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Image description

The drawing represents the side of a coin issued on 23rd of January 2009, paying tribute to 150 years since the Small Union.

The coin is 35mm in diameter, it weights 31 grams, and it is made of 99, 9% pure gold, with smooth edge.

This drawing shows the back side of the coin, the one that includes the Moldavian coat of arms on a stripes pattern, with the aurochs head with a sun between the horns, and the Wallachian coat of arms (an Aquila holding in its right claw a sword and in its left claw an Orthodox cross). Both of them are represented on oval shields (with horizontal stripes pattern), under a princely crown.

The inscription “The Unification of the Romanian Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia 24th of January 1859” was not represented in this drawing, but it is shown around the image with embossed points.

On the other side of the coin (which is not represented in the drawing) we see the text Romania, the Romanian Coat of Arms, the 500 LEI value, the year 2009 and the bust of Alexandru Ioan Cuza.

This coins circulation was of 250 pieces.

Historical information

The Unification of the Romanian Principalities, one of the biggest aims of the 1848 Revolution, was acquired by electing Alexandru Ioan Cuza as the ruler of Moldavia on 5th of January 1859 and, on 24th of January 1859, as the ruler of Wallachia.

During the Crimean War (1853 – 1856), in a conference of the powers in conflict (on one side Russia, on the other side the Ottoman Empire, France, Great Britain and Sardinia) that took place in Wien in March 1855, the “Romanian matter” was discussed for the first time as an international problem which needed to be fixed [Bibliography 1] without taking into consideration the fate of the Ottoman Empire. In Europe, the awareness of the need to create a state by unifying Moldavia with Wallachia was raised by the propaganda of young sons of noblemen who had studied in Western countries [Bibliography 2]. The Moldavians and the Wallachs had tried to convince the great powers that they were one nation – with the same origins and historical traditions, same language – and that they had the right to be organized in one state.

The Treaty of Paris settled the Crimean War and was signed on 30th of March 1856. It had the following provisions related to Romanian Principalities: maintaining the Ottoman sovereignty, removing the Russian protectorate and changing it with a common guarantee of the Great Powers (France, Great Britain, Austria, Russia, Prussia, Sardinia) and it also agreed to organize ad-hoc reunions where the people of Moldavia and Wallachia were asked to decide concerning the Union [Bibliography 4].

The Ad-hoc meetings during the fall of 1857 confirmed Romanians’ wish to live under the same political institutions, as it is reflected in the national resolutions from Iași and Bucharest: autonomy, unification, foreign prince, representative government and the neutrality of the Principalities [Bibliography 6]. The decision of the two ad hoc meetings to demand for unification represented the first “accomplished deed”, which Europe did not ignore.

In the Paris Convention on 19th of August 1858, the Powers had accepted the idea of unifying the Principalities, but they decided to maintain two separate political entities, which meant that each of them had its own ruler, assembly and government. However, two common institutions were created: the Central Committee and the Supreme Court of Justice both located in Focșani [Bibliography 7]. Although it did not approve of the demands of the Ad Hoc Reunions, the Convention established the legal framework for the upcoming ones, opening the door for Romanians to fulfill their wish, which happened with the election of Alexandru Ioan Cuza twice in January 1859.

This is how Vasile Alecsandri remembered, in 1883, the effort of acknowledging Cuza as the ruler of the two Principalities by the Powers: “For us the fight was our life; to write, to speak, to work, to travel from Paris to Vienna and from Vienna to Constantinople while others were waiting for weeks, with enormous patience, to meet Lord Palmerston in London – this was our life. This is how we understood happiness. We never knew what discouragement is: we didn’t know how being tired feels like. Young, happy, restless as we were, we were convinced the future belonged to us […]. The despair never bit our hearts; the carelessness, more terrible than the despair, never killed our illusions. And, trust me, this was not easy” [Bibliography 8].

Bibliography:

  1. Leonid Boicu, Geneza chestiunii române caproblemă internaţională¸Junimea, Iaşi, 1975, p. 132 şi următoarele.
  2. For some details concerning the activity of young Romanian students in France, see Ion Ghica, Scrisori către Vasile Alecsandri, Edited by Radu Gârmacea and illustrated by Rareş Ionaşcu, Humanitas, Bucureşti, 2014, p. 129-139 (letter of March 1881, titled David Urquhard).
  3. Dan Berindei, Din începuturile diplomaţiei româneşti moderne, Editura Politică, Bucureşti, 1965, p. 76 and the following.
  4. See the text of the Treaty in Acte şi documente relative la istoria renascerei României, published by Ghenadie Petrescu, Dimitrie A. Sturdza şi Dimitrie C. Sturdza, Volumul II, Tipografia Carol Göbl, Bucureşti, 1889, p. 1074-1083.
  5. The works of the Assemblies of Iaşi and Bucureşti had a common strategy, to maintain „the unity of thought and action”, see Mihai Cojocariu, Un aspect puţin cunoscut din istoria Adunărilor ad-hoc: Adunările preparatorii, în idem, Zimbrul şi vulturul. Cercetări privitoare la unirea Principatelor, Editura Universităţii „Alexandru Ioan Cuza”, Iaşi, 2010, p. 47.
  6. Congresul de pace de la Paris (1856). Prefaceri europene, implicaţii româneşti, edited by Dumitru Ivănescu and Dumitru Vitcu, Junimea, Iaşi, 2006, p. 7. See the text of the Convention in Acte şi documente relative la istoria renascerei României, published by Ghenadie Petrescu, Dimitrie A. Sturdza şi Dimitrie C. Sturdza, Volumul VII, Tipografia Carol Göbl, Bucureşti, 1892, p. 306-316.
  7. Auguste R. Clavel, Vasile Alecsandri. Mirceşti. Schiţe şi impresiuni, Editura ziarului L’Independence Roumaine, Bucureşti, 1890, p. 12-13.

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