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THE FREE DACIANS 106-271AD

Translated by Kirsty Bennett, Matt Canty and haiducul


The conquest and annexation of Dacia or more precisely the central part of Decebal’s kingdom, didn’t lead to the submission of all Thracian-Dacian tribes from the north of the Danube and from the interior of Carpathians. A large number of tribes, probably more than the ones who were conquered, continued to live in freedom in the north, east and west of the conquered Dacia: these included Geto-Dacians and Free Tracians (made up of the Costobocii, Carpii, Besii, Arsietai and others). The Free Dacians, also called “Marginasi” (meaning ‘The ones from the border’) are well known for their warlike actions from the 2nd till the 4th century AD, throughout Roman Dacia and the Moesia Inferior provinces. In the 2nd and 3rd century there are mentions of the forays of the Free Dacian's in Dacia and Moesia. In the year 170AD the death of the emperor of Ulpius Traianus led to disturbances and the instability in Roman Dacia A true Dacian riot occurred after the death of the conqueror of Dacia and was supported by the Free Dacian's and other tribes, including the Sarmatians. Another “war” with the Dacian's from the Roman province took place in 143AD under Antoninus Pius.
The Costobocs invaded Moesia, Thracia and Greece around the year 170AD and Dacia was not left untouched by this invasion. More importantly for Roman Dacia was the large scale attack of the Free Dacian's in the time of Emperor Commodus (180-192AD) who raided into Dacia where: “where the provincials were restless” (“in Dacia imperium eius recunsantibus provincialibus” HistAug.,Commod. 13,5). The provincials were the most important of all the local population the and probably colonists who came into Dacia from other parts of the Empire. The governor of the province (“legatus augusti”) C. Vettius Sabinianus tried to pacify a large number of Free Dacian's, who came from the North to the help some barbarian tribes who were attacking Dacia, by promising them land within Roman Dacia. Cassus Dio,(LXXII 3,3) wrote that they numbered around 12,000 and were probably ‘settled’ within the province by the governor, thus increasing the size of the working population. Other battles with the Free Dacian's are mentioned in the year 218AD (Cassus Dio, LXXVIII, 27; 5) and later in the 3rd century with the attacks becoming more frequent in the roman territories and with assistance provided by some German tribes. The Costobocs, the Carps and other northern Thracian tribes continued their raids into the Roman Dacia during the 2nd and 3rd centurys and the Carpians are mentioned as to having an alliance with the Huns (Zosimus IV 34). We know nothing about the destiny of the Free Dacian's after the 4th century however, they probably entered into what used to be Roman Dacia after the Romans vacated it. Most probably the Free Dacian's combined or co-existed with the Dacian's contributing to the strengthening of the Dacian race from the north of the Danube.
We see then that the Geto-Dacian people and in general the Thracians from the north of the Danube didn’t disappear when the Dacian state was destroyed nor with the death of Decebal in 106AD. The great power and the ethnic vitality of this population is visible in the historical records throughout the 2nd, 3rd and 4th centuries. Except a few elements that run from the north and the east of “Transylvanian”, tribes from the north and east of Dacia in 106AD. (sentence doesn't seem to be linked to the subject matter around it) At the end of the ancient period, the Free Dacian and Thracian tribes from the northeast dissolved into the Sarmations and Germanic tribes and then in the medieval period into the Slavs. A large part of the Free Dacian's became combined with the Daco-Geto-Romans left behind by the army and Roman state in 271-272AD. This could explain the powerful Thracian characteristic of the Romanian dialect from the Danube, the so-called Dacian-Roman dialect.
Despite military defeat, foreign rule and economic exploitation during the 2nd and 3rd century, the Dacian ethnic awareness could not be destroyed and what we could almost call a national awareness remained. Even though the historical records of the Dacian civilisation are small, throughout time the occasional record does surface; for example the names of Roman Dacian leaders like Regalianus “The Usurper” in Moesia in 260AD, “gentis Daciae, Decebali ipsius, ut fertur, adfinis" (HistAug., Tyr. trig. 10, 8; RE, I A, 464) and M. Acilius Aureolus was a Dacian and mother of the Roman emperor Galerius.