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Turks of Romania

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Turks of Romania
Total population
28,226 (2011 census)[1]
est. 55,000[2] to 80,000[3]
Regions with significant populations
Distribution of Turks in Romania (2002 census)
Distribution of Turks in Romania (2002 census)

The Turks of Romania, also known as Romanian Turks, (Turkish: Romanya Türkleri, Romanian: Turcii din România) are ethnic Turks who form an ethnic minority in Romania. According to the 2011 census, there were 28,226 Turks living in the country, forming a minority of some 0.15% of the population.[1] Of these, 81.1% were recorded in the Dobruja region of the country's southeast, near the Black Sea, in the counties of Constanța (21,014) and Tulcea (1,891), with a further 8.5% residing in the national capital Bucharest (2,388).[4]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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Brothers Vlad and Radu, sons of the former Wallachian prince Vlad II Dracul, grew up in the Ottoman court as princely hostages, educated in the same Muslim spirit as their friend, young Mehmed II, the future Ottoman Sultan. As he matured, Vlad served with distinction with the elite Janissaries and was praised for his soldierly qualities, but his roughness and fearless resistance to becoming a Muslim made him subject to brutal punishments. Vlad hasn't forgotten this even years after he deserted the Ottoman court to join the Hungarian ranks. Wishing to dominate the last increment of the Danube River, the crescent of Islam clashes with the cross of Christianity at Belgrade, in July of 1456. Led by Sultan Mehmed II, the Ottomans are defeated and forced to make a humiliating retreat. But after years of conflict the Hungarian army also suffers great losses in men and materials. This creates a window of opportunity for young Vlad. Placed in charge of protecting the Transylavian border by the Hungarian king, Vlad uses his position to exploit the military power vacuum left by the decimated armies and marches into Wallachia ahead of a small mercenary force, but is soon opposed by the incumbent Vladislav II near Targsor. The two leaders choose to decide the battle with a knightly duel and, amidst cheers from the two armies, Vlad wins the duel and kills Vladislav, then proceeds to march unopposed to the Wallachian capital of Targoviste. There, he crowns himself as voivode of Wallachia in August 1456. His divine right to the throne is confirmed the following night by a spectacular comet in the night sky. Wasting no time, Vlad hires his own uniformed mercenary army and moves to consolidate his power, and reform the country. He enforces taxes on the boyars, who were previously all but free from taxation. Furthermore, he eliminates those plotting to kill him, and even goes after powerful boyars responsible for the killing of his father and brother. Their estates are confiscated and given to the peasants who, in exchange, are to be trained during post-harvest months for military service. Vlad rids Wallachia of people who "pollute" the land. Thieves are impaled, beggars, homeless and the plague-infested are burned alive in barns. In Vlad's opinion, they "depart earthly sufferings for a better afterlife". He further centralizes his realm by building fortresses and churches and expands the capital of Targoviste, and other cities. He also creates a princely Order by naming best soldiers Viteaz (meaning "Brave"). These knights become the new nobility who support only Vlad. He undertakes road construction to enhance domestic and international trade revenue. Gives subsidies to handymen to open their businesses and encourages the middle class with partial tax exemption. Installs customs posts at the borders, forcing foreign merchants to pay taxes when traveling through or doing business in Wallachia, which greatly enriches the treasury. For all intents and purposes Vlad rules his realm with confidence and an iron fist and he soon goes after his rivals. By 1458, Vlad's Wallachian army beings raiding Saxon-dominated Transylvania, bringing carnage to communities which shelter many of Vlad's rivals to the crown. He orders suspected traitors to be impaled in full view of the residents and attempts to burn the monumental Black Church of Brasov. He also regains posession of Bran Castle, once owned by his grandfather. Needless to say, by 1460 the Saxon establishment in Transylvania is furious, but their bitter complaints about Vlad's cruelty fall on deaf ears of King Matthias. The unhappy merchants seek their own justice by deciding to eliminate the Wallachian voivode and replace him with Dan III, one of the men behind the murder of Vlad's father and brother. But it soon proves to be a doomed venture as Vlad gets word of their operation and ambushes their army. Again rising to the occasion, Vlad humiliates Dan III in a spectacular duel. Then, he