The urban centres of the territories of today’s Romania showed many similarities with each other and were subject to specific transformations throughout history. From the 14th to the 16th century, the influence of Central European models of urban organisation was discernible, manifested, for example, in the election from among the bourgeoisie of their own representative (called soltuz in Moldavia – the word arrived via Poland) and a town council (consisting of twelve pârgari – from the German word Bürger), while maintaining a certain level of internal autonomy.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, on the other hand, one can observe a slow process of increasing the power of local princes, who replaced local officials with their own people. Similarly, at the end of the Middle Ages the towns were strongly linked socially and economically with their trading partners in Hungary and Poland, while in modern times they turned increasingly towards the Ottoman Empire. Local communities of Germans and Hungarians were replaced by increasingly influential groups of Greeks, Wallachians or Albanians. By the 18th century, the position of these towns had declined significantly – they were subject to princely control, and some (those that were small or in decline) were even handed over to boyars or the Church.
Despite the fact that both households retained their autonomy and their rulers behaved like autocrats, travellers visiting the area were under the impression that they were in areas of Ottoman rule. It was not until the break with the Ottoman Empire during the 18th century wars between the great powers that the cities in question were reoriented towards Europe.