Romania Modern History Part VII

By | December 23, 2021

In the meantime, a draft constitution was made, very similar to the Belgian one; the article regulating religious matters caused great anti-Semitic riots. Meanwhile, Prince Charles went to Constantinople, where he was received by the sultan with exceptional solemnity (12-18 October). During the 1870s, the government, initially chaired by Alexandru Golescu, had many attacks, and even the prince was accused of pro-Prussian and anti-French politics. The prince was already determined to abdicate, but Lascar Catargiu managed to save the situation with his ministry (from 11 March). In the period 1871-75 many reforms were made (consolidation of finances, establishment of a rural and urban land credit and extension of the railway network). One of the most important acts was the trade treaty with the Austria-Hungary (1875) much fought by the Liberal Party. But in 1876 with the revolution of Bosnia, Herzegovina and Bulgaria and the war of Serbia and Montenegro (with the help of Russia) against Turkey, the situation of the principalities, vassals of Turkey, became very difficult. The majority would have liked neutrality, but the prince and Ion Brătianu, eager to finally have a free Romania, were inclined to forge an alliance with Russia and fight against Turkey; already in September 1876, Russia had spoken of a possible passage of its troops on the Romanian territory; Brătianu personally went to Livadia to meet with the Tsar; Russia demanded the return of Bessarabia, free passage through the Romanian territory and offered in exchange the sovereignty of the state and perhaps also territorial compensation in Dobruja. The loss of Bessarabia was very serious, but Brătianu recognized that, even if Romania had opposed, Russia would have taken it all the same, moreover, there were the difficulties that all the negotiations had to be conducted in a confidential and secret way because, since Romania was not a sovereign state, it could not have international relations. On April 4, an agreement was signed by which the Romanian government guaranteed free passage in Romania to the Russian armies. Meanwhile, Romania also mobilized, but Russia did not want to know about an alliance with the new small state, an alliance offered by Romania and also considered useful by Russian military circles. For Romania history, please check

Russia would have liked to give the Romanian army an office of almost a gendarmerie, which was, of course, rejected; but the further development of the war made the Russian government change its opinion. In July the Russians suffered two serious defeats at Plevna. Already after the first one, the Tsar asked Prince Charles to cross the Danube with his army, but not being fixed the terms of military collaboration, the prince prevaricated. After the second defeat, Grand Duke Nicholas telegraphed the prince on July 31 (19 old style) warning that the Turks “nous abîment” and asked for a merger of the two armies. The prince understood that it was necessary to intervene, also because a Turkish victory would have brought the theater of operations to Romanian territory, and he crossed the Danube with the sole condition of having the independent command of his troops; the Tsar did even more and entrusted him with the supreme command of the united Russian and Romanian troops in front of Plevna (35,000 Romanians with 168 guns and 30,000 Russians with 282 guns). On 28 and 30 August the Romanians had a bright victory, albeit with many losses, conquering the first trench of Griviţa; L’ the siege lasted several months and on November 9 Rahova was conquered, so that Plevna was also forced to fall; November 28 (and Prince Charles entered Plevna taking 40,000 prisoners. It was the end of the war; Turkey was won. The Russo-Turkish war ended with the Peace of Santo Stefano (February 19, 1878), to which Romania did not she had not even been invited. A great Bulgaria was formed in it, with the reservation that a part of Dobruja could be ceded by Russia to Romania in exchange for Bessarabia. Both Prince Charles and the country protested vigorously against the demand for the cession of Bessarabia According to them, this was not the prize that Russia should have given for Plevna’s help, nor was the prince moved by the offer of the throne of Bulgaria made to him by Russia;

The congress met in Berlin in the months of June and July 1878; despite the memorandum presented by the Romanian delegates Ion Brătianu and Mihail Kogălniceanu, admitted only to support the point of view of their country, but excluded from the discussions, the cession of Bessarabia was maintained, giving Romania in exchange the Danube delta with the Island of the Snakes and the Dobruja. Romania was granted independence and full sovereignty, on the condition that civil rights were granted without distinction of religion (see also VI, pp. 735-36). In 1880 the dynastic question was settled, as the prince did not have direct heirs. On March 14, 1881, the chambers offered the prince the title of king and the crown. On May 10, the solemn coronation took place with a crown which, by the will of the king himself, was made of steel.

In the years that followed, the new kingdom strengthened its economic and political position. In 1883 Romania made a treaty with Austria-Hungary (and Germany also joined the treaty) in order to be linked to the Triple Alliance, with which it had to proceed until the world war. In 1885 Romania had obtained the recognition of the autocephaly of the Romanian Orthodox Church. In the last years prior to the World War, under the reign of King Charles, even among the changes in government of various parties, Romania progressed in science and literature and strengthened its economic position. In 1913 he participated in the Second Balkan War, fighting against Bulgaria. War was declared on July 3, 1913 and was short and successful, as Bulgaria was forced to ask for peace on July 21.

Romania Modern History Part VII