Roumania Past and Present eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 387 pages of information about Roumania Past and Present.

[Footnote 155:  Voda, or Domnu (Dominus), was the Roumanian designation for the prince, and Hospodar was a title of Slavonic or Russian origin (Russian, Gospodin = Lord).]

[Footnote 156:  P. 46.]

[Footnote 157:  The most authentic work on the Phanariotes is that of Marc.  Philippe Zallony (Marseilles, Ant.  Ricard, April 1824).  That author calls himself ’the medical attendant, of several Fanariote hospodars,’ and his account of the princes and their rule is sufficiently humiliating without the exaggerations and embellishments of one or two subsequent French writers.  Wilkinson, whose work we have quoted, and who was ‘British Consul Resident,’ in 1820, at ‘Bukorest,’ as it was then called (he says, after one Bukor who owned the village four hundred years previously), gives a good deal of information on the same subject.]

[Footnote 158:  Zallony.]


It may, however, be readily believed, that various devices were resorted to by the princes to enrich themselves as speedily as possible.  Their regular income was augmented by the granting of monopolies, the depreciation of the currency, and frauds in collecting the revenue and in providing supplies for the Porte.  A poll or capitation tax was levied upon the nomadic and stationary gipsies, and money was even exacted under all kinds of pretences from the heads of the religious orders.  The annual income of the princes is said to have exceeded 40,000_l._ in addition to the tribute payable to the Porte.[159] Nor must it be supposed that this was the whole amount that was extorted from the unfortunate inhabitants.  It was ‘like master like man,’ and every official and underling followed the prince’s example, each being aware that a change of rulers meant dismissal for himself.  The princess, too, had special sources of income, which were usually squandered in rivalry with the boyardesses, in jewellery, dress, and other luxuries.[160] It is said that one of the princesses, being offended with a lady of rank for excelling her in the ostentatious richness of her dress and personal adornments, caused her to be exiled; and that when she had secured a sufficiently large sum to purchase a more magnificent apparel than her rival, she allowed her to return to court, in order that she might enjoy her humiliation.  The complaints of the oppressed peasantry were at best unheeded, and when these were driven to desperation and ventured to appeal in person to the prince, a number of them were seized and cast into prison, ‘pour encourager les autres.’  The result was that many turned brigands, and united to form bands; but even these, it is said, ministered to the rapacity of some of the Phanariote rulers.  The prince secretly encouraged or winked at their misdeeds, until he thought they had amassed a considerable treasure by free-booting.  Then, making a raid upon them with a strong military force, he deprived them of their plunder and decapitated or imprisoned them.  The greater number were sent to work in the salt-mines, where (as already stated elsewhere) they usually died after the expiration of about four years.

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Roumania Past and Present from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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