Moravian Wallachia

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Moravian Valach from Brumov, 1787

Moravian Wallachia (Czech: Valašsko) is a mountainous region located in the easternmost part of Moravia, Czech Republic, near the Slovakian border, roughly centered around the cities Vsetín, Valašské Meziříčí and Rožnov pod Radhoštěm.[1] The name Wallachia was formerly applied to all the highlands of Moravia and neighboring Silesia, although in the 19th century a smaller area came to be defined as ethno-cultural Moravian Wallachia. The traditional dialect (rarely heard these days) represents a mixture of elements from Czech and Slovak, and has a distinct lexicon of Romanian and Balkan origin relating to the pastoral economy of the highlands.

The name comes from the exonym of the Romanian shepherd migrants (see Vlachs), who advanced along the Carpathian range between the 14th and 17th centuries. On their way they gradually lost their original language with the exception of some Romanian words they use in their Czech and Slovak dialect, but they preserved much of their culture (especially folklore, songs and costumes)[2] and economic base, namely sheep breeding.

Culture[edit]

Wallachian vernacular architecture: open-air museum (skansen) in Rožnov pod Radhoštěm
Vlachs' typical cakes, koláče ("colaci" in Romanian) (also called "frgály", "a frige" to roast in Romanian).
Veřovice hills, typical landscape of Wallachia.

A remarkable aspect of Vlachs found everywhere along the western Carpathian Mountains is that the traditional Romanian culture remained the same despite the evolution in language, especially the traditions regarding sheepherding and rural architecture, essentially identical along the entire belt of the Carpathian Mountains from Moravia to Romania and then along the adjacent mountains into Serbia and Bulgaria. As with those aspects of language associated with animal husbandry, this cultural aspect of the Vlachs likely did not change because there was no competing culture. Although animal husbandry was long associated with agriculture practiced in the lowlands adjacent to the Western Carpathians, the Vlach methods and associated rituals of sheep and goat tending were unique and newly introduced by them, as were the introduction of grazing in the highlands and the emphasis upon the production of milk and cheese (bryndza). Variants of the traditional Romanian costume are still important elements of the ethnography of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland. The music of the area is thought to have been influenced by the Vlachs (e.g. see Lachian Dances),[3][4] but it also represents a locally vibrant mixture of Vlachian with Slovak, Czech, German, and Polish music cultures from the Tatras and Morava valley.[5]

A clear example of the influence of the Vlachs on Slovak culture is the 1755 didactic poem Valašská škola (Wallachian School) of the Franciscan monk Hugolín Gavlovič. It offered a Christian-Catholic moral perspective on the lives and the interaction with God and society. Three themes dominate the poem: Slovak national consciousness, 18th-century religious and secular culture, and pastoral life as a life model. It is in the third theme that the Wallachian legacy appears, giving the poem particular significance.

History[edit]

Since they appeared, in the Late Middle Ages, the Valachs continued to have a separated political life than that of the rest of the population. An example of this is the use of the so-called Lex Antiqua Valachorum (the "Ancient/Old Wallachian Law"). The first widespread reference to Valachs from Poland is from Nicetae Choniatae (the 12th century).[6] Another reference occurred during the Thirty Years' War, when these privileges were in danger of being abolished. The subsequent events profoundly changed the Vlach culture, and would set the stage for the next wave of Valach immigration, following the ones of the 14th and 15th centuries. Jan Amos Comenius wrote in 1620: "Moravians of the mountains around Vsetín, called Wallachians, are a warlike people… they refused to accept the Habsburg yoke and for three whole years defended their freedom with the sword". Later, in 1624, he wrote: "the inhabitants of the lordship of Vsetín and the mountains thereabout (who are called Wallachians) continued to resist with arms and could not be brought to deny their faith or offer submission". Some continued to practice Orthodox Christianity, most converted to Protestantism, while on the whole, resisting any attempts of the Jesuit missionaries to convert them to Catholicism. Due to this politics, in 1632 the Catholic Church and the Habsburg Empire took coercive measures: "the inhabitants of Valašsko were Valachs and hence utterly infractory". Zlín town records from 1621 refer to "the Wallachians, who are the local rabble". Albrecht von Wallenstein, Habsburg Military lord of Vsetín, wrote in 1621 about the expected uprising and referred to them as Wallachians against whom he did not have sufficient support to mount a campaign. A Habsburg commissioner in 1622, writing about the local Moravians, stated that: "the people are inclined more to the enemy and the Wallachians". Valach warfare against the Habsburgs consisted of raids, including those against Malenovice, Zlín, and Valašské Meziříčí. Wallenstein stated that the Valachs fought as a “horde” and Valach forces were victorious against the Habsburgs during the initial years of the war. During portions of these initial years as well, Valachs were joined by Protestant Hungarians, and by 1621 all of Moravia east of the Morava River was controlled by Valachs. Hungarian forces, however, were defeated by the Habsburgs at Olomouc in late 1621 and withdrew from Moravia in 1622. Valach forces were subsequently subdued in 1623, accompanied by a series of public executions.

