Vlachs ( or , or rarely ), also Wallachians (and many other variants), is a historical term from the Middle Ages that designates an exonym mostly for Eastern Romance - speaking peoples who lived north and south of the Danube, in Southeast Europe. As a contemporary term, in the English language, the Vlachs are the Balkan Romance-speaking peoples who live south of the Danube in what are now southern Albania, Bulgaria, northern Greece, North Macedonia, and eastern Serbia as native ethnic groups, such as the Aromanians and the Megleno-Romanians. The term also became a synonym in the Balkans for the social category of shepherds, and was also used for non-Romance-speaking peoples, in recent times in the western Balkans derogatively. "Vlachs" were initially identified and described during the 11th century by George Kedrenos. According to one origin theory, modern Romanians, Moldovans and Aromanians originated from Dacians. According to some linguists and scholars, the Eastern Romance languages prove the survival of the Thraco-Romans in the lower Danube basin during the Migration Period and western Balkan populations known as "Vlachs" also have had Romanized Illyrian origins. Nowadays, Eastern Romance-speaking communities are estimated at 26–30 million people worldwide (including the Romanian diaspora and Moldovan diaspora).

Etymology and names

The word ''Vlach''/''Wallachian'' (and other variants such as ''Vlah'', ''Valah'', ''Valach'', ''Voloh'', ''Blac'', ''oláh'', ''Vlas'', ''Ilac'', ''Ulah'', etc.) is etymologically derived from the ethnonym of a Celtic tribe, adopted into Proto-Germanic ''*Walhaz'', which meant "stranger", from ''*Wolkā-''Ringe, Don.
Inheritance versus lexical borrowing: a case with decisive sound-change evidence
" ''Language Log,'' January 2009.
(Caesar's la|Volcae, Strabo and Ptolemy's gr|Ouolkai).}), and in Poland ''Włochy'' or in Hungary ''olasz'' became an exonym for Italians. The Slovenian term ''Lahi'' has also been used to designate Italians. Historically, the term was used primarily for the Romanians. Testimonies from the 13th to 14th centuries show that, although in the European (and even extra-European) space they were called ''Vlachs'' or ''Wallachians'' (''oláh'' in Hungarian, ''Vláchoi'' (βλάχοι) in Greek, ''Volóxi'' (воло́хи) in Russian, ''Walachen'' in German, ''Valacchi'' in Italian, ''Valaques'' in French, ''Valacos'' in Spanish), the Romanians used for themselves the endonym "Rumân/Român", from the Latin "Romanus" (in memory of Rome). Vlachs are referred in late Byzantine documents as Bulgaro-Albano-Vlachs ("Bulgaralbanitoblahos"), or Serbo-Albano-Bulgaro-Vlachs Via both Germanic and Latin, the term started to signify "stranger, foreigner" also in the Balkans, where it in its early form was used for Romance-speakers, but the term eventually took on the meaning of "shepherd, nomad". The Romance-speaking communities themselves however used the endonym (they called themselves) "Romans". Term Vlach can denote various ethnic elements: ''"Slovak, Hungarian, Balkan, Transylvanian, Romanian, or even Albanian".'' According to historian Sima Ćirković, the name "Vlach" in medieval sources has the same rank as the name "Greek", "Serb" or "Latin". During the early history of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans, there was a military class of Vlachs in Serbia and Ottoman Macedonia, made up of Christians who served as auxiliary forces and had the same rights as Muslims, but their origin is not entirely clear. Some Greeks used "vlachos" as a pejorative term. The term "Vlach" may be used in the whole Balkan area in a derogatory manner because, according to Arno Tanner, "nomads are traditionally considered dirty and aggressive", while some Croats used that term for Serbs, the city dwellers, the country people and so on. In Bosnia and Herzegovina the Bosnians called inhabitants of Dubrovnik as Vlachs, in Žumberak members of the Greek Catholic Church were called Vlachs, in Carniola residents of Žumberak in general were Vlachs. In Posavina and Bihać area Muslims called Vlachs as Christians (both Orthodox and Catholics) while Catholics under that name consider Orthodox Christians. For residents of the Dalmatian islands Vlachs are population which live in the Biokovo area, Kajkavian inhabitants of northwestern Croatia all Shtokavian immigrants (either Croats or Serbs) call as Vlachs. The name Vlach in Dalmatia also has negative connotations ie "newcomer", "peasant", "ignorant" while in Istria the ethnonym Vlach is used to make a distinction between the native Croats and newly settled Istro-Romanian and Slavic population which coming in the 15th and 16th century. Romanian scholars have suggested that the term ''Vlach'' appeared for the first time in the Eastern Roman Empire and was subsequently spread to the Germanic- and then Slavic-speaking worlds through the Norsemen (possibly by Varangians), who were in trade and military contact with Byzantium during the early Middle Ages (see also Blakumen). Nowadays, the term ''Vlachs'' (also known under other names, such as "Koutsovlachs", "Tsintsars", "Karagouni", "Chobani", "Vlasi", etc.) is used in scholarship for the Romance-speaking communities in the Balkans, especially those in Greece, Albania and North Macedonia. In Serbia the term ''Vlach'' (Serbian ''Vlah'', plural ''Vlasi'') is also used to refer to Romanian speakers, especially those living in eastern Serbia. Aromanians themselves use the endonym "Armãn" (plural "Armãni") or "Rãmãn" (plural "Rãmãni"), etymologically from "Romanus", meaning "Roman". Megleno-Romanians designate themselves with the Macedonian form ''Vla'' (plural ''Vlaš'') in their own language.

