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The History of Romania in Fresco
Image by Fergal Mac Eoinin
This series of six images was taken in the auditorium of the Opera House in Bucharest. They relate the images of Romanian History and the texts I have attached are no specific to the actual paintings as I am not wise enough to recognise the events – the texts come from 19th century writers writing about the Kingdom of Romania.
THE HISTORY OF ROMANIA
The area occupied by the Romanian people to-day was, in the earliest times of which we have record, inhabited by a people who had already attained a comparatively high standard of civilization. The Greeks called them the Getae, and they reappear as the Daci in the time of Julius Caesar. At this period they were organized into a kingdom under a strong ruler, Burebista.
For the greater part of the first century a. d. the province of Moesia, established in a. d. 6, remained exposed to incursions of the Daci. Punitive expeditions were undertaken against them, but the submission made by their rulers was merely nominal.
In a. d. 101 the Emperor Trajan took Dacian affairs in hand. The reigning king, Decebalus, was forced to sue for terms. As the conditions of the treaty were not being carried out, Trajan determined to reduce the country once for all. The remains of the bridge which was then thrown across the Danube are still to be seen near Turnu Severin, and a road, still known as Calea lui Traian, was constructed along the line of the river Olt and through the Red Tower pass. After a strenuous campaign in a. d. 106 Trajan captured the Dacian capital Sarmizegetusa (near Hatszeg in Transylvania) . Decebalus preferred death by his own sword to falling into the hands of the enemy.
The Roman province of Dacia was now constituted. Legionary camps were stationed at strategic points and linked up by military roads. Colonists were brought from different parts of the Empire, and the adoption of Latin (to which are traceable about two-fifths of the words in the Romanian language) is one among many proofs that Romanization was complete.
The province seems to have included the eastern Banat, the mountain country of Transylvania, and Oltenia. The plains of Muntenia and Moldavia apparently remained outside the Empire, but were no doubt gradually Romanized.
The peaceful development of the country was first broken by the Marcomannic War in the reign of Marcus Aurelius (a.d. 161-80). Under the Emperor Commodus (a.d. 180-92) conflicts took place with the Dacians outside the province, with the result that 12,000 who had hitherto been free were transported within the Roman boundaries.
In the reign of Caracalla (211-17) began the series of wars culminating in the invasions of the Goths. The pressure of these became so strong about the middle of the third century that the Emperor Aurelian in the year a. d. 271 determined to withdraw the Roman frontier to the Danube. The authorities at Rome had for years been seeking a more defensible line. It seems probable that no attempt was made, at any rate on a large scale, to deport the Romanized inhabitants of the province.
SLAVS AND MAGYARS
There is no connected history of the country for the centuries following the Roman occupation. Gothic influence is said to be traceable in some place-names, and the famous gold treasure found in 1837 near Mt. Istrita is believed to have been buried there by Athanaric, king of the Visigoths. Later invaders, such as the Huns, Gepidae, and Avars, seem to have left no permanent mark. The descendants of the Romanized population had probably not yet spread far beyond the Carpathian foot-hills and would therefore be little affected by the successive waves of nomads which rolled along the plains.
In the meantime Slavonic tribes had occupied most of the area between the Balkans and the Carpathians (see Handbook of Bulgaria, pp. 52-4). Fusion between the Slav and the Daco-Roman population seems to have been easy, but little can be affirmed with confidence regarding the history of the country for several hundred years.
About the beginning of the tenth century the Magyars entered the lands which they now occupy, to become before long overlords of most of the adjoining territory. The earliest historical documents of Transylvania show the country as organized in a kind of feudal system which may have been developed much earlier. At the head of the scale were the Voivozi or Bani. Under them in rank, though later their equals, were the Knezi. Then came the Boieri (Knights), who might owe their nobility either to birth or to their tenure of some administrative office. All these nobles were free from direct taxation, but had to provide military service.
Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia In course of time the development in the power of the feudal lords led them to make attempts to secure complete independence. Thus it is believed that as the result of the increasing importance of one of the great families, the Basarab, the principality of Wallachia, or Muntenia, to give it its Romanian name, was founded by a Basarab prince after a victory over the Hungarians during the first quarter of the fourteenth century. Some years later another member of the same family, Bogdan, Voivod of Maramures in Transylvania, crossed the mountains with his followers and founded the principality of Moldavia.
The history of the two States which were destined to be united in the nineteenth century into the kingdom of Romania is for the next five hundred years largely a chronicle of civil and foreign wars. The succession to the office of Voivod (Prince) depended partly on heredity, partly on the choice of the nobility, acclaimed by a general assembly of the people. Naturally there were often rival claimants to the throne. Enemies from without had also to be met, for the Ottoman Turks were now rising to the height of their power in Europe.
