Vlachs of Serbia

Vlachs of Serbia

Ethnic group
group=Vlachs (Romanians) of Serbia "Rumâni din Sârbie"

poptime=50,000 (cens.) - 245,700 (est.)
langs=Vlach (Romanian) |rels=Predominantly Eastern Orthodox.

Vlachs (endonym: "Rumâni", Serbian: Власи or "Vlasi") are an ethnic group of Serbia, culturally and linguistically related to Romanians.

Vlachs mostly live in eastern Serbia, mainly in Timočka Krajina region (roughly corresponding to Bor and Zaječar districts), but also in Braničevo and Pomoravlje districts. Also a small Vlach population exists in Smederevo and Velika Plana (Podunavlje District), and in the municipalities of Aleksinac and Kruševac (Rasina District), as well as in the South Banat District in Vojvodina.


Although they are ethnographically and lingustically related to the Romanians, within the Vlach community there are divergences on whether they belong or not to the Romanian nation and whether their minority should be amalgamated with the Romanian minority in Vojvodina. [http://assembly.coe.int/main.asp?Link=/documents/workingdocs/doc08/edoc11528.htm "The situation of national minorities in Vojvodina and of the Romanian ethnic minority in Serbia"] , at the Council of Europe, 14 February 2008]

In a Romanian-Yugoslav agreement from the November 4 2002, the Yugoslav authorities agreed to recognize the Romanian identity of the Vlach population in Central Serbia [ [http://www.adevarul.ro/index.php?section=articole&screen=index&id=25504&search=Timoc Adevărul, 6 Noiembrie 2002] : "Prin acordul privind minoritatile, semnat, luni, la Belgrad, de catre presedintii Ion Iliescu si Voislav Kostunita, statul iugoslav recunoaste dreptul apartenentei la minoritatea romaneasca din Iugoslavia al celor aproape 120.000 de vlahi (cifra neoficiala), care traiesc in Valea Timocului, in Serbia de Rasarit."] , but the agreement wasn't applied [ [http://www.curierulnational.ro/Specializat/2003-01-25/Sa+nu-i+uitam%2C+pe+cei...+uitati Curierul Naţional, 25 ianuarie 2003] : "Chiar si acordul dintre presedintii Ion Iliescu si Voislav Kostunita, semnat la sfarsitul anului trecut, nu este respectat, in ceea ce priveste minoritatile, deoarece locuitorii din Valea Timocului, numiti vlahi, nu sunt recunoscuti ca minoritari, ci doar „grup etnic“."] . In April 2005, many deputies from the Council of Europe protested against Serbia's treatment of this population [ [http://assembly.coe.int//Mainf.asp?link=http://assembly.coe.int/Documents/WorkingDocs/Doc05/edoc10533.htm#TopOfPage Parliamentary Assembly, 28 April 2005] : "Deeply concerned over the cultural situation of the so-called “Vlach” Romanians dwelling in 154 ethnic Romanian localities 48 localities of mixed ethnic make-up between the Danube, Timok and Morava Rivers who since 1833 have been unable to enjoy ethnic rights in schools and churches"] . In March 2007, the Vlach (Romanian) organizations announced the intention to put on trial the Serbian state. [ [http://www.gardianul.ro/2007/03/21/linia_fierbinte-c5/romanii_timoceni_din_serbia_dau_in_judecata_guvernul_de_la_belgrad-s91855.html Gardianul, 21 March 2007] : Romanii timoceni din Serbia dau in judecata Guvernul de la Belgrad] In August 2007, they have been officially recognized as a national minority, and their language was recognized to be the Romanian. [ [http://www.romanialibera.ro/a103742/romanii-din-valea-timocului-recunoscuti-drept-minoritate-nationala.html România Liberă, 16 August 2007] : "Romanii din Valea Timocului, cunoscuti drept vlahi, au obtinut recunoasterea statutului de minoritate nationala. Decizia guvernului de la Belgrad inseamna, printre altele, ca limba romana ar putea fi predata in premiera in scolile din Serbia unde romanii timoceni sunt majoritari, transmite BBC, preluat de Rompres."]

