Basarab Defeats the Hungarians Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Basarab, prince of Walachia, defeated the Hungarians and established the resurgence of the indigenous Walachian people. Ongoing strife between Hungary and the Danubian principalities ultimately weakened both and made them vulnerable to Turkish conquest.

Summary of Event

Dacia, the area of southeastern Europe that was later to become part of modern Romania, was by the first century part of the Roman Empire, although it was later overrun by the Goths and other barbarian tribes that caused the Romans to abandon the Dacian colony in 271. The original inhabitants of this area north of the Danube, thought to be Romanized Dacians, were driven out of their original homeland by these invaders. Their territory was settled by Slavic tribes, Bulgars, Avars, and, at the end of the ninth century, by the Magyars (Hungarians) and other tribes from central Asia. The Daco-Romans (later Romanians) disappeared from history for nearly a millennium, then reappeared as Vlachs, although south of their original homeland, around the eleventh century. [kw]Basarab Defeats the Hungarians (November, 1330) [kw]Hungarians, Basarab Defeats the (November, 1330) Hungary Walachians Basarab I Romania;Nov., 1330: Basarab Defeats the Hungarians[2750] Expansion and land acquisition;Nov., 1330: Basarab Defeats the Hungarians[2750] Government and politics;Nov., 1330: Basarab Defeats the Hungarians[2750] Wars, uprisings, and civil unrest;Nov., 1330: Basarab Defeats the Hungarians[2750] Basarab I Charles I (1288-1342)

Although contemporary sources are scanty, it is thought that at least a sizable segment of the Daco-Roman native population retreated into the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania, where they retained their language and culture, while the flatlands were settled by Slavs, Hungarians, Cumans, and Tatars. The extent to which this is true is still a matter of controversy between Romanians and Hungarians.

The geographical area now known as Romania formed a part of the Second Bulgarian (or Bulgaro-Vlach) Empire Bulgarian Empire, Second of the tenth and eleventh centuries, although whether Romanians made up the leadership of that empire is open to controversy. Although nominally Christianized, it was from their early contact with the Bulgarians that the Romanians were exposed to the Eastern Orthodox form of religion.

Around the end of the thirteenth century, the people now known as Romanians Romanians reappeared in Walachia, driven eastward and southward from the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania because of religious persecution by the Catholic Hungarians and expropriation of their lands by Hungarian feudal lords. The fact that the Hungarians were still recovering from the terrible Mongol invasion of 1241, however, gave the Romanians some opportunity to rediscover their national identity. By the fourteenth century, the Walachians and Moldavians, who were excluded from the cities founded by the Hungarian kings, were increasingly dissatisfied with the political and religious climate of their Magyar suzerains. They chose the Byzantine model for church and state in preference to that of the Catholic Hungarians, a model that was Eastern Orthodox, with an absolute monarch and dynastic succession. This autocratic power eventually became subject to abuse, since there were no rival estates that could limit the power of the ruler, who often rewarded his favorites at the expense of the peasant population.

The landowners of the territory south of the Carpathians chose Basarab, a prince of the district of Arges, to serve as grand voivode (military leader) and prince. Basarab had gained recognition for his battles against the Mongol Tatars, although he was nominally a vassal of the Hungarian crown. The Basarab Dynasty, founded by Prince Basarab I, derived from the title of the prince as voivode. His status was that of sole landowner, military leader, and chief ruler and lawmaker.

Basarab unified the area between the Carpathians and the Danube, and later the area north of the Danube as well, subsequently called Bessarabia after the Basarab Dynasty. Basarab I’s capital was at Cimpulung (Arges), which became his dynastic seat. His son and successor, Nicholas Alexander Nicholas Alexander , continued to strengthen the dynasty and in the 1350’s was the founder of the Princely Church at Curtea de Arges, which under patriarchal approval became the Eastern Orthodox metropolitan church for Walachia, thus confirming Walachia’s status as a principality.

Perhaps a further factor that provided the Romanians with a national goal was the development of the Danubian trade route that extended from the Black Sea north through Walachia to Transylvania and the Adriatic Sea. This Danubian trade, and the taxes and tolls exacted from the mainly foreign merchant traders, enabled the Walachian state and its rulers to become relatively wealthy by the middle of the fourteenth century.

In Hungary, after the extinction of the native Árpád Dynasty Árpád Dynasty in 1301 and a disputatious interregnum until 1310, the Angevin Dynasty Angevin Dynasty was established, with the election of Charles I (later Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor) Charles IV (Holy Roman Emperor) . As king, Charles succeeded in ending the anarchy that had preceded his reign and in restoring the power of the Crown against the demands of the aristocracy. Charles founded his capital at Visegrad in 1323, a year that marked his resumption of full control over Hungary. As a ruler, Charles was providential and careful, which contributed to the increasing power of Hungary during the Angevin reign.

