Re: Continuity & Britain

From: S & L
Message: 20715
Date: 2003-04-02

----- Original Message -----
From: "george knysh" <gknysh@...>
Sent: Wednesday, April 02, 2003
Subject: Re: [tied] Re: continuity ( it was slavic "dalto")
"What is your evidence for large masses of Rumanians north of the Danube
before the 12th-14th centuries?"

You can find a decent comment on this topic under the name
"The Vlach Connection and Further Reflections on Roman History"
by Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D., Department of Philosophy, Los Angeles Valley
"While the Romans withdrew their legions, administrators, and many colonists
[ie ~271], it does seem unlikely that ALL the inhabitants of Dacia, which
before the Roman conquest had been a fairly unified and formidable state,
would have left. Any unassimilated rural population, especially, would have
had no particular reason to leave -- rule by some Germans might not have
seemed worse, and perhaps better, than Roman rule. The archaeology reported
by modern Romanians indicates a continuity of the material culture, even if
urban areas decline precipitiously and there is little in the way of
epigraphic material. Romanians like to point out that rural costume even
today looks like the Dacian costume of Trajan's Column in Rome. Coin hoards
indicate, especially for the 4th century, a continuing cash economy, which
means continuing trade contact with the Empire. That even allowed for the
penetration of some Christianity. What percentage of this remaining
population was Latin speaking, and what percentage was still using the old
Dacian language, is impossible, in the absence of the records of a literate
culture, to say.
Not only did the original Dacia drop out of history in 271, but the later
Dacias did so also, after the Avars and Slavs breached the Danube frontier
and poured into the Balkans in 602. Only the conversion of Bulgaria to
Christianity in 879, with the introduction of the Cyrillic alphabet,
returned the region to literacy. As it happens, only one other place in the
Roman Empire dropped out of history in quite the same way. That was Britain.
The withdrawl of Roman forces in 410 drops Britain into a void very similar
to that of the Dacias, and for a while all that is apparent is the descent
of sea-going Germans -- the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. When literate culture
returns, dramatically evident in the history of the English church written
by the Venerable Bede in 731, we suddenly see the results. Roman Britain has
disappeared from most of the island, with Romanized Celtic speakers pushed
into Wales and Cornwall. The Cornish were under such pressure that many of
them crossed over to Brittany. The Celtic speakers of Cornwall have today
disappeared, but the Bretons are very much alive and aware of their past.
Although the Angles and Saxons inherited the old Roman place names, and came
to tell the King Arthur stories by which the conflicts of the 5th century
were vaguely remembered, Saxon England owed little enough to the culture it
had displaced.
Roman Britain survives in Wales and Brittany. Even pre-Roman culture
survives in Spain, where the mountains in the North harbor the Basques,
whose language has no obvious affinities to any other. This is revealing.
The geography of England poses few obstacles to conquest, but both the Welsh
and the Basques held out in mountains -- relatively modest mountains
perhaps, no more than 3000 feet in Wales and not much more than 7500 feet on
the south side of the Ebro valley in Spain (though over 11,000 feet in the
nearby Pyrenees), but something that could impose significant costs to
invaders -- in the Middle Ages, the Basque country was the basis of the long
independent Kingdom of Navarre. Americans need only remember how the
Appalachians, which don't get much over 6000 feet, originally hindered
westward movement. The Transylvanian plateau, in comparison to these,
provides a formidable redoubt. The Danube River itself tells the tale, since
it must make a broad detour to the south, around the whole area. The
southern branch of the Carpathians, the Transylvanian Alps, has peaks over
8000 feet high, and even the western side goes up to 6000 feet in the Bihor
mountains. This makes it immediately obvious why nomads tended to pass
around, like the Danube. Nomads like flat grasslands, which are present on
the Hungarian plain and in the Danube Valley of Wallachia, but not in the
mountains or up on the Transylvanian plateau. We should expect to find an
autochthonous population in Daco-Romania just as must as in Wales or
The complete comment at
Personally, I think it is worth reading.

S o r i n

P.S. And, by the way, the name is ROMANIA and Romanian(s). RUMI^N/Rumanians
could be considered by some connoisseurs as a derogatory word.