Author: Tusa Enache

Communities and Traditions at Bulgarians and Romanians in Dobrogea. Part 1b

Together with the testimonials consigned by foreign travellers in Dobrogea, we also have the contribution of the Turkish traveller Evliya Celebi, who crossed Dobrogea several times, in the second half of the 17th century. He speaks about the Christians from Silistra, asserting they were in large number occupying 10 suburbs  of this town. He also mentions Ester town, where „in the 1500 houses there were few Moslems” (54). Valachians and Moldavians were dominant among the population in Hârşova and Isaccea, Romanians being also present in some villages close to Babadag (55) îin the surroundings of this administrative, religious and military center from Dobrogea.  However in mid 18th century, we have information from the Turkish historian and geographer Kiatis Celebi, that speaks about Gura Portiţa (Portica Bogazî) (56) but also about the fact that the area was populated with Romanians and Bulgarians. Different news shows that especially in 18th century and in the first half of the 19th century, Romanians in Dobrogea were not only a physical presence but also an economical one, through national activities, religious institutions, extremely distinguished cultural institutions. In a letter to Baron of  Bourquaneir, ambassador of France in Constantinople, sent by Czajkowski, the agent of the Polish prince Czartoryski we find out among others, that Romanians from northern part of Dobrogea, estimated in a number of  25-30.000 form the most numerous ethnic group of Christians.  In 1840 on the road from Constantza to Cernavodă the famous writer Hans Christian Andersen remarked in the Carasu valley the Romanian sheperds but also peasants dressed in sheep waistcoat with hats in black felt (57). Somewhere earlier, before the Danish referring to Romanians from Dobrogea, we have Russian hieromonk Partenie. This on a trip made in 1838 towards Christians’ places of Orient, passing through Măcin observes that Christian peasants here are called „Romanians and speak Valachian language” (58). Also, passing through Babadag, he states that the church here was burnt without any reaction from its inhabitants „as the bishop is Greek and does not interfere” (59). The etnographer Guillaume Lejan as a result of many trips in Dobrogea, carried on at the Ottoman authorities’ request to study different technical and economical aspects, will search the territory „from village to village” as he himself asserts. His conclusions show that the Dobrogea inhabitants included 33.000 Romanians, this observation lacking any suspicion of favoring, because even contemporary studies use them without any essential digression.Similar to Lejan the German Karl F.Peters, geologist, presents things likewise, it is worth mentioning he had been living a considerable period in the middle of inhabitants from Dobrogea asserting that „there were many Romanian communities on the Danube from North to South” (60). On his way to Constantinople, Dimitrie Cantemir, speaks about Romanians, among inhabitants of the city of Silistra. Also, he demonstrates that in the village of  Alibegu (Alibeichioi) from the Dobrogea steppe, the Turkish feudal has more than 100 Christians (61) working within a year. The French numismatist La Motraye, visiting Tomis-Constantza, reminded that the city, really in ruin, was inhabited by a mixed population, most of them being from Moldavia, the term certainly designating Romanians that called the settlement Tomisvoara. The same travellers, recording details concerning Romanians, speak about citakii, that used to live in the steppe of Dobrogea and Evliya Celebi, the Turkish traveller gives us an interesting explanation according to which they appeared from „Tatars, Bulgarians, Valachians and Moldavians” (62). The Hungarian Keleman Mikes observes in 1738 that half of the population in Cernavodă was made up of Romanians and the Polish Iosif Padoski, in 1759 calls the inhabitants of Măcin „Moldavians”. Three years later, the Ragusan Giuseppe Ruggero Boscovich, reminds of a Romanian village, Jemikioi (New Village) and the Russian traveller Struve estimated in  1793 that Măcin, together with the surrounding area, was inhabited by a great number of Moldavians and Valachians. There are also cartographic sources of the 18th century that are very important for the news they give on Romanians in Dobrogea. They record that all over the province between the Danube and the Black Sea, including in the Delta, a great number Romanian topical names for rivers, brooks, hills, lakes, valleys but also human settlements. Thus, in cartographic sources, we can encounter names of villages like: Pecineaga, Chilia Veche, Băltăgeşti, Rasova, Satu Nou, Mârleanu, Luncaviţa, Oltina, Tichileşti, Seimeni, Cochirleni, Gârliţa, Cerna, Taiţa, Straja