Romania in modern times.
Early modern times found the Romanian principalities torn between the big powers. And that’s because we were positioned at the borders of the big empires of the time. And everyone wanted a piece of us. Remember our last post? The Hungarians had a big influence on Transylvania. The Ottomans in the other two provinces.
Disclaimer! This post is the author’s approach of storytelling Romania’s history. The analogies, metaphors and sarcasm are personal touches. All of the historical facts are based on thorough research and valid sources of information.
The first, short-lived, union.
The dream of a union was there, it only seemed impossible. But it happened. In 1600, Michael The Brave, Prince of Wallachia unified the three principalities for the first time in history. The union lasted less than a year as the empires came over, kicked our ass and took back power. At least we lived the dream for a few months. That is better than nothing.
Life went on, and my fellow Romanians developed a very valuable skill. Resilience. Big ass, strong resilience. Yeah guys, come over! Invade us, it’s cool. We are not going anywhere. We are tough bastards.
Out of all three, Transylvania had the toughest time. In the sense that it was extremely influenced by the Hungarians. Much more than Wallachia and Moldavia by the Ottomans. At some point even the Otoman Empire rulled over Transylvania. And later on the Habsburg Empire. It is hard to keep track of all the rulers that came and went but if you’re looking for a more detailed cronological timeline, Wikipedia is always here for you. Remember, what I am trying to do is merely to tell you a story, a tale.
The Habsburg Empire brought over German Saxons to strengthen their position in the region. Most of the nobility was made up by Hungarians. The craftsmen and businessmen were Germans and Jews. The Romanians were doing agriculture and had to endure some hard times. Sounds familiar? Of course it does, this shit happened again and again in other parts of the world until recent times, or maybe even today. But remember. Resilience. The skill that kept us going.
Not saying that we didn’t benefit at all from this. Most of the beautiful architecture from the cities of Transylvania it’s a heritage of the Habsburg Empire. And although very few Romanians had access to education, the ones that did would be a big part of the future attempts for unification.
The second union.
The second union came around 1850. This handsome lad, Alexander John Cuza, with the support of the French [France will come to be another big influencer in Romania’s culture] managed to unite Wallachia and Moldavia, the Principality of Romania was born. He did a lot of reforms, laws, and changes in the country in the few years that he reigned. But because of different views in politics and the fact that you can never make everyone happy, he was forced to pack his stuff and leave.
The politicians of the time thought it would be cool to bring over someone from abroad. With more experience in diplomacy that would help us sort our shit once and for all. They looked around at our neighbors from Western Europe. And at the recommendation of our French friends, they stopped at the Germans. Well, at a particular region of today’s Germany that was a principality at the time. You know them. Hard working. Efficient. Getting things done no matter what. Exactly what we needed.
Monarchy and our first king.
And so we got our first expat Prince that later became King. Karl Eitel Friedrich Zephyrinus Ludwig von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. In short Romanian version Carol The First. And the first monarchy of Romania, that would rule for over 60 years. The United Principalities of Romania became The Kingdom of Romania. Carol The First would successfully unite Transylvania with the new Kingdom of Romania. During this time, Romania came to be the country that it is today, and we owe this expat king and his successors a lot.
Unfortunately, the kings of Romania didn’t have it easy. Few were the times for feasts and parties cause they had a lot of work to do. Not to mention that right over their reign, the great powers around the world decided it’s wartime. Really? Right now guys? Right when the sun was shining on our street.
What have we learned today?
Ongoing occupation from the great Empires.
Romanians master the skill of resilience.
The first attempt of a union.
The second attempt and birth of The United Principalities of Romania.
Our first king and the first Romanian monarchy. Kingdom of Romania.
In the next post we’re gonna talk about how Romania overcame the two WWs. With resilience, how else!