21 March 2018

The Secret Debate of 1958 on the Origins of the Romanian People and Their Settlement


It has long been an open secret in professional circles that in 1958, Romanian linguists, archaeologists and historians held a closed debate – on high-level orders – on the origins of the Romanian people and even issued a confidential publication on this subject for internal use, accessible only to few.1 Part of the discussion paper, however, was made public as late as 20072 but went unnoticed in the plethora of publications. Yet the text is a more than interesting document from a research point of view. There is a popular belief in both scholarly and unscholarly circles that the origin and settlement of the Romanian people is merely the subject of an anachronistic debate between Hungarians and Romanians. The contents of the debate, however, provide a clear refutation of this view. Anyone just slightly acquainted with origin matters would immediately wonder: how could such a debate, whose material was kept secret, even take place and what was its conclusion? If its results were contrary to the expectations of those in power, how could it serve the fabrication of spurious ideas on the origins? And lastly, how did we, Hungarians react to the questions brought up? Because Hungarians cannot be forgotten in this field; if they did not exist they would have to be invented. The debate itself was essentially ignited by what happened in the Eastern and Western neighbours of Romania – in 1956.

 

A SNAPSHOT OF THE INTERNATIONAL SITUATION IN 1956

 

The year 1956 brought about a change in the history of our region. First, Khrushchev initiated the process of de-Stalinisation, which led to a change of style in the high leadership of the Communist state. Then the Hungarian Revolution broke out in the wake of massive protests in Poland, which foreshadowed the possibility that the Communist system may collapse overnight. The Romanian party leader, Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej openly admitted to his comrades: if they wanted to save their skins, they should make a volte-face and loosen their dependence on Moscow. He himself set about this task: first he proved his loyalty to the Soviets by “receiving” Imre Nagy and then convinced Khrushchev after a pleasant hunting-party to withdraw the Soviet troops from Romania. This was indeed done as, after suppressing the Hungarian Revolution, the Soviet Union also wanted to demonstrate that the system was stable. Romanians had a vision: building Communism in an economically self-sufficient and politically independent country. But for a new vision they needed a new past: so they had to rewrite it in a way that would legitimise Romania’s self-determination and independence within the Communist Camp. Since China was already treading new paths, this gave greater room for manoeuvre to the Romanian party leadership which, being an old hand at sharping, wisely played out its nationalist trump card. Its act of delusion began with historiography. The Communist history of Romania is no ordinary farce. Its be-all and end-all is the question of origins, or rather its perception, an old-new issue.

 

THE PEDIGREE OF THE ROMANIAN PEOPLE

 

