2013 results

The second year of research showed both a more marked pace in the investigations on the urban world between the 16th and the 18th centuries, as well as an increase in the number of studies submitted for publication or already published. We believe that the project topic is important since it seeks to shed light on various social, economic or even political circumstances that underlay the transformations of towns and townspeople in the centuries that bridged the Middle Ages and modern times. On the one hand, research has shown just how dynamic the world of towns was in these transitional centuries, how close were the ties between the townsfolk (especially the merchants) and the Transylvanian inhabitants, as well as the population dwelling in the South-Danube/Levantine area. On the other hand, the first signs of change were brought to the fore; a testimony to this is the research into urban topograhy, street patterns and the evolution of markets in large towns. Ultimately, the call for a comparative approach within the project has allowed us to highlight some common features in the path followed by urban centres in the Romanian area and towns in the immediately adjacent area. It was in both the Romanian countries, and in the Polish or Hungarian territories, that the central authority, whether represented by local rulers or kings, had attempted (and largely succeeded) to place increasing limitations on the Medieval autonomy of towns and to subordinate these centres, in its efforts of extending its power and giving new grounds to it.

The team is made up of qualified researchers, with an excellent grasp of the matter at hand, so there were no issues that implied any kind of in-depth initiation into the subject or the historical period. Research continued to apply the comparative method, often using methods derived from sister-disciplines for history, such as genealogy. We have also relied on primary and secondary sources, whether published or not, found in archives and libraries, and we have identified original documents and censuses, which were subjected to critical scrutiny and interpretation. We have also investigated branches of the National Archives, (Bucharest, Iaşi, Sibiu, Galați), in the Romanian Academy Library and in the Central University Library (in Bucharest and Iaşi). Preliminary results were presented at in-country conferences (Iaşi, Bucharest), as well as in Portugalia, Bulgaria or the USA.

The team leader, Laurenţiu Rădvan, has finished or submitted for publication several studies that fulfilled the goals set ever since the initiation of the project for its second year: research into the relations between rulers and towns, focusing on the reactions of urban communities and social impact. We will begin by mentioning Schimbări în orașele din Țara Românească la finele evului mediu. Studiu de caz: roșii și slujitorii (a doua jumătate a sec. al XVI-lea – a doua jumătate a sec. XVII-lea), a study now printing for „Revista Istorică” (CNCS-B, ERIH-INT2), 23 (2012), no. 5-6, p. 505-528, due for publication until this year’s end. This article has examined the way that social and military transformations (which began in late 16th century) impacted towns and the inhabitants in Wallachia. One version of this paper, Changes in Wallachian towns at the beginning of the modern times. A case study: the role of the military servants, has been publicly presented and has already been published in the proceedings volume for 1st Annual International Interdisciplinary Conference, European Scientific Institute Publishing, 2013, p. 715-722, with our research being communicated internationally as well. The investigations aimed at how the townspeople in Wallachia (during the 16th and 17th centuries) reacted to the pressures applied by the central authority have resulted in the study Considerations on the townspeople’ attitudes and reactions to the central power: the case of the Romanian principalities, now printing in “Historia Urbana”, 21, 2013 (CNCS-B, SCOPUS și CEEOL). Another study finalized by the head of the project is called Urban Elites in the Romanian principalities of the late Middle Ages, part of Social and Political Elites in Eastern and Central Europe (15th18th centuries), coordinated by Laurenţiu Rădvan and Cristian Luca, and scheduled for publication at the Peter Lang publishing house.

Another line of research followed by the head of the project is aimed at topography; one study in this respect is Cu privire la organizarea spaţiului urban în Ţara Moldovei în evul mediu, now printing at „Analele Științifice ale Universității Al. I. Cuza”, in the Istorie series, 2013. Another case study, with a relatively similar perspective, is dedicated to one of the oldest urban centres in Moldova, the town of Bârlad, in Contribuții la istoria unui vechi oraș al Moldovei: Bârlad, published in The steppe lands and the world beyond them. Studies in honor of Victor Spinei, ed. Florin Curta, Bogdan Maleon, Editura Universității Al. I. Cuza, 2013, p. 505-522. The legal perspective is analyzed in the articole German Law and Medieval Towns in the Romanian Principalities, apărut în Government and Law in medieval Moldavia, Transylvania and Wallachia, edited by the renowned University College London researcher, Martyn Rady, together with Alexandru Simon (recently published in London, UCL – School of Slavonic and East European Studies, 2013, p. 43-53), where studies initiated in the past year are included. Finally, the Negru Vodă şi formarea oraşelor din Ţara Românească study (by Laurențiu Rădvan), has been published in Lumea oraşului. Cercetări de istorie urbană, coord. Simion Câlția, București, Editura Universității din București, 2013, p. 37-61.

