Bucharest Centennial: C.A. Rosetti, one of the leaders of the generation that prepared the Great Union

Romania-Insider.com has started a series of articles about Bucharest landmarks of architecture or history, which have witnessed the last century of what is now the Romanian capital, and noteworthy people who have helped build the Romanian capital as it is today. This project is supported by the Bucharest City Hall through the Public Monuments and Touristic Heritage Administration (AMPT), within the cultural program Bucharest-Centennial.

Check the full series of articles dedicated to the Centennial on Romania-Insider.com here. 

The 1848 Revolution, considered a first step in the process of unification of the Romanian territories accomplished through the Great Union of 1918, had one of its key figures in Țara Românească in Constantin Alexandru Rosetti. He constantly supported the affirmation of the national identity from the various positions he held throughout the transformation of Romania, from the Union of the Principalities of 1859 to the Declaration of Independence of 1877.

Like many other representatives of the local Forty-Eighters elite, Rosetti was educated under the influence of French culture and of the revolutionary spirit associated with it at the time. He attended classes at the Sf. Sava school in Bucharest, where his professor was I.A Vaillant, a French historian who had moved to the country and was a supporter of the 1848 Revolution. His colleagues here were other future leaders of the generation, among them Costache Bălăceanu, Nicolae Budișteanu, Ion Ghica, Grigore Grădișteanu and Grigore Alexandrescu. He completed his studies in Paris, another opportunity to get acquainted with the ideas of the time and establish friendships with historians Jules Michelet and Edgar Quinet.

In 1848, after the start of the revolution and the signing of the Islaz Proclamation by prince Gheorghe Bibescu, Rosetti took over as police prefect. From this position, he released the supporters of the movement who had been previously arrested.

After the signing of the Islaz Proclamation, the provisional government, made up of revolutionaries, was recognized. Islaz, a small port at the Danube, was chosen as the place for the reading of the declaration because it was not under the direct control of the Ottoman Empire and the commander of the company that was guarding the port and the frontier was a sympathizer of the revolutionaries. The text of the proclamation included several of the ideas that were implemented after the union of Țara Românească and of Moldova. The first point of the declaration referred to the administrative and legislative independence of the Romanian people, gained after the Independence War of 1877 – 1878.

The day the proclamation was recognized coincided with the first issue of the newspaper “Pruncul român” (The Romanian Youth), where C.A. Rosetti was writing. In the newspaper, he outlined his vision about the need of the union with Moldova, which was realized in 1859.

On June 13, 1848, Rosetti was the one who helped the resigning prince to leave Bucharest safely.

Afterwards, he got involved in the forming of the new revolutionary government, led by archbishop Neofit, and from which he was part of. Several measures are attributed to Rosetti, among which the design of the national flag, the abolishing of the death penalty, of the ranks, and of censorship.

After the revolution was defeated, a few months later, Rosetti left for France, like many other revolutionaries. In the nine years spent there, he worked on the political organizing of those who had left the country and continued to support the cause of the union and of the independence for Romania.

Upon his return to the country, he established the “Association of the Printing Workers in Bucharest,” in 1858. He set up the newspaper “Românul” (The Romanian) where he supported the idea of the national unity and of independence, and lobbied for several democratic reforms. C.A Rosetti also played an important part in the ad-hoc gathering where the election of Alexandru Ioan Cuza as prince of Țara Românească was decided.

After the Union of the Principalities, in 1859, he became a director of the National Theater in Bucharest, and later he was appointed a culture and public instruction minister. From this position, he proposed the establishment of the Romanian Literary Society, the future Romanian Academy.

Alongside his friend Ion C. Brătianu, Rosetti was one of the founders of the National Liberal Party.

After turning into an opponent of Prince Alexandru Ioan Cuza, Rosetti was one of the main leaders of the so-called “monstrous coalition,” alongside Lascăr Catargiu and Ion Ghica. The coalition forced Cuza to abdicate in 1866. After his removal, German prince Carol de Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was proclaimed King of Romania under the name of Carol I.

Rosetti was also the president of the Deputies Assembly at the time Romania’s Declaration of Independence was promulgated, on May 10, 1877. Rosetti was also a supporter of the country’s participation in the Russo-Turkish war of 1877 – 1878, following which Romania won its independence.

For a brief period, Rosetti was also mayor of Bucharest, between January and March 1871. Towards the end of his life and political career, he was appointed Minister of internal affairs (May – November 1878 and June 1881 – January 1882), a position from which he looked to reform county administration.

To mark the important role Rosetti played in the forming of modern Romania, a monument dedicated to him has been set up in Bucharest. Set in the square bearing his name, the monument is the work of sculptor Wladimir Hegel and was made through a public subscription.

Two bronze bas-reliefs, reproducing moments from Romania’s history where Rosetti played a key role, are placed on the pedestal of the monument. The first represents the historical moment of the Union of the Romanian Principalities, titled “January 24, 1859”, and the second the proclamation of independence, titled “May 9, 1877.”

The frontispiece of the monument included on the list of Bucharest’s historical ones, carries the inscription “C. A. Rosetti. 1816-1885. Light Up and You Will Be. Will It and You Shall Have It” – a call Rosetti used to mobilize those around him in the drive to see the union of the principalities and the gaining of the independence realized.


C.A. Rosetti – spiritul înflăcărat al revoluţiei paşoptiste (C.A. Rosetti – The Fiery Spirit of the 1848 Revolution) at radioromaniacultural.ro

Emanuel Bădescu. C.A. Rosetti, contemporanul etern (C.A. Rosetti, the Eternal Contemporary) at zf.ro

Alexandra Butnaru. C.A. Rosetti. Spiritul incandescent al revoluției pașoptiste (C.A. Rosetti. The Luminous Spirit of the 1848 Revolution) at historia.ro

Photo source: Shutterstock