Moldavian annalists of the seventeenth century tried to promote the independence movement of the country by emphasising the Roman origin of their people. This same method was used by eighteenth-century priests and intellectuals in Transylvania to prove the superexcellence of the Romanian nation over other nations of Transylvania and thus justify their claim to be acknowledged as a nation. In doing so they followed the Hungarian example: at the time, the Hungarian aristocracy had legitimised its position by declaring itself the heir of conquerors; similarly, Romanian ideologists thus presented their people as heirs of the Roman conquerors. It is true that around 100 AD, Emperor Trajan conquered most of Dacia, roughly modern Transylvania. Although Romans gave up this province around 150 AD due to Barbarian pressure, the people fled to the mountains and survived the difficult centuries there. Transylvanians considered themselves pure Romans who had nothing in common with the conquered Dacians (also called Getae) and kept their blood pure; many of them stuck to this blood-dogma until the end of the nineteenth century. But in the meantime the world changed immensely. In 1860 in Moldavia a twenty-two-year-old youth, B. P. Hasdeu published his programmatic article entitled Are Dacians Extinct?, in which the Romanian people were already portrayed as descendants of Dacians and not of Romans. The article was met with general outcry and its author accused of being a Russian spy, since the tsarist system could not tolerate the cult of Rome whose proponents used it to separate Romanian orthodoxy from the Russian one. The Tsars were militant defenders of orthodoxy and still cherished the hope of one day being able to put the cross on top of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. Their way would have led through Romania but the Romanian national elite was turning more towards the West. Western powers – France and Great Britain – supported Romania as a kind of buffer state, and in 1856 – in the wake of the Crimean War – they assigned the southern part of Bessarabia to Moldavia in order to ward off direct Russian influence from the mouth of the Danube. The Roman origin stood for Western orientation but Dacians also found their place, too: they came to represent autochthony. The Romanian people thus became the descendants of Western conquerors as well as of autochthonous, Latin-speaking, Romanised Dacians. Transylvania was hence the cradle of the Romanian people and the Daco-Romanian continuity became the foundation of the national identity of modern Romania: in other words, a textbook truth. Nicolae Iorga, the most influential historian, a prophet of war mysticism and a proponent of the 1916 entering into war, raised the Daco-Romanian continuity to the rank of national credo. At the end of the 1930s he demonstrated Dacian ancestry and Daco-Roman coexistence and union by the metaphoric titles of two volumes of his ten-volume history of Romania: “People of the Soil” and “The Seal of Rome”. The latter is still quoted today, especially to indicate that something is beyond debate because the seal is there… But this seal was smeared by the Communists in the name of the call of the great battle song, the Internationale: “Of the past let us make a clean slate.” But did they really do it?

 

ROMANIAN PREHISTORY IN 1949–57

 

Romanian Communists, less than a thousand in number in 1945, wound up the “old world” with unprecedented unscrupulousness and – to put it plainly – licked Stalin’s arse with astonishing zeal. They rewrote the past accordingly. In 1949 fourth-graders learned that after the Romans withdrew from Dacia Traiana, “the poor peasants, poor city dwellers, and slaves were all relieved. The occupants were gone. They were free at last! But although liberated by the Barbarians, those who stayed behind had a lot of hardship in waiting.”3 So did historians! Mihail Roller, an academician whose ignorance was legendary, was given the baton and the brass band played the piece. In 1952 in a textbook for secondary-school students the once oppressed Dacian people became more self-confident. It turned out they had risen against their Roman oppressors and exploiters on every occasion. After Aurelian was forced to evacuate Dacia due to internal and external pressure, a new era began: “The Goths, together with the free Dacians, entered Dacia, now free from the Roman yoke, in 271 AD.” The slave masses became “free men. Therefore slaves, free peasants and the poor of the cities welcomed the ‘Barbarians’ as their liberators. The majority of the population remained in Dacia and established contact with migrant peoples, contributing to the social and economic development of the territory of modern Romania, despite difficulties imposed on them by migration.” Thus the Romanian people was not just the product of the Dacian-Roman union. Indeed, because of the oppressive memory of racism, the notion of “people” was avoided – at least in this context; only the evolution of the Romanian language was discussed instead. From a historical point of view, this was a far better choice than racist alchemy. But indoctrinated with the new ideology, ignorant elements turned the whole venture into comedy when they wrote things like this: “The Romanian language was born out of a thousand years of social development in the territory of our country.” Not to mention things like this: “The scholarly study of the evolution of the Romanian language has become possible only recently, in the time of our people’s democracy, based on the brilliant teachings of J. V. Stalin.” The same sentence was still there in the 1956 – revised – edition,4 before it was quickly forgotten. However, the pseudo-scientific farce had still another chapter coming in 1958 when Roller suddenly died. At the symposium evaluating the Griviţa Strike of 1933, he made the mistake of inviting an old comrade from underground times – Constantin Doncea – to speak, who then questioned the officially advertised role of the current party boss. In the Party it was Ceauşescu who gave an account of the affair, and Roller died shortly after. It was rumoured he committed suicide or was even murdered – in reality his heart killed him at the age of fifty.5 Therefore we will never know what the almighty supervisor of the historical profession would have thought of the academic debate.