At this time, Hungary included not only all the Danubian basin to the crests of the Carpathian Mountains, but also Walachia, northern Serbia, Bosnia, and the coast of Dalmatia.

In November, 1330, Charles invaded the domains of Basarab I in Walachia in order to reestablish Hungarian supremacy over Walachia, hoping to profit by Basarab’s military reversals with his allies, the Bulgarians, who had recently been defeated by the Serbians at Velbuzhd. Although Basarab tried to buy off the Hungarian king with an indemnity of seven thousand silver marks, Charles refused. At Posada, Posada, Battle of (1330) a pass in the southern Carpathians, however, Charles was defeated by Basarab and barely escaped with his life. In spite of this victory, only a few years later Walachia again became a dependency of Hungary, only achieving full independence from Hungary in 1380.


After the Battle of Posada, both nations continued to expand under the leadership of subsequent members of their respective dynasties. The Hungarians, under Charles’s son, Louis I the Great Louis I the Great (king of Hungary) (r. 1342-1382), pursued an aggressive foreign policy against neighboring states, particularly the Venetian Republic and the Balkans, and yet the country enjoyed the benefits of domestic peace and stability. Prosperity was assured from the great mining wealth from the gold mines of Transylvania, which were mined largely by German Saxons invited by the Hungarian king. In contrast to the nobility, who held their estates as a hereditary elite, the lands newly conquered became the sole property of the king. These he used to establish a court aristocracy of his own supporters, as well as to build up a large treasury for the royal household. This social environment of wealth and privilege had a further effect of increasing the level of literacy and written documentation in Hungary at this time.

The principality of Walachia, under the Basarab Dynasty, together with the neighboring emerging principality of Moldavia, also continued to develop, although the advent of the Turks in the Balkans became an increasing threat, particularly after they defeated the Serbians and Bulgarians at the Battle of Marica Marica, Battle of (1371) in 1371. These Danubian principalities, with a large peasant population, a small boyar class under the authority of the voivode, and a disfranchised and landless class of Gypsy (Roma) and Tatar slaves, continued to be coveted by the Hungarians. Nevertheless, after the Battle of Kosovo Kosovo, Battle of (1389) in Serbia in 1389 and the fall of Bulgaria in 1393, Walachia also became an object of the Turkish sultan’s interest. In 1394, the Turks invaded Walachia, causing the voivode Mircea the Old Mircea the Old (r. 1386-1418) to seek refuge with the Hungarians in Transylvania, and enabling a rival boyar to gain his throne. From 1395, the Walachians began to pay a financial tribute to the Ottoman Turks. Although the Hungarians were not defeated by the Turks until 1526, the proximity of the Danubian principalities as Turkish vassals represented an enduring threat, and it influenced the desire of the subsequent Hungarian rulers to wage crusades against the Ottoman Empire.

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Boia, Lucian. Romania: Borderland of Europe. Translated by James Christian Brown. London: Reaktion Books, 2001. A comprehensive history of Romania from the Middle Ages through the twentieth century.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Castellan, Georges. A History of the Romanians. Boulder, Colo.: East European Monographs, 1989. A survey of Romanian history. Chapters 2 and 3 treat the origins and early development of the Romanians.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Chirot, Daniel. Social Change in a Peripheral Society: The Creation of a Balkan Colony. New York: Academic Press, 1976. A monograph describing the importance of Walachia’s location as a trading colony on the Danube to the area’s development.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Engel, Pál. The Realm of St. Stephen: A History of Medieval Hungary, 895-1526. Translated by Tamás Pálosfalvi. Edited by Andrew Ayton. New York: I. B. Tauris, 2001. An extensive study of the history of medieval Hungary. Includes a chapter on Charles I. Explores the economic, social, political, cultural, and military history of the Magyars. Written especially for readers with little or no knowledge of the region and time period. Maps, tables, bibliography, index.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Georgescu, Vlad. The Romanians: A History. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1991. A survey of Romanian history by a Romanian historian. Chapter 2 covers the Middle Ages.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Papacostea, Serban. Between the Crusade and the Mongol Empire: The Romanians in the Thirteenth Century. Translated by Liviu Bleoca. Cluj-Napoca, Romania: Center for Transylvanian Studies/Romanian Cultural Foundation, 1998. An in-depth study of the period leading up to the Romanians’s entrance into Walachia.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Seton-Watson, R. W. A History of the Roumanians: From Roman Times to the Completion of Unity. New York: Archon Books, 1963. Originally published in 1934, this work is a standard historical text on the formation of the Romanian nation-state.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Sugar, Peter F., ed. A History of Hungary. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990. Chapter 5, written by Pal Angel, covers the age of the Angevins, 1301-1382.

Categories: History