Romania 1859-1881

For Romania's history prior to 1859, see under Moldavia, Wallachia

Relation to the Ottoman Empire . When Romania was unified in 1859, it was nominally still regarded a vassall of the Ottoman Empire. The name changed from United Romanian Principalities (1861) to Principality of Romania (1866). In 1877 full independence was declared; the Berlin Congress of 1878 recognized Romanian independence, and the Ottoman Empire ceded the Dobruja to Romania; Romania in turn ceded Bessarabia to the Russian Empire. In 1881 Romania was proclaimed a kingdom.

Administration . Alexander John Cuza in 1859 was elected prince of both Moldavia and Wallachia. In 1861 he was recognized as Prince of the Romanian Principalities; Bucharest was chosen as the capital; Prince Alexander was ousted in an 1866 coup, and succeeded by Karl von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (Prince Carol).
From 1861 onward there were unified cabinets for the Romanian Principalities. The office of PM saw 22 holders between 1861 and 1881, the Conservatives, Moderates and Liberals contributing prime ministers. Lascar Catargiu (Conservative, 1871-1876) and Ion C. Bratianu (Liberal, 1876-1881) held office for more than a couple of months. General Elections were held in 1866, 1869, 1870 and 1875. Voters, for elections of the deputees, were divided in three classes; "all persons with an income of (an equivalent to) 50 Pound Sterling vote in the first; all residents in an urban commune who pay taxes amounting to sixteen shillings yearly, with those who have been through the primary course of education, and all members of the liberal professions, retired officers and state pensioners, vote in the second. The third college is formed of the remaining taxpayers. Those who can read and write vote directly, the rest indirectly. Every fifty indirect electors choose a delegate, who votes along with the direct electors. The naturalization of Jews and Moslems is hedged about by many technical difficulties, and requires a separate vote of the legislature in every individual case. Deputies must be not less than twenty-five years of age" (EB 1911).
In 1864 a (constitutional) statute was introduced, which foresaw universal adult manhood suffrage; a first constitution was adopted in 1866; it was based on the Belgian constitution of 1831, centralist.

Political History . A unified cabinet was created in 1861, a unified parliament in 1862. A land reform and the abolition of remnants of feudalism (1863-1864), the introduction of a criminal and a civil code (1864), based on the French models, an education law which made elementary education mandatory and free, meant the transition from a late feudal society by abolishing the last privileges of the church and the nobility, as well as the last remnants of serfdom. A modern army was established. The modernization policy won Prince Alexander support among the peasants, but opponents among the landowning classes. The prince was ousted in an 1866 coup.
In 1870 a revolt, centered on Ploesti, erupted, aiming at toppling the monarchy.

The Economy . In 1866, Romania converted to the metric system.
The first railway line in the Principality of Romania was opened in 1869. In 1870, Romania had 248 km of railroad lines; in 1881 951 km (IHS pp.656, 659).
Oil was found in Romania in 1857. In the later 19th century, an oil industry emerged, centered in Ploesti.
In 1867, Romania joined the Latin Monetary Union; Romania issued her first banknotes in 1880.
In 1864, the issuance of postage stamps for Moldavia and Wallachia has ceased, and stamps for Romania replaced them.

Social History . Jan Lahmeyer estimates Romania's population in 1859 as 3.864 million, in 1881 as 4.58 million.

Ethnic, Religious Minorities . The 1866 constitution denied Romania's Jews citizenship; Jews had to apply on an individual basis. Muslims were granted naturalization in 1878, when the Dobruja, with her Turkish and Tatar minorities, was annexed

Cultural History . In 1860 Romania switched from the Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet (for the Romanian language).
In 1860 the University of Iasi was established. In 1864 St. Sabba Academy was elevated to the University of Bucharest. The Romanian Academy of Sciences was founded in 1866.

Article List of Prime Ministers of Romania, Elections in Romania, Kingdom of Romania, National Awakening of Romania, Alexander John Cuza, Carol I. of Romania, Mihail Kogalniceanu, Northern Dobruja, History of Dobruja, Romanian Language : History, from Wikipedia
The Early Oil Industry of Poland and Romania, from SJGS
History of the Romanian Academy of Sciences
The History of Romanian Railways, from CFR
History, from University of Bucharest
A Global History of Currencies : Romania
The Constitution of Romania, by I. Muraru, S. Tanasescu
National Revival in Romania, 1848-1866, by Stephen W. Sowards
Independent Romania, from Jewish Virtual Library
DOCUMENTS List of Statesmen, from World Statesmen (B. Cahoon)
Historical Population Statistics : Romania, from Population Statistics, Univ. Utrecht
Rumanian banknotes, from Ron Wise's World Paper Money
REFERENCE IHS : B.R. Mitchell, International Historical Statistics. Europe 1750-1988, NY : Stockton Press 1992 [G]
Article : Roumania, in : Statesman's Year Book 1878 pp.357-363 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on October 9th 2006, last revised on June 24th 2007

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