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Golescu Brothers

THE GOLESCU BROTHERS Stefan (1809-1874), Nicolae (1810-1877), Radu (1814-1882) and Alexandru C.-Albu (1818-1873), sons of the Munt enian boiar and Enlightenment scholar Dinicu Golescu, whose famous 1826 book on his travels abroad (Insemnare a calatoriei mele facuta in 1824, 1825, 1826) was a key in the Romanian awakening to the west. They were tutored at home and then in Switzerland. Stefan and Nicolae returned home to become part, in 1830, of the newly-formed Muntenian national militia and became aides to Alexandru Dimitrie Ghica, the commander of the army (later, in 1834-1842, Prince of Muntenia). Nicolae advanced to major in 1834, Stefan the same in 1836. Meanwhile, Radu and Alexandru pursued studies in Paris, where they were influenced by course at the Collège de France and the Sorbonne. (In 1845, Alexandru was a founding member of the Romanian Students Society in Paris.)

In 1834, Stefan and Nicolae became members of the Societatea Filarmonica, a quasi-Masonic reformist organization founded the year before. Their critical comments about the abuses of the state administration weakened their relationship with the ruling prince. Nicolae Golescu served as special prosecutor in the trial of the participants in the 1840 Filipescu plot and later as director of the ministry of interior, where he improved conditions. Shortly thereafter they came out openly against the Prince. Russia, which maintained a protectorate over Muntenia ousted Ghica in 1842 and replaced him with Gheorghe Bibescu. Though Nicolae Golescu was among the unsuccessful candidates for the throne, he kept his minister of interior post until 1847. The two brothers' continued participation in various reformist and quasi-revolutionary societies (they also joined the Asociatia literara a Romaniei in 1845) and their association with others who became leaders in 1848 resulted in Nicolae's dismissal.

Though they had been born in a respectable family of boiars with longstanding traditions, and held important ranks in the military and the state administration, the Golescu brothers gradually removed themselves from the privileged classes, and chose instead to join the radical branch of the Romanian liberal movement. All four of the Golescu brothers joined the Revolutionary Committee that was created May 10/22, 1848, in Bucuresti, along with Ion Ghica, Nicolae Balcescu, Al. G. Golescu-Negru, C. A. Rosetti, the Bratianu brothers, C. Balcescu, Cezar Bolliac, Ion Heliade Radulescu, and Ion Cimpineanu.

Stefan Golescu was directly involved in the triggering of the revolution as a participant in the June 9, 1848 meeting at Islaz, where he was appointed to serve in the Provisional Government. On June 11, the revolution started in Bucuresti. In the Provisional Government set up there, Nicolae Golescu was named Minister of Interior and Stefan Golescu was selected for Justice. On June 14, after Prince Gheorghe Bibescu abdicated, the two provisional governments were merged. The Golescu brothers were co-signatories to all the decrees issued by the Provisional Government for the creation of new state institutions.

The following week, Nicolae Golescu and Ion Bratianu were responsible for mobilizing the street crowd that rescued the Provisional Government from a counter-revolutionary coup. The Golescus also opposed the withdrawal of the Provisional Government from the capital when it was rumored at the end of June that imperial Russian forces were advancing on Bucuresti. However, the Government did withdraw, the plot was thwarted and Nicolae and Stefan Golescu returned to Bucharest on July 3, 1848.

In the debates that were held for the appointment of the members to serve the Committee charged with drafting a new constitution, Stefan Golescu supported Nicolae Balcescu's proposal for passing the universal suffrage while Nicolae favored a less expansive participation. In late July, when Ottoman troops began to mass at Giurgiu, the Provisional Government sent Stefan Golescu to meet with Suleiman Pasha where he vainly opposed Ottoman envoy's demand that the existing Provisional Government be removed from office.

The Provisional Government resigned on July 25/August 6, 1848. In an attempt to paliate the Porte, a new ruling regency was appointed, consisting of Nicolae Golescu, I. Heliade Radulescu and Christian Tell. A delegation, including Stefan Golescu, was sent to Constantinople, to seek the Sultan's endorsement for the modified Romanian Constitution. In the train of the failure of this effort, rumors of the imminent crushing of the revolution began to proliferate. A "Regeneration Club" was set up to prepare the elections for a constituent assembly, which included the younger Golescu brothers Radu and Al. C. Golescu-Albu. The latter had also served in the committee for the enrollment of the citizens in the National Guard.

As a member of the regency, Nicolae Golescu continued in his post as Minister of the Interior, one of his major concerns was to prevent serious disturbances in the rural areas. Along with the other two regents, he lodged a strongly-worded protest against the Tsar's July manifesto which had attempted to justify Russian intervention. This was also unavailing. In September, Turkish and Russian troops entered Muntenia and crushed the Romanian revolution.

Nicolae Golescu was among the last to leave Muntenia, beginning a long exile, in which he and his brother Stefan, along with others, worked for the political emancipation of their homeland and the unification of the Principalities. Alexandru further played a role in 1849 in events in Transylvania, particularly in connection with activities to unify Transylvania, Bucovina, and Banat.

After contributing to the unionist activities of the 1850s (both Nicolae and Stefan were elected to the ad hoc assemblies that paved the way for the double election of Alexandru Ioan Cuza in 1859. In 1866, Nicolae was once more chosen as a regent when Prince Cuza was ousted. Both he and Stefan served in the post-1866 era as prime ministers. They were members of the Muntenian national-liberal party led by Ion Bratianu.
Anastasie Iordache


G. Fotino Din vremea renasterii nationale a Tarii Romanesti: Boierii Golesti (Bucuresti, 1939) 4 vols.

Anastasie Iordache, Golestii. Locul si rolul lor in istoria Romaniei (Bucuresti, 1979).

______. Pe urmele Golestilor (Bucuresti, 1982) .

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