Files from the Whispered History of Romanians (5)

The adultery of Alexandru Ioan Cuza

with Maria Obrenovici and

the Palace of Ruginoasa,

become the Palace of… “Shameful”

(n.a. in Romanian, “Ruşinoasa”)


Alexandru Ioan Cuza, by his  double election as ruler of Moldavia, on January 5, 1859, and of the Romanian Land, on January 24, 1859, was the providential personality, that allowed a personal union of the two principalities of the Danube, the state acquiring the name of United Principalities. Although this union was recognized internationally only for the life of the prince, the fact, that on February 11, 1866, Alexandru Ioan Cuza was forced to abdicate, did not lead to the disintegration of the newly formed state, because, on May 10, 1866, strongly supported by the great powers of the time, like France and Prussia, Carol I was proclaimed ruler, who, in a very short time, on  July 1 of the same year, promulgated a constitution by which the state, called United Romanian Principalities, became the unitary state, called Romania.

The communist propaganda built for Alexandru Ioan Cuza an image of a man without blemish, of a defender of the poor people, of a ruler who was forced to abdicate by the so – called “monstrous coalition”, with the intention that the workers and peasants to be further exploited by the bourgeois – landlord regime, led by the new king, Carol I. In this way, communist propaganda has justified the political act of December 30, 1947, forcing the abdication of king Mihai I, a third-generation successor of Carol I. It  is to pose the question : the “dejist” regime would have forced the abdication of December 30, 1947, from the Romanian throne of a descendant of Alexandru Ioan Cuza? My answer is definitely yes.

I have talked about adultery of Alexandru Ioan Cuza in the long novel “The Gulag of Palms’ Shadow” and an aunt of mine, woman with good sense, after reading the passage in question had a shock, she did not belief, he asked me several times if that I wrote is true, then started to cry, the resentment that she has been lied so much in the communist school.

Also, it should be noted that Alexandru Ioan Cuza became very popular through the reforms made, especially after the introduction of the compulsory and tuition – free primary schools (n.a. by the Law of Public Instruction, of November 25, 1864), after the allotment of land to 406,429 peasant families (n.a. by the Agrarian Law, of August 25, 1864), after widening the participation on the vote (n.a. by the Electoral Law, of July 3, 1864) or after having introduced the “oca of Cuza” (n.a. the “oca” was an ancient unit of measurement, actually two “ocale”, one for capacities and one for weights, both adapted on the base of the  Metric System Decree, of September 15, 1864).

But the corruption, especially of those of his entourage, and the weakness for women have lowered the prestige of the ruler. If at the level of the masses, these drawbacks were viewed with indulgence, at that of the political elite, these defects were considered unbearable, especially because the new state was fragile, needing strong international support.

One of the peaks of adultery for a sovereign would constitute starting of a sexual act as sovereign and ending it as a mere mortal. Like this was displayed the abdication of Alexandru Ioan Cuza, near dawn (n.a. between 4 and 5 o’clock) of the day of February 11, 1866!

Army officers set up even by Alexandru Ioan Cuza, prepared with the act of abdication ready written, entered the bedroom, surprising  the prince and his concubine Maria Obrenovici in bed. With a gun, Cuza Voda signed the act of abdication, which, not to waste time looking a table, has been put on the back of Captain Constantin Pillat. In an adjoining room of the Royal Palace were sleeping Elena Cuza and  two children, Alexandru Ioan A. I. Cuza and Dimitrie A. I. Cuza, consequences of the prolonged adultery, they having as biological parents Maria Obrenovici and Cuza Voda (n.a. in short, the ruler Alexandru Ioan Cuza was also named Cuza Vodă), but adopted by the family of the ruler.

The act of abdication, written by Ion Ghica and Constantin Alexandru Rosetti, had the following content: “We Alexandru Ioan I, as desired by the whole nation and the commitment I took at my ascend on the throne, I depose today, February 11, 1866, the helm of the gouvernment in the main of a Ruler Lieutenancy and of a Ministry elected by the people”.

After three days, Alexandru Ioan Cuza, Elena Cuza and two children, Alexandru Ioan Cuza and Dimitrie Cuza took the path of foreignness. Interesting was that this convoy was joined by Maria Obrenovici.

On June 11, at 13 o’clock, the two legislative chambers, the Elective Assembly and the Ponderator Body (n.a. the Senate) have  constituted a Ruler Lieutenancy, consisting of Lascar Catargiu, from the part of Moldavia, Nicolae Constantin Golescu, from the part of Romanian Land, and Nicolae Haralambie, from the part of the Army. The executive leadership was awarded to Ion Ghica.

At the same time, as sovereign of the United Romanian Principalities was appointed Prince Philip of Belgium, Count of Flanders, son of Leopold I, King of Belgium, of the house of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, but married with Louise Marie Isabelle of Orleans. However, the royal house of Orleans was the enemy of the royal house of Napoleon, represented then by Napoleon III, president of France between December 20, 1846 and December 2, 1852, the king of France between December 2, 1852 and September 4, 1870, the main supporter of the  Union of the Principalities, who suggested that the first step in this goal is that Moldavia and Romanian Land have to choose one and the same ruler. But, the same day, by the Belgian consul in Bucharest, Philip of Belgium declined the nomination and Ion C. Bratianu was instructed to go to the Occident, to seek another sovereign for the United Romanian Principalities; so it came to Karl Eitel Friedrich Zephyrinus Ludwig von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, who, following the referendum of April 8 to 10, 1866, was approved to become the ruler of the United Romanian Principalities, with the name of Carol I, Prince of Hohenzollern – Sigmaringen.