etc. All in all, Romanians in Dobrogea, managed to preserve even their own toponymy, that some new Turkish official names „could not exclude, on the contrary, in some cases only double it, and in others event o adopt it” (63). It has been found that out of the 3776 registered topic names, after 1878, in counties like Constantza and Tulcea, were recent names, among which 367 were names of localities, 2338 (61, 89%) belonged to Turkish toponymy, 1260 (33, 34%) to Romanian, and a reduced number  (4,67%) with different other origins (64). A first classification of all these toponyms was realized by  Al. P. Arbore. Such a category of toponyms designate populations found by Turkish in this area or those that established during the Ottoman domination: Anadol-Chioi (today a neighbouthood of Constantza), The Village of Anatoliei, Arnăutu-Chioi – The Village of Albanians, Laz-Mahale – the suburb of  Laz, Vlah - Chioi and Vlahlar – The Village of Romanians. Another category of toponyms refers to the inhabitants’ occupations: Arabagilar-The Cartmen, Casapchioi-The Village of Butchers, Covangilar-Beekeepers, Dulgher-The Carpenter, Hamangia - Miner, Nalbant – The Horseshoe, Terzichioi – The Village of Taylors etc. So, together with the Moslems, s-au stabilit în Dobrogea, in the past centuries of the Ottoman dominion in Dobrogea, there established other populations, their settlement involved a situational aspect and their staying here was in most cases, temporary. The permanent population in Dobrogea was the Romanian one. A  second name given to the natives of Dobrogea is that of „turcuians or turcans” referring to Romanians under Turkish dominion . The existence of religious institutions, sometimes based on the foundations of ancient Christian basilicas, building and endowment of four monasteries, represents the living proof of some similarities with the situation of Romanians in Transylvania. Under a domination of other nationality, religion or language, tolerant with respect to the cult, Romanians from Dobrogea, not having the right to gather in an acknowledged national community, organized in religious communities around churches and monasteries, turned into national cultural institutions and preservation of traditions. The presence of Muntenians and Moldavians in Dobrogea constitutes the natural consequence of this land settlement, neighbouring at West with Muntenia, at North with Moldavia, the Dobrogean side, representing a permanent sheltering place for these oppressed by the ruling fiscality or the cruel domination of boyars. The penetration of the Romanian element from Muntenia in Dobrogea is  natural, as well as that from Moldavia that started in the Danube Delta but also, on the Black Sea coast especially after 1829 when two maps one Russian and one Austrian mentioning localities, Turkish Beştepe and Moldavian Beştepe.  It is true that the coming of Moldavians but also Muntenians was encouraged by Ottoman authorities that needed working force especially during harvest (66). The Romanian ethnic space has not been defined very clear in Dobrogea. Romanians were scattered in „the whole region and existe dina considerable number in other prely Romanian islands close to Razelm lake, Techirghiol or Mangalia. Close to the Danube there were inhabitants up to 20-80 km from the river” (67). Another category of Romanians existent in Dobrogea is represented by the mocans (sheperds) that I have previously analysed, arrived from Transylvania, mainly as a result of the move of the flocks. These were divided into three classes: a first category was that of mocans that had  the rich’s sheepfolds (enclosures), few in number yet; a second category was that of associations between several sheperds (mocans),  and they were grazing under the patronage of a master; a third category was that of mocans possessing around 100-500 sheep, a numerous category that had no relations with government but only to people and villages that used to sell them the stubbles in the detriment of state treasury (68). Most of Transylvania sheperds were settled close to Tatar villages because the inhabitants of these settlements were involved in little activity, being known as kind and manageable. The Tatars learnt to practice agriculture from the mocans because in the sheperds’ absence „the Tatar knows how to grow only  barley, a little millet and his beloved melon field....since the arrival of the mocans it has been introduced the maize crop next to other crops” (69). They are recorded by Eugene Pittard who when he makes notes on Romanian colonies in Dobrogea asserts: „besides the settlers of colonies, whose ancestors date back, maybe in Roman times, the forerunners of these Romanians in Dobrogea, at least a part of them have been, sheperds from