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Alexandru Papiu Ilarian

Alexandru Papiu Ilarian (1827-1877) Born Alexandru Pop, son of Transylvanian priests on both sides of the family. He was educated at the Catholic Lycee of Targu Mures and then the Blaj schools, where he proved himself one of the most diligent disciples of Simion Barnutiu and Timotei Cipariu. As a result, young Papiu became one of the most enthusiastic exponents of reform and change. This led to his expulsion from Blaj by Bishop Ioan Lemeni. He then studied law at the Piarist lycee in Cluj, concluding his preparations with an internship as cancelist at the Royal Courts in Targu Mures, where he was when the events of 1848 broke upon the Habsburg Monarchy.

Ilarian published a ringing call for Romanian rights in Baritiu's Foaie Pentru Minte which contributed significantly to the crystallization of the Transylvanian Romanian revolutionary fervor. He was also a gifted orator, something that made him one of the chief tribunes of the Romanian revolution. He played a role in the preparations for the first (April 30, 1848) and second (May 3) Blaj Romanian assemblies, promoting the intransigent position of Barnutiu in regard to Romanian emancipation and national independence, the abolition of serfdom, and the rejection of the union between Transylvania and Hungary. He was elected by the Blaj assembly a member of the permanent Romanian National Committee set up in Sibiu that functioned as a virtual Romanian government during the 1848. Threatened with arrest, he fled momentarily to Muntenia, where he participated in the revolutionary activities underway there. In September, he returned to Transylvania, attended the third (September 2) Blaj assembly, and was elected secretary of the Committe of Pacification headed by Barnutiu.

After the revolution was crushed, in the fall of 1849, he and Barnutiu studied law at the University of Vienna. Ilarian became the historiographer of the revolution, when, in 1851-1852, he published two volumes of his The History of the Romanians in Upper Dacia. As a result, the books were banned by the Habsburg regime and he was forced to go to Padua to finish his law degree. From 1855 to 1858, he taught law in Iasi and then served several posts in the Moldovan and Romanian governments between 1860 and 1868, including minister of justice. One of his greatest achievements was the founding in Bucuresti (1867) of the Transylvania Society, whose president he was till 1874. The thrust of the Society was to provide material assistance to the Romanian young people in Transylvania who were eager to study but were denied access to higher education by the Hungarian regime in Transylvania. As a result of his prolific publication activities, in 1868 he was elected a member of the Romanian Academy. His career and life were tragically cut short by mental illness.
Gelu Neamtu


Iosif Pervain and Ioan Chindris, Corespondenta lui Alexandru Papiu Ilarian, 2 vols Cluj, 1972.

C. Albu, Alexandru Papiu Ilarian Bucuresti, 1977.

Ioan Chindris, Ideologia revolutionara a lui Alexandru Papiu Ilarian Bucuresti, 1983.

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