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Trajan's Column.
Trajan's Column -- detail.

Trajan's Column is a monument in Rome raised by order of emperor Trajan. It is located in Trajan's Forum, built near the Quirinal Hill, north of the Roman Forum. Finished in 113, the spiral bas-relief commemorates Trajan's victory in his military campaigns to conquer Dacia. See Dacian Wars.

The structure is about 30 meters (98 ft) in height, 38 including its large pedestal. The shaft is made from a series of 18 colossal Carrara marble drums, each weighing about 40 tons, with a diameter of about 4 metres (13 ft). The 200 meter (656 ft) frieze winds around the shaft 23 times. Inside the shaft, a spiral staircase of 185 stairs provides access to a viewing platform at the top.

Originally, the column was topped with a statue of an eagle, and later by a statue of Trajan himself. In 1588, it was replaced by a statue of St. Peter (which still remains) by Pope Sixtus V.

The relief[edit]

The relief portrays Trajan's two victorious military campaigns against the Dacians; the lower half illustrating the first (101-102), and the top half illustrating the second (105-106).

The two sections are separated by a personification of Victory writing on a shield. Otherwise, the scenes on the frieze unfold continuously and in tipped-up perspective. The imagery is not realistic as the sculptor pays little attention to perspective. Often a variety of different perspectives are used in the same scene, so that more can be revealed (e.g. a different angle is used to show men working behind a wall).

The scenes depict mostly the Roman army in military activities such as setting out to battle and engaging the Dacians, as well as constructing fortifications and listening to the emperor's address. The carvings are crowded with sailors, soldiers, statesmen and priests, showing about 2,500 figures in all and providing a valuable source of information for modern historians on Roman and barbaric arms and methods of warfare (such as forts, ships, weapons etc.). The emperor Trajan, depicted realistically (not superhuman), makes 59 appearances among his troops. A large figure of a river god is also visible.

Traces of colouring have been found in the crevices of the carving. The base is covered with reliefs of trophies of Dacian weapons.

The inscription[edit]

The inscription at the base of the column in finest lettering reads:

SENATVS·POPVLVSQVE·ROMANVS
IMP·CAESARI·DIVI·NERVAE·F·NERVAE
TRAIANO·AVG·GERM·DACICO·PONTIF
MAXIMO·TRIB·POT·XVII·IMP·VI·COS·VI·P·P·
AD·DECLARANDVM·QVANTAE·ALTITVDINIS
MONS·ET·LOCVS·TANT<...>IBVS·SIT·EGESTVS

Translated, the inscription reads:

The senate and the people of Rome [built this] for the emperor, son of the divine Nerva, Caesar Nerva Traianus Augustus Germanicus Dacicus, pontifex maximus, in his 17th year in the office of tribune, having been acclaimed 6 times as imperator, 6 times consul, pater patriae, as an illustration of the height which this hill and place attained, now removed for such <works> as these.

That is, the column is claimed to be as high as the hill which had formerly stood in its place.

This is perhaps the most famous example of Roman square capitals, a script often used for stone monuments, and less often for manuscript writing. As it was meant to be read from below, the bottom letters are slightly smaller than the top letters, to give proper perspective. Some, but not all, word divisions are marked with a dot, and many of the words, especially the titles, are abbreviated. In the inscription, numerals are marked with a titulus, a bar across the top of the letters. A small piece at the bottom of the inscription has been lost.

The modern computer typeface "Trajan," designed in 1989 by Carol Twombly (who worked for Adobe Systems and for Bigelow & Holmes), uses letterforms based on this inscription.

Purpose[edit]

It was traditionally thought that the Column was a propagandistic monument, glorifying the emperor's military exploits. However, the structure would have been generally invisible and surrounded by other buildings in Trajan's Forum, and because of the difficulty involved in following the frieze from end to end, it is now considered to have had much less propaganda value. Based on the inscription, the column may have been a measuring guide for the construction of the forum.

After Trajan's death in 117, the Roman Senate voted to have Trajan's ashes buried in the Column's base in a golden urn. (The ashes no longer exist there.)

A plaster cast taken in the 19th century dominates the Cast Court at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Displayed in two sections, it offers students a closer look at the reliefs. Ironically, after a century of acid pollution, the cast is now more legible in some details than the original.

Mihai Viteazul[edit]

Michael became the Ban of Mehedinţi in 1588, the stolnic, or commissioner, at the court of Mihnea Turcitul by the end of 1588, and the Ban of Craiova in 1593 during the time Wallachia was ruled by Alexandru cel Rău (Alexander the Evil). In September 1593 with the help of the Ottoman Turks, he became the Voivode of Wallachia, starting his effective rule on October 11.

It was not long before he began to fight back against the Ottomans. The next year he adhered to a Christian alliance against the Turks and signed treaties with Sigismund Bathory of Transylvania and Aron Vodă of Moldavia. He started a campaign against the Turks in the autumn of 1594, conquering several citadels near the Danube, including Giurgiu, Brăila, Hârşova, and Silistra.