Origins of Vlachs/Romanians of Northeast Serbia

The origins of the Vlachs/Romanians of northeast Serbia are not well known to most Vlachs, principally because nothing is taught about the subject in Serbian schools.

As Romance-speakers the Vlachs can relate to the Roman ruins (forts, roads, palaces, graves, baths, aqueducts, mines, half-buried cities, etc ) that are scattered in NE Serbia [ [http://www.viminacium.org.yu/,"Viminacium"] ] [Sr icon [http://www.anarheologija.org/veliki/romuliana/ "Felix Romuliana"] ] , as indeed they are throughout the entire Balkan Peninsula. Following Roman withdrawal from Dacia in the third century, much of what is now Serbia and Bulgaria was renamed Dacia Aureliana, and an undetermined number of Romanized Dacians was settled there [ Alaric Watson, Aurelian and the Third Century, Routlege, 1999.] . Strong Roman presence in the region persisted through the end of Justinian's reign in the 6th century [ William Rosen, Justinian's Flea: Plague, Empire, and the Birth of Europe, Viking Adult, 2007.] .

The Vlach region of NE Serbia was part of the 12th-13th century Bulgaro-Vlach empire of the Assens, who were themselves Vlach [ [http://members.tripod.com/~Groznijat/bulgar/wolff.html Wolff] , Robert Lee Wolff, The Second Bulgarian Empire: Its Origin and History to 1204, SpeculumVolume 24, Issue 2 , 1949.] . The chroniclers of the Crusaders describe meeting with Vlachs in the 12th and 13th century in various parts of what is now Serbia Hr iconZef Mirdita, Vlasi u historiografiji, Hrvatski institut za povijest, Zagreb 2004.] Noel Malcolm, Kosovo, A short History, University Press, NY, 1999.] . Serbian documents from the 13th and 14th century mention Vlachs, including Tsar Dushan's famous prohibition of intermarriage between Serbs and Vlachs. Fourteenth and fifteenth century Romanian (Valachian) rulers built churches in NE Serbia De icon Felix Kanitz, Serbien, Leipzig, 1868.] . Fifteenth century Turkish tax records (defters) list Vlachs in the region of Branicevo in NE Serbia, near the ancient Roman municipium and colonia of Viminacium [ Noel Malcolm, Bosnia: A short History, University Press, NY, 1994.] . The 16th-17th century warlord Baba Novac (Starina Novak), who served as Michael the Brave's general, was born in NE Serbia [ Sr icon [http://sr.wikipedia.org/sr-el/%D0%A1%D1%82%D0%B0%D1%80%D0%B8%D0%BD%D0%B0_%D0%9D%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%B0%D0%BA , Starina Novak] ] . Thus the modern descendants of all these people can be held to originate south of the Danube.

Starting in the early 18th century NE Serbia was settled by Romanians (then known by their international exonym as Vlachs) from Banat, parts of Transylvania, andOltenia. These are the Ungureni (Ungurjani), Munteni (Munćani) and Bufeni (Bufani). Today about three quarters of the Vlach population speak the Ungurean dialect. In the 19th century other groups of Romanians, originating in Oltenia, also settled south of the Danube [ Sr icon Kosta Jovanovic, Negotinska Krajina i Kljuc, Belgrade, 1940 ] . These are the Ţărani (Carani), who form some 25% of the modern population. The very name Ţărani indicates their origin in Ţara Româneasca, i.e., The Romanian Land. It should be noted that from the 15th through the 18th centuries large numbers of Serbs also migrated across the Danube, but in the opposite direction. Significant migration ended with the establishment of the kingdoms of Serbia and Rumania, respectively, in the second half of the 19th century.

