ROMANIAN LEGENDARY RIVERS
COSMIC ROMANIA 32
-text and photos Andrei Dorian Gheorghe
design Florin Alexandru Stancu-
Rivers are veins for countries,
Carrying astral vibrations
Which help the people to live
And to be apt for creations.
From the Dambovita River…
…to the Moldova River…
…via the Milcov River…
An entire Romanian history…
and in the middle of May 2014 I had the chance to think of it.
The territory of Romania is spoiled by many big rivers,
all of them (directly or indirectly) pouring into the Danube River,
the largest European river.
But now I am orientated to three rather small rivers,
which have impressive historical loads,
connected to the former Romanian states of Wallachia (Romanian Land)
and Moldavia (which is divided today into
the former principalities, on the territory of current Romania,
and an independent republic),
which, through their union in 1859,
a country which, later, was enlarged through the union
with Transylvania in 1918.
And it is quite interesting to note that Wallachia and Moldavia
have the Sun and the Moon on their coats of arms
(in the first of them
the two heavenly bodies flank an eagle
signifying the continuation of the Roman Imperial Aquila,
and in the second
an aurochs symbolizing a zonal legend).
All began from the solar window of my departed parents,
in the centre of Bucharest
(former Capital of Wallachia or the Romanian Land,
now Capital of entire Romania,
hosting over 10% of the population of this country).
in a high block of flats,
placed right near the Dambovita River,
which was named after the wife of the legendary founder of the city,
But he who officially attested Bucharest for the first time
was that starry “voievod” and “domnitor”,
Vlad Tepes Draculea (nicknamed Dracula by Occidentals),
who saved Christianity in the north of Danube
defeating Mehmed II (the conqueror of Constantinople)
in a night attack near Targoviste in 1462.
Vlad was just a cruel, but right leader
in cruel times of Europe,
not a vampire,
as Western producers continue to insist).
Here, on a morning,
I felt a call from East-Northeast, which means
the direction of the historical province of Moldova (or Moldavia).
It was a little hard for the Sun to defeat the clouds,
but finally he did it,
and the celestial show was really fine.
Then I started by train to the Moldova River
(almost 6 hours!),
pushed by the two astral coat of arms,
and inspired in part by a humorous story by
Ion Luca Caragiale (1852-1912,
the greatest Romanian dramatist and humorist),
in which he described the masterpiece of the mayor of a modest provincial town,
who convinced the international railroad authorities
to accept a one-minute halt in his small territory
during a long and important course,
and to change its name into…
Bucharest-Berlin via Mizil!
But for me,
writing about Dambovita-Moldova via Milcov
became something extremely serious,
so, on the road,
I preferred to enjoy the complex show given by the sky
through the windows of the train.
And I passed near:
Ploiesti (where the first refinery in the world was built in 1857),
Mizil, Buzau, Ramnicu Sarat…
…till I saw the Milcov River,
which had been before a partial border between Wallachia and Moldavia,
a fact that inspired the great poet Vasile Alecsandri
to write in his Hora of the Union (1856):
Come to Milcov in a hurry
To empty it in a swallowing!
Then, in Moldavia, my road continued: Focsani, Marasesti, Adjud, Bacau…
and of course other rivers,
culminating with Siret (a kind of vertebral colon for the territory of Moldavia)
and Bistrita (famous for its valley full of rafters in the past).
Finally, I arrived near the Moldova River,
short before its pouring into Siret.
A legend says that this European zone was named in the first part of the 14th century
after the she-dog Molda of the Romanian Prince of Maramures (Northern Transylvania),
who followed her run over the Oriental Carpathians after an aurochs.
Molda found out this river,
and Dragos established on its banks the Mark of Moldavia under Magyar suzerainty.
But in 1359, another Romanian prince coming from Maramures,
expanded the Moldavian territory and founded the state of Moldavia
(initially inhabited by Dacians, transformed in time into Romanians).
He obtained its independence defeating the Magyar armies.
(This history is similar with that of Wallachia:
Radu Negru came there from Transylvania over the Meridional Carpathians
and united the Romanian communities.
