VI.

THE UNION OF THE PRINCIPALITIES.

(1822-1866.)

THE influence of the Greeks over the Roumanians was shattered; the ascendency of the Turks was on the wane; the problem, which faced the principalities after the restoration of their native princes, was how to maintain their independence against Russia. The period, which began in 1822, supplies the answer to that question and closes with the picture of a free, autonomous, and prosperous Roumania.

The newly-appointed Hospodars found their subjects in a deplorable condition. War, corruption in high places, and universal discontent had marked the Phanariote rule, and there hung over the twin lands the dark shadow of Russia. The masses began to demand a share in the government; the nobles were resolved not to abate one jot of their ancient privileges, and denounced any prince, who showed popular tendencies, as a traitor to his caste. In Moldavia, the boyards, supported by the Czar, wrung 90 91 TREATY OF ADRIANOPLE. from the reluctant ruler a "golden bull," by which they were exempted from all taxation; in Wallachia, they tried in vain to overthrow the Government. Such was the state of the principalities when Russia concluded the convention of Akermann with the Sultan in 1826, which gave her greater power over the destinies of the Roumanian people than she could have secured by a successful war. By this arrangement it was provided that the princes of Moldavia and Wallachia should be elected by the general assembly of the nobles for the term of seven years, and that this election should be subject to the approval of the Porte, which could neither refuse its consent nor order their deposition without consulting the Czar. A further clause made it incumbent upon the two princes to "take into their consideration the representations of the Russian ministers and consuls on the subject of the privileges enjoyed by the principalities." The Autocrat of all the Russias thus became the "predominant partner" in Roumania; the Sultan's name came first in the deed of partnership, but the Czar was the active member of the firm.

When the Russo-Turkish war of 1828 broke out, the Imperial troops at once invaded the principalities, which had for the sixth time to experience a Russian occupation. The Turks offered little opposition to the invaders, who dictated peace to the Sultan at Adrianople in 1829. By this treaty, Moldavia and Wallachia were restored to the Turks, but only on condition that the Hospodars should be elected for life. All the fortified places, hitherto occupied in Wallachia by Turkish troops, were to be given up, 92 THE UNION OF THE PRINCIPALITIES. complete internal independence was guaranteed, and nothing but a fixed money tribute was to he exacted in future by the Porte. But the most important point of all was reserved to the last. The Sultan undertook to ratify all the administrative regulations, which had been drawn up during the Russian occupation. Under another article, the Russians were entitled to keep a garrison in the principalities until the full payment of the war indemnity by the Turkish Government. Thus the occupation was prolonged till 1834, and lasted, in all, some six years. All the time the utmost efforts were made to establish the influence of the Czar upon a permanent basis. A constitution was devised which is known as the règlement organique, with the express object of strengthening the power of Russia. The Russian Minister Nesselrode wrote complacently that "the conquest of Wallachia and Moldavia was superfluous, for Russia was already their master, without having to keep a permanent force of soldiers in those countries." For the phantom of Turkish suzerainty, the Roumanians had received in exchange the stern reality of a Russian protectorate. The reglemenent organique, the work of the Muscovite administrators, Pahlen and Kisselef, who managed the affairs of the principalities during the Russian occupation, was based upon extreme oligarchical principles. It separated the nation into two sharply divided classes, the nobles and the people; and, while it conceded the greatest latitude to the former, it treated the latter like pariahs. The power of making the laws, the election of the prince, all political offices, all 93 THE RUSSIAN OCCUPATION. military appointments—these were the peculiar right of the boyards ; the less pleasant task of paying all the taxes—that was the exclusive privilege of the peasants and the small tradesmen. In a word, according to the Russian constitution, the Roumanian people had no rights, the Roumanian nobles no duties. At the same time, true to the principle, which afterwards found its fullest expression in the constitution, drawn up for Bulgaria in 1879, the prince and the boyards were made to act as a check upon each other. With the bulk of the nation disfranchised, with a puppet on the throne and a privileged aristocracy to keep him in order, there was little fear, so it seemed, of a national awakening against the influence of the great Czar. But, in spite of this reactionary method of government, introduced at a time when Western Europe was in the throes of constitutional reform, there were practical benefits derived from the Russian occupation. For the first time, Roumanian law recognised the principle that some limit must be set to litigation; magistrates were made irremovable, sanitation was enforced, new tribunals were created, and justice was brought to every man's door by the establishment of a petty court in every village. These were practical improvements, which compensated in some measure for the refusal of political rights.

