Romania Modern History Part V

By | December 23, 2021

Napoleon III protested against this system and wanted to have the illegal elections canceled; as the Porte hesitated, he even ordered his ambassador to prepare to return to Paris; obtained a Franco-English agreement in principle, which limited the effects of a possible future union of principalities to a “union des rapports militaires, financiers et judiciaires”, Turkey yielded and the elections were redone with full victory for the national party. In the session of October 7, 1857, the meeting of the Moldavians very clearly proclaimed his wishes: 1. respect for the rights of principalities and their autonomy; 2. union of principalities in a single state with the name of Romania ; 3. a foreign prince (with inheritance of the throne) chosen from one of the ruling dynasties in Europe and whose descendants were to be educated in the country’s orthodox religion. 4. constitutional government with a parliament in which the general interests of the nation were represented. The meeting was inflamed by a warm speech by the great patriot and statesman Mihail Kogălniceanu, who, among other things, said: “We are of the same origin as our brothers (Wallachians), we have the same name, the same language, the same faith, the same history, the same organizations, laws and customs, we share the same hopes and the same fears; the same borders are entrusted to our defense; in the past we have endured the same pains. For Romania history, please check historyaah.com.

The Wallachian meeting confirmed the same requests two days later, on 9 October. In the conference convened in Paris by the guarantor powers, France and the Kingdom of Sardinia recommended the approval of the requests of the ad – hoc divans and especially the union of Moldavia and Wallachia; France and Sardinia did not even oppose the proposal of the foreign prince (indeed it is said that France was thinking of the victorious Marshal Pélissier). But the opposition of Turkey, supported by Austria, was too strong. In the decisions of August 19, 1858, a compromise was reached, something hybrid and difficult to implement. The principalities were to be constituted as united principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia, each with its own government and assembly; the princes would be chosen for life by the assemblies themselves, which had to be formed with separate elections. A kind of union between the two countries should have been a mixed commission of 18 members, half Moldavians and half Wallachians, to prepare laws of common interest, as well as a court of cassation, both based in Focşani, a city located on the Wallachian-Moldavian border. The high sovereignty of the Porte was maintained, but limited by obligations contracted by the Porte towards the other powers; the tribute to the gate was even fixed (1,500,000 plates for Moldavia, 2,500,000 plates for Wallachia). To oversee the implementation of these provisions, two regency councils of three members each were elected; in Wallachia, Ioan Manu, Emanuil Băleanu and Ioan Filipescu, and in Moldavia Ştefan Catargiu, Vasile Sturza and Anastasie Panu. The person of the prince to be elected was of great value to the effects of the future developments of the principalities. The candidates were many and among them, men of great value, such as Kogălniceanu and the poet Vasile Alecsandri. All ‘ homo novus ; the effect of this vote was also very noticeable in nearby Wallachia where the parties were divided; it was thought that also in Wallachia something similar had to be done and the idea was immediately born of voting as prince of Wallachia the same person who had been elected in Moldavia; in this way the union, at least in the person of the sovereign, would have been a fait accompli. The Paris conference had, it is true, obliged two separate votes, but it had not prevented people from voting for the same person; certainly this was a quibble that went against the spirit of the decisions of the powers, even if it left the letter intact. On 24 January the same Moldavian colonel Cuza was unanimously elected prince of Wallachia, who, having been telegraphically informed of the election, accepted. L’ union of principalities was virtually done, but Cuza’s position was not the most favorable. Turkey vigorously protested against the election, and Austria also opposed it. It was fortunate for the cause of the united principalities that in 1859 Austria was defeated by Piedmont and France and thus could not raise its voice too much; on the other hand, Cuza himself, who went in 1860 to visit the Sultan (of whom, after all, he must have always considered himself a vassal), managed to get into the graces of the Porta, so that the rightful union of the two principalities could be proclaimed on 11 December 1861 (albeit with provisional recognition limited to the period of government of the Cuza).

In order for the new state to function, serious reforms were required, which, moreover, generally corresponded to popular desire; the first was the forfeiture of ecclesiastical assets, a measure required especially by the fact that most of the ecclesiastical assets were in the hands of foreigners; these were especially the so-called “dedicated monasteries”. It is known that in Eastern Europe the use of the so-called ἀϕιέρωσις was in force, for which various monasteries were subjected to the famous ones of Mount Athos, Sinai, Jerusalem, etc. These “dedicated monasteries” were generally occupied by Greek monks, so that at the time of Cuza about a fifth of the Romanian territory formed the capital of foreign monks. With the law of December 13, 1863, these properties returned to the nation, in exchange for a very small sum of compensation. The reform provoked protests from Turkey and Russia, but was maintained. Another even more important reform was the agrarian one; Mihail Kogălniceanu was its councilor.

Romania Modern History Part V