Oh mercy me.
Look, I get it that a lot of people in the Republic of Moldova feel very Romanian, and want to get a lot closer to Romania, maybe even to the point of joining the two countries together as one country. But that’s no excuse for this level of fantasy historical revisionism.
Note: the link goes to an English-language blog of an American Peace Corps Volunteer here in RM. I love her blog as she details the process of learning about this part of the world, and she is in no way is she responsible for the “history” lesson that she was taught.
As I mentioned, we also learned about the history of Moldova today. Moldova has a long and complicated history. The first civilization in the area that is now Moldova was that of the Dacians. The civilization lasted from the 18th to 16th centuries BC. The Dacians were tall and blond, characteristics that are pretty rare in Moldova today.
Woah! First of all, the Dacians, or Getae, were an offshoot of the Thracians who lived in this part of the world and had their headquarters at the famous (at least in Romania/RM) city of Sarmizegetusa. But:
- The Dacian kingdom, at its very earliest, came into being in 168 B.C., otherwise known as the second century BC.
- The Greeks inhabited some of the same areas, and they’re definitely considered “civilized” by most people
- I feel sorry for all of the mighty fine people who lived in the area for thousands of years prior to the arrival/formation of the Dacians.
- When did the Dacians suddenly become all blond and tall??
Oh yeah, and one more thing – the Dacians never, ever lived in what is now the Republic of Moldova. Only if you squint your eyes and give them a tremendous amount of latitude can you maybe, possibly, potentially squeeze them in what is today Cahul province in RM, but certainly never anywhere close to 90% of the land that is RM today.
In 106 AC, the land was conquered by the Roman Empire, which is where the physical characteristics of today’s Moldovans came from (darker hair and slightly darker skin). The Roman Empire built a lot, as well as imposed their alphabet and culture on the Dacians. This is why Romanian uses the Latin alphabet and has much in common with the other Romance languages. The Roman Empire only ruled the land for about 2 centuries.
It is true that the Romans overran Sarmizegetusa (in what is western Romania today, a good 1,000 km from RM) in the year 106. And it’s also true that the Romans largely pulled out two centuries later.
But what seems to have been completely forgotten is that the Romans had a second colony in the area known as Moesia. When the poet Ovid was exiled from Rome, he moved to (what is now) Constanta in Moesia. And the Emperor Trajan (RO: Traian) actually launched his campaign against the Dacians from Roman bases in Moesia.
If Moldova truly wanted to honor its Roman heritage, it should claim its legacy from Moesia far more than (Roman-conquered) Dacia, especially as Moesia remained part of the Roman Empire for a few hundred additional years. But whatever!
As for the Latin alphabet, uh, no. Romanian was never written down (as far as anyone knows) between the year 106 and the year 1521, and then it was written using the Cyrillic alphabet. And it was indisputably written in the Cyrillic alphabet continuously for another three hundred years until all of the hullabaloo of 1848 led to the (then revolutionary!) adoption of the (partial) Latin alphabet that took a while to take hold (it added the last four letters in the 1980s). Therefore, at best, Romanian has been written using the Latin alphabet for about 10% of its entire existence.
I won’t even comment on the weird racism shit about who had or didn’t have dark(er) skin and curly hair because that just boggles my mind.
After the Roman Empire left, there was a period of relative calm, with some small, minor wars. In 1359, a medieval state began in which the name Moldova first popped up. It was at this time part of Romania, which consisted of 3 states: Transilvania, Muntenia, and Moldova. The area that was called Moldova included the present-day country of Moldova, as well as a large part of present-day Romania.
Uh, what? I guess we’ll skip over the mass immigration of the Magyars, the Huns, various Byzantine Empire wars, the Crusades, et al and just fast-forward a thousand years. Fine.
Yes, what became Moldova was founded in 1359 when a wild-eyed rebellious boyar working for the Hungarians decided to take a few hundred of his people and go set up camp further east of the Hungarian border. This kingdom “popped up” around the Moldova River, which is nowhere near RM, but is indeed in the part of modern Romania still called Moldova today.
Furthermore, Transylvania was a Hungarian kingdom in 1359 and would remain so until 1920, so definitely not part of “Romania”, which didn’t even exist until the 19th century. And I guess poor old Oltenia doesn’t count? :P
Stefan cel Mare (Steven the Great), considered the greatest ruler in the history of Moldova (but he wasn’t a king- only a ruler), ruled the state of Moldova from 1457-1504. He fortified the borders and won 46 out of 48 battles that he fought (primarily against the Turks). After each victory, he built a church or monastery. Although some are located in present-day Moldova, many are located in present-day Romania. In Moldova, he built the famous Soroca fortress.
