Neacșu's letter

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Neacșu's letter is the oldest surviving document written in Romanian

The letter of Neacșu of Câmpulung (Romanian: Scrisoarea lui Neacșu de la Câmpulung), written in 1521, is the oldest surviving document available in Romanian that can be reliably dated. Written using Cyrillic, it was sent by Neacșu Lupu, a boyar from Câmpulung, Wallachia (now Argeș County, Romania) to Johannes Benkner, the mayor of Brassó, Kingdom of Hungary (now Brașov, Romania), warning him about the imminent attack of the Ottoman Empire on Transylvania.

Neacșu Lupu was a 16th-century Wallachian boyar from Câmpulung, the son of Neacșu Mircea,[citation needed] mentioned for the first time during Vlad cel Tânăr's reign (1510–1512), in documents related to a trial regarding debts between himself and merchants of Brașov. It is possible that he was himself a merchant involved in the trade of Turkish goods that he was buying south of the Danube and selling in Transylvania, which may explain his relationship with the mayor of Brașov.[1]

History[edit]

Early engraving of Brașov

The Letter of Neacșu of Câmpulung to Johannes (Hans) Benkner of Brașov was most probably written on the June 29 or 30, 1521, in the city of Dlăgopole (Slavonic rendition of Câmpulung). The date is not mentioned within the letter itself, it being inferred from the historic events described and the people mentioned.

The letter was discovered in 1894 by Wilhelm Stenner, the archivar of Brașov.[2]

Contents[edit]

Boyar house in Câmpulung

The text of the letter was written in the Cyrillic script, and is composed of three parts. The introduction in Slavonic, translated: "To the most wise and noble and venerable and by God endowed master Hanas Benger of Braşov, all the best, from Neacșu of Câmpulung".

Following the Slavonic introduction, the content of the letter is written in the old Romanian language. As opposed to the first documents of other languages, which are in general more ancient, the Romanian language used in this letter is very similar to the language spoken in the present-day. The Romanian linguist Aurel Nicolescu stated that no less than 175 words of the 190 found in the letter have Latin origins, this not counting the repeated words and the names. Some incorrect forms of different words appear due to the difficulty of representing some Romanian sounds like ă and î, while using the Cyrillic alphabet.[3]

Neacșu Lupu’s letter contained a secret of great importance, warning Johannes Benkner of Brașov about Turkish preparations for an invasion through Transylvania and Wallachia.

Various Slavonic expressions are also present throughout the content of the letter, such as "I pak", which has a similar meaning to the Latin "item", but is also used to mark the beginning of a new sentence, as no punctuation marks are present in the text. Another Slavonic word is "za", meaning about.

The letter ends with another sentence written in Slavonic, which means: "And may God bring happiness upon you. Amen."

Text[edit]

Transliteration from Cyrillic[edit]

  1. mudromu i plemenitomu i čistitomu i b[o]gωm darovannomu župan hanĭš begner ot brašov mnog[o]
  2. zdravie otkšul ot dlŭgopole i pak dau štire domnïetale za lukrul turčilor kum amĭ
  3. auzit èu kŭ ĩpŭratul au èšit den sofïę ši aimintrě nue ši sěu dus ĩ sus
  4. pre dunŭre i pak sŭ štïi domnïjata kŭ au venit un ωm de la nikopoe de mïe měu
  5. spus kŭ au vŭzut ku ωkïi loi kŭ au trekut čěle korabïi če štïi ši domnïjata prè
  6. dunŭre ĩ sus i pak sŭ štïi kŭ bagŭ den tote ωrašele kŭte [50] de ωmin sŭ ę
  7. fïe ĩn ažutor ĩ korabïi i pak sŭ štïi kumu sěu prinsŭ nešte meššter den c[a]ri
  8. grad kum vorĭ trěče ačěle korabïi la lokul čela strimtul če štïi ši domnïjata
  9. i pak spui domnïetale de lukrul lu mahamet beg kumu amĭ auzit de boęri če sŭntĭ medžïjaš
  10. ši de dženere mïu negre kumu ęu dat ĩpŭratul slobozïe lu mahamet beg pre iu iωi va
  11. fi voę pren cěra rumŭněskŭ jarŭ èlĭ sŭ trěkŭ i pak sŭ štïi domnïjata kŭ are
  12. frikŭ mare ši bŭsŭrab de ačel lotru de mahamet beg mai vŭrtos de domnïele vostre
  13. i pak spui domnïetale ka mai marele mïu de če amĭ ĩceles šïeu eu spui domnïetale jarŭ
  14. domnïjata ešti ĩceleptĭ ši ačěste kuvinte sŭ cïi domnïjata la tine sŭ nu štïe
  15. umin mulci ši domnïele vostre sŭ vŭ pŭzici kum štici mai bine i b[og]ĭ te ves[e]lit amïnŭ