Meanwhile, however, a national spirit had been slowly developing. The Roumanians began to feel proud of their ancient origin, their native language, and their past history. Young men of promise, who were sent to study abroad, returned home with a 94 THE UNION OF THE PRINCIPALITIES. grander conception of their country's destiny than could be fulfilled by a Turkish suzerainty or a Russian protectorate. More particularly, the contact with France and French ideas, which now began and has never since ceased, reminded them that they too were members of the Latin race. A society for the promotion of a national literature had been founded in 1826 by two gifted Roumanians—Constantine Golescou and John Heliade Radoulescou; and a national theatre was projected. Radoulescou wrote treatises upon almost every subject in the vernacular. He was the poet, grammarian, historian, and dramatist of his country. A ruined monastery served him as a lecture-hall, and every winter his pupils braved cold and wet for the pleasure of listening to his instruction. The war of 1828 somewhat checked the educational movement, but the Russians were not opposed to culture up to a certain point, and the year 1829 witnessed the issue of the first Roumanian newspaper. Schools, where the pupils were taught in their mother tongue, were opened in larger numbers, and the service of the Church was conducted in the same language. A national society arose for the study of art, and it became the fashion to join it. Books became more common, and a curiosity of the period was a "Manual of Patriotism," published at Jassy. After the Russian occupation, the national movement advanced apace, until the Czar thought that it had gone too far. Authors had dared to attack him and to manifest a dangerous love of independence. The more retrograde of the nobles made themselves the instruments of the re- 95 THE REVOLUTION OF 1848. actionary policy. Higher education was suppressed, and in Moldavia the prince declared that, as the offices of state were open to the boyards alone, it was absurd to give to the rest of the nation the same instruction as to them. But it was easier to deal with the schools than with the men of letters. A great poet bade the Roumanian people "awake from the sleep of death," and his verses, set to music, became the national anthem of the patriotic party.

Political, as well as literary events, were rapidly leading up to the great revolution of 1848, which, sweeping over Europe, took the Danubian principalities in its course. In 1842 the Czar, finding that the prince of Wallachia was not sufficiently docile, induced the Porte to depose him. No fewer than thirty-seven candidates came forward for the vacant throne, but the choice of the boyards finally felt upon George Bibescou, who appeared before his people in the costume of Michael the Brave. He became involved in a dispute with the national assembly over some mining concessions, and prevailed upon the Sultan to suspend that refractory body for the remainder of its term. This aroused against him the intense animosity of the great nobles, who were always jealous of any one of their number who had ascended the princely throne over the. heads of his fellows. The lesser nobility, on the other hand, embraced his cause, and, when the Revolution broke out, it was directed not against him, but against the influence of Russia. The spark was kindled in Paris in February 1848, and the flames rapidly spread eastward. In Hungary the Roumanians 96 THE UNION OF THE PRINCIPALITIES. of Transylvania rose against the tyranny of the Magyars; in the two principalities the people were animated by the desire to throw off the protectorate of Russia and so terminate the reactionary system of government which she had introduced. The masses were led by men of distinction, two of whom, Constantine Rosetti and John Bratiano, were destined to play an important part in the later history of their country. The leaders proposed to the prince that he should put himself at the head of the movement. But Bibescou did not share the views of the revolutionists. Convinced that Russia could crush them in a moment, he told them that he did not consider the season propitious for such an enterprise. Another attempt to persuade him proved futile, and on the 9th of June the revolution broke out at Bucharest. Bibescou ordered the arrest of several members of the revolutionary committee; their supporters fired at him as he drove through the streets. An immense crowd gathered in front of his palace, and forced him to sign the scheme for a new constitution and appoint a ministry from among the popular leaders. Bibescou upon this abdicated, leaving the revolutionists in possession of the field. Not a single drop of blood had been shed.

