Files from the Whispered History of Romanians (4)

Dimitrie Cantemir, catastrophic ruler,

brought on the banks of the Pruth

the obsessed occupant, Peter the Great,

the ascendant of those

who raped from Romanians

Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina


Dimitrie Cantemir, the most imposing cultural Romanian figure in Middle Ages, was catastrophic as ruler, because he was allied with the Russian Empire, and as a result, not only the Moldavian – Russian Army was defeated ignominiously by the Ottomans at the battle of Stanilesti, on the right bank of the Pruth, but on long-term, the consequences were, repeted epithet but deserved, catastrophic, because Russians considered and still consider that where past the army with Peter the Great in the front, they must occupy, finally that territory.

More precisely, on April 2, 1711, in Lutsk, Cantemir signed with Peter the Great a secret treaty of friendship, to the detriment of the Ottoman Empire. The reaction of the High Gates was prompt and the Moldavian-Russian Army, led by Peter the Great himself, was defeated, even circled, in the battle of Stanilesti, from the period July 18 to 22.  The Ottomans, in the frame of the Treaty of Pruth, concluded on July 23, 1711, demanded the ceding of Dimitrie Cantemir as hostage in their hands,  an idee found not acceptable by Peter the Great. As a result, the Moldavian ruler was helped to get out from the encirclement of the Ottoman Army, but shamefully, hidden in the carriage of Empress Ekaterina, seemingly, just under her wide skirt.

The context in which Dimitrie Cantemir was raised on the throne of Moldavia was not honorable for us, Romanians, because it was dominated by the “mioritic” (n.a. “mioritic” comes from the syntagme “mioritic space”, introduced by the writer Lucian Blaga, being a concept from the pastoral ballad “Little Ewe”, in Romanian, “Mioritza”, and serving as a Romanian space of all points of views, geographical, political, social, cultural etc.) rivalry between Moldavians  and “vrancenii” (n.a. “vrancenii” are the Romanian people from the region of Vrancea, situated in the south of Moldavia) from Targoviste, in this case between the ruling families Cantemir, respectively, Brancoveanu.

The father of Dimitrie Cantemir, Constantin Cantemir, a pro-Ottoman and also an anti-Polish for life, had a reign between June 25, 1685 and March 27, 1693, in which he has made himself remarkable, especially, by the order to kill the chronicler Miron Costin, of Polish origin. The brothers Miron and Velicico were beheaded, seemingly, just in the first Christmas Day of the year 1691.

For the most part during the reign of his father, without the first two years, the young Dimitrie Cantemir (n.a. Dimitrie Cantemir lived from October 26, 1673, till September 1, 1723) stood hostage in Istanbul, replacing Antioch, his bigger brother.

After the death of Constantin Cantemir, the boyars elected for the throne of Moldavia Dimitrie Cantemir, but Sultan Ahmed II has not confirmed him due to the machinations of Constantin Brancoveanu. Thus, after less than a month, on April 23, 1693, Dimitrie Cantemir had to give up the high position, the throne being occupied by Constantin Duca (n.a. Constantin Duca reigned in two periods, the first being April 23, 1693 – December 18, 1695), the favorite and the future groom of Constantin Brancoveanu. Thus began the conflict between Cantemir and Brancoveanu families!

Dimitrie Cantemir returned to Istanbul. In 1699 he married Cassandra, the daughter of Serban Cantacuzino, Constantin Brancoveanu’s predecessor on the throne.

Since then, Cantemir has began to target… the throne of Romanian Land, escalating the smoldering conflict between Cantemir and Brancoveanu families.

By other machinations of Constantin Brancoveanu, Dimitrie Cantemir arrived behind bars in Istanbul. Because of a dispute concerning an inheritance from their father, Antiochus, arrived prince of Moldavia (n.a. Antioch Cantemir ruled in two periods: December 8, 1695 – September 14, 1700, and February 12, 1705 – July 20, 1707), did not try to free his brother, Dimitrie Cantemir getting out of prison only at the insistence of the French ambassador, but with not very nice memories, which contributed to a certain extent, perhaps, to his decision to change Ottoman suzerainty with the Russian one, by the Treaty of Lutsk.

The Cantemiro – Brancoveanu conflict was attenuated when Constantin Brancoveanu was committed to pay annually ten bags of “galbeni” (n.a. “galbeni” were Florentine coins of gold), as compensation for etates taken by force from Serban Cantacuzino,, estates that were the wedding dowry of Cassandra.

Constantin Brancoveanu, after the Russian victory in the battle of Poltava on June 27, 1709, against the Swedes, made the fatal mistake, of sending a letter to Peter the Great, by which he took the commitment to help with an army of 30,000 men and to provide food for Russian army during a war of a Christian coalition against the Ottomans. Peter the Great answered affirmativelly and sent 300 bags of “galbeni” to Constantin Brancoveanu as aid for providing weapons.

Later, Sultan Ahmed II learned of this correspondence and, as a first measure, on November 10, 1710, put Dimitir Cantemir on the throne of Moldavia, as a man of confidence, knowing the conflict between Brancoveanu and Cantemir families.