 

A SECRET SCHOLARLY DEBATE AND ITS UNSCHOLARLY AFTERLIFE

 

1958 marked the beginning of a new era in the study of Romanian prehistory. At first it went in secret, then it became public. Two eminent linguists, Alexandru Rosetti and Emil Petrovici argued in their respective articles that the old theory of Daco-Romanian continuity with Transylvania at its centre was untenable. Instead of making the ethnic family tree up a bit, they pushed the evolution of the Romanian language in the forefront, implying that a nation emerges parallel with its language and that the various instances of linguistic influence clearly show what ethnic groups were assimilated by it. According to the two linguists, Romanian herding groups moved upwards from the Balkan Peninsula and crossed the Danube in several waves in the course of the tenth century, after which they moved further into Transylvania and Moldavia. The Romanian settlement ended in the twelfth century but permanent settling took place only in the course of the following two hundred years.

Emil Petrovici took a firm stand in the debate. He founded his argument on toponyms, place names. He made it unmistakably clear that there was not a single river name of Romanian origin, old river names being all Slavic borrowings. He neglected to mention Hungarian borrowings as he probably did not want to stir up sentiments, even though great linguists, including his mentors, never denied this. According to Petrovici, Romanian toponyms too appeared as late as the fourteenth century, due to the herding way of life. In the beginning Romanians were nomads, having no permanent home, wandering with their herds and families in wintertime along the Danube and in summertime in the mountains. This nomadism was later replaced by transhumance, a kind of rotational grazing when herds were kept at permanent mountain dwellings from which they swarmed out to the flatlands. In the third phase of development herding was coupled with farming. Naturally, Petrovici could not refrain from genealogising either. He saved Dacian continuity by a Slavic twist: in his view the Dacian and the Latinised Daco-Romanian population that remained in Dacia was assimilated by the Slavs, themselves already a proto-Romanian population, Romanised in turn by the Romanian-speaking shepherds. Romanian took its definitive form when it incorporated numerous Slavic elements. By this synthesis it not only borrowed a whole lot of words of Slavic origin but also changed the pronunciation of Latin words at its core, as well as its syntax. Romanians then assimilated the Kumans, Pechenegs and Magyars, too, living in the same territory. Petrovici also emphasised that in Moldavia the Hungarian toponymy was at the root of a lot of Romanian place, river and mountain names. The process of assimilation lasted from the twelfth to the fourteenth century. Its basis was the economic supremacy of Romanians who were richer due to their herds, the measure of affluence being livestock at the time. (A note: a key expression of trade and handicraft is marfă = commodity. It comes from the Hungarian marha, cattle, which is of extreme value in the world of agriculture. It is supported by the fact that feudum = fief, also comes from the German Vieh = cattle. In early medieval times cattle often served as a means of exchange in the West too. Even though Romanians were primarily sheep-breeders and – as László Makkai pointed out – during their long migration, which began in the twelfth century in the Balkans and ended in the sixteenth century in Moravia, they taught peoples living along the Danube how to preserve the everyday food of the masses: ewe-cheese”.6 Not to mention how important wool was as a raw material for contemporary clothing.)