forces him to dig his own grave in full view of his men, before he is decapitated and his followers impaled. Further raids into duchies which refused Vlad's rule, lead to the massacre of tens of thousands of civilians. And by now the greatly displeased King Matthias realizes that his Transylvanian province is threatened. An agreement is reached with Vlad. The Saxons agree to return all of Vlad's rivals and dissidents , pay 15,500 forints and supply soldiers. In exchange Vlad promises to stop the Ottomans from entering Transylvania. With most of his rivals dead and his northwestern border secured, the Wallachian voivode projects his power further by building a new Wallachian capital closer to the Danube. Located in the marshes of the Dambovita river, Bucharest is surrounded by natural moats infested with leeches, snakes and mosquitoes, good natural deterrents for any invading army. From his new capital Vlad hopes to unite all Wallachians into one kingdom and, confident of his power, he provides military aid to Prince Stefan who is attempting to take the throne of Moldavia, dutifully keeping the oath of loyalty he had given to his cousin. In response to Vlad's collaboration with Stefan, a fast moving Ottoman force embarks on a campaign of pillage and rape in southern Wallachia. After their raid, the Ottoman retreat is slowed by the plunder and prisoners. Before they can reach the Danube, the Ottomans are intercepted by Vlad's cavalry. Only a few Turks live to cross the Danube and tell the tale. Considering the Ottoman raid to be a violation of the treaty he has with Sultan Mehmed , Vlad refuses to pay yearly tribute and to pledge vassalage. Now he faces the mighty Ottoman army, but he hopes that the crusade called by Pope Pious against the Ottomans will relieve some of the pressure on Wallachia. But with European Kingdoms embroiled in intrigue and warfare against each other , hardly anyone commits to the Christian cause, and by 1461 the Pope's call for a crusade rings hollow. Left to face the Ottomans alone, Vlad agrees to pay tribute and to send young boys to be trained as Janissaries. Around this time, one of Vlad's most trusted and valuable allies, Michael Szilágyi, is captured in Bulgaria by the Ottomans. Considered to be a spy, he is brought to Constantinople where he is tortured and eventually sawed in half. Soon after, a 10,000-strong Ottoman contingent enters Wallachia to collect the tribute and the new recruits , lead by the commander of Nicopolis, Hamza Pasha. Seeing the large force, Vlad suspects that Hamza's real mission is to capture him. The Wallachian voivode reacts and attacks the approaching Ottoman contingent with full force, decimating them down to a man. He impales thousands of dead Turks around Targoviste and sends Hamza's head in a jar to King Matthias as proof of the Wallachian commitment to fight the Ottomans, but despite this he receives no reply and no help from the Hungarian king. Vlad spends the rest of 1461 training his army for war and fortifies Bucuresti with heavy palisades and brick bastions , installing cannons along the fortification perimeter. Aware that Mehmed's armies are fighting in Anatolia, Vlad prepares to raid Ottoman territory. And in early 1462, while on route to cross the frozen Danube, Wallachian cavalry stops not far from Giurgiu, one of the strongest heavily fortified northern Ottoman military bases. Dressed as a high ranking Ottoman official ahead of his entourage, Vlad approaches the fortress on a snowy day and, speaking in perfect Turkish, orders the garrison commander to open the gates. The sentries let him in , believing he must be an important official as he is traveling with many bodyguards. Upon entering, Vlad's men silence the sentries and open the gates wide for the rest of the Wallachian cavalry to rush in and take over the fortress . They slaughter the Ottoman garrison and set their quarters ablaze after looting them . What followed next would fuel the legend of "Vlad the Impaler". Over the next two weeks his cavalrymen engage in raids that cover 800km (500miles) along the frozen Danube, all the way to the Black sea. Aiming to destroy bridgeheads that the Ottomans use to cross into Wallachia, Vlad's army sacks Ottoman and other non-Christian settlements on the Bulgarian Danube riverbank, and continue to raid south into Ottoman territory over the next few months . For the Wallachians living in Bulgaria since Dacian times, these are blessed days. At least for a time they regained their freedom from the Ottoman yoke. Countless numbers of them join the fight , either seeking revenge or because they believe in Vlad's mission. The news spreads like wildfire about the carnage left in the wake of Vlad's mini-crusade. The Wallachian voivode now hopes that more Christians will rally to his banner to fight off the mighty Ottomans... Big thanks to Calin Cretu, the coolest Romanian ever, for helping us with pronunciations.



