Laurențiu Rădvan

Professor Laurențiu Rădvan, PhD

The head of the project, Laurenţiu Rădvan, has medieval and pre-modern urban history as his main field of expertise, focusing on institutional, economic, and social history. He has been active in this field since completing his studies (1998). This line of research has allowed him to publish two books (as sole author, one in Romania, and another in The Netherlands, by Brill) and coordinate two volumes of studies (published in Romania). In addition, he has published over 35 studies in journals throughout Romania and Europe, as well as a synthesis and a volume of sources on European history (where he has focused on medieval towns).

Our research has sought to bridge a gap in historiography, by aligning urban centres in South-East Europe with mid-continent towns, to which they are related institutionally. Until the downfall of Communism, the history of local towns was influenced by the autonomous development theory, which discarded significant outside factors. Some Romanian historians attempted to find an individual path for towns in the Romanian Principalities, while avoiding a comparative approach, which would have shown whether the emergence of these towns was part of a larger model that covered vast areas of the continent. Local specifics came into focus, and the urbanization process was taken out of the historical context of the day. We have shown in several works that political and economic developments in Europe left a significant mark, not only on Transylvanian towns, but also on the Moldavian and Wallachian ones. In some cases, the original institutional features of these towns were preserved until the dawn of the modern age. We have argued for these institutional connections, by also researching how the urban phenomenon manifested itself in the countries that propagated urban elements to the East, namely, Poland and Hungary. We have brought new arguments to support the belated emergence of towns in the Romanian Principalities (not until the 14th-16th centuries) and have pinpointed evidence for the role of German, Hungarian, and Armenian settlers in the urbanization process. After mid-16th century, when Ottoman rule in the Principalities intensified, we have shown that the disparities were evened out and the aspect and internal structures of these towns take after the Oriental fashion. In the past few years, I have approached the development of towns at the end of the Middle Ages and in pre-modern times (16th-18th centuries) in several other works. I have also published my research on: the relations between princes and towns, or boyars and towns (case studies); lines of communication within towns (roads, streets, bridges in 16th-18th century towns); financial practices in Moldavian towns in the 17th-18th centuries (usury) etc. Our studies have highlighted that, as with the rest of Europe, state-town relations were initially balanced, with the second half of the 17th century bringing about an increase in the ruler’s authority, at the expense of that of the towns. This will be a point of emphasis in this paper as well.  Our research has been acknowledged partly by being published in well-known journals and by publishing houses outside Romania, by being frequently quoted in the recent period, as well as by positive reviews.

Main works

I. Books

Orașele din țările române în evul mediu (sfârșitul sec. al XIII-lea – începutul sec. al XVI-lea) [Towns in the Romanian principalities in the Middle Ages (the end of the 13th century – the beginning of the 16th century)] (Iași: Editura Universităţii „Alexandru Ioan Cuza”, 2011).

At Europe’s Borders: Medieval Towns in the Romanian Principalities, translated by Valentin Cîrdei (Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2010).

O istorie a Europei de Apus în Evul Mediu. De la Imperiul Roman târziu la marile descoperiri geografice (sec. V-XVI) [A History of Western Europe in the Middle Ages. From the Roman Empire to the Great Geographic Discoveries]. With Al.-F. Platon and B.-P. Maleon (Iaşi: Editura Polirom, 2010).

Oraşele din Ţara Românească până la sfârşitul secolului al XVI-lea [Towns in Wallachia until the End of the 16th Century] (Iaşi: Editura Universităţii „Alexandru Ioan Cuza”, 2004).

 II. Edited Volumes:

Orașele, orășenii și banii: atitudini, activități, instituții, implicații (sec. XVI-XX) [Towns, townspeople and money: attitudes, activities, institutions and implications (16th-20th centuries)]. With Bogdan Căpraru (Iași: Editura Universităţii „Alexandru Ioan Cuza”, 2011).

Oraşul din spaţiul românesc între Orient şi Occident. Tranziţia de la medievalitate la modernitate [The Town in the Romanian Area between East and West. The Passage from Medieval to Modern Times] (Iaşi: Editura Universităţii „Alexandru Ioan Cuza”, 2007).

Civilizaţia urbană din spaţiul românesc in secolele XVI-XVIII. Studii şi documente [Urban Civilization in the Romanian Area between the 16th and the 18th Century. Studies and Documents] (Iaşi: Editura Universităţii „Alexandru Ioan Cuza”, Iaşi, 2006).

De la Cetatea lui Dumnezeu la Edictul din Nantes. Izvoare de istorie medievală (secolele V-XVI) [From the City of God to the Edict of Nantes. Sources of Medieval History (5th – 16th century)]. With Alexandru-Florin Platon (Iaşi: Editura Polirom, 2005).

Detailed CV