Alexandru Ioan Cuza, born on March 20, 1820, in Husi, died on May 15, 1873, in Heidelberg, due to the excess of tobacco and black coffee. In addition to these vices, the ruler of the United Romanian Principalities was a passionate gambler and a notorious womanizer, these last defects leading to his lamentable end as a politician.

Elena Cuza, born on June 17, 1825, in Iasi, with the name of Rosetti, died on April 2, 1909, in Piatra Neamt, was married on April 30, 1844 with Alexandru Ioan Cuza. Her misfortune was that she could not have children, this being an important reason of the adoption of the two children resulting from the adultery of her husband with Maria Obrenovici. She survived the death of Cuza Voda and of the two adopted sons, Alexandru Ioan A. I. Cuza, died in 1889, in Spain, and Dimitrie A. I. Cuza, committed suicide in 1888, in the Palace of Ruginoasa.

Maria Elena Obrenovici, called briefly Maria Obrenovici, born in 1835, in Iasi, with the name of Catargiu, committed suicide on July 16, 1876, in Dresden, was married three times, but never with Alexandru Ioan Cuza. A second marriage was with Prince Milos Obrenovici, its fruit being Milan Obrenovici, born on August 22, 1854, in Maraşeşti, who became king of Serbia in the period March 6, 1882 – March 6, 1889.

Maria Obrenovici incited her son, Alexandru Ioan A. I. Cuza, to enter politics to become the king of Romania. He, supported by pro-Russians, the reason he was called with the Russian diminutive Sasha for Alexander, funded the newspaper “Truth” (n.a. in Romanian, “Adevărul”), as a propaganda tool against King Carol I. Alexandru Ioan A. .I. Cuza, after the suicide of his brother, Dimitrie Cuza, became the unique heir of the fortune of the family Cuza, including the Palace of Ruginoasa. Sasha Cuza was married to Maria Moruzi, born on April 14, 1863, died October 26, 1921 in Iasi. After the wedding, the two young husbands have gone on a trip to Spain. In Madrid occurred the death of Alexandru Ioan A. I. Cuza. ill with pulmonary tuberculosis, entered a galloping form.

Thus, according to the testament made before leaving for Spain by Sasha Cuza, the Palace of Ruginoasa Palace rested to Maria Moruzi.

As an aside, this palace was bought by Cuza Voda on January 25, 1862, with 52,011  “galbeni imparatesti” (n.a. “galbeni imparatesti” were gold coins of 24 carats, issued during the reign of Emperor Franz Josef) from the Bank of Moldavia. This bank pulled palace for sale, because it was the endorsment for a loan of 60,000 “galbeni imparatesti”, loan made by Alexandru Sturza, one of the sons of Ionita Sandu Sturza, who was ruler of Moldavia in the period July 21, 1822 – May 5 1828.

The Palace in Ruginoasa held a romance between Maria Cuza, daughter – in – law of Cuza Voda, and Ion I. C. Bratianu, romance which pushed that the palace to be named also  Palace of “Shameful” (n.a. in Romanian, “Ruşinoasa”).

Ion I. C. Bratianu, born on August 20, 1864, in Florica, died on November 24, 1927, in Bucharest (n.a. prime minister in the periods December 27, 1908 – March 4, 1909, January 9, 1909 – January 10, 1911, January 16, 1914 – February 9, 1918, December 14, 1918 – October 1, 1919, January 17, 1922 – March 30, 1926, June 23, 1927 – November 24, 1927), was the son of Ion Constantin Brătianu (n.a. prime minister in the periods July 24, 1876 – April 9, 1881 and 9 June 1881 – March 20, 1888), who participated at the abdication of Cuza Voda and at the bringing of a new sovereign from the Occident.

Maria Cuza, attracted by the nice physique and the intelligence of Ion I. C. Brătianu, slightly younger, trainee engineer at the construction site of railways in Iasi,  invited this descendent of the Bratianu family at the Palace in Ruginoasa. On February 3, 1898, following this relationship, was born Gheorghe I. Bratianu. To receive the name of Bratianu, the same day, at the church from the Palace of Ruginoasa, was officiated the marriage of the two biological parents of the new born, the marriage which was dissolved the same day. It was what remained in history under the name of “marriage – divorce in Ruginoasa”.

In this way, as a curse of the adultery, Cuza Voda remained without throne, the children, resulting from the adultery, were quickly extinguished, and the Palace of Ruginoasa came into possession of the descendend of one  his chief political enemies.

During the “dejisto – ceausist” communism, as a concern of all totalitarian regimes, it was trying to build the man of new type, in this case, communist, who  has to be ideological indoctrinated, hard – working, honest, with sound morality. But, that latter virtue does not match adultery. Therefore, the communist propaganda, which made from Alexandru Ioan Cuza  ruler worthy of being taken for example, did not remind anything about his adultery with Maria Obrenoviic.

After December 1989, when the reign of Alexandru Ioan Cuza began to be undone and into the front and back by historians and mass – media, the myth of the Cuza Voda fell. However, the fact that the name of Alexandru Ioan Cuza is so strongly linked to the Union of Principalities at official events, especially at those held in the presence of children or young people, it was avoided and still it is avoiding to speak about his adultery with Maria Obrenovici.

But the lye by omission has its repercussions, because just the vices of Alexandru Ioan Cuza, including that for women, took him to perdition as a politician, and the children and the young people need to know this truth, as about any vice.


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)