The territory of Brodnici consisted of the southwestern part of today's Ukraine Budjak and the southern part of today's Vrancea and Galaţi counties of Romania, and probably the coastline between the Dniester and the Dnieper.
In some opinions, the name, as used by foreign chronicles, means a person in charge of a ford (water crossing) in Slavic and Romanian languages (cf. Slavic brod - "ford"). The probable reason for the name is that the territory of the Brodniks constituted the link between the mountain passes in the Carpathians and the mouths of the Danube, having a major economical importance, assuring the access to the Genovese colonies. According to other opinions, their name is related to Slavic бродить ("to wander"), probably referring to the nomadic way of life of this population.
In 1222, the Hungarian king Andrew II gave the "Burzenland" to the Teutonic Knights, delimiting it by the land of the Brodnici. A Papal bull of Pope Honorius III confirmed the charter in the same year; however, in the copy approved by the Vatican, "Brodnicorum" was replaced by "Blacorum" (i.e., "Vlachs" in Latin). While some historians believe that this shows that the terms were equivalent, others claim that this was just an error. The latter base their claim on the fact that the two terms were used together in several Hungarian documents, very unusual if referring to the same population.
A November 11, 1250 letter of king Béla IV of Hungary to Pope Innocent IV says that Tatars imposed tribute onto the countries neighboring with his kingdom: "que ex parte Orientis cum regno nostro conterminantur, sicut Ruscia, Cumania, Brodnici, Bulgaria".