Evidently we Hungarians do not like to be called herdsmen, and Romanians like it even less. Yet Petrovici did not beat around the bush but stated bluntly, “we are descendents of these mountain herdsmen, we who created the People’s Republic of Romania and are now building socialism”. Needless to say, historians and archaeologists were reluctant to accept this. They re-classified Bulgarian Slavic remains as proto-Romanian and insisted on the primacy of agriculture. They came up with the notion, among others, that it was exactly the continued presence of nomadic peoples that was proof of the Daco-Romanian continuity, as it was the Latinised population, i.e., proto-Romanians, who supplied food to the horsemen. It is a nice logical construct but not so appealing to linguists – maybe because of some aesthetic considerations. Rosetti was an old bourgeois element who in the previous regime had been a prominent figure of the biggest foundation and as such, encouraged left- and right-wing prodigies alike. Petrovici was held to be an old Communist who rejected Stalin’s theories on language and was critical of the system, but was left alone thanks to his international prestige.7 On the other hand, P. P. Panaitescu was an outstanding scholar, but also a former Iron Guardist and wild-eyed propagator of the fascist revolution. As such, he proclaimed in 1940 that Romanians were Dacians. When he was later arrested for a short time, he suggested the elite of the Iron Guard should be preserved in the interest of Communism, arguing that forces should be joined against the common enemy of both movements: the bourgeoisie. He escaped from long years in prison basically because his knowledge of Old Slavic proved to be indispensable. In the secret debate of 1958 he was the one to convey historiographical arguments most vehemently. Two years later the new History of Romania was published, which made no mention of migration at all. The cradle of the Romanian people became Transylvania. Connections with the Balkans were quickly forgotten in order to avoid any conflict with historians of neighbouring countries as well as interference from their part with Romanian history. This narrowing in and locking out was carried out on higher orders – in the whole of the Communist bloc. For instance, “everyone should get their own house in order” became the new slogan of Hungarian historiography. Everyone was afraid that if they swept in front of someone else’s house, they would be swept out. Petrovici, the proud scion of mountain herdsmen, became a proponent of Daco-Romanian continuity. It was hardly the insipid counterarguments that convinced him, rather the situation itself, as well as his friend, Constantin Daicoviciu, the otherwise excellent archaeologist.

It was Aladár Dobrovits, the renowned Egyptologist, who told us the following anecdote in class. Once, while drinking brandy together at a party, he asked Constantin Daicoviciu: “Hey, Constantin, why do you profess this Daco-Romanian bullshit?” To which Daicoviciu answered, “I would prove anything if I had to, even that Romanians came from the Chinese.” The anecdote may well be authentic, as he is attested to have told a doctoral student writing his thesis on the Romanians’ idea of their Roman ancestry, that he did not believe in the continuity, and that the thesis according to which the Romanian people had preserved the memory of its Roman origins was utterly unscholarly and a later construct of intellectuals.8 But Daco-Romanian continuity became such a fundamental assumption that Daicoviciu’s views were thought to be almost shameful. Yet the old scholar was only being honest, being depressed by the emergence of the belief, later turned into a dogma and now called dacopatia, that Romanians are straight descendants of the Dacians whose language became Latinised only in the eighteenth century.

In the 1970s, the Institute of Party History in Bucharest became the stronghold of dacopatia. Dacians represented military virtue and as such, Communists needed them, as did Iron Guardists before. When Panaitescu’s work was published posthumously, it seemed like a scholarly oasis in the desert of intellectual life. In it he derived Romanians from Eastern Romanity – a view opposed to The History of Romania of 1960 –, the frontiers of which he very much extended, to include from the Balkan Mountains Dacia as well.

In 1944 the rightwing press still complained that Romanian philologists did not express their views on Daco-Romanian continuity and “thus the thought of Dacianism had been propagated by people who had nothing to do with the discipline of history, acting only out of goodwill”.9 The Communist power remedied that complaint. But at what cost? Burebista, the Dacian king of yore became the precursor of Ceaușescu…

 

THE ACADEMIC ANTECEDENTS OF THE ROMANIAN THESIS OF 1958

 

