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Dramatis Personae

Arbore, Zamfir (1848-1933)

Born Zamfir Ralli, in Czernowitz, Bukovina, in the Habsburg Empire, into a Romanian-Greek noble family. He moved to Kishinev, in the Russian Empire, where he enrolled in the Medical School in Moscow and, in 1867, in the Medico-Surgical Academy, in St Petersburg. He joined a student commune and befriended the terrorist revolutionary Sergey Nechayev. In 1869 he was arrested, imprisoned and afterwards banned from all universities and big cities of the empire. He managed to escape to Switzerland where he became a close friend of the anarchists Mikhail Bakunin and Élisée Reclus and, later on, of Ukrainian revolutionaries, such as Mikhail Dragomanov. In 1877, he moved to Romania and changed his name to Zamfir Arbore [Arbure] as he became involved in the socialist-anarchist circles already existent there. He was not expelled together with the other anarchists in 1881, and took part in mainstream local public life. He became head of the municipal statistic office of Bucharest, journalist, won a prize of the Academy, taught Russian and Bulgarian at the War School and, eventually, was elected as member of the Parliament. He continued to help socialist and anarchists of all stripes, including the sailors from the battleship Potemkin stranded in Romania.

Babeș, Victor (1854-1926)

Born in Vienna in a Romanian-Austrian family. He studied medicine in both Vienna and Budapest. He graduated from the University of Vienna in 1878 and obtained a position in Budapest at the Anatomical Pathology cathedra. With a scholarship from the Hungarian Ministry of Education he embarked on a medical laboratory trip around Europe, especially in Munich and Heidelberg. In Paris he worked with Victor Cornil who introduced him to Louis Pasteur. From there he moved to Berlin where he worked in Robert Koch and Rudolf Virchow’s laboratories. After a fight with Pasteur, in 1886, and a weakening of his position in Budapest, he moved to Bucharest, in 1887, where he became the director of a large bacteriology institute. There he was involved in the new public health reform projects and he continued his bacteriological researches.

Codreanu, Nicolae (1850-1878)

Born Nikolai Zubku in the village of Nisporeni, Bessarabia, in the Russian Empire. In 1870 he graduated the theological seminary of Kishinev and he enrolled in the Surgical Medical Academy in Sankt Petersburg, where he joined a revolutionary group. In 1874, he took part in the ‘going to the people’ movement in Kishinev and Nisporeni. As he was pursued by the secret police, he fled to Romania, where he obtained a license to practice medicine and became a state-employed physician. There he changed his name from Zubku to Codreanu and became the organizer of the first socialist and anarchist circles. He was part of a large international revolutionary network and was involved in smuggling revolutionary literature into Russia. He died in the small town of Curtea de Argeș and his atheistic-anarchist funeral created a large public scandal.

Dobrogeanu-Gherea, Constantin (1855-1920)

Born Solomon Katz, in Slavianka, in the Russian Empire, in a Jewish family. In 1871, he moved to Kharkov, as a student at the Science University, and became a member of an anarchist student commune. He took part in the ‘going to the people’ movement and fled Russia, in 1875, for Romania. From there he went to Bern and Geneva to meet with the exiled Bakuninists. He returned to Romania and got involved in the smuggling of revolutionary literature to Russia.

In 1877, he obtained a US passport with the name Robert Jinx. In the same year, he was kidnapped by the Russian secret police and sent to Siberia. He escaped and returned, via Norway, to Romania. He went by many names and aliases. In 1890 he applied for Romanian citizenship as Constantin Cassu Dobrogeanu and after that, as he started to write in Romanian journals, he settled into his Romanian persona as Constantin Dobrogeanu-Gherea. He played a major role in the creation, in 1893, of the Social Democratic Party of the Workers of Romania, and in promoting an orthodox Marxist position, based on the Erfurt Program. He was one of the most important theoreticians of Romanian socialism.

Felix, Iacob (1828-1884)

Born in Horschitz, Bohemia, into a lower middle-class Jewish family. He obtained a medical doctorate title from the University of Vienna. In 1858, he moved to Wallachia where he was appointed state physician at one of the quarantine post on the river Danube. In 1861, he was already chief physician of Bucharest. He soon became professor at the Medical School and, from 1862, vice-inspector of the Sanitary Service. In 1892 he was General Director of the Sanitary Service. He published the first Romanian treatise on public health, designed the first sanitary law and, eventually, became a member of the Academy.

Golescu, Alexandru (1819-1881)

Born in Bucharest, into one of the oldest noble Wallachian families. He studied in Bucharest and then in Paris, at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers. He was one of the founding members of the Romanian secret revolutionary society ‘Brotherhood’. He took part in the Wallachian 1848 revolution, he served as secretary of the Provisional Government and was part of the radical wing of the revolutionary movement. He was involved in the diplomatic efforts of the Wallachian revolution and exiled himself in France after its defeat. After the Crimean war, he returned to Bucharest, where he served several times as minister and once as Prime Minister. He died at his estate.

