BY NICOLAE DENSUSIANU
A Masterwork of the history of ancient Romania. Several of us here at POK are big fans of this work so have a page to share
this, which is a free .PDF on another site.
CLICK HERE: https://archive.org/details/PREHISTORICDACIA
NICOLAE DENSUSIANU, his life and work.
PREFACE TO PREHISTORIC DACIA by Dr. C. I. Istrati
Nicolae Densusianu(1846 – 1911) was born at Densus, a little Romanian village in Transylvania, (at that time part of the Austro –Hungarian empire), not far from Sarmisegetuza, later Ulpia Traiana, the former capital of Dacia (TN – today Romania).
His was an old Romanian family, Pop de Hateg, and his father Bizantius, was the priest of the village. He grew up therefore in a Romanian cultural environment, although stifled by persecution,lack of freedom of speech and suppression of their mother language, Romanian. He took his law degree at the University of Sibiu in 1872, after which he practiced law at Fagaras, then Brasov. In 1877, at the beginning of the Russo -Turkish war (in which Romania played such a significant role in obtaining the victory and her freedom from the Turkish yoke),he resigned, migrated to Romania and received Romanian citizenship.
At Bucharest he worked first at the Court of Appeal, and became a member of the nationalistic movement. He published in French “L’element Latin en orient. Les Roumains du Sud: Macedoine, Thessalie, Epire, Thrace, Albanie, avec une carte ethnographique”(TN – The Latin element in the east. The southern Romanians: Macedonia, Thessaly, Epirus, Thrace, Albania, with an ethnographic map).
In 1878 he received a commission from the Romanian Academy to research and collect historical documents in the libraries and archives of Hungary (Budapest) and Transylvania (Cluj, Alba-Iulia and Brasov). It took him 15 months to complete this task, during which he discovered hundreds of original documents, manuscripts, chronicles, treaties, manifests, old drawings, paintings and facsimiles. For his extraordinary contribution, he was elected in 1880 member correspondent of the Academy, in the historical section, and was offered the position of librarian – archivist. Nevertheless, he was very poorly paid and lived almost in poverty, until 1884 when he received the position of translator for the Army General Staff. In 1884 he published “The revolution of Horia in Transylvania and Hungary, 1784-1785,written on the basis of 783 official documents”, banned in Hungary, work which was the last wordin documenting the terrible tragedy of that section of our national population, the uprising which had preceded the French revolution.
In 1885 he published “Monuments for the history of the country of Fagaras” treating in detail the real ancient history of theRomanians of Transylvania, compared to their present situation, under Austro-Hungarian rule. He deplored the fact “that once falsehood is introduced in history, it is very difficult to uproot it and even to discover it”.
During this same year he started work on his great masterpiece Prehistoric Dacia, and, in order to gather material for it, he departed in 1887 on a scientific trip towards Italy. He passed through Croatia, where he studied in the library of the Academy of Agramall the collections of original manuscripts regarding the Vlachii, or Romanians from southern Croatia, then traveled through the villages of these Romanians, settled near the river Culpa, but already losing their nationality.
From there he entered Istria, where he visited the local Romanian villages, from where he collected important material about language and traditions. He then traveled to Dalmatia, staying at Ragusa for some time, where he studied and copied documents from the old archives of the Ragusan republic. From Ragusa he traveled to Rome, where he spent seven months, studying in the library and archives of the Vatican, after which he traveled through the Neapolitan countryside, Apulia, Calabria and Sicily, in order to become conversant with the customs and the way of life of the peasant population of Italy.
He returned to his country, Romania, with a significant historical and ethnographic material. Between 1887 and 1897 6 volumes of “Documents regarding the History of Romanian 1199-1345, collected and accompanied by notes”,
and in 1893 he wrote the study “The religious independence of the Romanian Metropolitan Church of Alba-Iulia”.
In 1894 he voluntarily withdrew from public work, refused a new, very good position, being content with minimal means of subsistence, in order to have the peace and quiet needed to finish his monumental work Prehistoric Dacia. In 1895 though, he took a commission from the War Ministry and wrote “The glorious princes and famous captains of the Romanian countries”. After 1897 he decided to dedicate all his time to Prehistoric Dacia.
In his own words “I always had in my sight the history of the entire Romanian element, in whatever countries it found itself in ancient times, either constituted in bigger states, or organized in districts only, provinces and national counties, or, finally, scattered in smaller and more remote ethnic islands, because of other superimposed nations, but leading a Romanian way of life”.