Ardeal who descending from their mountains, came to Dobrogea with their sheepfolds looking for the necessary food for them all over the wide lowland from the Dobrogea steppe” (70). Alexandru Arbore and Ion Georgescu say that Dobrogea is one of the most wanted provinces by Transylvanian sheperds „these had close and strong relations with it” (71). A firman of the Sultan given at the end of the 18th century grants privileges toTransylvanian sheperds in Dobrogea (72). Gheorghe Vâlsan consigns that „according to ancient tradition, Transylvania sheperds used to descend every year from the mountains on the sheep path up to the Danube crossings where they reached the Danube plains” (73). In order to defend these sheperds’ interests there were several institutions (74) that could prepare the necessary documents for such activities. An interesting thing concerns the fcat the above mentioned institutions really exchanged telegrams between the representatives of those authorities. Thus, we have even a consul of Austria at Hârșova a Romanian, Nicolae Țârcă, who used to negotiate with Ottoman authorities as  official representative of Austria with respect to problems concerning the grazing regime and the paying of taxes a sign  that the presence of sheperds was really important in Dobrogea. Memoirs of the Austrian representative, Nicolae Țârcă, are extremely relevant as far as the ethnic consistence in Dobrogea is concerned (75). Ion Ionescu de la Brad used to assert that the inhabitants from Transylvanian villages like Săliște, Valea, Tilișca, Galeș, Rășinari, Poenari, Rădeni „came with their flocks at the end of autumn for wintering and when thespring came many left this province, going to Ardeal” (76). Regarding these Romanians Ionescu de la Brad brings information according to which they „settle here and marry Romanian women and many of them have been living in Dobrogea for a long time” (77). Also,  Ionescu de la Brad used to note in a letter addressed to Ion Ghica that: „the most remarkable sheperds in Dobrogea are from the Balcik Kaza (the term of  Kaza refers to an Ottoman administrative-territorial unit): Ion Munteanu, Vasile Milea, Dimitrie Bobinaru, Neculai Șchiopu, în Kazanul Kiustengei (the kaza of Constanța) are: Hagiu Poenaru, Zaharia Blebea, Jălea Duțu, Iacob Craiul, in kazaoa Babalii (Babadag kaza): Ion Tâlnaru, Gheorghe Roșca ; in Kazaoa of Tulcea: lads  Oancei și Golea, from  Tulcea settled for a long time” (78). Information on Transylvanian sheperds we also have from M.D. Ionescu sustaining that the first emigration of the peasants towards Dobrogea takes place in 1477 when there is a great riot in Transylvania causing „an emigration of pesants over the  Carpathians and over the Danube in Dobrogea where they could fiind enough ground for crops, espcially for their cattle’s grazing, most of them being sheperds” (79). Furthermore, Ionescu Dobrogianu claims that: „activities that followed in 1514 (Gh. Doja’s Peasant War n.n.), 1785 (Revolt led by Horea, Cloșca and Crișan n.n.) and then 1848 (European revolutions that brought a state of revolution in Principalities) had as corrolary  a great number of Transylvanian to come to Dobrogea” (80). The results of everything I presented above it results that Romanians, although in minority, continued to live in the dobrogea space (81).

(54) Evliya CELEBI particularly reminds of the town of Tulcea, that had 600 houses, Romanian and Bulgarian and also at Dăieni (Daya-i Kebir- Daia Mare). About this , the Turkish traveller, mentions that it was inhabited by Muntenians and Moldavians, being a „borough looking like a big town”, we found all these in the paperwork: Foreign Travellers about Romanian Counties, vol.VI, Bucureşti, 1976, p.395-404,451,456.
(55) Tudor MATEESCU, op.cit. p.26 to check: Turkish Chronicles concerning Romanian Counties, excerpts, vol. II, drawn up by Mihail Guboglu, Bucureşti, 1974, p. 117-118.
(56) Ibidem , p. 118.
(57) Nicolae CIACHIR, Radu Ştefan CIOBANU, Annexation of Dobrogea to the Living Area of Romanian State. Consecinţa The Consequence of Romanian Population Permanence on Dobrogean Land (brochure), p.162;
(58) Constantin C.GIURESCU, News about Romanian Population of Dobrogea in Medieval and Modern Maps, Constanţa, 1966; Teodor MATEESCU, op.cit., p.26-27, 29. It is true that Paul de Ales makes some confusion considering Bulgarians the inhabitants of Macin and Igliţa, realizing the confusion according to which all Christians from the right side of Danube are Bulgarians. But the Polish Rafael Leszeziwski asserts that these are Romanians, the same partial confusion at the Ragusan Baksici, that speaks about Bulgarians surrounding Babadag who, strangely speak Turkish and Romanian, why would they speak Romanian is still an enigma..?!
(59) Constantin BRĂTESCU, art. cit., p. 231.