Amid all the turmoil of wars the names of one or two rulers stand out pre-eminently. One of these is Mircea eel Mare (Mircea the Great), Voivod of Wallachia, whose reign was spent in almost incessant and generally successful conflict with the Turks. Documents of the period call him ' Master and Prince of Hungary, of the Duchies of Fagaras and Ami as beyond the mountains, Duke of the Banat of Severin and Master of both banks of the Danube as far as the Great Sea ; Lord of the fortress of Durostor (i. e. Silistra).
Before his death in 1418 Mircea made terms with his chief enemies. His treaty with the Sultan Mahomet I remained the basis of Ottoman suzerainty over Romania till 1877.
In Moldavia the greatest figure is that of Stefan eel Mare (Stephen the Great), who ascended the throne in 1457. He came to be recognized as far as Persia as the chief opponent of the Moslem in Europe, and his chivalrous spirit led him to make several attempts to unite the Christian nations against the common enemy. The rival ambitions of neighbouri noprinces, however, frustrated all such endeavours.
During Stephen's reign Moldavia included the Bukovina ; the boundary to the east was the Dniester, while the river Milcov separated it from Wallachia on the west. The capital was at Jassy, to which Stephen transferred the seat of government from Suceava.
Before his death in 1504 the Moldavian prince advised his son Bogdan to submit to the Turks. As the suggestion was duly carried out, both Wallachia and Moldavia paid tribute to Constantinople.
The sixteenth century saw a gradual strengthening of the Turkish hold on the principalities. The ever-recurring feuds of rival pretenders to the throne were of great service to the Ottoman power. Candidates for the office of Hospodar (a Slavonic title = Lord), as the position of prince had come to be called from about the time of Mircea the Great, found it increasingly necessary to resort to bribery at Constantinople. Besides, the weakening of the two States by internal conflicts enabled the Porte to increase the amount of the tribute.
The natural wealth of the country, however, was such that even the heavy burdens it had to bear could not impoverish it beyond recovery. It is interesting also to note that in 1588 Petru Schiopul (Peter the Lame), Hospodar of Moldavia, concluded a commercial treaty with Queen Elizabeth of England. This agreement gave permission to all English subjects to settle in Moldavia for purposes of trade on payment of a customs-rate of only 3 per cent.
Under Mihai Viteazul (Michael the Brave) it seemed for a time that a new era had been inaugurated for the principalities. Michael came to the throne of Wallachia in 1593. In 1599 he was able to establish himself as ruler of Transylvania. He then turned his attention to Moldavia, expelled the reigning prince Jeremia Movila, and seized the throne, thus for the first time establishing a united Romanian kingdom.
It would be wrong, however, to regard Michael's actions as inspired by any statesmanlike belief in the unity of the States occupied by men of Romanian blood. Personal ambition was the chief motive, and his work was not destined to be permanent. He was defeated in battle in the year 1600 and assassinated in 1601.
On Michael's death the former condition of affairs was restored. The possession of power still remained the prize of the highest bidder at Constantinople, and for the next hundred years only two princes were able to retain their thrones for any length of time. These were Matei (Matthew) Basarab in Wallachia (1633-54), and in Moldavia Vasile Lupul (Basil the Wolf, 1634-53). Both owed their positions to a national revolt against Greek influence which had been gradually filtering into the country, chiefly through the religious houses. Both, however, realized that Greek support at Constantinople was essential to their remaining in power, and their reigns therefore show an increase in Greek influence. This was specially marked in Moldavia, as Basil himself was thoroughly Greek by education, and may not even have been Romanian by birth.
The reigns of both these princes were distinguished by reforms which were carried further by Serban Cantacuzino, a member of a Greek family which had migrated from Constantinople to Moldavia early in the sixteenth century. This prince became Hospodar of Wallachia in 1679. The country had been suffering not merely from the ravages of war but also from famine and pestilence. In Moldavia many of the common people sold themselves and their children as slaves to the Tatars in order to procure food. Serban Cantacuzino introduced the maize crop, which yields to-day the staple food of the Romanian peasant. He also reorganized the military system and finances, established a regular system of weights and measures, founded schools and set up printing-presses. The reign of this enlightened ruler was brought to an untimely end by poison in 1688.
In 1698, during the reign of Serban Cantacuzino's successor, Constantin Brancovanu, the capital of Wallachia was transferred from Targoviste to Bucharest in order to be the more easily controlled by the Turkish Government. The growing power of Russia under Peter the Great was probably causing the Turks some anxiety, and in order to counteract Russian influence in the principalities a new system of election to the throne was instituted. In 1709 the reigning prince of Moldavia, Michael Racovita, was deposed for intriguing with Russia, and the dragoman Nicholas, son of Alexander Mavrogordato, was sent to administer its affairs.