Medieval usage

The ''Hellenic chronicle'' could possibly qualify to the first testimony of Vlachs in Pannonia and Eastern Europe during the time of Attila.

6th century

Byzantine historians used the term ''Vlachs'' for Latin speakers.A. ARMBRUSTER, ROMANITATEA ROMÂNILOR ISTORIA UNEI IDEI, Editura Enciclopedica,1993 The 7th century Byzantine historiographer Theophylact Simocatta wrote about “Blachernae” in connection with some historical data of the 6th century, during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Maurice.

8th century

First precise data about Vlachs are in connection with the Vlachs of the Rynchos river; the original document containing the information is from the Konstamonitou monastery.

9th century

During the late 9th century the Hungarians invaded the Carpathian Basin, where the province of Pannonia was inhabited by the "Slavs clavi Bulgarians ulgariiand Vlachs lachii and the shepherds of the Romans astores Romanorum (''sclauij, Bulgarij et Blachij, ac pastores romanorum'' —according to the ''Gesta Hungarorum'', written around 1200 by the anonymous chancellor of King Béla III of Hungary.

10th century

Chroniclers John Skylitzes and George Kedrenos wrote that in 971, during battles between Romans (Byzantines) and Rus' people led by Sveinald (Sviatoslav I), the dwellers of the north side of Danube came to Emperor John I Tzimiskes and they handed over their fortresses and the Emperor sent troops to guard the fortresses. During those times, Northern part of Danube were dwelled by sedentary Vlachs and tribes of nomad Pechenegs who lived in tents. George Kedrenos mentioned about Vlachs in 976. The Vlachs were guides and guards of Roman (Byzantine) caravans in Balkans. Between Prespa and Kastoria they met and fought with a Bulgarian rebel named David. The Vlachs killed David in their first documented battle. Mutahhar al-Maqdisi, "They say that in the Turkic neighbourhood there are the Khazars, Russians, Slavs, ''Waladj'', Alans, Greeks and many other peoples." Ibn al-Nadīm published in 938 the work “Kitāb al-Fihrist” mentioning “Turks, Bulgars and Vlahs” (using Blagha for Vlachs)

11th century

Byzantine writer Kekaumenos, author of the ''Strategikon'' (1078), described a 1066 revolt against the emperor in Northern Greece led by Nicolitzas Delphinas and other Vlachs. The names ''Blakumen'' or ''Blökumenn'' is mentioned in Nordic sagas dating between the 11th–13th centuries, with respect to events that took place in either 1018 or 1019 somewhere at the northwestern part of the Black Sea and believed by some to be related to the ''Vlachs''. In the Bulgarian state of the 11th and 12th century, Vlachs live in large numbers, and they were equals to the Bulgarian population.

12th century

The Russian Primary Chronicle, written in ca. 1113, wrote when the Volochi (Vlachs) attacked the Slavs of the Danube and settled among them and oppressed them, the Slavs departed and settled on the Vistula, under the name of Leshi. The Hungarians drove away the Vlachs and took the land and settled there. Traveler Benjamin of Tudela (1130–1173) of the Kingdom of Navarre was one of the first writers to use the word ''Vlachs'' for a Romance-speaking population. Byzantine historian John Kinnamos described Leon Vatatzes' military expedition along the northern Danube, where Vatatzes mentioned the participation of Vlachs in battles with the Magyars (Hungarians) in 1166. The uprising of brothers Asen and Peter was a revolt of Bulgarians and Vlachs living in the theme of Paristrion of the Byzantine Empire, caused by a tax increase. It began on 26 October 1185, the feast day of St. Demetrius of Thessaloniki, and ended with the creation of the Second Bulgarian Empire, also known in its early history as the Empire of Bulgarians and Vlachs.

