Transylvania through the age of migrations

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The history of Transylvania is particularly illusive, even though it was on the trade route from the Black Sea to Western Europe and the Apuseni mountains were the major European source of gold through from  Dacian times. There is evidence that trade continued with the Romans after their departure from the area and when the Saxons much later built their cities these were situated at the sites of earlier Dacian towns or on the trans-Carpathian trade routes.

There is a continuing debate regarding the origins of the Romanians; are they Romanised Dacians, or other Romanised peoples that moved there later, and if so, before or after the Magyars?

The map information comes mainly from "Kopeczi (1994), History of Transylvania, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Akademiai Kiado, Budapest". For interest I have included the current ethnographic regions with old Romanian folklore on the maps of migrating invaders. This could suggest that mountain peoples may have been able to share the area with the invaders.


For the Dacian period: Dacia in the Iron Age

100 AD

Dacian-Roman sites

Roman settlements

Romans 106-270
The Romans occupied the area of central and southwest Transylvania, and across the Carpathians into Oltenia. They founded cities on Dacian sites and imported colonists from far and wide, but the Roman kingdom was short lived being abandoned in 271.

A number of sites have been excavated by archaeologists dating from the Dacia and the later Roman period. The evidence is scarce, but some believe these to show a Romanised population.

200 AD

Goths and Gepids

Goths and Gepids 270-567
The Goths and Gepids were Germanic peoples from southern Scandinavia who migrated south to around the Black Sea in the C3 AD. The frequent incursions of the Ostrogoths (from modern Ukraine) and the Visigoths (from around the Danube) into the Roman Empire caused the Romans to abandon Dacia (270).

300 AD

Huns 375-453
The rule of the Goths was ended by the Huns (375), a Turkic tribe coming from the plains east of modern Russia. The Huns under the leadership of Attila were a major military force in central Europe and their rule covered much of modern Hungary and Transylvania. The Gepid leader, Ardaric, was the most favoured ally of the Huns. After Attila's death the Huns left Europe.

400 AD


The Gepids occupied the area East of the Tiza (modern Hungary) where they remained within the Hun kingdom. After the fall of the Huns they briefly ruled much of modern Romania until they were forced out by the Ostrogoths. They were subsequently crushed by the Romans and disappeared from history.

500 AD


Avars 552-796
The Avars, another Asian-Turkic tribe from the east, took control of parts of southern Russia and Eastern Europe from the Huns and Slavs. They occupied most of modern Hungary with their empire stretching from the Black Sea to the Baltic, but in the C8 their empire shrank and was finally crushed by Charlemagne (805).

600 AD


Slavs 6th century
By the C6 the Slavs were the largest European race. Their early origin is not known, but from 1AD they were thought to have lived in the marshes east of Russia.

Following the dissolution of the Hun Empire the Slavs made a rapid expansion populating modern Russia, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Romania. Little remains of Slavic Romania apart from some place names and possibly the voivode, administrative regions, of the Romanians inherited by the Magyars in Transylvania.

See also: Slav expansion, 6-7th century

700 AD

Bulgars 680
The Bulgars, a Turkic tribe from the east, having been forced from their kingdom around the Black Sea, formed the First State of Bulgaria, as rulers of the Slavs. Their kingdom covered the Danube plain to the north (modern Romania) and south (modern Bulgaria). Later the state of Bulgaria was extended further south into Thrace and Macedonia. For a brief year the Bulgarian rule extended into Transylvania.

See also: Bulgar migration 7th century

800 AD

Magyar (Hungarian) 896 AD

Five Magyar tribes and two Kun tribes entered the Danube basin in 896, settling within modern Hungary. Although these tribes had co-existed with Turkic peoples in the Steppe for a long time, their language structure is distantly related to the Ugrian peoples which includes the Finns, Estonians, and peoples of Siberia. In the following centuries the Magyars extended their rule in all directions forming the country now called Hungary after its previous rulers, the Huns.

See also: Magyar (Hungarian) migration, 9th century



Click here for: 10th AD onwards


© Eliznik2005, Last updated Dec-05