Then his son Basarab I founded the state of Wallachia
and defeated the Magyar King in 1330.)
So, the Moldova River…
Here, in the city of Roman,
I admired a statue of Stefan cel Mare (the Great),
other Romanian leader who defeated the armies of Mehmed II (the “Conqueror”)
in the 1470s, becoming Athleta Christi
(a title given by the Pope of Rome),
and I saw a hill with the ruins of a fortress from his times.
Obviously, when I came back home,
the road showed me the same beauty with different accents…
I remember I had a moment of profound meditation seeing from the distance
the Marasesti Mausoleum (one of the biggest in Europe).
Here and in a few close places,
one of the most important battles in World War I took place in 1917.
After the German army had conquered the south of Romania (Wallachia),
it tried to conquer the rest of this country (Moldavia).
But the Romanian soldiers said:
“Nobody passes over here!”
And, even smaller and with inferior technique,
the Romanian army stopped the German army,
its soldiers demonstrating extraordinary patriotism, heroism and intelligence!
Then, after a short and relative peace,
the Romanian army crossed the Meridional Carpathians
and began the final fight for Transylvania, that belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire,
but in which the Romanians were the oldest and the most numerous inhabitants.
(In this respect, there was a representative song:
Romanian battalions crossed the Carpathians
With leaves and flowers on weapons…)
In consequence, the Union Day
was decided for 1 December 1918.
One of the ways used by the Romanian army in those times was the Olt Valley,
and I had the possibility to travel there (this time by bus) in 18 July 2014.
But before this,
after I remarked the morning moon and a few sunrays through clouds,
I saw another important river in Wallachia, Arges.
In accordance with a legend,
on a “beautiful bank” of it, Manole the Craftsman made
a superb monastery in the Court of Arges…
Also on its banks,
Mircea cel Batran (the Elder) saved Europe
defeating the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid in 1394.
This first major European victory against the advance of the Ottoman Empire:
-was decisive for the fact that, later,
Wallachia or the Romanian Land (along with Moldavia,
due to Stefan cel Mare in the next century) became only a tributary state
to the Ottoman Empire, not a pashalik,
so its territory became a special Christian Orthodox space
between the Ottoman Muslim world and the Christian Catholic countries,
and also here representatives of Balkan nations
could prepare the independence of their countries;
-inspired more European coalitions against
the advance of the Ottoman Empire;
-inspired the Romanian national poet Mihai Eminescu to write Epistle III,
one of the most impressive historical poems in world literature.
After that, my road continued:
the Black Hill
and the Olt River between Ramnicu Valcea and Sibiu…
In Transylvania, next to Sibiu, in 1599
the Wallachian “voievod” and “domnitor” Mihai Viteazul (the Brave),
after more victories against the Ottoman Empire,
won the decisive battle in his successful (but short-lived) tentative
to unify Wallachia, Transylvania and Moldavia for the first time
and to realize Restitutio Daciae.
And I also remembered the military genius and “voievod” of Transylvania,
Janos Hunyadi in Magyar or Iancu de Hunedoara in Romanian,
a nobleman of Romanian origin who became the regent of Hungary
and, from this position,
defeated Mehmed the Conqueror in 1456 at Belgrade (Serbia)
in name of all Christianity…
Then I went west, crossing Transylvania
and seeing for a while, near Deva, the Mures River…
Olt and Mures have the sources in the Oriental Carpathians,
and a legend says that they were two princes,
sons of an emperor that had started to fight in a war.
Trying to look for him,
they could not do it together (as their mother wanted)
because Olt was agitated and Mures was calm,
so God transformed them into rivers, as a punishment.
Finally, I would have wanted to tell about more Romanian legendary rivers,
but at home, on the banks of the Dambovita River in Bucharest,
on a beautiful day,
starting from the cross with sun and moon of an old church
(named after Saints Peter and Paul, and made in the 17th century)
I saw the Sun temporarily escaping from the Wallachian coat of arms, impressing all around
and greeting Romanian heroes and legends…
… and on another beautiful day,
I saw the Moon doing the same thing.
© 2014 SARM
(Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy)