5. Modern Period to 1866

In 1821 the Greek revolution, striving to create an independent Greece, broke out on Rumanian ground, supported by the princes of Moldavia and Muntenia. Of this support the Rumanians strongly disapproved, for, if successful, the movement would have strengthened the obnoxious Greek domination; If unsuccessful, the Turks were sure to take a terrible revenge for the assistance given by the Rumanian countries. The movement, which was started about the same time by the ennobled peasant, Tudor Vladimirescu, for the emancipation of the lower classes, soon acquired, therefore, an anti-Greek tendency. Vladimirescu was assassinated at the instigation of the Greeks; the latter were completely checked by the Turks, who, grown suspicious after the Greek rising and confronted with the energetic attitude of the Rumanian nobility, consented in 1822 to the nomination of two native boyards, Jonitza Sturdza and Gregory Ghica, recommended by their countrymen, as princes of Moldavia and Wallachia. The iniquitous system of 'the throne to the highest bidder' had come to an end.

The period which marks the decline of Greek influence in the Rumanian principalities also marks the growth of Russian influence; the first meant economic exploitation, the second was a serious menace to the very existence of the Rumanian nation. But if Russia seemed a possible future danger, Turkey with its Phanariote following was a certain and immediate menace. When, therefore, at the outbreak of the conflict with Turkey in 1828 the Russians once more passed the Pruth, the country welcomed them. Indeed, the Rumanian boyards, who after the rising of 1821 and the Turkish occupation had taken refuge in Transylvania, had even more than once invited Russian intervention.[1] Hopes and fears alike were realized. By the Treaty of Adrianople (1829) the rights of Turkey as suzerain were limited to the exaction of a monetary tribute and the right of investiture of the princes, one important innovation being that these last were to be elected by national assemblies for life. But, on the other hand, a Russian protectorate was established, and the provinces remained in Russian military occupation up to 1834, pending the payment of the war indemnity by Turkey. The ultimate aim of Russia may be open to discussion. Her immediate aim was to make Russian influence paramount in the principalities; this being the only possible explanation of the anomalous fact that, pending the payment of the war indemnity, Russia herself was occupying the provinces whose autonomy she had but now forcibly retrieved from Turkey. The Reglement Organique , the new constitutional law given to the principalities by their Russian governor, Count Kisseleff, truly reflected the tendency. From the administrative point of view it was meant to make for progress; from the political point of view it was meant to bind the two principalities to the will of the Tsar. The personal charm of Count Kisseleff seemed to have established as it were an unbreakable link between Russians and Rumanians. But when he left the country in 1834 'the liking for Russia passed away to be replaced finally by the two sentiments which always most swayed the Rumanian heart: love for their country, and affection towards France'.

[Footnote 1: Sec P. Eliade, Histoire de l'Esprit Public en Roumanie , i, p. 167 et seq.]

French culture had been introduced into the principalities by the Phanariote princes who, as dragomans of the Porte, had to know the language, and usually employed French secretaries for themselves and French tutors for their children. With the Russian occupation a fresh impetus was given to French culture, which was pre-eminent in Russia at the time; and the Russian officials, not speaking the language of the country, generally employed French in their relations with the Rumanian authorities, French being already widely spoken in Rumania. The contact with French civilization, at an epoch when the Rumanians were striving to free themselves from Turkish, Greek, and Russian political influence, roused in them the sleeping Latin spirit, and the younger generation, in constantly increasing numbers, flocked to Paris in search of new forms of civilization and political life. At this turning-point in their history the Rumanians felt themselves drawn towards France, no less by racial affinity than by the liberal ideas to which that country had so passionately given herself during several decades.