We encounter it all the time, everywhere and at all levels. Human beings are tireless seekers and builders of coherence. We try to give unity and meaning to a world which would otherwise disorient us by its heterogeneity and its lack of sure significations. Religion, science, and ideology have as their fundamental aim the bringing of order into the world. From the cosmic whole to the basic cells of society, everything is passed through this unifying treatment. The E mpire and Christendom are the most typical political and ideological embodiments of the idea of unity in pre-modern Europe.
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We encounter it all the time, everywhere and at all levels. Human beings are tireless seekers and builders of coherence. We try to give unity and meaning to a world which would otherwise disorient us by its heterogeneity and its lack of sure significations. Religion, science, and ideology have as their fundamental aim the bringing of order into the world. From the cosmic whole to the basic cells of society, everything is passed through this unifying treatment.
The E mpire and Christendom are the most typical political and ideological embodiments of the idea of unity in pre-modern Europe. The nineteenth century saw the outbreak of the national phenomenon. The idea of the nation-state imposed itself as a fundamental historical myth, becoming one of the great secular religions of the last two centuries. As a privileged form of unity, the nation began to be seen especially by the Romantics of the nineteenth century as the very key and end of the whole historical process.
Intoxicated with national sentiment, historians ended up forgetting that what for the modern world is an essential value, sometimes even the supreme value, fades and disappears if we go back into the past, giving way to other concepts and forms of unity.
However, this recognition did not initially presuppose a common political project, still less any political unity on national grounds, for the simple reason that such thinking was foreign to the spirit of the age. The invocation of the Dacian project of Gabriel Bethlen in recent Romanian historiography leaves to one side the elementary fact that the prince of Transylvania was Hungarian, as was the entire ruling class of his land, so that the project in question can hardly be seen as a Romanian one.
The Hungarians of Transylvania are Romanian citizens today, but they were not Romanian citizens in the seventeenth century, nor had they any way of knowing that Transylvania would be united with Romania in The Moldavians knew perfecdy well that they spoke much the same language as the Muntenians, and they felt close to the neighboring land in many respects, but for centuries this did not prevent them from calling themselves not Romanians but Moldavians as the Romanians of Bessarabia still do.
As for the political union of these two principalities, it was called for by a number of boyars in memoranda presented between and , a fact which has been noted and highlighted. But a far greater number of such documents deal with the problems of each country separately, without in any way hinting at a future unification. The project of union must be seen as a process, not as something given and invariable from the beginning.
Towards the middle of the nineteenth century it came onto the agenda; this does not mean that it was equally present in A Greater Romania from the Dniester to the Tisza belongs unquestionably to the political imaginary of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. However, it was hard to imagine the dismemberment of the Habsburg Monarchy, or of the Hungarian nucleus of this monarchy, as an effective solution.
The Transylvanian Romanians sought the autonomy of Transylvania, or an autonomy extended to the whole Austro—Hungarian area with a Romanian population Transylvania, the Banat, and Bukovina , rather than an apparently Utopian union with the two principalities, or, after , with Romania.
The federalization of the Habsburg Monarchy seemed a more realistic solution, and it would be incorrect to see it as a mere tactic of the national movements, a step towards a subsequent separation from the empire.
In any case, up until the First World War the principle of autonomy within Austria or Austria-Hungary was more often and more explicitly formulated than the remaking of old Dacia. In this way the Romanian nation would have found its unity under the patronage of Vienna. The unification of central Europe on a federal basis comes across as a reasonable and promising solution, and one which prefigures the current European project. The fact that it did not happen in the end does not mean that it could not have happened.
The Great Union of certainly represented the perfect formula from the point of view of the national ideal, but the fact thus accomplished should not lead us to an abusive simplification of previous history, by its reduction to the permanent manifestation of the struggle for unity: people had no way of knowing what the future had in store for them.
History follows a single pathway, but its virtual pathways are far more numerous. In each case the supreme value promoted is the Romanian national idea, which can be valorized equally in terms of its enduring historical roots or through the misfortunes that result when the idea of unity is neglected.