(60) Guillaume LEJEAN, Etnographie de la Turquie de l`Europe, f.e., 1861, p.76.
(61) These believed in a superstition related to the feast of Saint Foca, that was in use at Romanians in Dobrogea until almost nowadays. It is about the Romanians from that village, pesants depending on the local feudal. Dimitrie CANTEMIR, The History of Ottoman Empire. His raise and his Falling, translation by Iosif Hodosiu, Bucureşti 1876, p.309-310; quoted by Tudor MATEESCU in the paper: Permanence and Continuity of Romanians in Dobrogea , Bucureşti, 1979, p.27.
(62) Ibidem , p 384.
(63) Alexandru ARBORE, About the Ethnography of Dobrogea. Contributions to Settlements of Tatars and Turkish in Dobrogea, Bucureşti , Casei Şcoalelor Publishing House, 1920, p. 87.
(64) Mustafa Ali MEHMET, The History of Turkish in Romania , Bucureşti , Editura ştiinţifică şi enciclopedică, 1980, p.83; to see, Ibram NUREDIN, Moslem Community in Dobrogea, Highlights of Spiritual Life, Religious Life and Education in Maternal Language, Ex Ponto Publishing House , Constanţa , 1998. p.142,
(65) Gheorghe DUMITRAŞCU, Contribution of Dobrogei Striving to Gain National Independence of Romanian People, in, Scientifical Paperworks. Social Sciencese. Philology, Institute of Higher Education , Constanţa, 1978, p.18; to see, Constantin C. GIURĂSCU, op.cit, p.5-7.
(66) Teodor MATEESCU, op.cit., p.37-38.
(67) B. I. DINU, Attempts to Define a Demographic Evolution of Dobrogea ; 1887-1913, Ovidius University, Constanța, 1996, p. 98.
(68) Victor SLĂVESCU, Mail between Ion Ionescu de la Brad and Ion Ghica; 1846- 1874, București, Casa Școalelor Publishing House,1943, p.52.
(69) Apostol CULEA, Sheperds in Dobrogea, in the newspaper Tribuna, Arad, 1912, nr. 17.
(70) Eugene PITTARD, Etude sur l`indice cephalique en Roumanie, in „Newsletter of Romanian Society of Geography ” Tome XLV, 1926, București.
(71) Alexandru ARBORE, An Attempt to Restore Romanians’ Past In Dobrogea, in The Annals of Dobrogea, III, 2, f.a., pp.268-172.
(72) Ion GEORGESCU, 15 Years of Move of the Flocks in Romanian Counties (1772-1797),în Annals of Dobrogea, anV și VI, f.a., pp.31-35.
(73) Gheorghe VÂLSAN, Sheperds of Dobrogea in 1845, in Romanian Idiom, year II, no.3, March 1928. To see Dumitru Șandru, op cit., pp. 127-130.
(74) There was a consulate in Galati and two vice-consulates at Hârșova and Rusciuk due to the fact that here there were important passage headway in Dobrogea. Romulus SEIȘANU,op cit, p.161; for this aspect, to see Gheorghe DUMITRAȘCU, Liliana LAZIA, Dobrogea 1884-1885 in 31 answers of communities at „Hasdeu’s Questionnaire”, Ex Ponto Publishing House, Constanța, 2010, pp.95-97.
(75) Ion GEORGESCU, Nicolae Țârcă’s Settlement at Hârșova and his election as vice-consul, in, Annals of Dobrogea, year XIII-XIV, 1932-1933, pp.41-52.
(76) Ion IONESCU de la BRAD, L` excursion agricole dans la plaine de la Dobroudja, p. 77-78.
(77) This way we can explain why villages from Dobrogea have names of Ardeal villages: Siliștea, Poiana, Galeșu,etc.
(78) Victor SLĂVESCU, Mail between Ion Ionescu de la Brad and Ion Ghica, 1846-1874, București, 1943,p. 52. To see Gheorghe DUMITRAȘCU, Liliana LAZIA, op. cit., p.98.
(79) M.D. IONESCU, op.cit. p. 324.
(80) Ibidem.
(81) A survey from 1849, remarking ethnic consistency in 53 villages along the Danube and within Dobrogea space, mentions 40 of them being inhabited by Romanians Adrian RĂDULESCU, Ion BITOLEANU, History of Romanians between the Danube and the Sea, București, Scientifical and Encyclopedical Publishing House, 1979, p.240.

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