This was the beginning of what is known as the Phanariot regime, which before very long was extended to Wallachia as well. For more than a hundred years the thrones of the two principalities were to be occupied mainly by Greeks from the Phanar quarter in Constantinople. The hospodar was now appointed directly by the Porte, without reference to the nobility or people. It was to the pecuniary interest of the Turkish authorities to have as many changes of rulers as possible, for no prince was elected without a liberal distribution of bribes. Since at certain periods, however, the choice of election was limited to one or two families whom the Turks could trust, the loss of baksheesh implied in the prolonged tenure of office by one individual had to be overcome. This was done by making the rulers of the two principalities change places from time to time. And as Wallachia was the better prize, its prince for the time being was always as ready to spend money in order to maintain his position as his colleague in Moldavia was willing to use similar means of securing his own transference to the neighbouring State.
No private fortune was equal to the continual demands made on the ruler. Resort was inevitably had to taxation, the chief burden of which fell upon the peasantry. The taxgatherers were mostly Greeks, whose intolerable exactions forced many of the inhabitants to emigrate to Russia, Austria, Serbia, and Bulgaria. Much of the country went out of cultivation, while a parvenu class of nobility sprang up which owed its position simply to the wealth wrung from the toil of the people.
The interchange of rulers under the Phanariot regime, however, implied a certain similarity in the administration of the two States. It also helped to make it generally recognized that they were destined one day to be united.
The defenceless state of the country during this period gave neighbouring powers frequent opportunities of interference. In 1769 Russia assumed a protectorate over the principalities, a position confirmed by the Treaty of Kuchuk Kainarji in 1774. The articles of the treaty which affected the two States conceded the abolition of the gifts hitherto payable to Turkey in addition to the ordinary tribute, the free exercise of the Christian religion, and a general amnesty for all Romanians whose actions had compromised them with the Porte. In 1775 Austria, helped not a little by dishonest diplomacy, was able to annex the Bukovina from Moldavia.
In 1802 the treaty of 1774 was modified in some points, and it was stipulated that the princes of Wallachia and Moldavia should hold office for at least seven years. Further, they were not to be deposed without the consent of Russia. This agreement was broken by Turkey in 1806 when Constantin Ipsilanti and Alexandra Morusi, both friends of Russia, were deposed in furtherance of Napoleon's schemes in eastern Europe.
In spite of this check, however, Russia gained ground steadily during the next twenty years at the expense of the nominal suzerain. In 1822 the Porte was obliged to yield to the demand of the boiers for native princes. The Phanariot regime thus finally came to an end with the election of loan Sturdza to the throne of Moldavia and Grigore Ghica to that of Wallachia. In 1829 the Treaty of Adrianople between Russia and Turkey gave the former an indemnity of £5,000,000 for the war which had just ended, with the right to occupy Moldavia and Wallachia till the money had been paid in full. A separate treaty stipulated that the hospodars should henceforth be elected for life, that the principalities should be allowed to raise a militia for the maintenance of public order, and that Turkey should retain no fortified place on the left bank of the Danube. By this treaty clearly the real suzerainty over the two States was transferred to Russia, all that was left to Turkey being the right to collect an annual tribute, and to invest the rulers in their office.
The commander-in-chief of the Russian army of occupation was Count Kiselev, whose energy and capacity were of immense service to the country in the years which followed. He dealt successfully with outbreaks of plague, cholera, and famine. His chief work, however, was the drafting of the regulations known as the Organic Law, which the Porte ratified. This code did not attempt to introduce sweeping reforms, but simply by regulating the various branches of administration to give the country some opportunity for development. It also limited the power of the princes by setting up an assembly of thirty-nine boiers under the presidency of the Metropolitan. That it did not do enough for the peasantry was due, not to Kiselev and Russian influence, but to the stubborn opposition of the boiers.
This opposition was the chief problem with which the rulers of the principalities had to deal. The old rivalry for the office of hospodar, if less likely now to result in civil war, made the disappointed candidates determined to obstruct every legislative measure of the reigning prince. Almost equally serious as a bar to the work of government was the attitude of the younger generation of politicians. Most of these had been educated abroad, mainly in Paris. All were inspired with French ideas of liberty which their rather unbalanced enthusiasm prompted them to apply to their own country. Most of them had been out of touch with the conditions of their native land for several years, and were not easily persuaded that the political formulae current in western Europe were hardly yet applicable to Wallachia and Moldavia. Naturally, too, nearly all of the younger men saw in Russia, the supporter of the regime then in existence, a despot resolved to prevent the spread of liberal ideas.
