FROM THE DEATH OF MICHAEL THE BRAVE (A.D. 1601) TO THE DEPOSITION OF PRINCE COUZA (A.D. 1866).
Turkish exactions after Michael's fall—Transition from native to Greek Voivodes—Matthew Bassarab (Wallachia) and Basilius Lupus (Moldavia)—Their severe criminal codes—Serban II. (Cantacuzene)—His good deeds—Betrays the Turks before Vienna—Growing power of Russia—Treaty of Carlowitz—Brancovano (Wallachia) and Cantemir (Moldavia) negotiate with Peter the Great—First Russian invasion of the Principalities—Repelled by the Turks—Flight of Cantemir—(Note: Anecdote of Russian cupidity)—Arrest and execution of Brancovano and his family—His great treasures—The Phanariotes—Their origin and rise—Massacred in Wallachia—Second appearance—Extortions and expulsion—Panaiotaki, Dragoman of the Porte—The Mavrocordatos—Nicholas, first Phanariote Hospodar—Suppresses the boyards' retainers—Constantine modifies slavery—Mode of appointing hospodars—The Caimakam—Homage and servility of boyards—Conduct of Phanariote rulers at home—Court customs—Reputed effeminacy—Rapacity and exactions—Extortions of officials—Extravagance of princesses—Treatment of peasantry—Princes encourage brigandage—Usually deposed and executed—Corruption of clergy—Other baneful effects of Phanariote rule—(Note: Divorces in Roumania to-day)—Another view of Phanariote princes—Their good works—Ypsilanti, Gregory Ghika—Nicholas Mavrojeni and his cowardly boyards—Ennobles his horses—Russo-Turkish wars—Treaty of Belgrade—Russian successes and Austrian interference—Treaty of Kainardji—Russian protectorate—Cession of Bucovine to Austria—Treaty of Jassy—Amelioration of state of the Principalities, 1802—French and English consuls appointed—Russo-Turkish war and occupation—Treaty of Bucarest—Hetairia or Greek rising—Rebellion in the Principalities—Career and fate of the patriots Vladimiresco and Ypsilanti—End of Phanariote rule—Russian intervention and occupation—Treaty of Adrianople and restoration of native rulers—Patriotic efforts of Heliade and others—Rise of Roumanian learning and art—The year of revolutions, 1848—Partial success of the rising in Roumania—Suppression by Russia and Turkey—Escape of the patriots—Review of the benefits of Russian interference in the Principalities—Renewed Russian aggression—Brief history of the war of 1854-1856 between Russia and the Western Powers and Turkey—Treaty of Paris—Return of the patriots—Union of the Principalities under Prince Couza—Incidents of his reign—His deposition—How planned and effected—The provisional government—Evil influence of Couza's conduct.
he history of Moldo-Wallachia during the seventeenth century—that is to say, from the fall of Michael to the dispossession of the native voivodes at the beginning of the eighteenth century—possesses little interest for English readers. Some of the more important incidents will be referred to in connection with the subsequent régime of the Greek, or, as they are called, the Phanariote rulers appointed by the Porte, and it will only be necessary to make a few brief comments upon the condition of the country, and the character of two or three of the Voivodes who reigned during the century.
It may well be imagined that the humiliating defeats inflicted by Michael upon the Turkish armies would not tend to mollify the severity of their subsequent rule, and that the chief aim of the Porte would be to extort as large a revenue as possible from the conquered provinces, without regard to the sufferings of any class, This was effected by taking advantage of the jealousies and intrigues of the boyards who aspired to the rulership to obtain an increase of the tribute, and bribes; and a reference to the records of the time shows that whilst in Wallachia the rule of only three voivodes, and in Moldavia that of two only, exceeded five years, there were often two new princes appointed in the same year. A noteworthy circumstance in connection with these voivodes is their gradual transition from native to Greek families. Here and there we have an Italian appellative, such as Quatiani or Rosetti, but in the main there is a change from the Bassarabs, the Bogdans, and the Radus, to the Ghikas, Cantacuzenes, Brancovanos, and eventually to the Mavrocordatos. The explanation of this change will be given presently, but amongst the native rulers we may select two or three for brief comment. Between 1627 or 1633 and 1654 Matthew Baasarab ruled over Wallachia to the advantage of the nation. He drove out the Tartars who had overrun the country, and afterwards devoted himself to the welfare of his subjects. Bucarest was not yet the acknowledged capital, but he established a printing-press there, and also reformed the administration of justice. At the same time Basilius (known as Basil the Wolf), Prince of Moldavia, between whom and Matthew there had been great jealousy, followed his example in his own country, and a criminal code was introduced into both principalities, which, amongst its other provisions, legalised slavery in some of its most iniquitous forms. A few extracts from this code may be of interest, as showing the condition of the people at that time.
Anyone guilty of arson was burned alive.
Anyone harbouring a fugitive serf was liable to a fine of twelve silver lions into court and twenty-four to the seigneur.
If the gipsy of a boyard or his children stole some such trifle as a chicken or an egg twice or three times, he was to be pardoned, but if he stole anything more considerable he should be punished as a thief. If he committed a theft to ward off starvation, he was pardoned, and also if he stole from the enemy.
A treasure discovered by means of sorcery became the property of the prince.
Besides the very severe punishments directed against other forms of murder, poisoning, which must therefore have been frequent, has two clauses provided for it. One is that, in addition to the punishment of a murderer, his children shall be declared infamous.