The debate of 1958 was not a chance event in the history of Romanian scholarship. Romanian philology has always been characterised by an interesting mixture of ideas. There have always been scholars who were rowing against the mainstream. Here is a fine little scandal. It was started by Radu Rosetti, a characteristic figure of Romanian historiography and intellectual life. He was a little eccentric and isolated, pursuing his own path. In a word, he was a nonconformist, perhaps one of the greatest in Romanian culture. The truth is that as a man of princely lineage, he could afford to be one. He was not just any eccentric but every-inch a democrat who was also conversant with the people. As the great writer, Mihail Sadoveanu noted, “he spoke like peasants and thought like a European”. He also published an unconventional opinion on the Csángó people.10 But his greatest sin, as well as virtue, was that in his monograph on the great peasant uprising of 1907, he discussed the disenfranchisement of the peasantry, a work which was a true indictment against latifundia. But no matter how they tried to turn his theses on Romanian origins against him, they could not harm him. He came out with an original but rather crude idea in an 1889 article, in which he tried to prove that during their predatory incursions of the sixth and seventh centuries, Slavs resettled a lot of Latinised Tracians from the left bank of the Danube to the right bank and the Carpathian regions, areas where there were still settlements of some earlier Latinised elements. Later he discarded the possibility that any Latinised groups could survive in Transylvania. He thought the theory of their survival in the mountains was downright absurd because there were not enough pastures to allow herding; conditions were only sufficient to maintain one small tribe. The Romanian Academy of Science was quickly assigned to take a stand on the matter, but it never did. The author was able to freely declare that the aim of history was the pursuit of truth. And in order to defend himself against accusations of antipatriotism, he even insisted Romanians had arrived 300 years before Hungarians.11 Then came three great linguists, three stalwart professors who, as it is often the case among linguists, could not stand each other. But each of them produced something outstanding and created a school of their own: Ovid Densusianu (1873–1938) in Bucharest, Alexandru Philippide (1859–1933) in Iaşi, and Sextil Pușcariu (1877–1948) in Cluj.

Densusianu placed the hub of the Romanian ancestral homeland in Illyria, but admitted that a considerable Latin element was living north of the Danube too.12 In his two-volume monumental work, Philippide put forth the theory that Romanians migrated upwards from the Balkans in two waves, one flooding Wallachia (Țara Românească) and southern Transylvania, the other northern Transylvania and Moldova. Pușcariu swore to produce a critique of this theory but in 1940 he did not even mention it when he put forth his views. The reason was probably that in the meantime, in the mid-30s, Lajos Tamás penned the most thorough refutation of the continuity, against which Romanian academicians stood up in a unified line of battle and they did not want to weaken it by internal controversy. Let us point out that this time they were not cheating but arguing. Pușcariu, for instance, stated bluntly that the name of the most Romanian river, the Olt, came from a Latin borrowing, Aluta, via Hungarian into Romanian – even though he blamed the Hungarian state power for it. He simply maintained that it was unnecessary to search for the cradle of Romanians because this people had emerged from Macedonia to Maramureș through the constant wandering of the nomadic herdsmen. We owe the uniform character of the Romanian language precisely to this migrating, and not that Romanians would have swarmed out from some ancient homeland. Paradoxically, there are some common points between the respective views of Tamás and Pușcariu. Both held that pastoral lifestyle was fundamental, but according to the Hungarian scholar, prior to the Hungarian settlement only a few herdsmen could have wandered into Transylvania at the most. He later admitted he would have changed certain statements in his book but the atmosphere was no longer favourable.

 

ORTHODOX AND HETERODOX HUNGARIAN VIEWS

 