The lack of detailed census records and the linguistic effects of the Ungureni and Ţărani on the entire Vlach population make it difficult to determine what fraction of the present Vlachs can trace their origins directly to the ancient south-of-the-Danube Vlachs. The Vlachs of NE Serbia form a contiguous linguistic, cultural and historic group with the Vlachs in the region of Vidin in Bulgaria.


The Vlach language spoken by the Vlachs is made out of dialects similar to the Romanian dialects from the adjunct regions of Romania: one major group of Vlachs speaks the Oltenian dialect, while that of the other major group speaks a dialect similar to the Romanian dialect of Banat.

Their language is not in use in local administration, not even in places where more the members of the minority represent more than 15% of the population. (according to Serbian law, the use of the language in local administration is allowed in places where the minority has a percentage higher than 15%).


Most Serbian Vlachs belong to the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The 2006 Serbian law on religious organizations does not recognize the Romanian Orthodox Church as a traditional church, as it received permission from the Serbian Church to operate only within Vojvodina, but not in the Timočka Krajina.. At Malajnica, a Vlach priest belonging to the Romanian Orthodox Church met deliberately raised administrative barriers in his attempt to build a church. [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/romanian/news/story/2005/09/050916_malainita.shtml "Biserica românească din Malainiţa ameninţată din nou"] , "BBC Romanian", 16 September 2005]

The relative isolation of the Vlachs has permitted the survival of various pre-Christian religious customs and beliefs that are frowned upon by the Orthodox Church. Vlach magic rituals are well known across Serbia. Like other Balkan peoples, notably the Serbs, the Vlachs celebrate the praznic (slava), though its meaning is chtonic (related to the house and farmland) rather than familial.


Vlachs are divided into many groups, each speaking their own variant:
* the Ţărani ("Serbian:" Carani)
* the Ungureni or Ungureani ("Serbian:" Ungurjani)
** Ungureni Munteni ("Serbian:" Ungurjani-Munćani), meaning: "the ungureni from the mountains"
* Bufani

Of these, the "Ungureni" of Homolje are related to the Romanians of Banat and Transylvania, since "Ungureni" (compare with the word "Hungarians") is a term used by the Romanians of Wallachia to describe their kin who once lived in provinces formerly part of the Kingdom of Hungary. The connection is evident in the similarities of dialectal phonology and folk music motifs as well as in sayings such as "Ducă-se pe Mureş" (May the Mureş take it away), a reference to the Transylvanian river.

The "Ţărani" of the Bor, Negotin and Zaječar regions are closer to Oltenia (Lesser Walachia) in their speech and music. The Ţăran saying "Nu dau un leu pe el" (He's not worth even a leu). Some Serbian historians say that it can possibly show their Romanian origin since the leu is a Romanian monetary unit. But the "leu" is the currency in Romania only after 1867. So, this speech shows a possible trade connections between Ţărani and the population of Romania that lives just across the Danube river.There has been considerable intermixing between the Ungureni and Ţărani so that a dialect has evolved sharing peculiarities of both regions.

The Bufani are immigrants from Lesser Walachia (Oltenia).

There is also a population of vlachophone (Vlach speaking) Roma centered around the village of Lukovo, as well as a few Aromanian families who live in Knjaževac, but they form a tiny migrant group.

Dushan’s prohibition [ [http://www.srpsko-nasledje.co.yu/sr-l/1998/06/article-07.html Radovan Tomasevic, Srpsko Naslede, Istorijske Sveske, 6, 1998. (in Serbian)] ] of a land-bound serf (i.e., Serb man) from marrying a Vlach woman testifies to the desire of the agriculturalists to ease their oppression by returning to the relatively freer life led by the Vlachs.