Ionescu, Ion (1818-1891)

Born Ion Isăcescu in Roman, Moldavia, into a family of priests and minor gentry. He changed his name to Ion Ionescu and attended the Mihăileană Academy in the Moldavian capital, Iași. In 1838, with the financial help of Prince Sturdza he went to France where he entered the private agronomical school from Roville-devant-Bayon. From there he went to Paris where he attended courses at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers. In 1841, he was back in Moldavia, where he managed Prince Sturdza’s large estates and cattle herds. He became attracted to some local revolutionary circles and, in 1848, after the failure of the Moldavian uprising, he moved in Wallachia, to Bucharest, as the vice-president of the Agrarian Committee for Propriety and Land Reform. After the failure of the Wallachian revolution, he went into forced political exile in the Ottoman Empire. Eventually, he got a lucrative position as the administrator of Grand Vizier Reshid Pasha lands and cattle from Thessaly. He married there and, after a dispute with the Vizier, he returned to Bucharest, in 1857. There he was part of all the reformist movements, and became the main advisor of the Reigning Prince Alexandru Ioan Cuza on rural reform. In 1869, after the downfall of Cuza, he retreated from mainstream political life – although he was a member of the Parliament for almost all of his remaining life. He bought some land near Roman, in the village of Brad, and created a Romanian Rovillian model farm and orphanage. He changed his name to Ion Ionescu de la Brad.

Istrati, Constantin (1850-1918)

Born in Roman, Moldavia, into a family of lesser notables, he was in the first generation of students that got their medical doctorate in Bucharest. As a student, he was part of a socialist circle organized by the Russian anarchists exiled in Romania. In 1885, he obtained a doctoral degree in chemistry, in Paris, and he developed a research center in organic chemistry at the University of Bucharest. In 1906, he organized, as General Commissioner, the Romanian General Exhibition. He was member of the Parliament, member and eventually President of the Academy, and minister in several Conservative governments. He died in Paris, as part of a Romanian delegation trying to obtain military and financial help, during WWI.

Rosetti, Constantin Alexandru (1816-1885)

Born in Bucharest into an aristocratic family. He studied in Bucharest, joined the army, the public administration, and then moved to Paris to study law. There he became a devout member of freemasonry and part of revolutionary circles. He enthusiastically followed the courses of Jules Michelet and Edgar Quinet. In 1846, he opened a library and publishing house in Bucharest and, later on, married the sister of the secretary of the British embassy.

In 1848, he took part in the Wallachian revolution and became Head of the Ministry of Interior. After the crushing of the revolution, he was arrested and escaped, with the help of his wife, from the Ottoman army escort. He went into exile in France. In 1857, he returned to Bucharest and edited the radical newspaper The Romanian. He was on the left wing of the Liberal Party and had good contacts with socialist and anarchist circles. He served as minister several times, he was twice Mayor of Bucharest and President of the Chamber of Deputies.

Russel, Nicolae (1850-1930)

Born Nikolai Sudzilovsky in the Mogilev region, in the Russian Empire, into an impoverished Polish noble family. He entered the University of St. Petersburg, only to be expelled in 1868-69 for revolutionary activities. He moved to Kiev where he joined a student revolutionary commune. In 1873, he travelled to Zurich and Geneva where he met the two leaders of the Russian revolutionary exile: Mikhail Bakunin and Pyotr Lavrov. Back in Kiev he became involved in the ‘going to the people’ movement and, afterwards, he was forced to emigrate. He went to London, got to U.S., returned to Geneva and, in 1875, relocated to Romania, from where he coordinated the contraband with revolutionary literature. He learned Romanian, changed his name to Nicolae Russel (also to John Russel as he obtained a U.S. passport), wrote programmatic socialist texts and organized social-revolutionary circles. After a large socialist-anarchist meeting he helped organize in Iași, in 1881, he was expelled from Romania. He went to Europe, from there he reached San Francisco, got into a fight with the Russian bishop there, and moved to Hawaii. There he joined the Home Rule Party and became the first president of the Hawaii’s Senate. He traveled extensively to China and organized prison escapes from Siberia. In 1905, he moved to Japan, did propaganda work among Russian POWs and befriended George Kennan, but also Sun Yat-sen. He died in Tianjin, China.

Stere, Constantin (1865-1936)

Born in the village of Ciripcău, in Bessarabia, in the Russian Empire, into a wealthy Romanian landowning family. He went to school in Kishinev and, in 1879, joined a revolutionary circle there. In 1883, he was arrested, imprisoned and exiled to Siberia. In 1892, he was pardoned but denied access to university education and all industrial or big cities of the Empire. Emigrating to Romania, he became close to the socialist circles, but did not become a member of the new Social Democrat Party. He studied law at the University of Iași, and got involved in literary debates and attempts to organize adult education centers. In 1895, he obtained Romanian citizenship. He started to promote his own brand of nationalized narodnicism: poporanism, and to oppose local socialism. He joined the Liberal Party. From 1906 on, he published one of the most successful Romanian thick journals: The Romanian Life. He became Rector, in 1913, of the University of Iași and was a very active member of Parliament. During WWI, as Bucharest was occupied by the German and Bulgarian armies, he remained in the capital and published a pro-German journal. After the war, he was accused of treason, but he remained an influential public character, and was instrumental in the creation of the Peasant Party.