The two States could hardly fail to be influenced by the movements of 1848. An attempt at revolution in Moldavia was promptly suppressed. Many of the boiers were relegated to their estates. The younger revolutionaries were sent into exile, and a Russian army occupied the country.
In Wallachia a rising met with greater success. The reigning prince, Gheorghe Bibescu, was obliged to abdicate, and order was not finally restored till a Turkish army crossed the Danube and encamped outside Bucharest.
UNION OF WALLACHIA AND MOLDAVIA
The next few years were devoted to peaceful organization. During the past generation much had been done for education, largely through the enthusiasm of individuals. A spirit of nationalism, fostered by a similar spirit among the Romanians of Transylvania, was springing up. A more general interest began to be taken in the possibility of a union between the two States.
A great step in the direction of union had been taken in 1847 when the customs-dues between Wallachia and Moldavia were abolished. During the years of reorganization which succeeded 1848 the movement gained strength. A proposal for union was definitely brought forward in 1856 at the Treaty of Paris which brought the Crimean War to a close. A European commission was appointed to order the affairs of the principalities. In 1857 the meetings of rej)resentatives at Jassy and Bucharest voted in favour of union. The united principality was to be called Romania and its ruler chosen from one of the European ruling families, in order to obviate local jealousies.
Though the European convention at Paris in 1858 refused its consent to the Romanian proposals, the representatives of the principalities at Jassy and Bucharest decided to elect Colonel Cuza, who had been one of the young boiers sent into exile in 1848.
PRINCIPALITY OF ROMANIA
The union of Wallachia and Moldavia into the principality of Romania was thus accomplished. After a fresh conference in Paris had considered the question, Prince Cuza's position was definitely recognized by the European Powers and Turkey in 1861. In 1862 a single assembly met at Bucharest and a single ministry was formed.
Cuza, however, was a native prince, and the old opposition of the other families continued. Even the great ability of the Premier, the Moldavian Cogalniceanu, could not surmount the obstacles put in his way. One important measure only was passed, the secularizing of the revenues of the monasteries, which had begun to be a menace to the civil power. By a law of December 1863 the superiors were expelled and most of the monasteries converted into hospitals or prisons. Over £1,000,000 was offered as compensation, but refused, and the money finally went into the Treasury.
In 1864 Cuza, finding all his measures blocked by the Assembly, had it dissolved and appealed to a plebiscite, which supported him by an overwhelming majority. An Agrarian Law was then passed, for which Prince Cuza is still remembered by the Romanian peasant. In 1864 an educational measure was carried which gave an opportunity for university education to the very poorest in the state.
Cuza's neglect of the Constitution resulted in a coalition against him of the Conservatives and advanced Liberals. A secret society was formed and a paper founded called La Revue du Danube. One of the leading members of the society, M. loan Bratianu, set himself in Paris to gain French support by representing Cuza as the tool of Russia. In> the meantime the Romanian prince was regarded at Petrograd as the tool of France. The coalition eventually secured the support of the army, and in February 1866 Cuza was forced to abdicate. Philip, Count of Flanders, father of the present King of Belgium, was proclaimed prince, but refused the office, which was then offered to Prince Karl of the elder branch of the House of Hohenzollern (Sigmaringen).
Prince Carol (as he was to be called) accepted, on the advice of Bismarck, with the tacit consent of King William of Prussia and with the complete approval of Napoleon III. Austria and Prussia were at this moment on the brink of war, so the new ruler travelled in disguise down the Danube to meet with a brilliant reception at Turnu Severin.
The year 1866 marks the beginning of a new era for Romania. On July 11, 1867, a new Constitution was drawn up providing for an Upper and a Lower House of Representatives and giving the prince an absolute veto on legislation In October Prince Carol received his firman of office from his suzerain at Constantinople.
At this time Romania had no railways and few good roads. The natural wealth of the country therefore could not be exploited. Prince Carol was determined that the means of communication should be supplied, and a concession for the construction of the first Romanian railway, from Bucharest to Giurgiu, was granted in 1867.
In 1869 the army was reorganized under German instructors, a rural police was formed, and an important railway concession granted to a Prussian firm. In the same year the prince married Elizabeth of Wied, an ideal consort by reason of her devotion to the welfare of her adopted people and the literary powers by which she was to make their aspirations known to Europe.
Prince Carol had to suffer a period of extreme unpopularity during the Franco-Prussian War. The Latin sympathies of his people were altogether on the side of the French. Further, at the end of 1870 the Prussian firm which had received the railway concession of 1869 refused to pay the coupons of the bonds due on the 1st of January. The prince offered to abdicate, but the crisis passed. Feeling against Germany again reached a serious pitch when, through Bismarck's influence, the Prussian Government announced its intention of holding Romania responsible for payment of the interest on the bonds. The Prussian demands were finally accepted, but left considerable bitterness behind.