13th century

In 1213 an army of Romans (Vlachs), Transylvanian Saxons, and Pechenegs, led by Ioachim of Sibiu, attacked the Bulgars and Cumans from Vidin. After this, all Hungarian battles in the Carpathian region were supported by Romance-speaking soldiers from Transylvania. At the end of the 13th century, during the reign of Ladislaus the Cuman, Simon of Kéza wrote about the ''Blacki people'' and placed them in Pannonia with the Huns. Archaeological discoveries indicate that Transylvania was gradually settled by the Magyars, and the last region defended by the Vlachs and Pechenegs (until 1200) was between the Olt River and the Carpathians. Shortly after the fall of the Olt region, a church was built at the Cârța Monastery and Catholic German-speaking settlers from Rhineland and Mosel Valley (known as Transylvanian Saxons) began to settle in the Orthodox region. In the ''Diploma Andreanum'' issued by King Andrew II of Hungary in 1224, ''"silva blacorum et bissenorum"'' was given to the settlers. The Orthodox Vlachs spread further northward along the Carpathians to Poland, Slovakia, and Moravia and were granted autonomy under ''Ius Vlachonicum'' (Walachian law). In 1285 Ladislaus the Cuman fought the Tatars and Cumans, arriving with his troops at the Moldova River. A town, Baia (near the said river), was documented in 1300 as settled by the Transylvanian Saxons (see also Foundation of Moldavia). In 1290 Ladislaus the Cuman was assassinated; the new Hungarian king allegedly drove voivode Radu Negru and his people across the Carpathians, where they formed Wallachia along with its first capital Câmpulung (see also Foundation of Wallachia).

14th century

The biggest caravan shipment between Podvisoki in Bosnia and Republic of Ragusa was recorded on August 9, 1428 where Vlachs transported 1500 modius of salt with 600 horses. In the 14th century royal charters include and some segregation policies declaring that ''"a Serb shall not marry a Vlach."'' Although this could be related to the term of the same origin, used for dependent shepherds of that time, like in the Dušan's Code, since the dependent population was encouraged to switch to agriculture, it being of more worth to the crown.


In addition to the ethnic groups of Aromanians, Megleno-Romanians, and Istro-Romanians who emerged during the Migration Period, other Vlachs could be found as far north as Poland, as far west as Moravia and Dalmatia. In search of better pasture, they were called ''Vlasi'' or ''Valaši'' by the Slavs. States mentioned in medieval chronicles were: * ''Wallachia'' – between the Southern Carpathians and the Danube (''Ţara Românească'' in Romanian); Bassarab-Wallachia (Bassarab's Wallachia and Ungro-Wallachia or Wallachia Transalpina in administrative sources; Istro-Vlachia (Danubian Wallachia in Byzantine sources), and ''Velacia secunda'' on Spanish maps * ''Moldavia'' – between the Carpathians and the Dniester river (''Bogdano-Wallachia''; Bogdan's Wallachia, Moldo-Wallachia or ''Maurovlachia''; Black Wallachia, ''Moldovlachia'' or ''Rousso-Vlachia'' in Byzantine sources); ''Bogdan Iflak'' or Wallachia in Polish sources; ''L'otra Wallachia'' (the other Wallachia) in Genovese sources and ''Velacia tertia'' on Spanish maps *''Transylvania'' – between the Carpathians and the Hungarian plain; ''Wallachia interior'' in administrative sources and ''Velacia prima'' on Spanish maps *''Second Bulgarian Empire'', between the Carpathians and the Balkan Mountains – ''Regnum Bulgarorum et Blachorum'' in documents by Pope Innocent III *''Terra Prodnicorum'' (or Terra Brodnici), mentioned by Pope Honorius III in 1222. Vlachs led by Ploskanea supported the Tatars in the 1223 Battle of Kalka. Vlach lands near Galicia in the west, Volhynia in the north, Moldova in the south and the Bolohoveni lands in the east were conquered by Galicia. *''Bolokhoveni'' was Vlach land between Kiev and the Dniester in Ukraine. Place names were Olohovets, Olshani, Voloschi and Vlodava, mentioned in 11th-to-13th-century Slavonic chronicles. It was conquered by Galicia. Regions and places are: *White Wallachia in MoesiaSince Theophanes Confessor and Kedrenos, in : A.D. Xenopol, ''Istoria Românilor din Dacia Traiană'', Nicolae Iorga, Teodor Capidan, C. Giurescu : ''Istoria Românilor'', Petre Ș. Năsturel ''Studii și Materiale de Istorie Medie'', vol. XVI, 1998 *Great Wallachia (''Μεγάλη Βλαχία''; ''Megáli vlahía'') in Thessaly *Small Wallachia (''Μικρή Βλαχία''; ''Mikrí vlahía'') in Aetolia, Acarnania, Dorida and Locrida *Morlachia, in Lika-Dalmatia *Upper Valachia of Moscopole and Metsovon (''Άνω Βλαχία''; ''Áno Vlahía'') in southern Macedonia, Albania and Epirus *''Stari Vlah'' ("the Old Vlach"), a region in southwestern Serbia *Romanija mountain (''Romanija planina'') in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina *Vlaşca County, a former county of southern Wallachia (derived from Slavic ''Vlaška'') *Greater Wallachia, an older name for the region of Muntenia, southeastern Romania *Lesser Wallachia, an older name for the region of Oltenia, southwestern Romania *An Italian writer called the Banat ''Valachia citeriore'' ("Wallachia on this side") in 1550. *''Valahia transalpina'', including Făgăraș and Haţeg *Moravian Wallachia ( cz|Moravské Valašsko), in the Beskid Mountains (Czech: Beskydy) of the Czech Republic.

