2015 results

After rescheduling the grant budget, the project was extended in 2015 in 2016. In the period January–December 2015, team members went on with their investigations meant to set light on the social and economic processes through which both ancient and more recent towns in the Romanian Principalities underwent. This year, we focused on particular aspects related to the urban milieu, namely the ethnic categories that lived in those towns, their economic preoccupations, and the place they occupied in local society, their culture and education. One of the case studies analyzed concerned the city of Iași, former capital of Moldavia; our research provided better insight into the functioning of an urban community in the 17th–18th centuries. In addition, research enabled us to extend the initially imposed chronological framework until the first part of the 19th century. However, we did not neglect the objectives proposed within the project: study of urban society, of social solidarities, circumstances of collaboration and conflict; demography and migration to/from the towns; pre-modern urban topography; cultural aspects, etc.

The team members work together and they collaborate very well, which has led to visible results. This is also due to them being well-trained researchers, with outstanding knowledge of the period in question. Within our research, we continued applying the comparative method, and we have often used instruments of the auxiliary sciences of history. We used primary and secondary, published or unpublished sources within archives and libraries (new documents and inventories were thus identified, analyzed, and interpreted critically). Investigations were conducted in different branches of the National Archives (first those of Bucharest and Iaşi), the Romanian Academy Library, the Central University Library (of Bucharest and Iaşi), as well as the Central European University Library of Budapest. The preliminary research findings were presented at conferences organized in the country (Iaşi, Bucharest, Satu Mare) and abroad (China).

The team manager – Prof. Laurenţiu Rădvan, from the Faculty of History, “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iaşi – finalized or sent for publication several studies concerning the project objectives (urban communities, economic preoccupations, relations with other institutions or with the Church). For the beginning, we mention the study Noi perspective asupra relațiilor dintre mănăstiri și orașe: cazul mănăstirii Sf. Ioan Zlataust din Iași, in print at the only specialized journal in Romania (Historia Urbana, 2015). This paper analyzed a case study: the impact of possessions owned by the Zlataust monastery of Iași on the inhabitants of two peripheral neighbourhoods (mahala) of the city (Broșteni and Tătărași). Unpublished archive sources allowed us to get a better image of the world of lower social class, which included small artisans, princely servants, single women, (along with a growing number of foreigners, attracted by the promise of a better life). The paper also proved that the relations between monasteries and cities (city inhabitants, implicitly) were far more complex than they might seem at first glance. Following the construction of worship places in urban centres, monasteries rapidly obtained houses or lands necessary for running the churches and for monks’ expenses. However, these events had a significant impact on inhabitants, with whom the Church began an economic competition. As he continued with urban history research, Laurențiu Rădvan also studied the situation of ethnic categories in medieval Iași. This city had a very particular situation, because it was inhabited by Romanians, but also by large groups of Armenians, Hungarians, Jews, Gypsies, and by less significant groups of Serbians, Bulgarians, Germans, Albanians, or Russians. Whether they worked in trade or crafts, the members of these groups contributed decisively to the economic development of the city and to its inclusion in local or international commercial networks. The vast final study resulting from his research, entitled Categorii etnice în Iași (secolul al XV-lea – începutul secolului al XIX-lea), was published in the volume Iaşi – oraş al diversităţii. Categorii etnice și minorități în secolele XV-XX: aspecte sociale, economice și culturale, Iași, Ars Longa, 2015, pp. 7-77. Furthermore, the paper “Arestuitele țigănci” de la Iași și implicațiile colective ale unui furt la drumul mare din 1830 was finalized. This paper studies the situation of Gypsy servants in Moldavia and it is currently in print (Analele Științifice ale Universității “Alexandru Ioan Cuza”, (serie nouă), Istorie, LXI (2015). Finally, a study recently sent for publication was published this year and it is worth mentioning – A Winding Road: Urban Autonomy in the Romanian Principalities between the Fourteenth and the Eighteenth Century. It was included in the volume Urban Liberties and Citizenship from the Middle Ages up to now, edited by the renowned historians Michel Pauly, Alexander Lee, and published at Trier, Porta Alba Verlag, 2015 (pp. 171-184, ISBN 978-393-3701-503).

