The Romanians, 1774-1866

The Romanians, 1774-1866

The Romanians, 1774-1866

The Romanians, 1774-1866

Synopsis

This original and ground-breaking work examines the building of the European nation which became Romania in 1859. The evolution of the Romanians in the century between the 1770s and the 1860s was marked by a transition from long-established agrarian economic and social structures, locked into an essentially medieval political system, to a society moulded by urban and industrial values and held together by allegiance to the nation-state. This fascinating analysis of the building of a European nation-state is the first detailedf account of the Romanians during this dramatic period.

Excerpt

This book describes a distinct period in the history of modern Romania, one of transition from long-established agrarian economic and social structures and medieval political forms to a society moulded by urban and industrial values and held together by allegiance to the nation-state. Signs of such an evolution were evident in the last quarter of the eighteenth century. Although modest and fragmentary at the beginning, the forces that were to bring about change steadily gained momentum, especially from the 1830s on. It was then that the two principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia, the core of modern Romania, were largely freed of Ottoman Turkish suzerainty and were drawn into the international political and economic order dominated by Western Europe. By the mid-1860s the institutional foundations and the new mental climate that would carry the process of nation-building into the twentieth century were largely in place.

Political events serve as the framework for this study of the early phases of nation-building. They begin with an account of men and institutions in Moldavia and Wallachia in the later eighteenth century and the early decades of the nineteenth, continue with an analysis of administrative reorganization between the 1820s and 1840s, and end with the extensive reforms of Prince Alexandru Cuza in the 1860s. It is against this background that broad trends in economic and social development and dramatic shifts of mentality are measured: the undermining of the suzerain-vassal relationship with the Ottoman Empire and the assertion of the right to self-determination; the cultivation of the idea of the ethnic nation as the foundation of community; the emergence of new ways of producing goods and doing business; and the relentless advance of Western political forms, economic models, and cultural achievements.

I am glad to have the opportunity here to remember persons who have helped to bring this book to print. Many colleagues and friends in Romania have helped me to gain an understanding of their country's history, past and present. I would like to express my gratitude to Pompiliu Teodor, Cornelia Bodea, Mihai C. Demetrescu, loan Beju, Mircea Påcurariu, Aurel Jivi, and Lucian Boia. The extent of my debt to others is suggested in the footnotes and the Bibliographical Essay. Sir William Deakin made many valuable comments on an early draft of the manuscript, and Maurice Pearton gave the text a thorough reading. At Oxford University Press Anthony Morris has provided constant encouragement. Colleagues in the Department of History at the University of Illinois and students in . . .

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