Another team member, researcher Gheorghe Lazăr, has contined his work in order to reach the project goals for matters related to urban society. He has carried out the study Un testament si o poveste de viata: cazul negustorului Cernea Popovici, în Miscellanea historica in honorem Professoris Marcel–Dumitru Ciuca septuagenarii, a body of work edited by Cristian Luca, Claudiu Neagoe, Marius Paduraru, Editura Istros, Brăila, 2013, p. 595-622, with one version dedicated to an international audience in French, Un testament et un recit de vie, scheduled for publication in the well-known „Etudes Balkaniques” magazine, published in Sofia (CEEOL). The Merchant-moneychangers in Wallachia (from the seventeenth century to the end of the eighteenth century), study has also been finalized and accepted for publication in Social and Political Elites in Eastern and Central Europe, now printing at Peter Lang. Documente privind negustori din Ţara Românească is a work of similarly great importance, which includes several hundreds of laws regarding the activity, the life, the habits and the pursuits of merchants south of the Carpathians, a tool that will serve very well anyone with an interest in urban life in the 17th century. A first volume was sent to print this year. These studies entitle us to believe that Gheorghe Lazăr has reached his goals (in the second year, adding to the first), and that he has focused on analyzing the most important social category in premodern towns: the merchants.

Dan Dumitru Iacob, a researcher at the Institute for Social and Human Sciences in Sibiu, has brought to completion and interesting study that fulfills the main objective he has set within the project, i.e. an analysis of the projects destined to modernize urban area, focusing on street pattern and markets. In this respect, Piețele orașului Iași în secolele XVIII-XIX. Medeanul de la Sfântul Spiridon, a new study, is being printed in the most important urban history publication in Romania, „Historia Urbana” (21/2013, CNCS-B, SCOPUS, CEEOL).

Petronel Zahariuc, a Professor at the History department in the „Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iaşi, has sent for publication Noi documente privitoare la istoria Ţării Româneşti, in „Studii şi materiale de istorie medie”, XXXI, 2013 (CNCS-B, CEEOL), documents that answer to the goal set, which is research into the evolution of monuments in the large towns of the Principalities.

Similarly to the first year in our project, we have believed that the investigations carried out by project members should be made public through communications, either nationally or abroad. The most important contribution in this respect belongs to the head of the project, who was invited to present his Urban identities in the late Middle Ages: the particular case of the Romanian Principalities at the most prestigious congress of Medieval history in the world, International Congress on Medieval Studies, the 48th editition, held annually at the Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, USA. Laurențiu Rădvan’s presentation was part of a session called Late Medieval Urban Identities in Southern and Eastern Europe (May 10 2013). It was in this year as well that Laurențiu Rădvan took part in the annual reunion of the International Committee for the History of Towns, where he presented a new summary for his research (Lisbon, October 2013). Gheorghe Lazăr has contributed with his Un marchand, un testament et une histoire de vie, at the Institute for Balkanic Studies in Sofia (6 Oct 2013), a work that follows his line of research regarding the world of merchants. Dan Dumitru Iacob has continued his research into the publication of historical atlases for towns in Romania, and has finalized the atlas for Brăila.

Research progress was assessed regularly together with team members, the team leader being also the one who coordinates research and serves as the main link between the members. The final landmark for assessment was in mid-project, after 18 months, when the goals reached and the targets set for this stage of the project were analyzed. All the data has been uploaded to the project site  (http://urbfinhistory.uaic.ro/), including data regarding the most recent results. To conclude, we believe that the objectives we have set for this project have been attained.