This chapter of the history of Romanian scholarship has a Hungarian sub-chapter. The fact of the matter is that Hungarians believed in Daco-Romanian continuity at a time when Romanians did not. Already in 1710, a certain Sámuel Bíró instructed his nine-year-old son that a “notable descendant of Noah” set out from Armenia “with his family called Gyeta”, and “settled on the land expanding from the Crimea to the Tisa river”. Later “the Goths mixed with the Gyeta, or Dacians, and chased Romans out from Transylvania and the whole of Dacia”. Then came Hungarians from Scythia and chased out the Dacians and Goths from Transylvania… Romanians are thus partly descendants of the “valiant Roman soldiers”, partly remnants of “Roman coloniae”. But since the Romans destroyed the bridge over the Danube themselves, “most of the legionaries and the greatest part of the coloniae stayed behind. Having mixed with several folks, their language suffered some change in the course of many centuries.” And that is how the Romanian language came to be.13 The story is a little motley: at first they chased out the Romans, who then stayed behind… But already in a short story by Mór Jókai in 1850 about the 1848 civil war the Romanian popular leader speaks of his people simply as “the remnants of the famous Dacians and world-conquering legions”.14 The Hungarian writer probably passed on what he had heard from his history teacher at the Pozsony (Bratislava) lyceum, who had told the story of Decebalus [the last king of Dacia], “after whose death Roman colonus were taken there [i.e., into Dacia], since the population of that province was decimated in the successive wars. The present-day Olahs [a Hungarian word for Vlachs or Romanians] come from these colonus that mixed with the Dacians. But neighbouring peoples, especially the Goths, were often harassing the Romans in this new province. Emperor Aurelian could not fight them, therefore he drove away the new inhabitants from there and resettled them in Moesia; and in the year 274 he left the province itself to the will and pleasure of the savages (the villains).”15 Jókai apparently assumed, like many Romanian historians later, that the descendants of the Dacians and Romans hid themselves in the mountains. His travels in Transylvania only reinforced this belief concerning the origins of the Romanians. In Verespatak [Roșia Montană] for instance, he saw Roman tombstones built in the walls of houses (they sadly disappeared shortly after, as everything was destroyed for the purpose of gold-mining, despite protests from the Romanian Academy of Science). By the way, a founding figure of Hungarian historiography, Sándor Szilágyi also professed this theory of Daco-Romanian continuity, as well as the Hun origin of the Székely (Szekler) people.16 The archaeologist Zsófia Torma also insisted – contradicting in this respect Romanians in Transylvania – that Romanians were among others the descendants of Dacians.17 It is true that from the 1860s in Trans-Carpathia, more and more scholars included the Dacians in the national family tree, which was a manifestation of nationalist mysticism. The Hungarian archaeologist of ancient history Torma, however, was not influenced by a nationalist agenda but the idea of the continuity of man and his culture. She was looking for the perpetuity of primitive symbols of human emotions in Transylvanian folkways, and indeed found it in them. She thought the findings in Hunyad County helped us “understand the question of the common origins of civilisations, and even of the whole human race. We can especially understand from them how religions emerged and evolved, and how certain religious and cultural aspects of the spiritual life of the people of Babylon-Akkad were formed which, due to their geographical and chronological continuity, appear to be a sacred tradition not only in the Dacian heritage, but also in present-day folk spirit and folk life, like the remains of bygone times of perennial value.”18 The same universalist ambitions appear among manifestations of the familial and national cult of ancestors. At the turn of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Paul I, Prince Esterházy of Galántha, Palatine of the Kingdom of Hungary, invented for himself a family tree going back to the great-great-great grandfather of Decebalus, the Dacian king Dodo, and including among others Count Dracula, Nicolaus Olahus and János Hunyadi. This was partly a manifestation of the aristocratic display of prestige, partly a symbolic expression of the desire for the union of Transylvania with Hungary.19 It is true that Byzantine historians usually meant Transylvania by Dacia and they sometimes called Hungarians Dacians, too20 – but mostly Romanians, because they used to live in Dacia. This was a practice of the best-known fifteenth-century Byzantine historian, who heard something like Hungarians descended from the Getae living around the Balkan Mountains or from the Dacians. He knew nothing, however, about the origins of Romanians in the Balkans and by the Danube.21 László Perecsényi Nagy, a prolific writer of the first two decades of the nineteenth century living in his smallholding in Arad County, counted them as the Hungarians’ ancestors.22 And since Dacians were vegetarians, vegetarians can all hold them for their ancestors, too! So, in the end, Dacians will not separate, but connect us Hungarians and Romanians. But let us put jokes aside.

