The image is a representation of the coin issued at the anniversary of 100 years of the Romanian Independence War of 1877; this is why the drawing is encased in a protruding circle.
An eagle (textured with projected dots) on top of a rock (textured with outwardly lines) is represented in the center of the image.
A reverential ribbon bearing the text 1877 100 YEARS 1977 lays under the rock. The text isn’t included in this image, but the ribbon is represented by textured diagonal lines.
Between the ribbon and the eagle there is a sun that rises from behind the cliff, a protruding oval shape with beams directed upwards until they reach the left wing of the eagle.
The internal weaknesses of the Ottoman Empire, the political instability, the failure of the reform program (Tanzimat), the inflammation of national issues were all causes for a political and social effervescence in the Balkans in the 1870s [Reference 1]. The eruption of a new crisis in this region in 1875 foretold a new confrontation between Russia and Turkey, which for Romania meant an opportunity of liberation from the Ottoman suzerainty and for gaining independence [Reference 2]. Entering the war, however, involved assuming certain risks. The Western Powers guaranteeing its autonomy, which had been stipulated in the 1856 Paris Treaty, could have concluded that they were no longer bound to do so, and Russia and Turkey would have had sufficient reasons to occupy the country and turn it into a warzone. Romania was exposed to this latter risk no matter what political decision it made, either choosing to remain neutral or allying with one of the two sides. Its political parties had divergent views over the right path to follow, while most of the public pushed for Romania’s entry against Turkey for „washing away the shame of centuries of humiliation and to regain the dignity of the nation” [Reference 3].
All of these issues were raised during a decisive meeting of the Crown Council held in early April of 1877 [Reference 4]. On this occasion, some liberals such as D. A. Sturdza (1833-1914) and Ion Ghica (1817-1897) as well as numerous conservatives pleaded for neutrality, drawing attention, among other things, to the economic crisis and the insufficient preparation and equipping of the Romanian army [Reference 5]. Other political leaders even proposed that Austria be solicited to occupy the country, as it had done in 1854 during the Crimean War, in order to prevent Russia and Turkey from doing so. On the other hand, the most important conservative and junimist leaders, Lascăr Catargiu (1823-1899), Titu Maiorescu (1840-1917), Petre P. Carp (1837-1918) were not invited to the discussions because the liberal government that had gained power in 1876 had accused them of undertaking illegal practices during their own rule and a lawsuit had been opened against them [Reference 6].
Eventually, the meeting of April 1877 concluded with the prevail of Prince Carol’s and his prime-minister Ion C. Brătianu’s point of view, firmly supported by C. A. Rosetti and Mihail Kogălniceanu. They thought that Romania had to enter an agreement with Russia allowing its army to cross the country and attack Turkey on the Danube. On April 16th 1877 a convention was signed between the two parties, which included 4 (four) articles and provided the Russian army with „free passage through Romanian territory and treatment reserved for friendly armies”, while Russia committed to respect the political rights of the Romanian State „as they resulted from internal laws and existing treaties, as well as preserving and defending the present integrity of Romania” [Reference 7]. This agreement was not a military alliance in itself, but it would be otherwise perceived by the Ottoman Empire. Subsequently, on April 24th 1877 Russia declared war on Turkey. On May 4th the Ottomans, dissatisfied with the agreement that Romania had made, began the bombing of Romanian villages and towns on the left bank of the Danube, including Reni, Brăila, Bechet, Olteniţa, Călăraşi, Calafat, without there being any gesture of aggression from the Romanian side [Reference 8] until May 8th when the Romanian army bombed Vidin [Reference 9]. Thusly, the Romanian Parliament declared the break of diplomatic relations with the Ottoman Empire and recognized the state of war between the two states [Reference 10].
On May 9th 1877 Mihail Kogălniceanu declared in Parliament, in the name of the Government, that from then onwards Romania was to see itself as an independent country, liberated from its last obedience bond to Turkey [Reference 11]. This was the first major step in the struggle for obtaining State sovereignty, because independence had to be secured and protected on the battlefield in order for it to be imposed upon the Ottoman Empire and then accredited by the European Powers. Initially, the Romanian army took measures to protect the settlements on the left bank of the Danube and facilitated the river passage of the Russian troops, but the latter’s failure to take the Turkish citadel of Plevna led the leader of the Russian army, Grand Duke Nicholas (Nicolae), to call for the help of Romanian troops. Through a telegram sent on July 19th 1877 Prince Carol was requested to urgently cross the Danube with his army [Reference 12]. This invitation opened a path for several Romanian military victories, often at the price of great human losses, which contributed to Russia’s victory in the war [Reference 13]. In the end, after ample diplomatic debating surrounding the peace signed by the Ottoman Empire and Russia at San Stefano (March 3rd 1878) and that displeased the European Powers, on July 13th 1878 a new peace treaty was signed at Berlin which, among others, recognized Romania’s independence.
- Veniamin Ciobanu, Aspecte ale problemei orientale în timpul primei părţi a domniei lui Carol I (1866-1878), în Gheorghe Cliveti, Adrian-Bogdan Ceobanu, Ionuţ Nistor (coordonatori), Cultură, politică şi societate în timpul domniei lui Carol I. 130 de ani de la proclamarea Regatului României, Casa Editorială Demiurg, Iaşi, 2011, p. 172.
- Nicolae Ciachir, Criza balcanică din anii 1875-1878 şi poziţia României, în „Muzeul Naţional”, 1978, 4, 137-144.
3, 11. Sorin Alexandrescu, Privind înapoi, modernitatea, Traduceri de: Mirela Adăscăliţei, Şerban Anghelescu, Mara Chiriţescu şi Ramona Jugureanu, Editura Univers, Bucureşti, 1999, p. 24; p. 19.
4, 5. Ion Mamina, Consilii de Coroană, Editura Enciclopedică, Bucureşti, 1997, p. 11-26.
- See Titu Maiorescu, Istoria contimporană a României (1866-1900), Editura Librăriei Socec, Bucureşti, 1925.
7, 8. N. Corivan, Lupta diplomatică pentru cucerirea independenţei României, Editura Ştiinţifică şi Enciclopedică, Bucureşti, 1977, p. 68; p. 95.
9, 10. N. Corivan, Relaţiile diplomatice ale României de la 1859 la 1877, Editura Ştiinţifică şi Enciclopedică, Bucureşti, 1984, p. 334; p. 97-98.
- Regele Carol I al României, Cuvântări şi scrisori, tom II (1877-1886), Instit. de arte grafice Carol Göbl, Bucureşti, 1909, p. 45.
- See, in this sense, Nicolae Iorga, Războiul pentru independenţa României. Acţiuni diplomatice şi stări de spirit, Editura Cultura Naţională, Bucureşti, 1927, passim.