It is possible to learn just as well from the mistakes of our ancestors as from their virtues. Only rarely did they choose to look on themselves as one and the same nation. In their lack of unity, however, we must see the source of all their past misfortunes. The border has faded, but it separates entities which, however close, remain distinct. If nations are predestined then there must be a geographical predestination, a well-defined space, marked out by clear borders, which has been reserved for them from the beginning.
Herder, the great prophet of modern nationalism, insistently invokes geography in support of national history. For him, it has marked out from the beginning, with its immutable structures, the direction of the evolution of the various human communities.
The unitary geography of the Romanian people, which has continued to the present day, was elaborated in the nineteenth century in the image of a perfect, almost circular space bounded by three great waterways—the Danube, the Dniester, and the Tisza—a space supported and solidified by the vertebral column of the Carpathians which passes right across it. In the Romanian version, mountains unite while rivers divide. He notes that in most places the opposite rule applies: rivers unite and mountains divide.
Far from having ensured the unity of the Romanians, the Carpathian chain is responsible for the division of the national space. In order to unite, the Romanians are obliged to fight against geography:. The Carpathians are the decisive factor in the political division of the Romanians. We shall see that the Romanians, after remaining for a long time in the fortress of the mountains, at a certain time began to move out towards the valleys and plains of the Black Sea.
So strong was the divergent orientation imprinted on them from the beginning that they were to go on living separately, even as enemies, for more than half a millennium. In fact, a typology is impossible. The territorial expansion of a language or a nation does not derive from some geographical fatality; the land in itself does not conceal any predestination or laws leading to either unity or division.
As for the fragmentation of the Romanian territory in the Middle Ages, subtleties of argumentation are of little use. Why should there have been a united Romania in a Europe itself profoundly fragmented? The orientation of historical studies towards criticism highlighted the inappropriateness of transferring modern national sentiment into a past that was preoccupied with other values.
A certain political conjuncture also played its part in this process of attenuation. On the other hand, the progressive consolidation of cultural and spiritual relations between the Romanians on either side of the Carpathians, and the increasing momentum of the Romanian nationalist movement could not, before , lead to an effective political project for integrating Transylvania in the Romanian state.
On the contrary, fear of Russia pushed Romania towards Germany and Austria—Hungary, which meant the implicit acceptance of a separate status for the Romanians over the mountains. All that could be insisted on for the time being was their full political and cultural emancipation.
Already A. What sort of union of the Romanians did Michael the Brave want if, in the chief of his lands, where he desired to rule himself, he left the Romanian population without rights, subject, in the most degrading slavery, to people of another folk and another blood?
The idea of national unity was not in the political consciousness of that time, which was not yet ready to conceive it. Even in school textbooks the non-existence of such an intention is stated.
There are, of course, nuances: P. Panaitescu refuses any involvement of a Romanian consciousness; Nicolae Iorga and C. Giurescu seem less categorical, but nor do they go as far as identifying a national idea. At that time, as we know, each land was used to living according to its own customs, with its own ancient dynasty. It is worth drawing special attention to two aspects which lead to this conclusion. In any case, the inclination towards events of the historiography of the period left not the slightest family quarrel untouched.
He, whom we shall later see running in all directions in search of allies against the Turks, had now crushed the most precious ally of all, the ruler of a people of the same blood and folk, whose fall before the Turks should have shown Stephen the precipice which awaited him, too.
For a long time, including the interwar period, Transylvania was given less space in works of synthesis than Wallachia and Moldavia apart from those written by Transylvanians. The overall impression is of reticence in the face of the ambiguous status of a Transylvania that was both Romanian in terms of the majority of its population and its present situation and different from the other Romanian lands in that it had participated in another history.
In any case, a simple statistical calculation offers conclusive results. For example, in the second volume of C. As a historical personality he is no less important than Stephen or Michael. For all that, an investigation into the relative weighting of national heroes in history textbooks between and found Iancu in a quite mediocre position with a percentage of 1.