Shepherd culture

As national states appeared in the area of the former Ottoman Empire, new state borders were developed that divided the summer and winter habitats of many of the pastoral groups. During the Middle Ages, many Vlachs were shepherds who drove their flocks through the mountains of Central and Eastern Europe. Vlach shepherds may be found as far north as southern Poland (Podhale) and the eastern Czech Republic (Moravia) by following the Carpathians, the Dinaric Alps in the west, the Pindus Mountains in the south, and the Caucasus Mountains in the east. Some researchers, like Bogumil Hrabak and Marian Wenzel, theorized that the origins of Stećci tombstones, which appeared in medieval Bosnia between 12th and 16th century, could be attributed to Vlach burial culture of Bosnia and Herzegovina of that times. File:Bosniangraves bosniska gravar februari 2007 stecak stecci3.jpg|Medieval necropolis in Radimlja, Bosnia and Herzegovina. File:Vlachs transhumance in Western Balkans and some Vlach necropolises.jpg|Detailed map depicting Vlach transhumance in the Western Balkans, showcasing several examples of Vlach necropolises.


According to Ilona Czamańska ''"for several recent centuries the investigation of the Vlachian ethnogenesis was so much dominated by political issues that any progress in this respect was incredibly difficult."'' Migration of the Vlachs may be the key for solving the problem of ethno genesis, but the problem is that many migrations were in multiple directions during the same time. These migrations were not just part of the Balkans and the Carpathians, they exist and in the Caucasus, the Adriatic islands and possibly over the entire region of the Mediterranean Sea. Because of this, our knowledge concerning primary migrations of the Vlachs and the ethnogenesis is more than modes.Ilona Czamańska; (2015) ''The Vlachs – several research problems'' p. 14; BALCANICA POSNANIENSIA XXII/1 IUS VALACHICUM I


See also

* Oláh (surname)|Oláh * Romania in the Early Middle Ages * Statuta Valachorum * Supplex Libellus Valachorum * Vlach (Ottoman social class) * Vlach law * Vlachs in medieval Serbia * Vlachs in the history of Croatia * Vlachs in medieval Bosnia and Herzegovina