Germany had, however, no really serious competitor in the economic field. Great Britain, as yet remained largely indifferent, and France after the war with Prussia was not in a .position to challenge German interests in Eastern Europe. A rapprochement with Austria, however, took place, partly as a natural result of the friction with Prussia.
On the outbreak of war between Russia and Turkey in 1877 the Romanian Government, in view of the refusal of the Porte to grant any concessions, signed a secret treaty which permitted Russian troops to advance through Romanian territory. When affairs began to go badly for the Russians at Plevna, Romania entered the war, and its reorganized army turned the scale in Russia's favour.
Though Romania' s services were generally acknowledged at the Congress of Berlin in 1878, they failed to secure the recompense hoped for by many Romanian patriots. Romanian independence was recognized, subject however to two conditions. The first of these was the retrocession to Russia of the southern portion of Bessarabia in exchange for Serpent Island, which lies in the Black Sea off the Danube delta, and for the part of the Dobruja north of a line running from the Danube below Silistra to the Black Sea a little south of Mangalia. The second condition was the abolition of the clause in the Romanian Constitution which stipulated that ' only Christians can become citizens of Romania '. Its object was the granting of political rights to the large Jewish population.
Apart from the delimitation of the frontier there was the question of the navigation of the Danube, which caused considerable friction with Austria-Hungary. After the main questions had been arranged the independence of Romania was formally recognized by the European Powers. On May 22, 1881, Prince Carol was invested with the insignia of his new title. His crown was made of metal from guns captured at Plevna, thus symbolizing Romania's release from Turkish suzerainty.
The dominating figure in Romanian politics during these years was the Premier. M. loan Bratianu, who had formed his first cabinet in 1876.
In 1883 Romania joined the Triple Alliance. The convention was, however, kept secret and was not ratified by Parliament.
In 1884 alterations were made in the mode of election to the Houses of Parliament and in the number of members, trial by jury for press offences was instituted, and the civil list which had been settled in 1866 was increased by the assignment of domains to the Crown.
In the meantime dissatisfaction with the Government was increasing. Bratianu's administration was partly opportunist, partly dictatorial, and had estranged most of the influential men in the country. By 1885 his position was definitely that of the leader of a bureaucraticToligarchy which disputed political supremacy with the old boier oligarchy of birth. The united opposition of several of the other political parties at length brought about the resignation of the Bratianu Government in 1888.
Perhaps the most important influence at work in Romania from this period onward was that of German and Austrian finance. German traders were supported by their banks, which enabled them to give long credits to the Romanian buyer. English, French, and Italian firms, not possessing a similar advantage, in most cases required payment for goods within a period of from three to six months. Nor must it be forgotten that most of the retail trade in Romania is in the hands of Jews, many of them emigrants from the Central Empires, whose native language is German (see p. 92).
By 1889 Germany had already the largest percentage of Romania's total imports, a proportion which rose from 29 per cent, in that year to 40-33 per cent, in 1913. After Germany came Austria-Hungary, whose share, after 1891, averaged about 25 per cent.
Profiting also by the distaste of the Romanian for commercial life (see p. 80), German firms took in hand the exploitation of many of the country's industries. Thus the manuf act ure of beer, paper, cloth, and cotton, the refining of sugar, and the exploitation of the forests came largely under German management. In the late nineties a contest between German firms and the American Standard Oil Company ended in favour of the former, and from that period till the outbreak of war German control of the petroleum industry developed steadily. In 1914 the proportion of German capital invested in Romanian oil was said to be 37 per cent, of the total. Apart from this there were numerous Romanian oil companies largely financed in Germany.
The expansion of Romanian trade resulted, in 1907, in the establishment of a Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
The year 1910 was marked by political developments. M. loan C. Bratianu, son of the great politician of the last generation, assumed the leadership of the Liberal party in succession to M. Dimitrie Sturdza. About the same time the brilliant politician M. Take Ionescu formed a new ' Conservative Democratic ' party.
BALKAN WAR AND TREATY OF BUCHAREST, 1913
In 1912 the war between Italy and Turkey, the events in the Balkans, and the closing of the Dardanelles caused an acute financial crisis which, with the new situation produced by the formation of the Balkan League, probably helped to bring about Romanian intervention in the Balkan War of 1913. (For the Balkan League see Handbook of Turkey, p. 41, and Handbook of Bulgaria, p. 66-7.)
Romania's object in entering the second Balkan War was officially stated to be twofold : (1) to secure a strategic frontier against Bulgaria, and (2) to ensure that the situation in the Balkans should not be decided without reference to her interests. The immediate result of her intervention was the bringing of the war to a close, Bulgaria announcing that no opposition would be offered to the Romanian army.