The aim of the more moderate reformers was not the formal independence of their country from the suzerainty of the Sultan, to whom they addressed a letter expressive of their devotion, but the practical freedom of the nation from Russian interference, coupled with full political equality. All 97 END OF THE REVOLUTION. the usual watchwords of 1848— "freedom of the Press and of public meeting," "ministerial responsibility," and "civil liberty for all" —were re-echoed on the banks of the Danube. But there was a more advanced section which advocated the proclamation of Roumanian independence and a war, if need be, against Sultan and Czar alike. Some even dreamed of a big Roumania, which should include the Transylvanian brothers within its ample frontiers, and the "lost provinces" of Bessarabia and Bucovina. Meanwhile, another revolution had taken place in Moldavia. There Michael Stourza, who had had the wisdom to make considerable reforms, had no difficulty whatever in suppressing the movement without Russian aid. But the Czar thought that the time had come to make his power felt, and urged upon the Sultan the necessity for intervention. A Turkish commissioner was despatched to Bucharest, who requested the dissolution of the provisional government which had been formed on the flight of Bibescou, and the substitution in its place of a Lieutenancy under Turkish suzerainty. His request was obeyed, and a Lieutenancy of three persons established. The Turkish commissioner expressed his satisfaction, and all seemed well. But this did not suit the autocrat of Russia. A Russian army occupied Moldavia on the pretext of "protecting" the Roumanians, and thence marched to Bucharest. The revolutionary leaders fled to Western Europe, the Roumanian Revolution was at an end. Russia and Turkey concluded in 1849 the Convention of Balta-Liman, which 8 98 THE UNION OF THE PRINCIPALITIES. limited the reigns of the Hospodars to seven years, suppressed all national assemblies, and replaced them by councils or divans, nominated by the prince in each principality. In order to destroy the last vestige of independence, the princes were to be no longer elected by the great nobles, but were nominated by the Sultan as suzerain, and the Czar as protector. Russia contrived to secure the appointment of men in both principalities, who were likely to serve her interests rather than those of the Turks.

But the "doctrine of nationalities" was spreading all over Europe, and the Roumanians had become imbued with it. The chiefs of the Revolution disseminated their country's grievances wherever they were scattered. In France and England they found ready listeners. Lord Palmerston raised the Roumanian question in the House of Commons; Ubicini, whose pen has done so much for Roumanian history, constantly reminded the French nation that there existed another branch of the Latin race under foreign rule. John Heliade published in Paris a defence of the Revolution; and Constantine Rosetti appealed from exile to all parties in his native land to unite against alien domination. Western Europe woke up to the historical fact of a Roumanian nationality, which had aspirations for freedom and independence. A few shrewd diplomatists discovered that the Danubian principalities were not intended by their geographical position to be vassals of either Russia or Turkey, but might form a powerful buffer-state between the two great rivals. Even 99 THE CRIMEAN WAR. in the principalities themselves the new Hospodars, Barbe Stirbeiu and Gregory Ghika, appointed though they were by Russia and Turkey, encouraged the national movement by restoring Roumanian as the language of instruction. Then came the Crimean war, which led to the ultimate emancipation of both countries and their union under one sovereign.