Another team member – Gheorghe Lazăr, from the “Nicolae Iorga” Institute of History, Romanian Academy, Bucharest – continued his research in order to attain the project goals in matters related to urban society. He published an excellent study on Zarafi şi negustori din Ţara Românească (secolul al XVII-lea – sfârşitul secolului al XVIII-lea), where he analyzed a very important category among the great merchants south from the Carpathians: the zarafi. Their activity was favoured by the lack of a specific monetary system and by the circulation of several currencies in parallel in the Romanian Principalities. The author demonstrates that, whereas by mid-18th century one can delimit a traditional phase of zaraflâc (= exchanging coins), starting with the second half of the 18th century, in the context of the significant coin depreciation recorded in both the Ottoman and the Habsburg Empire, this type of economic activity entered a new phase. In this new phase, coin trading became an independent practice with important profits. The final study was included in the volume In Honorem Mircea Ciubotaru, ed. Lucian-Valeriu Lefter, Mihai-Bogdan Atanasiu, Iași, Editura Universității “Alexandru Ioan Cuza”, 2015, p. 233-243. Another study called Averea unei descendente brâncoveneşti: Maria Argetoianu was published in the volume Avere, prestigiu şi cultură materială în surse patrimoniale. Inventare de averi din secolele XVI-XIX, edited by another member of the grant, Dan Dumitru Iacob, also at Editura Universităţii „Alexandru Ioan Cuza”, 2015, p. 475-522. Finally, a study sent for publication a couple of years ago within the grant research – Les marchands de luxe, le luxe des marchands en Europe Orientale. Le cas de la Valachie (XVIIe-XVIIIe siècles) – was finally published in the volume Le commerce du luxe. Production, exposition et circulation des objets précieux du Moyen Age à nos jours, ed. in Natacha Coquery et Alain Bonnet, Lyon, Marc & Martin, 2015, p. 249-257.

The aforementioned team member Dan Dumitru Iacob – a researcher with The Institute of Socio-Human Research Sibiu – finalized an interesting study dedicated to the category of Jews in Iași in the pre-modern and modern period: Evreii din Iaşi în secolul al XIX‑lea (aspecte demografice, sociale, culturale şi urbanistice) (published in the vol. Iaşi – oraş al diversităţii. Categorii etnice și minorități în secolele XV-XX: aspecte sociale, economice și culturale, Iași, Ars Longa, 2015, pp. 112-163). Though the study concerns mainly the 19th century, it does comprise a long introduction (pp. 112-121) on the beginnings of Jewish community in the capital of Moldavia from the end of the 17th century to the 18th century.

Petronel Zahariuc – Professor at the Faculty of History, “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iaşi – published in the same volume the paper Contribuții privitoare la istoria învățământului în Iași în perioada de trecere de la evul mediu la epoca modernă (pp. 78-111), which studies the evolution of the princely school of Iași in the 17th–18th centuries; this was the most important education establishment of Moldavia in those times. Also, as part of the grant research, he sent for publication the paper Documente de la Şerban Vodă Cantacuzino păstrate în arhiva mănăstirii Dohiariu de la Muntele Athos, in print at “Analele Ştiinţifice ale Universităţii „Alexandru Ioan Cuza” din Iaşi (serie nouă), Istorie”, LXI (2015) (with Ioan-Augustin Guriţă).

Meanwhile, three studies written several years ago by project team members and sent for publication are finally to be published in the volume Social and Political Elites in Eastern and Central Europe, at UCL – School of Slavonic and East European Studies (ISBN 9780-903-425-889), in the United Kingdom (they were supposed to be published by Peter Lang initially, but it did not happen for different reasons). These texts are the following: Urban Elites in the Romanian principalities of the late Middle Ages (by Laurențiu Rădvan); Merchant-moneychangers in Wallachia (from the seventeenth century to the end of the eighteenth century) (by Gheorghe Lazăr); Urban elites of Lviv: emergence, development, and self-representation (by Olga Kozubska – unpaid member of the project).

As in the previous years, investigations conducted within the project were made public through papers presented in the country or abroad. In this sense, the most important contribution belongs to the project manager, who was invited to present the paper Space distribution in late medieval and pre-modern towns in the Romanian Principalities, at the 22nd International Congress of Historical Science, Jinan, China, 22nd–29th of August 2015. This is one of the most prestigious history congresses in the world and it is held once every five years. The paper presented by Laurențiu Rădvan was part of the section called Cities and their spaces: New approaches in urban studies and cartography, organized by Associate Professor Katalin Szende, PhD, of the Central European University, Budapest. This year, too, Laurențiu Rădvan attended the annual conference of the History of Romanian Cities Commission of the Romanian Academy. This year’s topic was Cities and Administration and it was organized in collaboration with the County Museum of Satu Mare. Laurențiu Rădvan presented the paper Administrație și justiție în orașele din Moldova medievală (Satu Mare, 18th–19th of September 2015). Dr. Gheorghe Lazăr presented the paper Marchands valaques sur la route de Venise: le cas de Constantin Malache et son livre de compte (1741-1770), at the international conference Venezia e l’Europa Orientale tra il tardo Medioevo e l’Età moderna, Venezia, April 23-24, 2015.