This article is the top of theHistory
of Romania series.
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 in about 200 BC by the Dacians, a Thracian tribe. Eventually, a state emerged, for under the leadership of King Burebista (70-44 BC). Under his reign 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 AD, 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 Germanic tribes, the Roman administration withdrew two centuries later.
Main article: Romania in the Middle Ages
Multiple waves of invasion followed: such as the Slavs in the 7th century, the Hungarians in the 9th century, and the Tatars in the 13th century. However, the most important and influential of the invasions, was the 7th century migration of the Vlachs, a linguistically Latin people who occupied vast portions of the territory know known as Romania after crossing the River Danube from the south, combining with the local Daco-Romanian and Slavic population to form the Romanian nation.
Many small and temporary Romanian states were created, but it only in the 14th 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 Turkish provinces. Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transylvania remained autonomous, under Ottoman suzerainty.
The Hungarian conquest of Transylvania took about two centuries. In the 11th century, Transylvania became a largely autonomous part of the Hungarian kingdom, and began to be colonized by Hungarians (locally and more specifically 'Szeckelies') and also by an invited German element, although they never outnumbered the Romanian element.
In the year 1600, the three Romanian principalties were briefly unified by Wallachian prince Mihai Viteazul, but the unity dissolved after Mihai was killed, only one year later, by the soldiers of an Austrian army officer.
At the end of the 17th century Hungary and Transylvania become part of the Austro-Hungarian 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.
Main article: National awakening of Romania
As in most European countries, 1848 brought revolution to Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transylvania. 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.
Main article: Kingdom of Romania
In 1866 the German prince Carol (Charles) of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was appointed as prince, in a move to assure German backing of future independence. In 1877 Carol led the Romanian Armies in a successdul War of Independence and was crowned as the first King of Romania in 1881.
The new state, squeezed between the great powers of the Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, and Russian empires, with Slav neighbors on three sides, looked to the West, particularly France, for its cultural, educational, 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 Greater Romania.
Most of Romania's pre-WWII governments maintained the form, but not the substance, of a liberal constitutional monarchy. The quasi-mystical 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.
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 took Bessarabia and Bukovina. Two thirds of Bessarabia were combined with a small part of USSR to form the Moldavian SSR. The rest was apportioned to the Ukrainian SSR.
In 1940-1941, the authoritarian General Ion Antonescu took control. In August 1940, Northern half of Transylvania was "given back" by Germany and Italy to Hungary. Romania entered World War II on the side of the Axis Powers in June 1941, invading the Soviet Union to recover Bessarabia and Bukovina.
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 battered armies on the side of the Allies. Romania incurred additional heavy casualties fighting the Germans in Transylvania, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia.
At the end of World War II, Northern Transylvania returned to Romania, but the Bukovina, Bessarabia and Southern Dobrogea were lost. The Moldavian SSR became independent only in 1991, under the name of Moldova.
Main article: Communist Romania
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.
After the collapse of communism in the rest of Eastern Europe in the late summer and fall of 1989, a mid-December protest in Timişoara against the forced relocation of a Hungarian minister grew into a country-wide protest against the Ceauşescu regime, sweeping the dictator from power. Ion Iliescu took over as president on December 22nd. Ceauşescu was immediately arrested, and after a quick trial, he and his wife were executed on December 25th. About 1,500 people were killed in confused street fighting. An impromptu governing coalition, the National Salvation Front (FSN), installed itself and proclaimed the restoration of democracy and freedom. The Communist Party was outlawed, and Ceauşescu's most unpopular measures, such as bans on abortion and contraception, were repealed.
'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, Iliescu won 85% of the vote. The FSN captured two-thirds of the seats in Parliament, named a university professor, Petre Roman, as Prime Minister, and began cautious free market reforms.
Since the new government was still largely formed of ex-communists, anti-communist protesters camped in University Square, Bucharest in April 1990. Two months later, the "hooligans" were brutally dispersed by the miners from Jiu Valley, called in by President Iliescu. The miners also attacked the headquarters and houses 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.
A new democratic constitution, drafted by the Parliament was approved by popular referendum in December 1991. In the September 1992 National Elections, President Iliescu won a new term by a clear majority, and gave his party, the FDSN, a plurality. With parliamentary support from the nationalist PUNR and PRM parties, and the ex-communist PSM party, a technocratic government was formed in November 1992 under Prime Minister Nicolae Văcăroiu, an economist.
Emil Constantinescu of the Democrat Convention (CDR) electoral coalition defeated President Iliescu in the second round of voting and replaced him as chief of state. Victor Ciorbea was named Prime Minister. Ciorbea remained in office until March 1998, when he was replaced by Radu Vasile (PNTCD), but in 2000 elections, Social Democrat Party (PSD) and Iliescu won again the power and Adrian Năstase was named Prime Minister.
In 2002, Romania was invited to join NATO. In the same year, the EU confirmed its strong support for Romania's goal to join the union in 2007. Still, much economic restructuring remains to be carried out before Romania can achieve this goal.
- List of Wallachian rulers (up to 1859)
- List of Moldavian rulers (up to 1859)
- List of Transylvanian rulers (up to 1918)
- Kings of Romania (1859 - 1947)
- Presidents of Romania (since 1947)
- Prime ministers of Romania (since 1862)