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De Administrando Imperio mentioning name of Romanian origin

Updated: Oct 2, 2020

There are surprisingly quite a few Romanian names in the DAI. The highest ranking person with that name was mentioned in the chapter "50. Of the Slavs in the province of Peloponnesus...". Emperor Alexander had as chamberlain a certain patrician called Barbatus (Rom. 'man'). in the text at 232Be

The text reads: "In the time of Alexander the emperor, the patrician Barbatus was chamberlain; and in the time of Constantine, the Christ-loving sovereign, the patrician Constantine, mentioned before in the time of the sovereign Leo, was chamberlain again"


Some people were active at the lower Danube acting as intermediaries with the Pechenegs, Chazars and the Turks (Magyars). The most notable one is the spatarpcandidate Petronas, surnamed Camaterou (Rom. 'moneylender') who lived in the time of Emperor Theophilus The text appears in the chapter '42. Geographical description from Thessalonica to the Danube river and the city of Belgrade ...:

The text reads "Sarkel among them means 'white house', and it was built by the spatarocandidate Petronas, sur-named Camaterou, when the Chazars requested the Emperor Theophilus that this city should be built for them"


In the time of Emperor Romanus I Lekapenos a certain Petronas Boilas (Rom. for 'nobleman' or boiras) was captain-general of Nicopolis. This is from chapter '45. Of the Iberians'

The most interesting story of the DAI that makes a possible connection between ancient proto Romanians with the Turkoi is in Chapter '53. Why the imperial galley came to be made ...'. It names two oarsmen that rose through the ranks by merit. One is named Podaron/Podarou who eventually became protospatharius and vice-admiral of the Imperial Fleet, and the other called Michael Barkalas. The former rose to prominence for bravery during the reign of Basil I The text next is of an event during the Leo the wise

The translation of the text above is sourced from De Administrando Imperio - translation "But the barges of the Augusta, as has been sailed before, were in control of the master of the Augusta's table. After this the emperor appointed Podaron and Leo Armenius to be vice-admirals of the imperial navy, and as steersmen of the galley he appointed the late Michael the elder, who was at that time chief oarsman of the galley, and had been second oarsman of the barge of Basil, the Christ-loving sovereign, and the other Michael, surnamed Barkalas, who had previously served in navy as chief oarsman of the lord admiral, the patrician Eustathius, when he carried the Turks across and defeated Symeon, prince of Bulgaria. Now this Symeon, prince of Bulgaria, on learning that the navy had arrived in the river, and that the navy was about to carry over the Turks against him, constructed mantlets or fencing, very strong and tough, so that the Turks might not be able to cross over, and by this device the Turks were at first prevented from crossing. So the aforesaid Michael Barkalas and two other sailors took up their shields and swords, and leaping down from the warship with a brave and powerful rush, cut down the mantles or wicker fences and opened the passage for the Turks. The Turks, who watched this Barkalas and exceedingly admired his bravery because he, by himself, advancing in front of the two sailors, was first to cut down the fencing, said in admiration that this man ought to be named patrician and be head of the navy"


The English translation is of a rather poor quality for a speaker but it still conveys the idea that a few oarsmen impressed the Turks with their bravery upon crossing the Danube on an Imperial barge. The character names in the text resonate as very Romanian. Podaron the illiterate vice-admiral is actually Podarou (Eng. 'bridge maker') if you read the Greek text in original, and Barkalas is actually Barkala (Eng. 'man of the boats'). This could be the earliest written text confirming a Proto-Romanian - Proto-Hungarian contact and cooperation


Please note, that this short text about an attack by the Turks against the Bulgarians sponsored by the Byzantines matches the narrative of arrival of the Magyars in Pannonia given in the same manuscript in chapter "40. Of the clans of the Kabaroi and the Turks.". In that text it is mentioned that at the invitation of Leo the Wise the Turks attacked the Bulgarians and went as far as to Preslav which they destroyed. But after he had gotten relived from a war with the Byzantines, Symeon in an alliance with the Pechenegs attacked the Turkoi, destroyed their families and expelled them from southern Moldova

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