The Treaty of Bucharest dealt almost exclusively with territorial adjustments. The new frontier established between Romania and Bulgaria was practically that which Romania had asked for in 1878 when she had to cede part of Bessarabia to Russia (see p. 125), but a territorial adjustment which would have provoked little opposition from the Bulgars in 1878 was differently regarded in 1913. Bulgaria in the meantime had risen to the position of an independent state. Also the clause stipulating that the fortifications of Rustchuk and Shumla should be dismantled was resented. Much more serious than the resentment of Bulgaria, however, was that of Germany. For though there was an interchange of congratulatory telegrams between the Kaiser and King Carol, it was recognized on both sides that the Treaty of Bucharest was a heavy blow to German ambitions in the Balkans. It had seriously impaired the solidarity of the Triple Alliance, which Italy's war with Turkey had already affected adversely in the preceding year.
Attempts were made during the next few months to secure concessions from the Hungarian Government with respect to the Romanian population in Transylvania. The vague promises made by Count Tisza were, however, regarded as insufficient, and only served to bring about a rapprochement between Romania and Russia.
ROMANIA AND THE WAR, 1914-18
In January 1914 a Liberal Government was formed under M. I. C. Bratianu. When the European War broke out the King summoned the Cabinet, the leaders of the Opposition, exPrime Ministers, and ex-Presidents of the Senate. Among those who were present at this meeting, pro-German sympathies were represented chiefly by MM. Carp, Maiorescu, and Roseti, and in a lesser degree by M. Marghiloman, while M. I. Lahovary and M. N. Filipescu stood for friendship with Russia and France. M. Take Ionescu's attitude was determined by his passionate desire for the realization of Romanian unity.
Before this council King Carol laid a proposal for Romania's intervention on the side of the Central Powers. To this course he was urged partly by personal sympathy, partly on account of the secret convention of 1883, and partly also because he believed that Germany and her allies were certain to win the war. It was a bitter disappointment to the King when he found himself supported only by M. Carp. The Council decided on a policy of neutrality, and when the King appealed to the opinion of the army the officers, by a large majority, also gave their verdict against the royal proposal. The shock of this failure may have hastened King Carol's death, which took place on October 11, 1914. The speech of his successor, King Ferdinand, when Parliament opened at the end of November, made it clear that the policy of the Government would be determined by Romanian ideals and not by dynastic considerations. The direction in which these ideals would lead the country was not at first obvious : as competitive factors there were on the one side the close political and economic relations of Romania with the Central Powers ; on the other, her traditions and history as a Latin state. In October 1914 an understanding was arrived at with Russia by which Transylvania was promised to Romania in return for neutrality on her part. As the Russians pressed into Galicia and Italian intervention appeared imminent, Romanian opinion hardened against the Central Powers and in favour of an advance across the Carpathians, but the difficulty of reaching an agreement with Russia over territorial questions, the failure to establish a passage through the Dardanelles and thus to open a route for the supply of munitions, and the Russian retreat from the Dunajec, were among the causes which delayed the participation of Romania in the war. Surrounded by German, Austrian, v and Bulgarian armies, she could not intervene on behalf of Serbia when that country was overrun.
During the early months of 1915, however, a split occurred in the Conservative party on the subject of intervention, and Marghiloman and Filipescu became leaders of the groups favouring the Central and the Entente Powers respectively. Later the parties of Filipescu and Take Ionescu were fused, thus strengthening the interventionist side. Finally, on August 27, 1916, the King announced at a Crown Council that he had decided on immediate war with Austria-Hungary. Next day Germany declared war on Romania, and on September 1 Bulgaria followed suit.
The Romanian front fell into three well-marked divisions : (1) the mountainous Transylvanian front from the meetingpoint of Austria, Hungary, and Romania to Orsova, near the meeting-point of Serbia, Hungary, and Romania ; the Danube front, from Orsova for 270 miles to a point 10 miles west of Tutrakan ; the front from the Danube to the Black Sea, separating the Romanian province of the Dobruja from Bulgaria for a distance of about 100 miles. The indirect means of defence along the Danube sufficed to make it certain that for purposes of active warfare there were only two theatres — Transylvania and the Dobruja. The advantage in railway communications in both places were on the side of the enemy, but strategical and sentimental reasons decided the prosecution of an offensive in Transylvania, and three of the four Romanian armies were sent to invade the country from the south, east, and north, with the middle course of the River Maros as a common objective. This would have formed an almost impregnable and a strategically dominant position, but the Romanian armies were insufficient to keep in contact over the great length of the Transylvanian frontier, and the advance had only just begun when they were further weakened by a withdrawal of valuable forces and of General Averescu (in command of the second army) to re-establish the seriously threatened position in the Dobruja. By the end of September 1916, which marks the high tide of the Romanian advance, the fourth army, in the north, had got within some 15 miles of Szasz-Regen, had passed Parajd, the eastern terminus of the railway in the Little Kokel valley, and had advanced within a short distance of Schassburg in the Great Kokel valley. The second army was meanwhile approaching Schassburg from the south and advancing to the west beyond Fogaras. None ot the first army, to the south, had made any considerable progress, or had yet been reached by the forces operating from the east when the enemy counter-attack came down on them.
