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Collection: Constantin Brancovan vv
Three Centuries ago, on the day of the Assumption of the year 1714, the very day when the most devout Prince Constantin Brancoveanu was turning 60 and his wife, Lady Maria, was celebrating her name day, the capital of the Ottoman Empire witnessed the terrible martyrdom of the prince, among his four sons and of his counsellor Ianache Vacarescu. In order to honour the memory of his name, on the initiative of DAR DEVELOPMENT Association and with the support of the Administration of National Cultural Fonds, the National Archives gave forth a volume of documents from the national archival heritage, primary sources of history which, by their form, ornamentation and content illustrate the wise and judicious reign of Constantin Brancoveanu.
The archival material represents a selection of more than 500 documents, included in the oldest collections and fonds managed, for more than 180 years, by the National Archives and preserved in the repositories of the Central Historical National Archives. Thus, the documents come from fonds of Wallachian ecclesiastical institutions (Metropolitan seat of Wallachia; Buzau, Arges and Ramnic Dioceses; Monasteries Brancoveni, Horezu, Govora), and collections (New Acquisitions, Wallachian Documents, Vartosu Emil, Ionascu Ion).
More than 160 historical sources are listed in this collection, mostly unpublished: Chancellery documents, manuscripts, private correspondence, covering a period of over four decades, from 1674 to 1718; they describe the personality of Constantin Brancoveanu, not just during his reign, but even before his ascension to the throne of Wallachia, in the time when he occupied different positions of the country’s administration.
The largest part of the collection Brancovan, in terms of number of described documents, contains internal documents, official acts (commands, decrees of the Prince to confirm donations or various exemptions of taxes, various registers etc.) and private papers issued by the voivode Constantin Brancoveanu’s Chancellery or by members of his family. The chronological arrangement of documents reveals the development of graphic manner and decoration style. It had been included several documents signed by Stanca Cantacuzino, mother of prince Brancoveanu, and some documents dated in the years following 1714, signed by his wife, Lady Marica, which allows the public to understand the sketch of a family tree drawn the beginning of the nineteenth century.
Most of the charters are characterized by the presence of elements as: ornaments that adorn the symbolic invocation and the initial letter of the document — birds, snakes, flowers; the shield with the cross-holding eagle on the frontispiece; round shields loaded with Wallachia’s heraldic emblem; the two luminaries, the sun and the moon; special colors used for these motifs - Cinnabar, liquid gold and silver, green, scarlet, purple, yellow — rather rarely; the car tridge with the Prince’s signature; borders that frame the entire document; the special script of some documents; mobile or fixed stamped seals, the mobile ones sometimes decorated with artistically cut-off “petals”. Many documents are written on parchment on which liquid gold and silver is applied; stamped and hung seals validate these acts; when paper was used it was in large sheets.
Another category is that of documents validated with the medium-size seal, applied in cinnabar in which the mano-propria signature of the prince never appears and sometimes, the monogram either. The paper sheets they are written on are rather small and, as for typology, the documents included in this category are predominantly orders addressed to various dignitaries. There are papers validated with a small ring-shaped seal, too. In this case paper size varies and most of them were orders of the Prince. An exception represents the act issued in 1688 (7197) December 10, which confirms a privilege granted to Tismana Monastery, written on small size paper, validated with a small octagonal-not stamped- seal.
The artistic style emerged in Brancoveanu’s time is reflected in the art of Chancellery documents adornment by sumptuousness, by the existence of vegetal—floral decorative motifs and by the artistic manner of writing the documents. The number of the colors employed in decorating them increases, which makes the documents issued by the Prince real art objects. Besides Cinnabar, gold and blue, they also used green, silver, silvery, brownish red, purple and other shades. Scribes and miniaturists begin to add to their artistic repertory indigenous vegetal and animal elements. It is worth mentioning in this context that the prestige of the initial letter and of the symbolic invocation grows higher. Naturally, the emergence and influence of the Brancovan style will also affect the royal Chancellery miniaturists, who begin to ornate the initial letter and the victory sign by replacing the lines with vigorous, ingeniously intertwined branches, adorned with flowers. In many cases, those who achieved these documents do not remain anonymous. The first artistically accomplished Chancellery documents, issued between 1688—1690, were written by Goran Olanescul, Constantin Mihalovici Contescul, Radu, son of George Sufaru, Tudosie, son of Tudor Olanescul , Mihai, son of Stan from Targoviste. Some of them, previously served in the office of Serban Cantacuzino, too. A special place among these gifted scribes and miniaturists is occupied by Isar, logofetel, (subchancellor) of Bucharest, who signs papers from May 1696 to March 1705 and creates a unique style, characterized by: symbolic invocation and initial letter of the document placed on various floral motifs, especially acanthus, from a simple leaf or flower, to complex compositions, sometimes duotone (black/ rootcolour ink, Cinnabar), sometimes multicoloured, in liquid gold and even silver. It is Isar logofetel who will introduce the phrase regarding the year of reign, on the final part of the document where the date was written. His style will be continued by Mihai logofat (chancellor) from Targoviste, son of Stan, by George, son of Iane, logofat (chancellor) of the divan, grandson of George Sufaru, by Ionasco Amnarul, logofetel (chancellor).
The content of the documents reveals various events, such as: the “story of the pagans that came into the country, Tatars, Germans and Kukrutzy, and did a lot of loot and plundering, and Dumitrasco steward lost his testament and the other papers of the estate” (document of 1692, June 15) or “when the foot soldiers (dorobanti), the pedestrian mercenaries (seimenii), and the cavalry men (calarasii) came against the prince and boyars and pillaged and plundered monasteries and churches here, in Bucharest, and Tarnava was robbed of papers and deeds …as evil doers, for which punishment was given according to their deeds” (document of 1692 July 8).