The day of May 10th, a landmark in Romania's modern history

the day of may 10th, a landmark in romania's modern history The kings of Romania and the personality cult


The day of May 10th was marked and celebrated as the national day of Romania until 1948. It was a symbol of Romania's independence and unity. Also, the day was inseparably connected to the monarchy, providing a fine opportunity for public celebration.


The story of the day of May 10th  began in 1866, when Carol of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen arrived on the territory of the then Romanian Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia. Shortly after his arrival, Carol became the new ruling prince of the Romanian principalities, in the wake of the coup that forced ruler Alexandru Ioan Cuza to abdicate. All that happened at a time when the diplomatic context was a very sensitive one; we recall that, at European level, the union of the Romanian Principalities had been recognised only during Alexandru Ioan Cuza's reign. The Ottoman Empire was, at that time, the suzerain power of the Romanian Principalities. Consequently, in February 1866, the Ottoman Empire called for a decision to be taken by the European powers to rescind the union. What happened afterwards? 


Historian Alin Ciupala:


" At that time, the ruling political class had to be quick in finding a solution to overcome the crisis. So Ion Bratianu and other high-ranking politicians who belonged to the generation of the 1848 revolution traveled to Paris, since such a solution could only be provided by Europe's strongest man at that time, the Emperor of France. So Napoleon the 3rd suggested this solution, which turned out to be a very good one, longer term. Strictly speaking, the significance of the day of May the 10th, 1866, was not marked in a festive manner. Apart from the ceremony staged on that occasion, so serious was the political crisis, that all energies were directed towards it. Carol I did arrive in the country, but that was not enough. He had to enjoy recognition by the suzerain power, since at that time the Romanian Principalities had still been under Ottoman suzerainty. So people did not make much of the day of May 10th, in terms of public celebration."


Events took a totally different turn 15 years later, when Romania, having gained its independence in the wake of the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878, was officially proclaimed a kingdom. Carol I was crowned as its king on May 10th, 1881. 


Alin Ciupala:


"From that moment onward, the day of May 10th  would gain a totally different scope. A set formula would even be devised, to mark the moment. The day of May 10th proper was teeming with all sorts of celebratory events. It began with the mass held at the Patriarchal Cathedral, with members of the Royal House and members of the government attending, joined by representatives of foreign diplomatic missions to Bucharest. The momentum of the day was provided by a public pageantry, the most important manifestation of the shared joy as the Royal family and Romania's citizens stood together for the military parade, led by King Carol I. As soon as the military parade was over, a festivity followed, held at the Promenade, which can quite aptly be described as a popular one. The day closed with a ball offered by the Royal family at the Palace, where the rank and fashion and members of the government were invited, as well as members of the Parliament or members of the foreign diplomatic missions to Bucharest. So given what it's taken, it was an eventful, very well-organised day."


The ritual instated by Carol I to mark the importance of May 10th  was continued by his successor, King Ferdinand, all the more so as the day became even more important, after World War One and the Great Union of 1918. 


Alin Ciupala:


"It stood for the moment of reunification, for all Romanians. In Bucharest, after 1918, the territories would be officially represented, that were united with the Old Kingdom of Romania after World War One. Furthermore, Queen Mary, in the inter-war years and up until the 1930s, played a crucial role in staging festivities on May 10th. As for her public presence, which was highly popular among Romanians, it emphasised the fact that it was an out-and-out public festivity. But the one who turned the event of May 10 into an opportunity to speak more about his personality, rather transforming into into an opportunity to aggrandise the sovereign, it was King Carol II. During his reign, he was very keen on shaping up a certain form of personality cult. As for the day of May 10th, it provided a fine opportunity to achieve that, an opportunity he did not miss. Proof of that is aplenty, including cinema productions. Newsreels of that time have been preserved to this day, capturing the May 10th festivities in the time of King Carol II. Actually, it is well worth mentioning that the first cinema newsreel that was edited marked the May 10th festivities of 1914. Unfortunately, it was not kept in mint condition."

Romania's entering World War Two did not favour the May 10th festive celebrations any longer, and that's for sure. In 1947, King Michael was forced to abdicate. Communism was fully instated in the country, and another day was picked for the national celebration. Moreover, the communists were very particular about deleting mentions of May the 10th from the mainstream historical sources of information. The day was inseparably linked to monarchy...So blatant was the communists' historical counterfeit that even the day when the independence of Romania was proclaimed, on May 10th, 1877, was celebrated on May 9th, during the communist regime.

(Translation by Eugen Nasta).



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Publicat: 2020-05-16 13:00:00
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