|Titles||Prince of Wallachia|
|Place of death||Constantinople, Ottoman Empire|
|Consort||Doamna Marica Brâncoveanu|
|Saints Constantin, Constantin, Ştefan, Radu and Matei Brâncoveanu|
|Died||15 August 1714
Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
|Honored in||Romanian Orthodox Church|
|Canonized||8 July 2008, Bucharest|
|Major shrine||Relics at the New Church of St. George, Bucharest.|
|Feast||16 August (Eastern Orthodox Church)|
|Attributes||They are usually depicted together, wearing golden cloaks.|
A descendant of the Craioveşti boyar family and related to Matei Basarab, Brâncoveanu was born at the estate of Brâncoveni and raised in the house of his uncle, stolnic Constantin Cantacuzino. He soon became involved in the conflict between Constantin and Şerban Cantacuzino, and rose to the throne after the latter died in mysterious circumstances. He was initially supported by Constantin Cantacuzino, but the two ended up facing each other in a violent competition. Cantacuzino was exiled, and began advocating his son's Ştefan's candidacy to the throne, while competing with Brâncoveanu for the support of the Ottoman Empire - Wallachia's overlord.
The prince took steps in negotiating anti-Ottoman alliances first with the Habsburg Monarchy, and then with Peter the Great's Russia (see Russo-Turkish War, 1710-1711): upon the 1710 Russian intervention in Moldavia, the prince contacted Tsar Peter and accepted gifts from the latter, while his rivalry with the Moldavian Prince Dimitrie Cantemir (the main regional ally of the Russians) prevented a more decisive political move. Instead, Brâncoveanu gathered Wallachian troops in Urlaţi, near the Moldavian border, awaiting for Russian troops to storm into his country and offer his services to the tsar, while also readying to join the Ottoman counter-offensive in the event of a change in fortunes. When several of his boyars fled to the Russian camp, the prince saw himself forced to decide in favor of the Ottomans or risk becoming an enemy of his Ottoman suzerain, and swiftly returned the gifts he had received from the Russians.
Such policies were eventually denounced to the Porte. Brâncoveanu was deposed from his throne by Sultan Ahmed III, and brought under arrest to Constantinople, where he was imprisoned in 1714 at the fortress of Yedikule (the Seven Towers).
There he was tortured by the Ottomans, who hoped to locate the immense fortune he had supposedly amassed. He and his four sons were beheaded on the same day in August, together with Prince Constantin's faithful friend, grand treasurer Enache Văcărescu.
According to his secretary, Anton Maria Del Chiaro, their heads were then carried on poles through the streets of Constantinople, an episode which caused a great unrest in the city. Fearing a rebellion, including from that of the Muslim population which was outraged by the injustice done to the Prince, his sons and his close friend, ordered for the bodies to be thrown into the Bosporus. Christian fishermen took the bodies from the water, and buried them at the Halchi Monastery, in the city's vicinity.
He was a great patron of culture. Under his reign, many Romanian, Greek, Slavonic, Arabic, Turkish, and Georgian texts were printed after a printing press was established in Bucharest - an institution overseen by Anthim the Iberian.
During his rule, an architectural style known as the "Brâncovenesc style" originated in Wallachia, as a synthesis of Renaissance and Byzantine architecture. Such cultural ventures relied on increased taxation, which was also determined by the mounting fiscal pressure of the Ottomans (adding in turn to Brâncoveanu's determination to strip Wallachia of Turkish rule).
The intrigue marking Constantin's ascension and reign is reflected in chronicles of the time, which are ideologically divided: Letopiseţul Cantacuzinesc gives a bleak account of Şerban's rule, as does Cronica Bălenilor; Radu Greceanu's is an official account of Brâncoveanu's rule, and Radu Popescu is adverse to Cantacuzino rulers.
|Ecclesiastical or organizational status||Monastery|
|Direction of façade||West|
Dimitrie Cantemir's Historia Hieroglyphica is centered on the clash, and reflects Cantemir's preference for Constantin Cantacuzino, who was also related to Dimitrie through marriage (despite the fact that Cantemir and Brâncoveanu have taken the same side in the conflict with the Porte).