 

*

 

It must be admitted, the theory of Petrovici and Rosetti from 1958 does not differ considerably from the Hungarian scholars’ standpoint. Naturally there were, and will always be, differences of nuance because – as Lajos Tamás noted around the middle of the 1950s at a joint session of Hungarian and Romanian academicians – there are “so many researchers, so many theories on the original homeland of the Romanian people and their language”.23 But the intellectual climate became more and more poisonous. László Makkai was the first to refute the thesis of continuity in an article for discussion in the mid-1970s. Then in the mid-80s he recapitulated everything that Hungarian scholars, including himself, compiled on the subject in the omnibus volume entitled The History of Transylvania and its abridged version, which roughly corresponded to the 1958 thesis of Romanian linguists. It should not surprise us. Scholarly research has its own rules and so does scholarly speculation. But it is always surrounded by political distrust. It is quite telling that in the middle of the 1980s Gottfried Schramm began the history of the origins and migration of the Romanian people by saying that the study of Romanian ethnogenesis “certainly should have long ago been the task of scholars of third countries who have no interest in the struggle for Transylvania”, because they would “keep a strict distance” from “all Balkan disputes”.24 In other words, Hungarians and Romanians must not write on the subject as anything coming from them would be dubious. Incidentally, Schramm spoke highly of the achievements of Hungarian linguists and historians – Lajos Tamás, István Kniezsa, László Gáldi and László Makkai – in this field. Paradoxically, in the west where many thought – and the uninformed still do – that the debate on Romanian origins was a Hungarian provocation, a great Byzantinologist put it straight already in the 1970s: “The Slavic invasions of the sixth and seventh centuries destroyed Roman and Christian culture in most of the Balkans. We have no source whatsoever to inform us what happened to the aboriginal population, to those Illyrians and Thracians who survived the destructive tide. Some – partly or wholly – Romanised groups of these aboriginals probably withdrew into the mountains to escape from the Slavs. There are historical documents from the tenth and eleventh centuries which testify to the reappearance of these two peoples in the Balkan Peninsula: these are the Vlachs and the Albanians. Their origin is full of contradictions. Nowadays most scholars consider the Vlachs the descendants of the semi-Romanised aboriginals of the Balkans who were forced to withdraw into the mountains by the Slav conquerors. In the Middle Ages they emerged from their mountain hides as nomadic herdsmen who spoke Romanian – from the Haemus Mons, the Rhodope and the Pindus, and then they descended to the plains of Thracia, Macedonia and Thessaly.”25 And then they crossed the Danube…

Incidentally, what is at stake is not Transylvania but the survival and rights of Magyars in Transylvania. In the shadow of the dogma of Daco-Romanian continuity, Hungarians are terrible aggressors who, by settling in, prevented the creation of a Romanian national unity. In the 1970s, that was the fundamental thesis of the ten-volume History of Romania, but in the end, the work remained unfinished as the old scholars sabotaged its completion: they did not want to undermine their reputation and that of their country. Today the debate of 1958 remains unnoticed, probably because it is considered embarrassing. The question is, it embarrasses whom and what? On the other hand, it brings credit to whom and to what? These questions closing our account of the debate of 1958 are purely rhetorical. The problem is that opinions vary considerably. Some think linguists are traitors and historians are saviours of the nation. Some think the opposite. But if the proceedings of the debate had been published, it could have become evident in the turmoil of arguments and counterarguments that science is about science, or inquisitiveness for its own sake. But alas, who cared then, and who cares now?

Translation by Orsolya Németh

The present article has been sponsored by the OTKA grant 111 871.


 

Notes:


1 I. I. Russu, Etnogeneza românilor. Bucharest, 1981. 227.

2 Andrei Măgureanu, Dezbateri privind etnogeneza românilor în anii ’50 de la manualul lui Roller la tratatul de istorie. http://www.scivajournal.ro/pdf/sciva%203-4_2007/06.pdf.

