The Union of the Principalities of Romania, 160 years on

Dear reader,

As you may recall from my latest column, on past 1 December, Romania celebrated the Centenary of the Great Union (National Day), a memorable occasion to proudly honour that historical moment and our achievements since that day.
Happily, in 2019, Romania continues to be in a mood of celebration. What I intend to bring now to your attention is the marking of 160 years from the Union of Principalities between Tara Romaneasca and Moldova, two out of the three Romanian provinces, which, on 24 January 1859, voluntarily decided to unite by voting for the same leader. This is an essential moment, a historical milestone in the making of the modern Romanian State.
Going through the multi-millenary history of the country, we can count two previous attempts to unite the inhabitants on the territory that is Romania today. First, it was the great king Burebista who successfully unified the Dacian tribes under one rule from 82 to 44 BC and then, it was Mihai Viteazul, the king of Tara Romaneasca who, in 1600, realised the unification with Moldova and Transylvania, showing the path which the Romanian people should follow, the building of one state, with the same name and the same ruler.
It is clear or a matter of fact that Romanians lived many centuries in these neighbouring autonomous principalities with the spirit of brotherhood, sharing the same language, culture, religion, traditions and values, never looking to conquer other territories. In the following centuries, the economic and cultural exchanges among the three Romanian provinces intensified, it was a period of time in which the people’s conscience was transformed into national conscience.
The history of the 19th century includes important preparatory historic moments, drawing the beginning of the modern Romania.
It was the revolution of Tudor Vladimirescu, in 1821, which, despite its failed end, marked the expression of a collective conscience or a single people, followed by the revolution of 1848, which, although defeated by foreign military intervention, represented a big success, a valued asset and a reliable background for the above mentioned Union of 24 January 1859.
Through the 1856 Paris Treaty, the Principalities emerged from the exclusive protection of one power-Turkey. The Treaty also included a provision for the entry of the Romanian Principalities under the collective guarantee of the European Powers, for revision of the fundamental laws and for the selection of the ad-hoc Assemblies, where the people may expresses the will to be united. However, the collective guarantee offered by the main Powers did not determine a complete solution to their problem, in the sense wanted by Romanians.
The Paris Convention in 1858 was a compromise, a surprising document. It offered the premises for an increased modernization process, completing the one which earlier it was slow in the renewal process because of inadequate election regulations. Most of all, it was not able to accomplish the main goal of the Romanian people, deciding on the Constitution of the national state through the unification of the two Principalities.
The revolutionists who were refugees in the west prepared an intense and strong propaganda to render the people more and more in favour of the union.
Mihail Kog?lniceanu, an iconic political and cultural figure of those times and future prime-minister and foreign minister after 1859, stated at the ad-hoc Assembly of Moldova: “The biggest, the most general desire, which has been nurtured by all the past generations, which is the soul of the current generation, which, if were to come true, will create happiness for future generations, is the Union of the Principalities in one state, a union which is natural, legitimate and necessary”.
Surpassing many and difficult obstacles, the ad-hoc Assemblies of Tara Romaneasca and Moldova elected, on 5 and 24 January 1859, respectively, the same colonel Alexandru Ioan Cuza, as ruler.
The event brought about an explosion of enthusiasm. The election of Cuza, as a ruler of both Tara Romaneasca and Moldova, irreversibly started the reunification process of modern Romania, paving the way for the Great Union.

Dr. Dragos Serb?nescu
Charge d’Affaires a.i.
Embassy of Romania

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