On September 1, the day war was declared, enemy troops began to cross the frontier in the Dobruja. On September 4 Dobrich, an important road and railway centre, was taken, the weak Romanian forces being unable to resist the Bulgarians, who also took several places on the coast. This move in the eastern Dobruja was, however, only preliminary. By September 6 the left wing of the Bulgarian army had advanced on and taken Tutrakan ; Silistra was evacuated, and the enemy pressed on along the Danube. On September 16 a pitched battle between the main forces developed along the line Rashova-Copadinu-Tuzla, the Bulgarians having the Cernavoda bridge and railway as their objective. General Averescu, with three divisions, was withdrawn from the Transylvania front, only to be sent back a month later when in turn the position in Transylvania had become grave. The Bulgarians were routed, but took up strong defensive positions fifteen miles in the rear, circumscribing the Romanian capacity for concentration in the Dobruja by their occupation of important points of communication such as Silistra and Tutrakan.
The German counter-offensive in Transylvania had the bulk of the Romanian army in full retreat by the early part of October 1916, and by October 10 the frontier had been reached along the whole front, but the withdrawal was covered by gallant rearguard actions ; during its last stages the enemy was not even in touch, and the movement was carried out without demoralization. About the middle of the month a French military mission under General Berthelot arrived to advise the Romanian General Staff. The enemy offensive now opened its second stage in the Carpathian passes. He had reached the Red Tower pass towards the end of September, and his attack south of Kronstadt attained its full development by October 15. Concurrently Mackensen took the Danube crossings in the Dobruja at Cernavoda and Harsova. By a Russian offensive he was driven back some distance, but retained the central belt of the Dobruja and the Cernavoda-Constanta railway, whilst Falkenhayn advanced from 5 to 15 miles south of Kronstadt during the first half of November 1916. By November 18, after more than a month's fighting in the Wallachian passes, the Germans forced a way into Romania and reached Craiova on November 21.
With the breakdown of the Romanian defences along the frontier ridge began the third and shortest stage of the German offensive, the conquest of Wallachia up to Bucharest, which was occupied on December 6, 1916. The fourth stage, in which the evacuation of Wallachia and of the Dobruja by the Romanians was completed and the battle front withdrawn to the Sereth line, followed, and the enemy advance was brought to a standstill about the middle of January 1917, on a line running close to the frontier of Moldavia from the north down to the Gyimes Pass, and then from about Agas in the Trotus valley to Vadeni, south of Galatz, leaving Ocna to the Romanians and Focsani to the Germans.
At the beginning of July 1917 the reorganized Romanian army was ready to take the field again, but any important action on the Sereth was abandoned owing to the Russian situation in Galicia, which forced the Romanians to send troops north to guard the menaced frontier. From August 6 to 15 the Germans endeavoured to force the Romanians and Russians back from the Sereth, with little success in spite of the defection of many Russian troops. A further violent but unsuccessful attack along the railway was the last important operation undertaken by the Germans on the Sereth, and was Mackensen's first serious set-back in the Balkans. After this only minor engagements took place, the Germans having shifted their troops to the north, and the Romanians being unable to undertake another offensive alone when there was no further hope of help from Russia. The Germans next attacked in the Carpathians on August 10, threatening the important Targu-Ocna railway. The Romanian troops were withdrawn to the line Campanile Manastirea-Voloscani, and the enemy offensive was brought to a standstill by August 20, after which only local although persistent operations were undertaken. From the second half of September the efforts of the Germans were vainly directed to demoralizing the Romanian troops as they had the Russians.
During December 1917 practically all the Russian troops in Romania were withdrawn, and in January 1918 the Romanian army facing the invader was further depleted by the military and political necessity of sending forces to Bessarabia (see below) ; the Bolshevist Government of Russia was hostile, and Romania was cut off from her allies. The Germans, taking advantage of this situation, required the Romanian Government to decide, at four days' notice, whether it would treat for peace with the Central Powers . The majority of the Romanian generals stated that further resistance for any considerable period was impossible ; MM. Bratianu,and Take Ionescu refused to subscribe to peace, and resigned, and General Averescu formed a government without them. On March 5, 1918, a preliminary declaration was signed under which Romania ceded the Dobruja as far as the Danube, accepted in principle the frontier rectifications demanded by Austria-Hungary, and undertook to demobilize the major part of her army (sharing the control of this process with the Higher Command of Mackensen's army group), to support the transport through Moldavia and Bessarabia of Austro-German troops to Odessa, and to dismiss officers of Powers at war with the Central Powers, who were still in Romanian service.
