Romanian War of Independence

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Romanian War of Independence (1877–1878)
Part of Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78
Nicolae Grigorescu - Atacul de la Smardan.jpg
The Attack of Smârdan (oil on canvas, Nicolae Grigorescu)
Date 1877–1878
Location Balkans
Result Romanian / Russian victory
Treaty of San Stefano, Treaty of Berlin
Northern Dobruja passed from Ottoman Empire to Romania
Southern Bessarabia passed from Romania to Russian Empire
Romania Romanian Principality
Russian Empire Russia
Flag of Stiliana Paraskevova.svg Bulgarian volunteers
 Ottoman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Romania Carol I
Russian Empire Grand Duke Nikolai
Ottoman Empire Ahmed Muhtar Pasha
Ottoman Empire Ghazi Osman Pasha
Romania 66,000 troops[1]
190 cannons
Russian Empire 280,000 troops (European front)
500 cannons[2]
Flag of Stiliana Paraskevova.svg 7,000 Bulgarian volunteers[1]
Ottoman Empire 186,000 troops[1]
210 cannons
Casualties and losses
Romania — 4,302 killed and missing,
3,316 wounded,
19,904 sick [3]
Russia – 15,567 killed,
56,652 wounded,
6,824 died from wounds,
81,363 died from disease,
1,713 died from other causes,
3,500 missing
Bulgaria — 3,456 killed and wounded[5]

(during the entire Russo-Turkish War)
30,000 killed in battle, 90,000 died from wounds and diseases [6]
(during the entire Russo-Turkish War)[7]
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The Romanian War of Independence is the name used in Romanian historiography to refer to the Russo-Turkish War (1877–78), following which Romania, fighting on the Russian side, gained independence from the Ottoman Empire. On April 16 [O.S. April 4] 1877, Romania and the Russian Empire signed a treaty at Bucharest under which Russian troops were allowed to pass through Romanian territory, with the condition that Russia respected the integrity of Romania. The mobilization began, and about 120,000 soldiers were massed in the south of the country to defend against an eventual attack of the Ottoman forces from south of the Danube. On April 24 [O.S. April 12] 1877, Russia declared war on the Ottoman Empire and its troops entered Romania through the newly built Eiffel Bridge.


On May 21 [O.S. May 9] 1877, in the Romanian parliament, Mihail Kogălniceanu read the act of independence of Romania as the will of the Romanian people. A day later, on May 22 [O.S. May 10] 1877, the act was signed by Prince Carol I, officially declaring the full state independence. The Romanian government immediately canceled paying tribute to Turkey (914,000 lei), and the sum was given instead to the War Minister.

Initially, before 1877, Russia did not wish to cooperate with Romania, since they did not wish Romania to participate in the peace treaties after the war, but the Russians encountered a very strong Turkish army of 40,000 soldiers led by Osman Pasha at the Siege of Plevna (Pleven) where the Russian troops led by Russian generals suffered very heavy losses and were routed in several battles.[8]


Map of the Siege of Plevna
The battlefield of Plevna and Grivitsa
Romanian troops taking Grivitsa Strongpoint

Due to great losses, Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich, the Russian commander-in-chief, asked Carol I for the Romanian Army to intervene and join forces with the Russian Army.[8][9]

Prince Carol I accepted the Duke's proposal to become the Marshal of the Russian troops in addition to the Command of his own Romanian army, thus being able to lead the combined armed forces to the conquest of Plevna and the formal surrender, after heavy fighting, of the Turkish General Osman Pasha. The Romanian Army won the battles of Grivitsa and Rahova, and on 28 November 1877 the Plevna citadel capitulated, and Osman Pasha surrendered the city, the garrison and his sword to the Romanian colonel Mihail Cerchez. After the occupation of Plevna, the Romanian Army returned to the Danube and won the battles of Vidin and Smârdan.

On 19 January 1878, the Ottoman Empire requested an armistice, which was accepted by Russia and Romania. Romania won the war but at a cost of more than 10,000 casualties. Its independence from the Porte was finally recognised by the Central Powers on 13 July 1878.


