Inhabited by the ancient Dacians, today’s territory of Romania was conquered by the Roman Empire in 106, when Trajan’s army defeated the army of Dacia’s ruler Decebalus ( Dacian Wars). The Roman administration withdrew two centuries later, under the pressure of the Goths and Carpi.
The Romanian people was formed by the Romanization of the Roman Province of Dacia. The Romanians are descended from local populations: Dacians (Getae, Thracians) and Roman legionnaires and colonists. In the course of the two wars with the Roman legions, between 101 – 102 A.D. and. 105 – 106 A.D. respectively, the emperor Trajan succeeded after in defeating the Dacians and the greatest part of Dacia became a Roman province. The colonization with Roman or Romanized elements, the use of the Latin language and the assimilation of Roman civilization as well as the intense development of urban centres led to the Romanization of the autochthonous population. The intermarriage of Dacians with Roman colonists, formed the Daco-Roman population, which is part of the ethnogenesis process of the Romanian people. This process was probably concluded by the 10th century when the assimilation of the Slavs by the Daco-Romanians was completed.
Kings of the Dacians
The best known Dacian king were Dromihetes, Burebista and Decebalus who organized powerful states and proved to be skilful military strategists. The Dacian king reigned with the help of a council of noblemen and with the advice of the high priest.
Dromihetes is known due to his conflict around 300 BC with Lisimah, a general of Alexander the Great who became king of Thrace after Alexander’s death. Lisimah attempted to extend his kingdom to the north of the Danube, but Dromihetes wanted Lisimah to return some fortresses from the south of the Danube. Dromihetes won all of the battles capturing Agatocles, the son of Lisimah. Dromihetes won again in 292 BC when Lisimah took his army across the Danube. Dromihetes’ capital was Helis which is generally thought to have been in Muntenia. Other kings in this period were Zalmodegicos and Rhemaxos of Dobrogea and Oroles of Transylvania.
Burebista reigned from 82 BC to around 44 BC, probably inheriting the position from his father. The kingdom of Burebista included all the Dacian tribes, plus some others. When Burebista offered to support Pompey against Caesar (48 BC) his kingdom stretched from the Beskids mountains in the north, the Middle Danube in the west, the river Dniester in the east, and to the Balkan Mountains in the south. Burebista developed a system of fortifications in the Orastie mountains as a natural stronghold. Burebista notable military campaigns were:
•60-59 BC – successful against the Celts that were threatening Dacia from the north-west
•55 BC – conquered the Greek cities on the Black Sea coast, from Olbia to Apollonia
•The retreat of the Scythians to the river Don
•after 48 BC – defeated the Celts to the north-west and the south-west of Dacia
The kingdom split into smaller kingdoms after Burebista’s death. The kings reigning from Sarmizegetusa situated in the Orastie Mountains were Deceneu, Comosicus, Scorilo, and Duras.
Decebal reigned from 87 AD to 106 AD, having been given the throne from Duras. He was previously the leader nobleman of the Dacians at Tapae. He was originally called Diurpaneus, but took the name of Decebal meaning „the powerful one”. Decebal’s state was smaller than that of Burebista with the borders being the rivers Tisza in the west, Siret in the east, Danube in the south and the northern Carpathians.
The Dacian state was powerful enough to win a confrontation with the Romans during the reign of Domitian (87-89). It took a further two fierce wars during 101 -102 AD and 105-106 AD for the Roman empire under Emperor Trajan (98-117) to defeat Decebal and turn most of his kingdom into the Roman province called Dacia.