In the 2002 census 40,054 people in Serbia declared themselves ethnic Vlachs, and 54,818 people declared themselves speakers of the Vlach language.Sr icon PDFlink| [http://webrzs.statserb.sr.gov.yu/axd/Zip/SN31.pdf Official Results of Serbian Census 2002–Population by ethnic groups] |477 KiB , p. 2 and PDFlink| [http://webrzs.statserb.sr.gov.yu/axd/Zip/VJN3.pdf Official Results of Serbian Census 2002–Population by language] |441 KiB , p. 12] The Vlachs of Serbia are recognized as a minority, like the Romanians of Serbia, which number 34,576 according to the 2002 census. On the census, the Vlachs declared themselves either as Serbs, Vlachs or Romanians. Therefore, the "real" number of the people of Vlach origin could be much greater than the number of recorded Vlachs, both due to mixed marriages with Serbs and also Serbian national feeling among some Vlachs.

Historical population

The following numbers reflect on the possible number of Vlachs in the censuses:
*1816: 97,215 Romanians (10% of Serbia's population.) [Ro icon V. Arion; Vasile Pârvan; G. Vâlsan; Pericle Papahagi; G. Bogdan-Duică. "România şi popoarele balcanice" (1913). Tipografia Românească. Bucureşti, p. 22]
*1856: 104,343 Romanians [Guillaume Lejean, Ethnographie de la Turquie d'Europe, Gotha. Justus Perthes 1861]
*1859: 122,593 Romanians
*1866: 127,545 Romanians (10,5% of Serbia's population) [ [http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/
] : "1866 zählte man 1.058.189 Serben, 127.545 Rumänen, 24.607 Zigeuner, 2589 Deutsche und 3256 andere."
*1884: 149,713 Romanians
*1890: 143,684 Romanians
*1895: 159,000 Romanians (6,4% of Serbia's population) [ [http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/
] : "Fast die ganze Bevölkerung, über 2 Mill, besteht aus Serben, außerdem gab es, nach der Zählung von 1895, 159.000 Rumänen und 46.000 Zigeuner"
*1921: 159,549 Romanian-speakers in Serbia (Vojvodina is not included) [ [http://suedost.dyndns.org/data/1921_Serbien_Muttersprache.pdf Official results of the 1921 census from Serbia] ]
*1931: 57,000 Romanian/Vlach/Cincar speakers were recorded in Eastern Serbia (52,635 in the Morava Banovina and the rest in southern parts of Danube Banovina south of the Danube) Fact|date=February 2007
*1953: 198,793 Vlach-speakers in central Serbia (169,670 declared as Serbs, 29,000 as Vlachs) Fact|date=February 2007
*1961: 1,330 Vlachs
*1981: 135,000 people declared Vlach as their mother language (population figure given for the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) [Sr icon Ranko Bugarski, Jezici, Beograd, 1996.]
*1991: 71,536 Vlach-speakers in Serbia (of those 53,721 Serbs, 16,539 Vlachs, 42 Romanians; out of the 17,807 declared Vlachs, 677 Serbo-Croat-speakers) Fact|date=February 2007
*2002: 40,054 declared Vlachs, 54,818 people declared Vlach as their mother language (population figures given for entire Serbia) or 39,953 declared Vlachs, 54,726 people declared Vlach as their mother language (population figures given for Central Serbia only)Sr icon PDFlink| [http://webrzs.statserb.sr.gov.yu/axd/Zip/SN31.pdf Official Results of Serbian Census 2002–Population by ethnic groups] |477 KiB , p. 2 and PDFlink| [http://webrzs.statserb.sr.gov.yu/axd/Zip/VJN3.pdf Official Results of Serbian Census 2002–Population by language] |441 KiB , p. 12]

The Vlach (Romanian) population of Central Serbia is concentrated mostly in the region limited by Morava River (west), Danube River (north) and Timok River (south-east). See also: List of settlements in Serbia inhabited by Vlachs.

By some Romanian and Western European organizations, in eastern Serbia live around 250,000 - 400,000 [ [http://www.gardianul.ro/2007/03/27/reportaj-c9/vlahii_din_timoc_refuza_sa_renunte_la_graiul_rom_nesc-s92164.html Gardianul, 27 Mar 2007] ] [ [http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,850103,00.html Deutsche Welle, 23.4.2003] ] people of Romanian(vlach) origin.