Renewed Valach attacks on Vsetín occurred in late 1623. The Hungarians, now aided by the Ottomans, reentered the War, and fighting occurred as far west as Brno. However, the Valachs did not join their former allies, the Hungarians because the Turks were an older enemy of the Valachs, from as early as the 14th and 15th centuries, when the first Ottoman attacks took place against Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania, their original homes. A second peace between Hungary and the Habsburgs was signed in 1624. The Habsburgs seized this opportunity to attack the Vlachs in March 1624 in the mountains west of Vsetín, but the Valachs prevailed in what was described as a "slaughter" of Habsburg forces. Valachs captured Lukov in 1626, and joined by Danes, who had entered the war against the Habsburgs, also captured Hranice in 1626.

In 1627, Wallenstein’s counter-attack forced the withdrawal of the Danish army from Moravia, and sent the Valachs into retreat. By 1630, Valachs controlled only their Carpathian strongholds. The final Valach uprising occurred in 1640 when the Swedes invaded Moravia to do battle with the Habsburgs. Combined Valach-Swede forces won back portions of Moravia, but then the Swedes withdrew in 1643 to concentrate on a war with Denmark.

In January 1644, a massive Habsburg raid was conducted against the Valachs in the mountains east of Vsetín, The Habsburg victory was completed by this time with a battle that culminated in the burning of Valach villages (e.g. Hovězí, Huslenky, Halenkov, and Zděchov), disarming of the Valachs, destruction of the fields and livestock, and an estimated 20 percent of the males of Vsetín were killed or later executed. Valachs who fled the area were pursued by the Habsburgs as far as into Hungary. Ultimately, about one third of the total Valach population was killed. With the Conscription of Valašsko on February 16, 1644, a complete registration of the remaining Valachs occurred. Execution or oath of allegiance to Habsburg and conversion to Catholicism were the choices. Many Valachs were executed during the infamous executions of 1644 in Vsetín.

Notable people of Wallachia[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Wallachian Village-a short history on Wallachian region. In open-air musem Rožnov Pod Radhoštěm 2012 [1]
  2. ^ The traditional Wallachian lace
  3. ^ Traditional Wallachian folk singing
  4. ^ Wallachian tonality influence by Iva Bittová
  5. ^ Johnston, Jesse A. (2010). "The Cimbál (Cimbalom) and Folk Music in Moravian Slovakia and Vallachia". Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society 36: 78–117. 
  6. ^ Z. Konecny, F. Mainus, Stopami Minulosti: Kapitol z Dejin Moravy a Slezka/Traces of the Past: Chapters from the History of Moravia and Silezia, Brno:Blok,1979

Further reading[edit]

  • Winnifruth, T.J.(2003): Badlands-Borderland: A History of Southern Albania/Northern Epirus, page 44, "Romanized Illyrians, the ancestors of the modern Vlachs", ISBN 0-7156-3201-9
  • Konecny, Z., Mainus, F. Stopami Minulosti: Kapitol z Dejin Moravy a Slezka/Traces of the Past: Chapters from the History of

Moravia and Silezia, Brno:Blok,1979

  • Eckert, Eva. (1993). Varieties of Czech: Studies in Czech Sociolinguistic. Atlanta/Amsterodam, Rodopi. p. 53-54
  • Short, D. (1993). Czech Republic and Slovak Republic: language situation. In: Asher R.E. (ed.) The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistic, Oxford, vol. 2, 804-805
  • A Group of co-authors (2007): Přírodou a historií Valašskomeziříčska po naučných stezkách (Around the Nature and History of Valašské Meziřičí county), Valašské Meziříčí, Český svaz ochránců přírody. 66 Pages. ISBN 978-80-254-4470-2.(in Czech)
  • Johnston, Jesse A. (2010). "The Cimbál (Cimbalom) and Folk Music in Moravian Slovakia and Vallachia". The Cimbál (Cimbalom) and Folk Music in Moravian Slovakia and Vallachia,” Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society 36: 78–117. 

External links[edit]