Romanian Culture. The medieval period.

Posted on 2017-03-06    Category Culture

The culture of Romania is a unique culture, which is the product of its geography and its distinct historical evolution. The Dacian people, the major indigenous peoples of Central and Southeast Europe are the predecessors of the Proto-Romanians.

During late Antiquity and Middle Ages, the major influences came from the Slavic peoples  who migrated and settled south of the Danube; from medieval greekss, and the  Byzantine Empire; from the Hungarians; from the germans, especially saxonian germans and from several other neighboring peoples. Modern Romanian culture emerged and developed with many other influences as well, partially that of Central and  Western Europe.

Romania's history has been full of rebounds: the culturally productive epochs were those of stability, when the people proved quite an impressive resourcefulness in making up for less propitious periods and were able to rejoin the mainstream of European culture. This stands true for the years after the  Phanariotte - Ottoman period, at the beginning of the 19th century, when Romanians had a favourable historical context and Romania started to become westernized, mainly with  French influences, which they pursued steadily and at a very fast pace. From the end of the 18th century, the sons of the upper classes started having their education in   Paris and French became (and was until the communist years) a genuine second language of culture for Romanians. The modeling role of France especially in the fields of political ideas, administration and law, as well as in literature was paralleled, from the mid-19th century down to  WW I, by German culture as well, which also triggered constant relationships with the German world not only at a cultural level but in daily life as well. With the arrival of Soviet Communism in the area, Romania quickly adopted many Slavic influences, and Russian was also a widely taught in the country during Romania's "socialist" years.

The Middle Ages

Many specialists said that the first romanian document wroted in the romanian is "Neacsu`s letter from Campulung. The truth , still not recognized by the Romanian Academy is that a page from an old school book printed in the XI century and preserved on the Museum of The First Romanian School from Brasov is older then that letter with about 300 years.

Until the 14th century, small states (romanian; voievodate) were spread across the territory of Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldova. The medieval principalities  Wallachia and Moldova arose around that time in the area on the southern and eastern sides of the  Carpathian Mountains.

Wallachia  and Moldova were both situated on important commercial routes often crossed by Polish, Saxon, Greek, Armenian, Genovese and Venetian merchants, connecting them well to the evolving culture of medieval Europe. Grigore`s Ureche chronicle , Letopiseţul Ţărîi Moldovei (The Chronicles of the land of Moldova), covering the period from 1359 to 1594, is a very important source of information about life, events and personalities in Moldova. It is among the first non-religious Romanian literary texts; due to its size and the information that it contains it is, probably, the most important Romanian document from the 17th century.

The first printed book, a prayer book in Slavonic was produced in  Wallachia in 1508 and the first book in Romanian, a catechism, was printed in Transylvania, in 1544.

At the end of the 17th and the beginning of 18th century, European humanism influenced the works of Miron Costin and Ion Neculce , the Moldavian chroniclers  who continued Ureche's work. Constantin Brancoveanu prince of Wallachia , was a great patron of the arts and was a local Renaissance   figure. During Serban Cantacuzino  reign the monks at the monastery of Snagov , near Bucharest  published in 1688 the first translated and printed Romanian Bible  (Biblia de la Bucureşti - TheBucharest Bible). The first successful attempts at written Romanian-language poetry were made in 1673 when Dosoftei , a Moldavian metropolitan in Iasi , published a Romanian metrical psalter.

Dimitrie Cantemir , a Moldavian  prince, was an important personality of the medieval period in Moldavia. His interests included philosophy, history, music, linguistics, ethnography and geography, and the most important works containing information about the Romanian regions wereDescriptio Moldaviae  published in 1769 and Hronicul vechimii a romano-moldo-valahilor (roughly, Chronicle of the durability of Romans-Moldavians-Wallachians), the first critical history of Romania. His works were also known in western Europe, as he authored writings in Latin: Descriptio Moldaviae (commissioned by the Academy of Berlin, the member of which he became in 1714) and Incrementa atque decrementa aulae othomanicae, which was printed in English in 1734-1735 (second edition in 1756), in French (1743) and German (1745); the latter was a major reference work in European science and culture until the 19th century.