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Map of Romania with Oltenia highlighted


Oltenia (Lesser Wallachia in antiquated versions, with the alternate Latin names Wallachia Minor, Wallachia Alutana, Wallachia Caesarea in use between 1718 and 1739) is a historical province and geographical region of Romaniamarker, in western Wallachia. It is situated between the Danube, the Southern Carpathiansmarker and the Olt river (although counties to the east run across the river in Muntenia in some areas). The name "Oltenia" comes from the Latin word Altina, meaning "The Latins". The base of the word, "Alt", gives the name of the river Olt. The symbols of Oltenia are a Lion and the colour blue. This is because blue was the colour of the ancient Legio XIII Gemina, the main roman legion stationed in Dacia. The symbol of this legendary unit was the Lion. The Lion is represented in the Coat of Arms of Romaniamarker, the city of Târgu Jiumarker and Drobeta-Turnu Severinmarker as well as of the county Dolj.

Geography

The counties comprised by Oltenia
The river Olt separates Oltenia from Muntenia
Oltenia entirely includes the counties: and parts of the counties:

Oltenia's main city and its seat for a long period of the Middle Ages is Craiovamarker.

Complete list of towns from Oltenia

City

County

Population
Craiovamarker Dolj 302,601
Râmnicu Vâlceamarker Vâlcea 107,656
Drobeta-Turnu Severinmarker Mehedinţi 104,035
Târgu Jiumarker Gorj 96,562
Caracalmarker Olt 34,603
Motrumarker Gorj 25,860
Balşmarker Olt 23,147
Drăgăşanimarker Vâlcea 22,499
Băileştimarker Dolj 22,231
Corabiamarker Olt 21,932
Calafatmarker Dolj 21,227
Filiaşimarker Dolj 20,159
Orşovamarker Mehedinţi 15,379
Dăbulenimarker Dolj 13,888
Scorniceşti Olt 13,751
Drăgăneşti-Oltmarker Olt 13,181
Rovinari Gorj 12,603
Strehaiamarker Mehedinţi 12,564
Bumbeşti-Jiumarker Dolj 11,882
Băbeni Vâlcea 9,475
Târgu Cărbuneştimarker Gorj 9,338
Călimăneştimarker Vâlcea 8,923
Segarcea Dolj 8,704
Turcenimarker Gorj 8,550
Brezoimarker Vâlcea 7,589
Tismanamarker Gorj 7,578
Horezumarker Vâlcea 7,446
Vânju Maremarker Mehedinţi 7,074
Piatra Oltmarker Olt 6,583
Novacimarker Gorj 6,151
Potcoavamarker Olt 6,111
Bălceşti Vâlcea 5,780
Baia de Aramămarker Mehedinţi 5,724
Berbeştimarker Vâlcea 5,704
Ţiclenimarker Gorj 5,205
Băile Olăneştimarker Vâlcea 4,814
Bechetmarker Dolj 3,864
Ocnele Marimarker Vâlcea 3,591
Băile Govoramarker Vâlcea 3,147


History

Initially inhabited by Dacians, Oltenia was incorpored in the Roman Empire (106, at the end of the Dacian Wars; see Roman Dacia). In 129, during Hadrian's rule, it formed Dacia Inferior, one of the two divisions of the province (together with Dacia Superior, in today's Transylvania); Marcus Aurelius' administrative reform made Oltenia one of the three new divisions (tres Daciae) as Dacia Malvensis, its capital and chief city being named Romula. It was colonized with veterans of the Roman legions. The Romans withdrew their administration south of the Danube in the mid-3rd century and Oltenia was ruled by the Germanic Goths. In the late 4th century it came under the rule of the Taifals before invasion by the Huns. From 681, with some interruptions, it was part of the Bulgarian Empire (see Bulgarian lands across the Danube).

Around 1247 a polity emerged in Oltenia under the rule of Litovoi, which would later included in Muntenia (the mediaeval state of Wallachia). From an unknown moment and up until 1831, the voivode (Prince of Wallachia) was represented in Oltenia by a ban (marele ban al Craiovei - "the great ban of Craiova", after the seat was moved from Strehaiamarker), considered the greatest office in Wallachian hierarchy, and one that was held most by members of the Craioveşti family (from the late 1400s to about 1550).

During the 15th century, Wallachia had to accept the Ottoman suzerainty and to pay an annual tribute to keep its autonomy. From the Craioveşti-family, many bans cooperated with the Turks. However, many rulers, including the Oltenian-born Michael the Brave, fought against the Ottomans, giving Wallachia brief periods of independence. After 1716, the Ottomans decided to cease choosing the voivodes from among the Wallachian boyars, and established the Phanariote regime.

Two years later, in 1718 under the terms of the Treaty of Passarowitz, Oltenia was split from Wallachia and annexed by the Habsburg Monarchy (de facto, it was under Austrian occupation by 1716); in 1737, it was returned to Wallachia under Prince Constantine Mavrocordatos (see Austro-Turkish War of 1716-18 and Austro-Turkish War, 1737-1739). Under the occupation, Oltenia was the only part of the Danubian Principalities (with the later exception of Bukovina) to experience Enlightened absolutism and Austrian administration, although these were met by considerable and mounting opposition from conservative boyars. While welcomed at first as liberators, the Austrians quickly disenchanted the inhabitants by imposing rigid administrative, fiscal, judicial and political reforms which were meant to centralize and integrate the territory (antagonizing both ends of the social spectrum: withdrawing privileges from the nobility and enforcing taxes for peasants).

In 1761, the residence of Bans was moved to Bucharestmarker, in a move towards centralism (a kaymakam represented the boyars in Craiova). It remained there until the death of the last Ban, Barbu Văcărescu, in 1832.

In 1821, Oltenia and the county of Gorj were at the center of Tudor Vladimirescu's uprising (see Wallachian uprising of 1821). Tudor initially gathered his Pandurs in Padeşmarker and relied on a grid of fortified monasteries such as Tismanamarker and Strehaia.

Symbol

The traditional heraldic symbol of Oltenia, also understood as representing Banat, is nowadays present in the Coat of Arms of Romania (lower dexter): on gules field, an or lion rampant, facing dexter, holding a sword, and standing over an or bridge and stylised waves.

References

  • Vlad Georgescu, Istoria ideilor politice româneşti (1369-1878), Munich, 1987
  • Neagu Djuvara, Între Orient şi Occident. Ţările române la începutul epocii moderne, Humanitas, Bucharest, 1995
  • Constantin C. Giurescu, Istoria Bucureştilor. Din cele mai vechi timpuri pînă în zilele noastre, Ed. Pentru Literatură, Bucharest, 1966, p.93
  • Şerban Papacostea, Oltenia sub stăpânirea austriacă (1718-1739), Bucharest, 1971, p.59



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