VI. The Vlachs
4. History of the Vlachs
The balance of evidence goes to show that before the sixth century Macedonia had largely lost its earlier veneer of Hellenism. Amid the ceaseless inroads of the barbarians such portion of the original Thracian and Macedonian population as survived must have been that which grouped itself around the Latin-speaking military stations and colonies, and while augmenting their population adopted their idiom. During the annual raids of the barbarians, this Roman element must have been uprooted and swept hither and thither by the barbarian flood. Whole colonies of provincials were dragged about in the train of these tremendous migrations. There is, for example, one authentic instance in which a Roman colony from the cities of Southern Illyria was dragged by the Avars beyond the River Save. There it remained for seventy years, but revolted and returned across the Balkans to settle in the country inland from Salonica.  How far these Roman colonies were really Italian in blood is doubtful. We know, for example, that Trajan's colonies in the Danubian provinces, to which the Roumans of Roumania love to trace their origin, were drawn from every quarter of the Roman world save Italy. Originally they must have been largely composed of Syrians and Illyrians, but the official language was apparently familiar enough to impose itself not only on these mixed colonies of veterans but even on their wives, their slaves and the refugees who would probably join them. Their nomadic and pastoral habits were doubtless adopted more from necessity than choice. They could only maintain themselves against the Barbarians and the Slavs on their mountain-tops, and there a settled agricultural life was manifestly impossible. During their struggle for existence their Latin civilisation disappeared, while the Latin tongue persisted as the language of the home. It is easier to understand the success of the Vlachs in maintaining their identity when one remembers that for three hundred years
1. See Dr. A. J. Evans' article, "Vlachs," in the "Encyclopaedia Britannica."
during the Middle Ages they maintained some political independence in
Great Wallachia, which extended at one time not merely over Thessaly but
also over the greater part of Southern Macedonia (see Chapter IV., p. 97
footnote). Their dealings at this period must have brought them into much
more intimate association with the Slavs than with the Greeks. The Greek
influence which has partially Hellenised the Vlachs of Macedonia to-day
can hardly date from before the Turkish conquest. It is the work not of
the Byzantine Empire but of the modern Church, and seems to have reached
its height during the eighteenth century.
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