Poor old SCMSS (Stefan cel Mare si Sfant), who did so much work and yet still gets slagged because he wasn’t a king! Just kidding. As for “fortifying the borders”, that’s only partially true, mostly because he was constantly fighting to either expand his borders or prevent others from expanding into his borders.
And no mention of Cotnari?? *sadface* But hey, Soroca, yay!
After his rule, the Ottoman Empire ruled Moldova from the 16th to 18th centuries. Although the Turks/Ottomans conquered the land, they did not impose their culture or language on the Moldovans.
Yep, that’s why there are zero Turkish words in Romanian and why traditional Romanian music sounds nothing like Turkish music and Romanians never play backgammon (RO: joc de tabla) or drink their coffee strong and super sweet made in an ibric. Yep. No cross-contamination from those dirty Turks!
Note: Ottoman is an adjective, not a noun ;)
In 1812, the Moldovan Empire divided into two parts. One part (present-day Romania) was taken by the Turks, while the other part (present-day Moldova) became a province of the Russian Empire. The province of Moldova, ruled by the Russian Empire, existed from 1812-1918. In 1918, the council of Moldova declared it wanted to be reunited with Romania, and it was a part of Romania from 1918 to 1940.
Wow, that’s literally the first time I ever heard that Moldova was an empire or that, just like a zygote, it can spontaneously “divide” itself. Moldova, of course, was never an empire, instead being primarily a low-population agricultural fiefdom run by the Turks (for fun and profit) for most of its history, in between times when the Hungarians and Slavs weren’t busy divvying up the other bits.
A lot of shit happened in 1812, but it didn’t necessarily include Romania being “taken” by the Ottoman Empire per se.
And not to quibble, but RM was part of Romania from 1920 (not 1918) to 1940, when Romania gave away RM to the Soviet Union. Of course that doesn’t match the fiction that Romania and RM are inseparable brothers, does it? So let’s just rewrite that bit and say that the Soviets (with cooperation from Hitler) stole it.
In 1940, Moldova became part of the Soviet Union as part of an agreement between Stalin and Hitler. During World War II, about half of the population served in the Soviet Army, while the other half served in the Romanian Army (under Hitler). In 1944, the Soviet Army took over. From 1944 to November 27, 1991, Moldova was part of the Soviet Union as one of the 15 Soviet Republics. A national movement had begun in 1989, and in 1991, Moldova was declared an independent state and the first democratic elections were held. The communist parties continued to hold the power until 2009, when the democratic parties gained control for the first time. They continue to maintain control today. The next election is this fall.
RM became part of the Soviet Union in 1940. In 1941, the Axis Powers (you know, the alliance led by the Nazis) attacked RM and Romania took over and pushed out the Soviets and then decided to keep on trucking until they burned down half of Odessa. The Soviets got RM back in 1944 and it was only then that Moldovans began getting forcibly drafted into the Soviet military. Before that, they were used to murder helpless Jews and catch bullets in Stalingrad.
And there were actually 16 republics in the Soviet Union, not 15.
Yes, it’s true that Moldova declared independence in 1991 but the “communist parties” were actually outlawed for a few years (1991-1993) and so didn’t “continue” to hold power. Indeed, the Democratic Agrarian party was the big political party in the early 1990s and it was only in 1997 that the Communists started making a comeback.
Secondly, although they’re named the Communist Party (even today), they were democratically elected, so it’s not like the first time RM had a democracy was 2009 (when non-Communist parties regained power). I mean even today in Japan (and Italy, etc), there’s an active Communist party with seats in the legislature, so it’s not like this is such an unusual thing in countries universally regarded as being democratic.
And the people in power today in RM are about the least democratic possible, being ruled by an unelected oligarch that is widely loathed and a prime minister who had to be sworn in during a secret midnight ceremony while protesters tried to storm the parliament. But hey, at least they don’t call themselves Communists, so they can do whatever they wish and still be considered “democratic”.
In addition to an overview of Moldovan history, we also learned about life under Soviet rule, including both the negative and positive aspects.
Gosh, I’d sure love to have learned what the positive aspects were! But alas, it’s time for our little revisionist history class to come to an end, and so I must bid you all a fond adieu for now.
AND NOW YOU KNOW!