In 1595, at Alba Iulia, Michael signed a treaty with Sigismund Bathory in which Wallachia became a dependency of Transylvania, requiring it to send aid to fight the Ottomans.

On August 13 1595 at the Battle of Călugăreni near the Neajlov river, Michael defeated a Turkish army led by Sinan Pasha. Despite the victory Michael, having too few troops to mount a full scale battle, retreated toward Transylvania. Joining Sigismund Bathory's 40,000-strong army led by Stephen Bocskai, they liberated Târgovişte (October 81595), Bucharest (October 121595) and Brăila. Wallachia was liberated temporarily on October 291595.

The fight against the Ottomans continued in 1596, when Michael made several incursions south of the Danube at Vidin, Pleven, Nicopolis, and Babadag.


In April 1598 Sigismund resigned as Prince of Transylvania in favor of Emperor Rudolf II (the reigning Holy Roman Emperor and King of Hungary), reversed his decision in October 1598, and then resigned again in favor of Cardinal Andrew Bathory. This allowed Transylvania to fall under the influence of the King of Poland, resulting in an encirclement of Wallachia. Michael reestablished an alliance with his sole ally, Emperor Rudolf. Michael began a campagain against Transylvania on October 5 1599, while the Habsburg general Giorgio Basta entered Transylvania from the west at the same time.

On October 18, 1599, Michael obtained an important victory against Andrew Bathory in the Battle of Şelimbăr, giving him control of Transylvania. Michael entered stately Alba Iulia with impressive pomp, receiving the keys to the fortress from Bishop Napragy.

Because Michael claimed the Partium region and refused to recognize Rudolf's rights over Transylvania, Rudolf ceased subsidizing Michael's army. To survive financially he started a campaign against Moldavia, defeating the combined Polish and Moldavian army of Ieremia Movilă at Bacău. Michael's victory meant the three neighboring principalities were ruled by the same ruler for the first time .

However, neighboring states were alarmed by this upsetting of the balance of power, especially the Hungarian nobility of Transylvania which rose against Michael in rebellion. With the help of Basta, they defeated Michael at the Battle of Mirăslău, forcing Michael to leave Transylvania. A Polish army led by Jan Zamoyski drove the Wallachians from Moldavia and defeated Michael at Năieni, Ceptura, and Bucov. The Polish army also entered eastern Wallachia and established Simion Movilă as ruler. Forces loyal to Michael remained only in Oltenia.

The three Principalities and the territories united under Michael's authority

Michael asked for assistance again from Rudolf again, which was granted when the emperor heard Basta had lost control of Transylvania to the Hungarian nobility led by Sigismund Bathory. Meanwhile, forces loyal to Michael in Wallachia, after a first unsuccessful attempt, drove out Simion Movilă and prepared to reenter Transylvania. Michael, allied with Basta, defeated the Hungarian nobility at Gurăslău (Goroszló). Basta then treacherously ordered the assassination of Michael, which took place in Câmpia Turzii on 9 August 1601.

Michael's legacy is that of being the first Romanian ruler to unite all the principalities in the Romanian space, albeit for only a short period of time. Many 19th century nationalists referred to his actions in order to mobilize Romanians to unite into one country.

Greater Romania (România Mare)[edit]

Great Romania (1920 - 1940)

The Romanian expression România Mare (literal translation "Great Romania") generally refers to the Romanian state in the years between the First and Second World Wars and, by extension, to the territory Romania covered at the time (see the map). Romania achieved at that time its greatest territorial extent, managing to unite all the historic Romanian lands (which were also inhabited by a majority of Romanians). Historically, "Great Romania" represented one of the ideals of Romanian nationalism. It is still seen by many as a "paradise lost", often by comparison with the "stunted" Communist Romania.

To exploit the nationalistic connotation of the term, a a nationalist political party uses it as its name.

The Romanian term "România Mare" is sometimes translated as "Great Romania", both to refer to the historic notion, and to translate the name of the political party.

In 1918, at the end of World War I, Transylvania and Bessarabia united with the Romanian Old Kingdom, Transylvania united by a Proclamation of Union of Alba Iulia voted by the Deputies of the Romanians from Transylvania; Bessarabia, having declared its independence from Russia in 1917 by the Conference of the Country (Sfatul Ţarii), called in Romanian troops to protect the province from the Bolsheviks who were spreading the Russian Revolution. The union of the regions of Transylvania, Maramureş, Crişana and Banat with the Old Kingdom of Romania was ratified in 1920 by the Treaty of Trianon which recognised the sovereignty of Romania over these regions and settled the border between the independent Republic of Hungary and the Kingdom of Romania. The union of Bucovina and Bessarabia with Romania was ratified in 1920 by the Treaty of Versailles. Romania had also recently acquired the Southern Dobrudja territory called the Quadrilateral from Bulgaria as a result of its victory in the Second Balkan War in 1913.