Chronology of the breakup of Common Romance [long]

X99Lynx at X99Lynx at
Mon Aug 9 07:25:29 UTC 1999

In a message dated 8/8/99 8:31:22 AM, vjpaniego at wrote:

<<1. A c.1050 grave inscription in Gotland refers to two nobles killed when
battling against *blakumen*.

2. The Snorri Sturluson's Heimskringle illustrates a campaign by Alexios
Comnenos (early 12th century) in *Blokumannaland*, translated into Latin as
*in Blachorum terram*.

3. In the 13th century a reference is made in the Flatenyjarbok about a raid
against *Blo(kumenn*.>>

Just to straighten the chronology out a bit:

The first referenece commonly given for "vlachs" is generally a note about
their whereabouts written in a monastery on Mt. Athos in the 8th Century AD.
Given that this piece was probably written in Greek, it would not be a
surprise that the initial letter would have been a "B" rather than a "V".
("V"'s not being extra popular in Greek.) The would be one good way to
explain why the word occasionally appears as Blahi, Blaki or Blacki,
especially in records coming from eastern clerics.  It would also explain why
the pope would name Kaloian "rex Bulgari and Blachorum" in 1206 AD - Latin
having lost its canonical hold in that region some centuries before, the name
coming from the Greek.  And such an momentous event could probably explain
why an educated Scandinavian like Snorri would afterwards use the B form.

And of course these citations don't exactly cancel out the references to
Blacki or Vlachi (or Valah or Wallahs) in earlier or contemporary documents,
ranging from Nestor to Gestae Hungarorum to Serb court records.

The eleventh century inscription might as well refer to the "Blakmann" whose
fleet does battle with Alvild among icebergs in Saxo.  We have no evidence
that Vlachs ever made much of an appearance in the Baltic.  By the way, in
connection with this name, it has been pointed out that the meaning might
well be from the OE 'blak', ON 'bleiko-", OSl 'blec', reconstructed as
OTeutonic *blaiko-. meaning shining or white.  But, who's to say - the early
Vlachs may have had white or at least shiny hair.

"Vlach" is probably indeed ultimately from the German, but I suspect not from
the Swedes giving hair color based group names out in the Balkans.

<<a. These items represent more or less the word *Vlach* as heard by other
ethnic groups (access to written sources, especially in the case of the
Scandinavian inscriptions, is considered unlikely),
b. The word was coined by Germanic tribes, with the meaning of *the
black-haired or -skinned ones*.>>

I've re-read this a number of times and get the distinct feeling that there
is only one choice among the two choices?  Am I right?

Steve Long

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