Vlach identity

The term "Vlach" is the English transcription of the Serbian term used to describe this group ("Vlasi"), while "Roumanians" or "Romanians" is the English transcription of its Romanian counterpart ("român/rumân"). [ [http://www.ziua.net/display.php?id=147558&data=2004-05-17 Ziua.net] ] [ [http://2004.rgnpress.ro/index.php?option=com_ab_calendar&month=09&year=2004&day=02&Itemid=1 Interview with Predrag Balašević, president of the Romanian/Vlach Democratic Party of Serbia] : "We all know that we call ourselves in Romanian Romanians and in Serbian Vlachs."]

Despite their recognition as a separate ethnic group by the Serbian government, Vlachs are cognate to Romanians in the cultural and linguistic sense. Some Romanians, as well as international linguists and anthropologists, consider Serbia's Vlachs to be a subgroup of Romanians. Additionally, the Movement of Romanians-Vlachs in Serbia, which represents some Vlachs, has called for the recognition of the Vlachs as a Romanian national minority, giving them similar rights to the Romanians of Vojvodina. However most Vlachs of Eastern Serbia opt either for the Vlach, or Serb identity rather than the Romanian one.

Romania has given modest financial support to the Vlachs for the preservation of their culture and language, since at present the Vlachs' language is not recognized officially in any localities where they form a majority, there is no education in their mother tongue and there is no media or education funded by the Serbian state. Also there are no church services in Vlach. Until very recently in the regions populated by Vlachs church policy opposed the giving of non-Serbian baptismal names.

Family names of Vlachs either are or sound Serbian because from the late 19th century up to the 1918 there was an edict that all citizens of Serbia should have last names ending in -ić, the base of the name usually coming from the then father's name: Nikolić, Marković, Radulović. There are a few notable exceptions where the Vlach / Romanian origin is evident, as in Jepurović (from iepure, meaning rabbit), Florić (from floare, meaning flower) or Stangačilović (from stângaci, meaning left-handed).

On the other hand, some Vlachs consider themselves to be simply Serbs that speak the Vlach language. In fact ethnic research has found Fact|date=April 2007 that among the Serb-speaking population of Eastern Serbia, some are Slavicized Vlachs and some Vlach-speakers were formerly Slavs (such as in the village of Šljivar near Zaječar and the village of Slatina near Bor, where Serbs had been assimilated as Vlachs for centuries) or even Roma (such as in Lukovo).

Many of those Vlachs who see themselves as Serbs were historically hard-line Serbian nationalists, and many fought as volunteers on the Serbian side in the wars in Krajina and Bosnia, together with Serbs from those regions whom they saw as religious and ethnic brethren. One of the reasons why Vlachs consider Serbs to be their ethnic brethren is because many Serbs have Vlach origin. The Serbian Orthodox Church has played a large role in this. Fact|date=April 2007 In addition, during the Ottoman rule, Serbs migrated from the valleys to the mountains where they mixed with the Vlach population; thus, many present-day Serbs and Vlachs have both Slavic and Vlach ancestry.

Vlach is commonly used as a historical umbrella term for all Latin peoples in Southeastern Europe, including Romanians. In more recent usage, it is a synonym for Latin peoples south of the Danube, hence excluding Romanians. The old meaning is the origin for the modern Vlach ethnic identity, since Vlachs see themselves as descendants of those ancient Vlach peoples, and rather see Romanians as a subgroup of the Vlachs than Vlachs as a subgroup of Romanians. From the Vlach point of view, Romanians are those Vlachs who created their state of Romania and succeeded in gaining world acceptance for their own name for themselves, rather than the exonym term Vlach. In their own language Vlachs never use the term Vlach, but Rumân. They call their language "română", [Website of the [http://www.timoc.org/onamarom.htm Federaţia Rumânilor din Serbie] ] but sometimes also "rumâneşce/româneşte". Fact|date=February 2007