3 Románia története és földrajza [The history and geography of Romania], Bucharest, 1949. 19.

4 A Román Népköztársaság története [The history of the Romanian People’s Republic], ed. M. Roller. Bucharest, 1952. 58, 88.

6 László Makkai, Az európai feudalizmus jellegzetességei [Feudalism in Europe], Budapest, 1987. 115.

7 Ionuț Filipescu, Lingvistul Emil Petrovici sub “lupa” Securității. http://www.historia.ro/exclusiv_ web/portret/articol/lingvistul-emil-petrovici-lupa-securit-ii (2017-01-10).

8 Adolf Armbruster, Romanitatea românilor, Bucharest. 1993. 278.

9 D. Tilea, Problema dacică. Universul literar, 1 June 1944, No. 16.

10 Ambrus Miskolczy, Introduction to Radu Rosetti, Meinolf Arens, Daniel Bein, Lajos Demény, Rendhagyó nézetek a csángókról [Nonconformist theories about the Csángó], Budapest, 2004. 5.

11 Radu Rosetti, Regretabil! Viața românească, 1909, No. 6, 361–372.

12 Ovide Densusianu, Histoire de la langue roumaine. I, Bucarest, 1929. 288–289.

13 OSZKK, Oct. Hung. 13. Jus publicum Transylvaniae pro captu filioli Sámuelis Biro, annorum IX, per questiones et responsiones accomodatum. Anno 1710. 6, 11.

14 Mór Jókai, Forradalmi és csataképek [Pictures of Revolution and Fight], 1850. 24.

15 Pozsony, Evangélikus Líceumi Könyvtár, köteg: 144-3. Magyarország Történetének Tudománya, mellyet oskolai élésre öszve irt Zsigmondy Sámuel, a Pozsonyi Ágostai Vallástételt követő Evang. Fő Oskolának rendes Tanitója. Pozsonyban 1832ik évben [History of Hungary compiled by Sámuel Zsigmondy in 1832].

16 Sándor Szilágyi, Erdélyország története tekintettel művelődésére. I. [The History of Transylvania. Volume 1. Culture], Pest, 1866. 8–12, Bratislava, library of the Evangelic Grammar School, fasciala 144–3.

17 Pál Gyulai, Torma Zsófia levelesládájából [From the correspondence of Zsófia Torma], Bucharest, 1972. 34–35.

18 Zsófia Torma, A tordosi őstelep. Hunyadvármegye földjének története [The Ancient Settlement at Tordos. The history of Hunyad County], ed. Gábor Téglás, Budapest, 1902.

19 Levente Nagy: A holló, a gyűrű és a sárkány jegyében [In the Name of the Raven, the Ring, and the Dragon], Budapest, 2014. 75–77.

20 Petre Diaconu, Les Coumans au Bas-Danube au XIe et au XIIe siècles, Bucharest, 1978. 36.

21 A XIV–XVI. századi magyar történelem bizánci és kora újkori görög nyelvű forrásai [Byzantine and early modern sources of fourteenth-sixteenth-century Hungarian history in Greek], ed. István Baán, Budapest, 2013. 207, 213.

22 Ambrus Miskolczy: Perecsényi Nagy László cikkei a románokról. [The articles of László Perecsényi Nagy on Romanians. Publication of a source text with introduction], Europa Balcanica–Danubiana Carpathica 3, 1998. 299–329.

23 A Magyar Tudományos Akadémia Nyelv- és irodalomtudományi osztályának közleményei. [Publications of the Section of Linguistics and Literary Studies of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences] 1955. Vol. VII, Nos. 3–4. 389.

24 Gottfried Schramm, Korai román történelem [Early Romanian history], Debrecen, 1997. 29.

25 Dimitri Obolensky, A Bizánci Nemzetközösség [The Byzantine Commonwealth], Budapest, 1999. 21.




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