home and in the West. Seduced by Ceauşescu's "independent" foreign policy, Western leaders were slow to turn against a regime that, by the late 1970s, had become increasingly harsh, arbitrary, and capricious. Rapid economic growth fueled by foreign credits gradually gave way to wrenching austerity and severe political repression.

The decades-long rule of President Nicolae Ceauşescu became increasingly draconian through the 1980s.

December 1989 marked the fall of Ceauşescu and the end of the communist regime in Romania, a violent change, which resulted in more than 1000 deaths during the key events of Timişoara and Bucharest. After a weeklong state of unrest in the city of Timişoara, Ceauşescu lost his grip on power. A mass rally summoned in support of Ceauşescu on December 21, 1989 turned hostile and the Ceauşescu couple was forced to flee Bucharest. However, they ended up in the custody of the army, and after being tried and convicted for "genocide" and other crimes by a kangaroo court, they were executed on December 25, 1989. The series of events known as the Romanian Revolution of 1989 remain to this day a matter of debate, with many conflicting theories as to the motivations and even actions of some of the main players. Ion Iliescu, a former Communist Party official marginalized by Ceauşescu, attained national recognition as the leader of an impromptu governing coalition, the National Salvation Front (FSN) that proclaimed the restoration of democracy and civil liberties on December 22, 1989. The Communist Party was outlawed, and Ceauşescu's most unpopular measures, such as bans on abortion and contraception, were rolled back.

Romania since 1989

Main article: Romania since 1989

Presidential and parliamentary elections were held on May 20, 1990. Running against representatives of the pre-war National Peasants' Party and National Liberal Party, and taking advantage of FSN's tight control of the national radio and television, Iliescu won 85% of the vote. The FSN secured two-thirds of the seats in Parliament. A university professor with strong family roots in the Communist Party, Petre Roman, was named Prime Minister of the new government, which consisted mainly of former communist officials. The government initiated modest free market reforms.

Because the majority of ministers in the Petre Roman government were ex-communists, anti-communist protesters initiated a round-the-clock anti-government demonstration in University Square, Bucharest in April 1990. Two months later, these protesters, whom the government referred to as "hooligans", were brutally dispersed by the miners from Jiu Valley, called in by President Iliescu; this event became known as the mineriad. The miners also attacked the headquarters and private residences of opposition leaders. Petre Roman's government fell in late September 1991, when the miners returned to Bucharest to demand higher salaries. A technocrat, Theodor Stolojan, was appointed to head an interim government until new elections could be held.

In December 1991, a new constitution was drafted and subsequently adopted, after a popular referendum.

March 1992 marked the split of the FSN into two groups: the Democratic National Front (FDSN), led by Ion Iliescu and the Democratic Party (PD), led by Petre Roman. Iliescu won the presidential elections in September 1992 by a clear margin, and his FDSN won the general elections held at the same time. With parliamentary support from the nationalist PUNR (National Unity Party of Romanians), PRM (Great Romania Party), and the ex-communist PSM (Socialist Workers' Party), a new government was formed in November 1992 under Prime Minister Nicolae Văcăroiu, an economist and former Communist Party official. The FDSN changed its name to Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) in July 1993.

Emil Constantinescu of the Democratic Convention (CDR) emerged as the winner of the second round of the 1996 presidential elections and replaced Iliescu as chief of state. The PDSR won the largest number of seats in Parliament, but was unable to form a viable coalition. Constituent parties of the CDR joined the Democratic Party (PD), the National Liberal Party (PNL) and the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR) to form a centrist coalition government, holding 60% of the seats in Parliament. This coalition of sorts frequently struggled for survival, as decisions were often delayed by long periods of negotiations among the involved parties. Nevertheless, this coalition was able to implement several critical reforms. The new coalition government, under prime minister Victor Ciorbea remained in office until March 1998, when Radu Vasile (PNŢCD) took over as prime minister. The former governor of the National Bank, Mugur Isărescu, eventually replaced Radu Vasile as head of the government.

The 2000 elections, brought Iliescu's PSD (Social Democratic Party) back to power (the party, led largely by former Communist officials, had changed its name again from PDSR to PSD) and Iliescu himself won a third term as the country's president. Adrian Năstase became the prime minister of the newly formed government. His rule was shaken by recurring allegations of corruption.

Presidential and parliamentary elections took place again on November 28, 2004. No political party was able to secure a viable parliamentary majority, amidst accusations from international observers and opposition parties alike that the PSD had committed large-scale electoral fraud. There was no winner in the first round of the presidential elections. The joint PNL-PD candidate, Traian Băsescu, won the second round on December 12, 2004 with 51% of the vote and thus became the third post-revolutionary president of Romania. The PNL leader, Călin Popescu Tăriceanu was assigned the difficult task of building a coalition government withour including the PSD. In December 2004, the new coalition government (PD, PNL, PUR Romanian Humanist Party - which eventually changed its name to Romanian Conservative Party and UDMR), was sworn in under Prime Minister Tăriceanu.

Romania joined NATO in 2004, and the country is scheduled to join the European Union (EU), alongside Bulgaria, in 2007. The EU accession treaty signed on April 25, 2005 in Luxembourg contains a safeguard clause, which allows delaying entry for a year if EU standards are not met. The government faces two main challenges to achieve the necessary conditions for entry into the EU: eradication of corruption, which remains widespread, and reform of the judicial system.

Romanian rulers

See also

External links


es:Historia de Rumanía fr:Histoire de la Roumanie it:Storia della Romania la:Historia Romaniae lt:Rumunijos istorija pt:História da Romênia ro:Istoria României


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