It is not necessary in this place to retell the oft-told tale of that great struggle between Russia and the Western Powers. It is sufficient to notice the war only as far as it affected the Danubian principalities. The Czar Nicholas I., in his ultimatum to the Sultan, threatened to invade them unless his demands were granted, and, as an unfavourable reply was despatched, lost no time in carrying out his threat. On July 3, 1853, General Gortschakoff crossed the Pruth, and for the eighth time a Russian army of occupation held Moldavia and Wallachia in its clutches. The two princes were informed that they might keep their thrones on condition of breaking off relations with the Porte. The latter ordered them to hold no communication with Russia, but pay their accustomed tribute to their lawful suzerain as heretofore. Thus placed between the Russians and the Turks, the princes thought it prudent to flee, and left the supreme authority over their respective states in the hands of the Russian generals. On this occasion, however, the "liberators" had learned by experience. Efforts were made to win over the boyards, and offices were bestowed upon some of their number. Meanwhile, Turkey demanded the withdrawal of the Imperial troops, and 100 THE UNION OE THE PRINCIPALITIES. followed the demand by a declaration of war. Omar Pasha crossed the Danube at Vidin, and it looked as if the theatre of the war would, as so often before, be the unhappy principalities. Moving eastward to Oltenitza, a small place on the Roumanian bank of the river about forty miles from Bucharest, he repulsed the Russians in a three days' battle, and then retired across the river into Bulgaria. In the following spring the Russians in vain attempted the capture of Silistria acid received another blow in Wallachia near Kalafat. But the intervention of the Western Powers in February 1854, and the threatening attitude of Austria compelled Nicholas to remove his forces. France and England insisted upon the evacuation of the Danubian states; Austria massed troops on the Transylvanian frontier and held herself in readiness to enforce the British and French ultimatum. The attacks of the allies upon the Crimea made it imperative upon the Czar to defend that part of his dominions, and in July, after another defeat at Giurgevo, his army marched out of the principalities. The two Powers at once returned, and an Austrian army with them. For more than two years these new protectors remained in the country in accordance with an arrangement made with the Porte. The Roumanians had good reason for desiring to be defended from their defenders.

The remaining operations of the war were conducted outside the principalities; but they reaped full benefit from the victories of the allies when the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1856. The southern 101 TREATY OF PARIS. part of Bessarabia was joined to Moldavia in order to keep Russia away from the Danube, and the delta of that river, which had been taken by the Russians in 1812, was restored to Turkey for the same object. The Russian protectorate over the principalities was abolished, the course of the Danube placed under the control of an European commission, and the armed intervention of any one Power without the consent of the others expressly prohibited. The Sultan still retained his suzerainty, but promised to grant an "independent anct national administration." At the Congress the representatives of France and England desired to go one step further and unite Moldavia and Wallachia in one Roumanian state, which would thus, as they pointed out, become a powerful barrier against Russian aggression in the Balkan Peninsula. But Austria and Turkey strongly opposed the idea, maintaining that the inhabitants were not in favour of a scheme which would mean the loss of their local customs. But public opinion in the two principalities was favourable to the union. Ever since the poet Vacarescou had apostrophised in indignant verse the "powerless rivulet," which "dared to keep the brothers apart," there had been an increasing desire for amalgamation. History had proved that the two states had had a common fate; science showed them to be peopled by a common race; practical experience demonstrated that they had common interests and a common foe. The Russians themselves had admitted in the regulations which they drew up in 1834, that "secondary and fortuitous circumstances alone had been responsible for the division," 1O2 THE UNION OF THE PRINCIPALITIES. and they would have. been prepared to support a union even then, provided that the united principalities could have been placed under a member of the Imperial family. Bibescou had contributed greatly to their political fusion by abolishing all customs-dues between them, and thus in Roumania as in Germany, a customs' union was the forerunner of national unity. The revolutionary leaders of 1848 had been inspired with the same idea, and their cause had gained the ardent support of Napoleon III., with whom the "doctrine of nationalities" was a passion. England was, however, won over to the Austrian view, and a compromise was the result. It was decided that the wishes of the inhabitants should be consulted on the subject.

