Citing info:
Petrisor AI (1999), Influence of French Culture on Romanian Culture, presentation for the meeting of Columbia French Speaking Group "Les amis" and for the "National French Week", Columbia, SC, USA, October 18, 1999

1. Romania: The Geography

*Position: in the geographical center of the European Continent. See the geographical position
*Coordinates: 37' 07" and 48 15'06" North Latitude. 20 15'44" and 29 41'24" East Longitude.
*Boundaries: in the East the Republic of Moldavia, Ukraine, the Black Sea; in the South Bulgaria; in the South and southwest Yugoslavia; in the West, Hungary; in the North, Ukraine.
*Border length: 3.190,3 Km
*Area: 238 391 sq. km (12 the position in Europe):
*Physical features: mountains (31%); Hills and plateaus (33%); Plains (36%).

2. History of the French Influence

There were several factors which made Romania more receptive than the nations south of the Danube to the influence of French culture. Their geographical position opened channels to the outside of world and exposed them to a contact with the intellectual currents such as that of the Renaissance.

It is undeniable that the second half of the 18th century saw the appearance of a strong current of French influence in the Principalities. It made itself felt not so much at an official level, but through certain merchants and adventurers, and through the fortuitous fact that in the latter half of the century the accepted language of diplomacy was French. Frenchmen were engaged by the princes as tutors for their sons, and soon this example was followed by the aristocracy.

The ideas of the French revolution, along with the actual reality, led to the apparition of a stream of innovating ideas in the Romanian Countries. In this circumstance, in 1821 a national and social revolution, led by Tudor Vladimirescu, started. Well-defended and repressed by the ottoman armies, it had important political consequences: the phanariot regime, instituted after 1711 in Moldavia and after 1716 in Vallachia by the nomination by the ottoman leadership of ruling princes selected from the Greeks in Phanar was abolished and Romanian Countries returned to the practice of anointing local kings. Some modern government and administration principles were introduced.
A crucial point in the evolution of modern Romania is represented by the revolution from 1848. Emigrants from Moldavia and Vallachia were coming to France in great number in 1820 through 1830. Among them, prince Ion Ghica, who obtained a bachelor degree from Sorbonne University in Paris, was a good friend of Nicolae Balcescu (see next chapter); Alexandru Ioan Cuza became later on king of Romania; one of the founders of the Liberal party was Dumitru Bratianu, and another outstanding member of this party was C. A. Rosetti; the historian Mihai Kogalniceanu became prime minister under Alexandru Ioan Cuza; and Nicolae Kretzulescu became an outstanding figure.

With the great support of the large European countries (France and Prussia) Vallachia and Moldavia were jointed on January 24, 1859 under the scepter of the prince Alexandru Ioan Cuza, chosen as a king in both countries.

3. Cultural Influence: NICOLAE BALCESCU (1819-1852)

Historian, writer and the most stubborn fighter in 1848. Born in Bucharest. He is originated from the small nobility. Sets up the secret organization Fratia (with I. Ghica and Christian Tell) and makes historical studies, traveling in France and Italy. In Paris he fought on the barricades in 1848. Returned to Bucharest, take part at the Revolution, is for 2 days minister and secretary of the provisional government. He is part of the left wing wanting to put peasants into land possession, universal vote, resistance against ottomans.

First of all he was a passionate historian, but he was wrote literature, historiography, sociology and political economy. Hero and martyr, he had sacrificed his health looking for historical documents, in the country and abroad. He wrote: "Army power and military art from the setting up of the Valahian Principate till present" (1844) and "The development of the revolution in Romanian history" etc. His most important work is "Romanians under Michael The Brave", written in exile from 1849 till his death, unfinished and published postumely by Al. Odobescu: "On the highest tops of the Carpathian Mountains is a fair and blessed country among all the countries seeded by God on Earth. It is like a magnificent and great palace, masterpiece of architecture, where are gathered together all the natural beauties which adorn the other places from Europe, which with pleasure it remains us ..."

4. General Henri Berthelot and Romania

General Henri-Mathias Berthelot (1861-1931) became and remains a major hero in Romania. He shared with the Romanian people their agony in disastrous defeat as well as their exaltation in victory and in the creation of a Greater Romania. Symbolizing as he did, the support of France in those trying times he became the center of adulation and of a veritable cult, with humble peasants displaying a portrait of "daddy Berthelot" among their sacred icons, and his fame being recounted in popular songs of war. He was made an honorary citizen and rewarded with the gift of a modest landed estate. He ardently represented Romania's cause before his friends and enemies, so much that he once evoked the comment that "General Bethelot is more Romanian than the Romanians". Right up to his death, Berthelot maintained close contact with his adopted country, which he termed his "second homeland", traveling there often and promoting cooperation and commerce with France. Upon his death in 1931, Berthelot willed his property in Transylvania to the Romanian Academy to provide a French education to the military officers. To this very day in Romania, Berthelot is fondly remembered with a title given to only a few foreigners, "a good Romanian".

5. Common Roots of Romanian and French

Romanian is a Romance language, as French is. Several reference sources may confirm this statement.

(1) Alphonse Juilland, in "Transformational and Structural Morphology", confirms the Latin roots of the Romanian language.

(2) Joseph Price, in "Motivations for Alteros-Affixation in Proto-Romance and the Development of Vous Autres" in French", compares a certain gramatical structure in the Romance languages and his conclusions support the Latin origin of the two languages. His conclusion is that Romanian language, "isolated from the other members of the Romance family", must have acquired the investigated structure directly from Latin.

6. Francophony: Youth and Information Pathways
(by Carmen Muresan )

In the Universe there are people who speak similar languages, which having a common root, in general Latin, as it is the case of French and Romanian. A great culture and civilization, like the French one, had a significant influence on other countries in the whole world, which became French-speaking.

This is also the case of Romania, a balcanic country that has many young people who speak French well, thanks to the tight cultural links that exist between the two countries since the 18th and 19th centuries. The tradition was preserved by the young people, who receive an education where the French language was always a discipline of study.
7. References

Campbell, J.C. 1971. French Influence and the Rise of Romanian Nationalism. The Generation of 1848, 1830-1857. Arno Press & the New York Times. New York
Castellan, G. 1984. Histoire de la Roumanie. Presses Universitaires de France. Paris
Durandin, C. 1988. Révolution à la française ou à la russe. Presses Universitaires de France. Paris
Hudita, I. 1927. Histoire des relations diplomatiques entre la France et la Transylvanie au XVIIe siècle (1635-1683). Librairie Universitaire. Paris
Juilland, A. 1978. In Defense of Structuralism: Transformational and Structural Morphology. About Two Rival Approaches to the Romanian Verb System. Anma Libri, Saratoga
Price, J.E. 1998. Motivations for Alteros-Affixation in Proto-Romance and the Development of Vous Autres" in French. University of South Carolina, Columbia
Torrey, G.E. 1987. General Henri Berthelot and Romania: Mémoires et Correspondence 1916-1919. East European Monographs, Boulder. New York

French / Français
C'est un exemple qui illustre l'origine de la langue roumaine. On peut facilement observer des similitudes entre les langues roumain, français, italienne, espagnole et portugaise.

Italian / Italiano
Cin c un esempio che illustra l'origine della lingua rumena. Le somiglianze fra le lingue rumene, francesi, italiane, spagnole e portoghesi possono essere osservate facilmente.

Spanish / Espanol
Éste es un ejemplo que ilustra el origen del lenguaje rumano. Las semejanzas entre los lenguajes rumanos, franceses, italianos, espanoles y portuguéss pueden ser observadas fácilmente.