Of course, the orientations of the critical school constituted a lasting gain, and among them was the explicit renunciation of a Romanian national idea in the Middle Ages. On the other hand, however, the union of the new provinces, especially Transylvania, required also their organic integration in the national history, while actions from outside aimed at the dismemberment of Romania, based on arguments which included the lack of a fundamental basis for unity, could not be left without a historical answer.
The need became even more urgent after , when everything was again put under a question mark by territorial maiming and war. Before national consciousness, according to the Transylvanian historian, there was the fundamental unity of the Romanian space, bounded by the Danube, the Black Sea, the Dniester, and the Tisza, and structured by the Carpathians, to which he adds the unitary ethnic factor with its specific features and the no less important religious dimension of Orthodoxy.
Even the western border claimed by the voivode corresponded more or less to the present Romanian—Hungarian border. This mission obliged the prince and the statesmen to overcome particularist traditions and to take into consideration, from an as yet exclusively strategic or political point of view, a greater unity, which could not fail to become national once the times permitted.
Medieval dissentions appeared as a mere transitory phase between a well-defined Dacian space and the present-day Romania that restored its outlines once again. Did this people have a name? We can be sure they did not call themselves Geto—Dacians! The voivode Michael became governor of this province, and as such was considered the representative of Emperor Rudolf II, who regarded Transylvania as an Austrian province. The developing Romanian bourgeoisie saw its interests threatened by the Turkish yoke.
In the spirit of absolute truths propagated by a doctrine which was simplistic in its very essence, the point of equilibrium was quickly left behind in the transition from ignoring any Romanian sentiment to the projection of the national idea over the whole of history. Unity became, alongside continuity, the guiding axis of the historical discourse.
What generations of historians had sought to demolish, or at least to nuance—out of simple respect for their profession and a patriotism correctly understood—became again part of an obsessive, and unfortunately efficient, nationalist discourse. Thus nineteenth-century historical interpretations, especially those of the Romantic generation of the mid-nineteenth century, which were completely outdated in terms of contemporary historiography, were combined with the imperatives of current communist ideology and politics.
All totalitarian projects, and communism more than any, put a high value on the idea of unity. This was the aim, the only aim—certainly not patriotism or the disinterested search for historical truth. Here there took place a leap back of over a century, with the accent placed once again on the Romanian, consciously Romanian, sense of his action. Where generation after generation of historians had claimed that the voivode showed relatively little interest in the Romanians of Transylvania, it was discovered that, on the contrary, Michael had taken numerous measures in their favor.
It was then forbidden to speak anymore of the conquest of Transylvania and Moldavia the term previously used, without any problems of conscience, by all Romanian historians. The Romanian provinces could not have been conquered, but united: in fact, they aspired to be united. Yet another Romanian first!
In any case, the princes seem much more conscious of the national idea than does the great scholar Miron Costin, a hundred years later. Indeed, for a long time the great prince had been a symbol of Moldavian particularism, as he still is in the Republic of Moldova.
The joining of Dobrogea to Wallachia under his rule could be interpreted as the first union in the series of successive unions which founded Romania. The autonomy of the voivodate—which perfectly fits the general typology of territorial fragmentation in the Middle Ages— conferred on it a Romanian sense. There was much insistence on the notion that Transylvania had closer relations with Wallachia and Moldavia than with the Hungarian crown passing discreedy over the detail that the voivode was appointed and revoked by the king of Hungary, indicating a higher degree of dependence than that of the great feudal magnates in France or the German Empire, who were hereditary masters of their lands, in relation to their respective sovereigns.
The repeated conflicts between the three countries were cancelled by the application of a twofold strategy. First, despite appearances, these conflicts could in fact mean real attempts at unification, with the princes of Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transylvania trying in turn to impose their supremacy over their sister lands.
Din Psihologia Poporului Roman: Introducere
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Din Psihologia Poporului Roman