The elections, held under the auspices of Turkey, could only be an utter farce, for that Power was the principal opponent of the Unionist idea. Every effort was made by the adversaries of the scheme to gain the support of Moldavia, for that principality being the smaller of the two had most to lose by the proposed change, which would inevitably relegate Jassy to the position of a second-rate town. The Porte and its "Lieutenants," who carried on a provisional government in the principalities, left no stone unturned to secure the election of anti-unionist bodies; Unionist journals were suppressed; Unionist meetings prohibited. The register of electors was carefully "revised" in the interests of the Separatist party, and the Turkish authorities showed a marvellous appreciation of the causes which govern elections by arranging that Moldavia should vote first, and so 103 THE ELECTIONS. exercise an unfavourable influence upon the Unionists of Wallachia. But the officials had not reckoned upon the wave of feeling which swept over the people. France aided the Roumanian cause, and threatened to break off relations with the Sultan, unless the opinions of the inhabitants were fairly and freely consulted. The sham elections were declared void; a second appeal to the Moldavian people, this time unaccompanied by official intimidation or interference, resulted in an overwhelming majority for the Union. Only two deputies out of eighty-five were opposed to it. The two constituent assemblies, or divans ad hoc, as they were called, met in the separate principalities and decided in favour of the Union of Wallachia and Moldavia in a single state, under the same government. This government was to consist of a foreign prince, a member of some reigning family, who was to be hereditary on condition that his heirs embraced the national religion. Bibescou, Stirbeiu, and Ghika all patriotically sacrificed themselves to the interests of their country. By the side of the prince there was to be an assembly, elected on a wide franchise, which would represent the general interests of the people, and not those of the nobles alone. These decisions were communicated to the Powers, and the Convention of Paris in 1858 devised a scheme which was neither Union nor Separation. According to this diplomatic arrangement there were to be two princes, two national assemblies, and two governments, but one central committee to devise common laws for the "united principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia," as they were officially desig- 104 THE UNION OF THE PRINCIPALITIES. nated. But the diplomatists had not provided for the case of both principalities electing the same person. This was what now happened. When, in the early days of 1859, the election of the new Princes came on, Moldavia chose Colonel Alexander Couza, and Wallachia followed its example. Cleverly and quite unexpectedly the Roumanians had solved the problem which had baffled the collective wisdom of Europe. Just as in 1885 the union of the two Bulgarias, expressly prohibited in the Treaty of Berlin, was achieved by a popular movement which placed Alexander of Battenberg over both, so in 1859 the union of the two Roumanian principalities, so hotly contested at the Congress of Paris, was quietly accomplished by the double election of Alexander Couza. Roumania had attained her long-sought unity. Austria, just entering upon the Italian war, had no time to intervene; two years later the Sultan, at the suggestion of the Powers, gave his formal consent to the arrangement. Union had been won, independence remained to be achieved. The united principalities had received on the 9th of November, 1859, the name of "Roumania," but their position towards their suzerain remained the same. To him tribute was still paid, from his hands the prince received his investiture.

The new "Prince of Roumania," who styled himself Alexander John I., but was invariably known by his family name of Couza, sprang from an old Moldavian family and had served his country, first in the army and then in the civil service. By his marriage with a daughter of a distinguished house he became 105 COUZA'S REIGN. connected with all the highest nobles in the land, and his career from that moment was assured. His dismissal from his post of Prefect of Galatz at the instigation of the Turkish authorities a couple of years earlier had won him great renown as a patriot and a subsequent appointment as Minister of War. He was, with that exception, little known, and this fact was an advantage in the eyes of the deputies. Much was expected from him, while the abilities of other candidates had already been accurately gauged.

