Mavrovlachs: Direct descendants of romanized Illy. Jan 2, 2008 0:02:22 GMT -5
Post by Emperor AAdmin on Jan 2, 2008 0:02:22 GMT -5
(7/10/03 11:31 am)
Population and National Characteristics.—With a constant excess of male over female children, the population increased steadily from 1869 to 1900, when it reached 591,597. Of this total 1 % are foreigners and about 3 % Italians, whose numbers
1 These figures, taken from the Austrian official returns, include the population of the entire commune, not merely the urban residents. Only in Zara, Spalato, Sebenico and Ragusa, do the actual townsfolk number more than 1000.
The Morlachs, who constitute the remaining 96%, belong to the Serbo-Croatian branch of the Slavonic race, having absorbed the Latinized Illyrians, Albanians and other alien elements with which they have been associated.
The name of Morlachs, Morlaks or Morlacks commonly bestowed by English writers on. the Dalmatian Slays, though sometimes restricted to the peasantry of the hills, is an abbreviated form of Mavrovlachi, meaning either “Black Vlachs,” or, less probably, “ Sea Vlachs.”
It was originally applied to the scattered remnants of the Latin or Latinized inhabitants of central Illyria, who were driven from their homes by the barbarian invaders during the 7th century, and took refuge among the mountains.
Throughout the middle ages the Mavrovlachi were usually nomadic shepherds, cattle-drovers or muleteers. In the i4th century they emigrated from central Illyria into northern Dalmatia and maritime Croatia; and these regions were thenceforward known as Morlaccizia, until the 18th century.
Gradually, however, the Mavrovlachi became identified with the Slays, whose language and manners they adopted, and to whom they gave their own name. In northern Dalmatia the Slays of the interior are still called Morlacchi; in the south this name expresses contempt.
Of the Vlachs, properly so called, very few are left in the country; although the name Vlachs (q.v.) is frequently used by the Slays to designate the Italians and the town-dwellers generally. The literary languages of Dalmatia are Italian and Serbo-Croatian; the spoken language is, in each case, modified by the introduction of various dialect forms.
The Morlachs wear a picturesque and brightly-coloured costume, resembling that of the Serbs (see SERVIA). In appearance they are sometimes blond, with blue or grey eyes, like the Shumadian peasantry of Servia; more often, olive-skinned, with dark hair and eyes, like the Montenegrins, whom they rival in stature, strength and courage; while their conservative spirit, their devotion to national traditions, poetry and music, their pride, indolence and superstition, are typically Servian.
Dalmatian public life is deeply affected by the jealousies which subsist between the Slays and the Italians, whose influence, though everywhere waning, remains predominant in some of the towns; and between Orthodox “Serbs,” who use the Cyrillic alphabet, and Roman Catholic “Croats,” who prefer the Latin.