* * * Theodor Capidan, ''Aromânii, dialectul aromân. Studiul lingvistic'' ("Aromanians, Aromanian dialect, Linguistic Study"), Bucharest, 1932 * Victor A. Friedman, "The Vlah Minority in Macedonia: Language, Identity, Dialectology, and Standardization" in ''Selected Papers in Slavic, Balkan, and Balkan Studies'', ed. Juhani Nuoluoto, ''et al.'' ''Slavica Helsingiensa'':21, Helsinki: University of Helsinki. 2001. 26–50
full text
Though focussed on the Vlachs of North Macedonia, has in-depth discussion of many topics, including the origins of the Vlachs, their status as a minority in various countries, their political use in various contexts, and so on. * Asterios I. Koukoudis, ''The Vlachs: Metropolis and Diaspora'', 2003, * George Murnu, ''Istoria românilor din Pind, Vlahia Mare 980–1259'' ("History of the Romanians of the Pindus, Greater Vlachia, 980–1259"), Bucharest, 1913 * Ilie Gherghel, Câteva consideraţiuni la cuprinsul noţiunii cuvântului "Vlach". Bucuresti: Convorbiri Literare,(1920).
Nikola Trifon, Les Aroumains, un peuple qui s'en va (Paris, 2005) ; Cincari, narod koji nestaje (Beograd, 2010)
* Steriu T. Hagigogu, "''Romanus şi valachus sau Ce este romanus, roman, român, aromân, valah şi vlah''", Bucharest, 1939 * G. Weigand, Die Aromunen, Bd.Α΄-B΄, J. A. Barth (A.Meiner), Leipzig 1895–1894. * A. Keramopoulos, Ti einai oi koutsovlachoi hat are the Koutsovlachs? publ 2 University Studio Press, Thessaloniki 2000. * A.Hâciu, Aromânii, Comerţ. Industrie. Arte. Expasiune. Civiliytie, tip. Cartea Putnei, Focşani 1936. * Τ. Winnifrith, The Vlachs. The History of a Balkan People, Duckworth 1987 * A. Koukoudis, Oi mitropoleis kai i diaspora ton Vlachon ajor Cities and Diaspora of the Vlachs publ. University Studio Press, Thessaloniki 1999. * Th Capidan, Aromânii, Dialectul Aromân, ed2 Εditură Fundaţiei Culturale Aromâne, Bucureşti 2005

Further reading

* Theodor Capidan, ''Aromânii, dialectul aromân. Studiul lingvistic'' ("Aromanians, The Aromanian dialect. A Linguistic Study"), Bucharest, 1932 * Gheorghe Bogdan, MEMORY, IDENTITY, TYPOLOGY: AN INTERDISCIPLINARY RECONSTRUCTION OF VLACH ETHNOHISTORY, B.A., University of British Columbia, 1992 * Adina Berciu-Drăghicescu, Aromâni, meglenoromâni, istroromâni : aspecte identitare şi culturale, Editura Universităţii din Bucureşti, 2012, * Victor A. Friedman, "The Vlah Minority in Macedonia: Language, Identity, Dialectology, and Standardization" in ''Selected Papers in Slavic, Balkan, and Balkan Studies'', ed. Juhani Nuoluoto, ''et al.'' ''Slavica Helsingiensa'':21, Helsinki: University of Helsinki. 2001. 26–50
full text
Though focussed on the Vlachs of North Macedonia, has in-depth discussion of many topics, including the origins of the Vlachs, their status as a minority in various countries, their political use in various contexts, and so on. * Asterios I. Koukoudis, ''The Vlachs: Metropolis and Diaspora'', 2003, * George Murnu, ''Istoria românilor din Pind, Vlahia Mare 980–1259'' ("History of the Romanians of the Pindus, Greater Vlachia, 980–1259"), Bucharest, 1913
Nikola Trifon, Les Aroumains, un peuple qui s'en va (Paris, 2005) ; Cincari, narod koji nestaje (Beograd, 2010)
* Steriu T. Hagigogu, "''Romanus şi valachus sau Ce este romanus, roman, român, aromân, valah şi vlah''", Bucharest, 1939 * Franck Vogel
a photo-essay on the Valchs published by GEO magazine (France), 2010.
* John Kennedy Campbell, 'Honour Family and Patronage' A Study of Institutions and Moral Values in a Greek Mountain Community, Oxford University Press, 1974 * ''The Watchmen'', a documentary film by Alastair Kenneil and Tod Sedgwick (USA) 1971 describes life in the Vlach village of Samarina in Epiros, Northern Greece

External links

Maria Magiru about Aromanians {{in lang|Ro

Cultural appropriation of Vlachs' heritage

French Vlachs Association (in Vlach, EN and FR)

by Asterios Koukoudis
Vlachs' in Greece
(in Greek)
Consiliul A Tinirlor Armanj, Youth Aromanian community and their Projects
(in Vlach, EN and RO)
Vlach in Serbia, Online Since 1999
(in Vlach, EN and RO)
''Old Wallachia''
a short Czech film from 1955 depicting life of Vlachs in Czech Moravia Category:Eastern Romance people Category:Romance peoples Category:Transhumant ethnic groups