Averescu now resigned, and a new administration was formed by M. Marghiloman, who was friendly to the Central Powers and was supported by them. On March 26 the principal political, territorial, and military articles of the peace treaty — the ' peace ' of Bucharest — were initialled, and it was signed on May 7. It dealt first in detail with the demobilization of the Romanian forces and the establishment of German military control. In regard to this cession of territory, Romania ceded to Bulgaria (subject to frontier rectifications) that part of the Dobruja which she had received under the treaty of Bucharest in 1913. The remainder of the Dobruja up to the Danube, including the port of Constanta, was ceded to a condominium of the Allied Powers, who assured to Romania a trade route to the Black Sea via Constanta. A district of some 2,000 square miles, containing 170 villages and over 130,000 inhabitants (purely Romanian), was annexed to Hungary ; Austria received about 920 square miles south of Czernowitz, and the total cession of territory by Romania amounted to more than 10,000 square miles, with a population exceeding 800,000. The army of occupation reserved the right to requisition cereals, fodder, wool, meat, timber, oil, &c, with nominal regard for the needs of the country. A new Danube Navigation Act was to be concluded, as stated elsewhere (Chapter VIII), and reference will be found in other pages to the legal and political supplementary treaty (which included provisions thinly disguising the payment of an indemnity by Romania) and to the Petroleum Agreement (Chapter VII) by which Germany attempted to secure control of the Romanian oil-fields. It is unnecessary now to detail further arrangements connected with the peace, but the following summary may be quoted : ' The Central Powers refrained from exacting a cash indemnity ; they imposed it in kind, in the shape of the writing off of their requisitions in Romania to the value of some £50,000,000. The Romanian State deposits which early in the war had been conveyed to Moscow for credit purposes were subsequently transferred to the account of the Central Powers. The fiscal domination of Romania was completed by stipulations compelling her to give most-favoured-nation treatment to Germany and Austria without regard to any arrangements which they might make among themselves. On petroleum no export dues were to be levied. Germans, moreover, were to be at liberty to buy up Romanian land at discretion. Romania was tied down to her fixed tariff rates, while Germany reserved complete freedom as regards a whole series of tariff questions. Germany secured control of the Romanian railways and a shipbuilding yard on the Danube. Under the pretence of supplying the Romanian railways with rolling-stock, Germany secured a monopoly of such supplies, and a permanent right to supervise the railways. Railway rates were settled in German favour. A special agreement was concluded for the regulation of postal and telegraph traffic between Germany and Romania, the provision of a direct telephone service, and a German monopoly until 1950 for laying cables on the Romanian coast.' It is perhaps desirable to carry the survey of these arrangements thus far, in order to show not only what the Central Powers proposed to do, but what remained to Romania to be undone.
It has already been mentioned that in January 1918 Romania had dispatched forces to Bessarabia ; this was done in response to appeals from the Council of that country, which was threatened with an immediate prospect of anarchy under Bolshevist influence, while there was a great bulk of Romanian stores and supplies there. A Romanian expeditionary force reached Kishinev at the end of the month, and subsequently Marghiloman (backed by Germany, who had no objection, once her domination over Romania was established, to this territorial extension of her temporary vassal) succeeded, in April, 1918, in arranging a treaty of union between Romania and Bessarabia, on the terms that the latter should retain both local autonomy and full representation in the Romanian Government and Parliament. The official Romanian attitude of the time was one of satisfaction at the return of this territory to Romania after more than a century, and there was some disposition to regard it as an offset against the loss of the Dobruja.
The Romanian Government at Jassy now took in hand a number of reforms to which reference is made elsewhere in this volume. Marghiloman, while laying down that the King could not constitutionally be made responsible for the war, and denying the existence of any machinations against the dynasty on the part of the Central Powers, moved for the impeachment of Bratianu, Take Ionescu, and other supporters of the Entente. Suddenly, in November, 1918, the whole fabric of the German domination in Romania collapsed ; on the 9th Romania again entered the war ; on the 11th an ultimatum to Mackensen gave him 24 hours to withdraw his troops. The Bucharest treaty was annulled ; Marghiloman resigned. A new ministry was formed under General Coanda, the army was rapidly restored to a war footing, and the vast task of restoring the ravaged country could at last be undertaken in earnest.
(A Hand Book of Romania, © 1920 by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London)