Ştefan Cantacuzino's brief rule saw in turn the downfall of the Cantacuzinos; he and his father were executed by the Ottomans, who saw the solution to the risk of Wallacho-Russian alliances in imposing the rigid system of Phanariote rule (inaugurated in Wallachia by Nicholas Mavrocordato, who, through his previous rule in Moldavia, is also considered the first Phanariote in that country).
Through his death, Constantin Brâncoveanu became the hero of a series Romanian folk ballads, as well as being depicted on some of Romania's official coinage. According to the Romanian Orthodox Church, the reason for his and his sons' execution was their refusal to give up their Christian faith and convert to Islam. In 1992 the Church declared him, his sons, and Enache saints and martyrs (Sfinţii Martiri Binecredinciosul Voievod Constantin Brâncoveanu, împreună cu fiii săi Constantin, Ştefan, Radu, Matei şi sfetnicul Ianache - "The Martyr Saints the Right-Believing Voivode Constantin Brâncoveanu, together with his sons Constantin, Ştefan, Radu, Matei, and the counselor [Enache]"). Their feast day is August 16.
- Letopiseţul Cantacuzinesc on Constantin Brâncoveanu's relations with the Habsburgs and Ottomans early in his reign (1690, during the latter stages of the Great Turkish War):
"[...] Then Costandin-vodă [old rendition of his name] as well, arriving to his seat in Bucharest, catching news of the Austrians having entered his country and having reached Târgovişte, immediately left his seat [...] went forth towards Pitariului Bridge, setting camp in the river meadow of Plătăreşti, leaving behind the ispravnic [...] with orders that, when the Austrians were to arrive in Bucharest, he was to provide them with all supplies they would need.
Subsequently [the Austrian General], upon understanding this [action], immediately sent a letter to Costandin-vodă, inviting him to return to his seat and join [the Austrians] in harassing the Turk.
Then Costandin-vodă, upon understanding this, called as soon as he could the Metropolitan Theodosie, as well as all his lower and higher boyars, summoning a great council on what was to be done, whereupon some of the boyars vigorously showed themselves to favor Costandin-vodă's rejection of the Turks and his joining the Austrians; while another bunch of boyars, foremost Costandin [Constantin] Cantacuzino, who has been great stolnic, and Mihai Cantacuzino, the great spătar, believed this not to constitute good advice, as, where such a thing to happen, the nearby Tatars [who were Ottoman allies] would immediately arrive with a mighty force in order to enslave and plunder the country, and the Austrians would prove of no help. And immediately they moved spot and went to the village of Ruşi, where the princely fish ponds are located.
Then [the Austrian General] came to Drăgăneşti, inviting Costandin-vodă to leave Ruşi and meet him in Drăgăneşti, showing himself a great friend towards Costandin-vodă, asking him, in all good faith, to teach him what he should do next. And he told all the truth about how his and his troops' arrival had been brought about by the lies of [a high boyar], and how [the boyar] had boasted that, were [they] to enter the country, all boyars and all country would pay allegiance to [them], but that this had not in fact happened.
Thus Costandin-vodă told him the whole truth, about how the Tatars wished to enter his country, and [he] threw a major banquet in his honor and then returned to Bucharest in great fear. And the Tatars, aware of the Austrian presence, wasted no time in raising troops for the Sultan and sent forth messengers to Costandin-vodă, telling him that they were to come in the country to fight the Austrians.
Thus Costandin-vodă, upon hearing news of this, became very saddened, most of all considering the plight of the poor country, and immediately lifted camp and left for Buzău. And when he arrived there, he sent his Lady and all her ladies-in-waiting to the convent [...], and he rode with a few of his men to meet the Sultan, paying him high allegiance and offering him many gifts.
It is then that the Sultan saw that Costandin-vodă was not being rebellious, but rather [his] honest servant, and gave him assurance that his country would not be enslaved, and that [the Ottomans] were instead to meet the Austrians, who were their enemies."
- Del Chiaro
- Anton Maria Del Chiaro, Revoluţiile Valahiei
- Letopiseţul Cantacuzinesc (in antiquated Romanian)
- Official Orthodox Church biography (in Romanian)
- Wallachian coinage issued under Constantin Brâncoveanu
- A lease issued by the Prince, bearing his signature and seal
|Prince of Wallachia