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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 315 pages of information about Roumania Past and Present.
and excellent collections—­History of the plough illustrated by models—­’Ecole des Arts et Metiers’—­Manufacture of farm requisites—­School of design—­The peasantry—­Their history—­Varieties of tenure prior to 1864—­Creation of a peasant proprietary by forced sales of land—­Success of the reform—­Subsequent allotment of state lands—­The ’obligations rurales’—­The dark side—­Fate of improvident peasants—­Forced to sell their labour—­Quasi-servitude—­The boyards or landed gentry—­Improvidence and involved condition of many—­Pledged estates—­’Fermage’—­Purchase of their lands by industrious peasants and others—­Decline of the boyards—­Excellent qualities of the peasantry—­Great endurance—­Industry of women—­Education in progress—­Bright future for the peasantry—­Importance of their prosperity to the State—­(Note:  Comparative numbers of agricultural and other classes).

I.

The area of Roumania, as already stated elsewhere, is about 49,252 square miles, and estimates have been made of the cultivated and uncultivated acreage, which approximate sufficiently to give us a fair idea of the agricultural condition of the country.  According to those estimates, which were probably made at the period (1864) when the peasant proprietary was created, about one-fifth is employed for the growth of cereals, garden products, and vines; rather under one-third is pasturage and hay; one-sixth forest; and the remaining nine-thirtieths, or nearly a third of the whole, still remains uncultivated.[54]

[Illustration:  ROUMANIAN PLOUGHSHARE.]

The soil of the country is rarely less than three to four feet in depth, is easily turned, and, as already stated, it is usually a dark argillo-siliceous earth, which is so greatly charged with humus (decaying organic matter) that manure is rarely found necessary.  The rotation of crops is largely practised, usually maize, wheat, then fallow; but very poor soil, capable of producing only rye, is often allowed to lie fallow for many years together.  Much of the cultivation is performed with very primitive implements, the ordinary old-fashioned plough being furnished with a share resembling the broad flattened lance-head of a harpoon, which penetrates the earth horizontally.  Of late years, however, a constantly increasing number of improved ploughs, reaping, mowing, and steam threshing machines have come into use.  In 1873, according to Consul Vivian’s report, there were about 185,000 native ploughs against about 38,000 imported ones; but even then already there were nearly three times as many steam as there were horse threshing machines in use, and since that time the employment of all kinds of improved machinery has been greatly on the increase, and several large English and American implement makers have agencies in Roumania.[55] There is little doubt that in the course of a few years the old-fashioned agricultural implements will disappear altogether; for the configuration of the surface, which in the plains somewhat resembles the rolling prairie of the far West, is peculiarly adapted for the use of modern machinery of every description.

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