This was the context of the two ascents on the throne of Dimitrie Cantemir!

The second measure of Sultan was on November 20, 1710: the declaration of war against the Russian Empire, ended with the battle of Stănileşti.

But Dimitrie Cantemir, even in the conditions  of declaration of this war, belived in the star of Peter the Great, turned his back to the Ottomans and concluded with the Russians, in secret, the  Treaty of Lutsk. On May 30, 1711, being informed that Sultan Ahmed II learned of this treaty, Dimitrie Cantemir asked Peter the Great to come urgently to Moldavia, to protect him from the Ottoman army, which was approaching Isaccea, to cross the Danube. The conceited king responded to the request, went to Moldavia with his army, but slowly, with long and often stops, being accompanied by wife, favorites, the people close to the court, more like in a visit for pleasure than to a war. Meanwhile, the Ottomans were able to cross the Danube. In this manner Peter the Great began what was called Pruthean Campaign (n.a. in Russian writing, “Прутский Поход”, in transliteration, “Prutskii pohod”), which was terminated by the humiliating defeat of Stanilesti.

Constantin Brancoveanu, being informed that the Ottomans crossed the Danube, felt which will be the end of the war and was in hurry to return to Peter the Great the 300 bags of “galbeni”, after what he began to help with food and fodder the Ottoman army.

It was a game at both ends of Constantin Brancoveanu, which costs extremely expensive on August 15, 1714, in Istanbul, he being executed by beheading, along with his sons, Constantin, Stefan, Radu and Matei, and his groom, Ianache Vacarescu.

Dimitrie Cantemir, in the two reigns, one aborted and another short, of nearly nine months, has proved that he was not born to be head of state.

In summary, the consequences of the catastrophic reign of Dimitrie Cantemir were:

a. on short term:

a.1. The Ottomans took revenge for his betrayal of Dimitrie Cantemir, robbed 93 villages encountered, setting in fire 73 of them;

a.2. Thousands of Moldavians went in exile from Moldavia, of whom at least one thousand,  people close to Dimitrie Cantemir, arrived in Russia, where they were Russified;

a.3. Moldavia has lost another piece of heritage; the fortress of Hotin and a large surrounding area became raya, a territory  administered directly by the Ottomans;

b. on long-term:

b.1. For more than a century, the High Porte called only foreign rulers, Greeks from the Phanar district of Istanbul, known as Phanariotes, starting in Moldavia, on July 23 1711, with Nicolae Mavrocordat, and then in the Romanian Land, on January 21, 1716, when on the throne ascended the same Nicolae Mavrocordat, after he was substituted in Moldavia by Mihai Racovita; the Phanariot epoch ended in Moldavia, on June 21, 1821, by the coming of the ruler Ioan Sturza, and in the Romanian Land, on June 30, 1822, by the coming of the ruler Grigore Dimitrie Ghica;

b.2. Respecting the written or unwritten, true or false testament of Peter the Great, in which the emperor  would have written that “I found Russia a little river, but I turned it into a great river; my followers to turn it into a sea” (n.a. in Russian writing, “я нашел Россию ручьем, а оставил её рекой; мои преемники превратят её в море” in transliteration, “ya nashol Rossyiu ruchiom, ya ostavil eiyo rekoy; moy preemniki prevratiati eiyo v more”), the Russian Empire turned Bessarabia as guberniya and, later, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics attached Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina to some soviet republics.

And in the case in which the Moldavian – Russian Army would have defeated the Ottomans at Stanilesti, the consequences would have been catastrophic, perhaps this text I would have written in Russian, as an official language, and – I quote from “Letters of a Dniesteran – Tiszan Man” (Gunivas Publishing House, Chisinau, 2013) – “Romania would not have existed on the map, but only fragments in the frame of some ex-Soviet republics: the Republic of Moldavia (n.a. in Russian writing, «Республика Молдова», in transliteration, «Respublika Moldova»), the Republic of Transylvania (n.a. in Russian writing, «Республика Трансильвания» in transliteration, «Respublika Transylvania»), the Republic of Wallachia (n.a. in Russian writing, «Республика Валахия» in transliteration, «Respublika Wallachia»)… or who does know which would have been the course of history?”

Dimitrie Cantemir was extolled by communist propaganda, because it was a russophile, was allied with the Russians and was almost ready to give the country in their hands, the “dejist” (n.a. Romanian word coming from Gheorghe Gheorghiu – Dej) and “ceausist” (n.a. Romanian word coming from  Nicolae Ceausescu) Romania being also allied with Moscow, almost to become a soviet union republic.

After 1989, the “culturnici” (n.a. “culturnic”, at pluriel, “culturnici” is a Romanian word meaning communist activist responsible for culture) managed to maintain an aura of great ruler, when, in fact, Dimitrie Cantemir was a catastrophic politician.


Doru Ciucescu


The text is part from the volume in course of translation “Files from the Whispering History of Romanians”


(The translation from Romanian and the adaptation are realized by the author himself)