Transcript after the current Romanian spelling rules[edit]

"Mudromu I plemenitomu, I cistitomu I B[o]gom darovannomu zupan Hanăș Begner ot Brașov mnog[o] zdravie ot Nécșul ot Dlugopole.

I pak dau știre domnietale za lucrul turcilor, cum am auzit eu că împăratul au ieșit den Sofiia și aimintrea nu e. Și se-au dus în sus pre Dunăre.

I pak să știi domniia-ta că au venit un om de la Nicopoe de mie mi-au spus că au văzut cu ochii lui că au trecut ceale corăbii ce știi și domniia-ta pre Dunăre în sus.

I pak să știi că bagă den toate orașele câte 50 de oamini să fie în ajutor în corăbii.

I pak să știi cumu se-au prins nește meșteri den Țarigrad cum vor treace aceale corabii la locul cela strimtul ce știi și domniia ta.

I pak spui domnietale de lucrul lu Mahamet-Beg, cum am auzit de boiari ce sânt megiiaș(i) și de genere-miu Negre, cumu i-au dat împăratul slobozie lui Mahamet-Beg, pre io-i va fi voia pren Țeara Rumânească, iară el să treacă.

I pak să știi domniia ta că are frică mare și Băsărab de acel lotru de Mahamet-Beg, mai vârtos de domniele voastre.

I pak spui domnietale ca mai-marele miu de ce am înțeles și eu. Eu spui domnietale, iară domniia ta ești înțelept și aceaste cuvinte să ții domniiata la tine, să nu știe oamini mulți și domniele vostre să vă păziți cum știți mai bine.

I B[og]i te ves[e]lit, Aminu."

English translation[edit]

16th century miniature depicting Suleiman the Magnificent marching with his army

"To the most wise and noble and honoured and by God gifted master Hanăș Bengner [that is, Johannes Benkner] from Brașov, much health from Neacșu from Câmpulung.

And so I let you know of the deeds of the Turks, as I have heard that the emperor [that is, Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent] has left Sofia, and that must be true, and went up the Danube.

And so You should know that a man from Nicopolis came to me and told me they saw with their own eyes that those ships which you know about have sailed up the Danube.

And so you should know that they are taking 50 men from each town to help on the ships.

And so you should know that some experts from Tsarigrad [that is, Istanbul] realized how to make the ships to move past that tight place which you know too.

And so I tell you about the deed of Mahamet beg, as I heard from neighbouring boyars and from my son-in-law Negre, that the emperor gave Mahamet beg freedom to pass through Wallachia [Țeara Rumânească, lit. "the Romanian land", this being also the first mention of the name "Romania" in a Romanian text] wherever he pleases.

And so you should know that our Basarab too is fearful of that thief Mahamet beg, even more so than you.

And so I'm telling you as my superior about what I have found out. I am telling you, and you are wise and you should keep these words for yourself, so that no many people know, and you should take proper guard.

And may God bring you happiness. Amen."

References[edit]

  1. ^ (Romanian) Ion Rotaru, Literatura română veche, Bucureşti, 1981, pp. 62-65, quoted by Institutul de Memorie Culturală; English translation.
  2. ^ Wilhelm Stenners Biographie von Gernot Nussbächer, Historiker und Archivar in Kronstadt
  3. ^ "Epistola lui Neacsu" (in Romanian). Jurnalul Naţional. p. 1. 

External links[edit]