But Couza sadly disappointed these great expectations. A series of ministerial crises, followed by perpetual dissolutions of the legislature, created a feeling of unrest which was increased by the financial blunders of the new government. Roumania was not really ripe for a very elaborate constitution such as she had received, and she naturally made mistakes at the outset of her career. Couza's measures were at the same moment ultra-democratic and despotic. His motto was that of Rabagas in Sardou's play, that "the happiness of the people could only be established by a coup d'état." He alienated the clergy by the confiscation of the property of the Roumanian monasteries, Which was declared invalid by the Powers, unless pecuniary compensation were paid. He abolished the feudal obligations of the peasantry which had long been the curse of Roumania, and by a stroke of the pen created a class of peasant-proprietors, who were allotted the lands of the boyards at low prices fixed by the Government. These two measures estranged the sympathies of the nobles and the priests, who 106 THE UNION OF THE PRINCIPALITIES. were accordingly brought under control by being made officials of the State. A coup d'état in May, 1864, rid him of the National Assembly, and called a Senate into existence on the basis of universal suffrage. But Couza's popularity with the masses was undermined by the tobacco monopoly which he introduced, for in Roumania every one smokes. He became more and more autocratic, and attempted to govern without a Budget. His avarice was notorious; his morals, or the want of them, were the common talk of Bucharest. People forgot his public services and remembered only his private vices. He had founded a University at Jassy, introduced the telegraph into the country, improved the coinage, embellished nd increased the towns, and gave any person a plot of ground in the suburbs of the capital free of cost, on condition that he would promise in writing to erect a suitable dwelling-house on it within three years' time. But the boyards had long been discontented with their old colleague and now that the masses were against him, they had no difficulty in compassing his fall. The story of his forced abdication is doubly interesting, because it formed the precedent which was afterwards followed by the Bulgarians who deposed Prince Alexander. On February 23, 1866, a body of forty conspirators, under the command of General Golescou, entered the palace, forced open the door of the Prince's bedroom, and discovered him there with one of his mistresses half undressed. Couza, cowed at the sight of their loaded revolvers, asked feebly what they wanted. They replied that they wanted his abdication. Pen and ink 107 COUZA'S ABDICTION. were provided, and one of the conspirators knelt clown with his hack to the Prince and offered his bent shoulders as an impromptu writing-desk. There was no alternative but to sign the deed of abdication, and the Prince yielded. He was allowed to dress, and then driven away from the palace. Not a hand was raised in his defence, not a voice pleaded his cause. He was permitted to withdraw with the spoils of office to Paris, the haven of Balkan princes in retirement, and Roumania concerned herself with him no more. A provisional government was formed with Golescou at the head, and a proclamation issued calling upon the nation to proceed to the election of a foreign prince as its chief, and deploring the "anarchy and corruption" which had marked the seven years of Couza's reign. By an almost unanimous vote the two Chambers of the united principalities elected the Count of Flanders, younger brother of the King of Belgium, as Prince of Roumania. But the Sultan protested against the recent action of the people, and convened a Conference of the Great Powers in Paris to consider the situation; a Turkish army corps was mobilised in Bulgaria, and the threatening secession in Moldavia completed the dangers which awaited the new ruler. The Count of Flanders declined the proffered honour, and a new candidate, Prince Charles of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, a connection of the Prussian reigning house, was put up in his stead. The Prince was unanimously elected by a plebiscite of the ,whole people and proclaimed on the loth of April. The Paris Conference declared his election null and void; 108 THE UNION OF THE PRINCIPALITIES. but Prince Charles, acting on the instigation of Bismarck, resolved to set its decisions at defiance. The great Prussian statesman sent for the young officer of dragoons, as thirteen years afterwards he sent for Prince Alexander of Battenberg, and advised him to go straight to Bucharest, adding in a phrase, which he repeated on that occasion: "If you fail, you will at any rate have a pleasant reminiscence for the rest of your life." On the 22nd of May, the Prince, who had travelled through Austria in disguise, arrived at his capital and was received with the utmost enthusiasm by his people. The Sultan protested, and demanded from the Conference permission to occupy the country with an army. The Conference refused, but war seemed certain. The Sultan appointed the redoubtable Omar Pasha to the command of the troops on one bank. of the Danube; the Roumanians were massed to resist him on the other. But the success of the Prussian arms over Austria at the battle of Königgrätz and the Cretan insurrection diverted the attention of both Austria and Turkey from Roumanian affairs. The Conference of the Powers relented, the Sultan yielded, and both gave their sanction to the election of the new Prince. The Roumanian crisis was at an end.