In some notes of the government of Serbia, officials recognise that "certainly members of this population have similar characteristics with Romanians, and the language and folklore ride to their Romanian origin. The representants of the Vlach minority sustain their Romanian origin. " [" [http://ro.altermedia.info/?p=2353 All about Romanians in Timoc] ", published 31 May 2005]

Famous Vlachs

Bojan Aleksandrovic (Boian Alexandrovici), the priest who in 2004 successfully defied the authorities to build the first Romanian Orthodox Church in eastern Serbia in the last two centuries [ [http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=654 "SERBIA: Romanian priest to pay for official destruction of his church"] ] [ Ro [http://www.rgnpress.ro/Politic/Haiducul-credintei-din-Valea-Timocului-Boian-Alexandrovici-decorat-de-presedintele-Basescu.html "Haiducul credintei din Valea Timocului, Boian Alexandrovici, decorat de presedintele Basescu"] ] .

Zoran Lilić, who was the president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia between 1993 and 1997.

Nikola Pašić (Serbian Cyrillic: Никола П. Пашић, at the time also spelled Pashitch or Pachitch), (1845 - 1926) . Pašić was born in the eastern Serbian town of Zaječar in a Vlach (Aromanian) family. His relatives lived all over Timoc Valley, in Serbia and Bulgaria and during his political career, the relatives from Bulgarian Timok, gave him sanctuary, when his political enemies banned him from Serbia. He inherited the Serbian name Pašić from his Serbian step-father. Mayor of Belgrade (1890-91 and 1897) several times prime minister of Serbia (1891-92, 1904-05, 1906-08, 1909-11, 1912-18) and prime minister of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (future Yugoslavia, 1918, 1921-24, 1924-26) he was an important politician in the Balkans, who, together with his counterparts like Eleftherios Venizelos in Greece or Ionel Brătianu in Romania, managed to strengthen their small, national states against strong foreign influences, most notably those of Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Russia. Fellow politicians nick-named him "The Father of Yugoslavia".

ee also

*Romanians of Serbia
*Romanians in Bulgaria
*History of the term Vlach


* [http://www.melnica.com/Vlasi.htm Vlasi... ko su, sta su i odakle poticu ?] (Serbian language)
* Viorel Dolha - Totul despre românii din Timoc ( [http://ro.altermedia.info/cealalta-romanie/totul-despre-romanii-din-timoc-i_2231.html I] , [http://ro.altermedia.info/?p=2256 II] , [http://ro.altermedia.info/?p=2283 III] , [http://ro.altermedia.info/?p=2311 IV] , [http://ro.altermedia.info/?p=2328 V] , [http://ro.altermedia.info/?p=2353 VI] ) (Romanian language)

External links

* [http://www.muzej-mpek.org.yu/forum.vlasi.srbije/index.php Romanians-Vlachs of Serbia]
* [http://www.timoc.org/indexe.htm The Vlach (Roumanian) Federation of Serbia]
* [http://www.muzej-mpek.org.yu/home.htm Museum of Majdanpek]
* [http://www.kulturavlaha.org/area_list.php?lang=en MP3 recordings of Vlach speech]
* [http://content.answers.com/main/content/wp/en/3/38/Romanian_Ethnogenesis.jpgRomanian Ethnogenesis]
* [http://www.eliznik.org.uk/RomaniaHistory/Vlach-serbia.htm Maps of Vlachs in north-east Serbia]
* [http://www.ipak.org/vlachs/abstract.html The Vlachs in Yugoslavia and their magic]
* [http://www.absolutearts.com/artsnews/2003/09/15/31361.html The Vlach gardens of Eastern Serbia]
* [http://www.banatul.com/info/banat-history-romanians-in-serbia.shtml/ Report on the State of Human Rights of Rumanians and Vlachs in Serbia]
* [http://members3.boardhost.com/homolje Where the Vlachs of Homolje gather]

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