Turkic settlement has a long history in the Dobruja region, various groups such as Bulgars, Pechenegs, Cumans and Turkmen settling in the region between the 7th and 13th centuries, and probably contributing to the formation of a Christian autonomous polity in the 14th century. An important event in the history of the Turkish population was however the Ottoman conquest of the region in the early 15th century. Hence, by the 17th century most of the settlements in Dobruja had Turkish names, either due to colonisations[5] or through assimilation of the Islamised pre-Ottoman Turkic populations. In the nineteenth century, Turks and Tatars were more numerous in Dobruja than the Romanians.[6]

Turks (dark purple) in Northern Dobruja (1903)
Turks (dark purple) in Northern Dobruja (1903)
Demographic history in Dobruja
Ethnicity 1880[7] 1899[7] 1913[8] 19301[9] 1956[10] 1966[10] 1977[10] 1992[10] 2002[10]
All 139,671 258,242 380,430 437,131 593,659 702,461 863,348 1,019,766 971,643
Romanian 43,671 (31%) 118,919 (46%) 216,425 (56.8%) 282,844 (64.7%) 514,331 (86.6%) 622,996 (88.7%) 784,934 (90.9%) 926,608 (90.8%) 883,620 (90.9%)
Bulgarian 24,915 (17%) 38,439 (14%) 51,149 (13.4%) 42,070 (9.6%) 749 (0.13%) 524 (0.07%) 415 (0.05%) 311 (0.03%) 135 (0.01%)
Turkish 18,624 (13%) 12,146 (4%) 20,092 (5.3%) 21,748 (5%) 11,994 (2%) 16,209 (2.3%) 21,666 (2.5%) 27,685 (2.7%) 27,580 (2.8%)
Tatar 29,476 (21%) 28,670 (11%) 21,350 (5.6%) 15,546 (3.6%) 20,239 (3.4%) 21,939 (3.1%) 22,875 (2.65%) 24,185 (2.4%) 23,409 (2.4%)
Russian-Lipovan 8,250 (6%) 12,801 (5%) 35,859 (9.4%) 26,210 (6%)² 29,944 (5%) 30,509 (4.35%) 24,098 (2.8%) 26,154 (2.6%) 21,623 (2.2%)
(Ukrainian from 1956)
455 (0.3%) 13,680 (5%) 33 (0.01%) 7,025 (1.18%) 5,154 (0.73%) 2,639 (0.3%) 4,101 (0.4%) 1,465 (0.1%)
Dobrujan Germans 2,461 (1.7%) 8,566 (3%) 7,697 (2%) 12,023 (2.75%) 735 (0.12%) 599 (0.09%) 648 (0.08%) 677 (0.07%) 398 (0.04%)
Greek 4,015 (2.8%) 8,445 (3%) 9,999 (2.6%) 7,743 (1.8%) 1,399 (0.24%) 908 (0.13%) 635 (0.07%) 1,230 (0.12%) 2,270 (0.23%)
Roma 702 (0.5%) 2,252 (0.87%) 3,263 (0.9%) 3,831 (0.88%) 1,176 (0.2%) 378 (0.05%) 2,565 (0.3%) 5,983 (0.59%) 8,295 (0.85%)


Hunchiar Mosque in Constanța, built in 1867–1868 by Ottoman sultan Abd-ul-Aziz
Hunchiar Mosque in Constanța, built in 1867–1868 by Ottoman sultan Abd-ul-Aziz
Ottoman clock tower in Giurgiu
Ottoman clock tower in Giurgiu

The majority of Turks live in the historical region of Northern Dobruja (Turkish: Dobruca), particularly in Constanța County, where they number 21,014 and make up 3.3% of the population, Tulcea County with 1,891 (0.94%) and Bucharest with 2,388 (0.14%). Dobromir, a commune in Constanța County, is the only one in Romania with a Turkish majority (61.93%). As an officially recognised ethnic minority, Turks have one seat reserved for them in the Romanian Chamber of Deputies, which has been held by the Democratic Turkish Union of Romania since 1992. An important Turkish community also used to live until 1970 on the island of Ada Kaleh.

After 1989, a significant number of Turkish entrepreneurs started investing and establishing business ventures in Romania, and a certain proportion chose to take up residence in Romania. Unofficial sources estimate there are 12 thousand Turkish citizens in Bucharest.[11]

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ a b National Institute of Statistics 2011, 10.
  2. ^ Phinnemore 2006, 157.
  3. ^ Constantin, Goschin & Dragusin 2008, 59.
  4. ^ National Institute of Statistics 2011, 6.
  5. ^ Brozba 2010, 48
  6. ^ Boia 2001, 20.
  7. ^ a b G. Dănescu, Dobrogea (La Dobroudja). Étude de Géographie physique et ethnographique
  8. ^ Roman, I. N. (1919). "La population de la Dobrogea. D'apres le recensement du 1er janvier 1913". In Demetrescu, A (ed.). La Dobrogea Roumaine. Études et documents (in French). Bucarest. OCLC 80634772.
  9. ^ Calculated from results of the 1930 census per county, taken from Mănuilă, Sabin (1939). La Population de la Dobroudja (in French). Bucarest: Institut Central de Statistique. OCLC 1983592.
  10. ^ a b c d e Calculated from statistics for the counties of Tulcea and Constanţa from "Populaţia după etnie la recensămintele din perioada 1930–2002, pe judete" (PDF) (in Romanian). Guvernul României — Agenţia Naţională pentru Romi. pp. 5–6, 13–14. Retrieved 2007-05-02.
  11. ^ Turci at Noile minorități din București
  12. ^ "Activitate parlamentară Fedbi Osman".
  13. ^ "Activitate CJC Fedbi Osman".


External links

This page was last edited on 6 November 2019, at 19:20
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