Independenţa României (1912 film)

The peace treaty between Russia and the Ottoman Empire was signed at San Stefano, on 3 March 1878. It created a Bulgarian principality and recognized the independence of Serbia, Montenegro, and Romania.[10] Some in Romania claim that Russia did not keep its promises of the 4 April 1877 treaty (signed by the Russian consul Stuart Dimitri (and approved by the Czar Alexander II and the Romanian Prime Minister of the day Mihail Kogălniceanu) to respect Romania's territorial integrity. However, this belief is false. The Convention between Russia and Romania, which established the tranzit of Russian troops through the country, is one by which Russia obliged itself "to maintain and have the political rights of Romanian state observed, such as they result from the internal laws and the existent tratatives and also to defend the present integrity of Romania".[11] The Romanians believe that "defend" in a diplomatic act means recognition of the status-quo set by Congress of Paris of 1856, whereby three counties in Southern Bessarabia (a part of Budjak, a contested region conquered in the mid of 14th century by Romanians, conquered by Turks around late 15th century and ruled until late 19th century when it was conquered by Russians) were taken from the Russian Empire, defeated in the Crimean War, and given back to the Romanians in Principality of Moldavia. However, the provisions of the Paris Treaty were no longer applicable in 1878 since that treaty also saw the European Powers pledge in 1856 to maintain the integrity of the Ottoman Empire which was no longer the case after their defeat. As a consequence, in 1878, the territories taken from Russia in 1856 from Southern Bessarabia, were no longer reglemented under an applicable international treaty and Russia exchanged those three counties in Southern Bessarabia, passing the Northern Dobruja, which came under Russian control the same year and had an ethnic Romanian plurality, to the Romanian side.

The treaty was not recognised by the Central Powers and the 1878 peace conference in Berlin decided that Russia would give Romania its independence, the territories of Dobrogea, the Danube Delta and access to the Black Sea including the ancient port of Tomis (Constantza), as well as the tiny Snake Island (Insula Şerpilor), but Russia would nevertheless occupy as a so-called "compensation" the old Romanian Southern counties of Bessarabia (Cahul, Bolgrad and Ismail), which by the Treaty of Paris of 1856 (after the Crimean War) were included in Moldavia. Prince Carol was most unhappy by this unfavorable turn of negotiations; he was finally persuaded by Bismarck (in now-published original letters exchanged at that time) to accept this compromise with Russia in view of the great economical potential of Romania's direct access to the Black Sea and its ancient ports at the expense of Bulgaria.[12]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Istoria Militară a Poporului Român (The Military History of the Romanian People), Centrul de Studii și Cercetări de Istorie și Teorie Militară, Editura Militară, București, 1987 (Romanian)
  2. ^ Мерников А. Г., Спектор А. А. Всемирная история войн. — Минск: 2005. — С. 376.
  3. ^ Scafes, Cornel, et. al., Armata Romania in Razvoiul de Independenta 1877–1878 (The Romanian Army in the War of Independence 187-1878). Bucuresti, Editura Sigma, 2002, p. 149 (Romence)
  4. ^ Урланис Б. Ц. Войны и народонаселение Европы. — М.: 1960. (Rusça)
  5. ^ Cite error: The named reference ref535 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  6. ^ Мерников А. Г., Спектор А. А. Всемирная история войн — Template:Мн.: Харвест, 2005. — ISBN 985-13-2607-0.
  7. ^ Kaminskii, L. S., și Novoselskii, S. A., Poteri v proșlîh voinah (Victimele războaielor trecute). Medgiz, Moscova, 1947, pp. 36, 37
  8. ^ a b "Reminiscences of the KING OF ROMANIA", Edited from the original with an Introduction by Sidney Whitman, Authorized edition, Harper& Brothers: New York and London, 1899
  9. ^ The telegram of Nikolai to Carol I (translated in Romanian): "Turcii îngrãmãdind cele mai mari trupe la Plevna ne nimicesc. Rog sã faci fuziune, demonstratiune si dacã'i posibil sã treci Dunãrea cu armatã dupã cum doresti. Între Jiu si Corabia demonstratiunea aceasta este absolut necesarã pentru înlesnirea miscãrilor mele" ("The Turks, massing together the largest army at Pleven, are laying us waste. I ask you to make mergers, demonstrations and if it is possible cross the Danube with the army as you wish. Between Jiu and Corabia this demonstration is absolutely necessary to facilitate my movements.)
  10. ^
  11. ^ Istoria Romanilor de la Carol I la Nicolae Ceausescu By Ioan Scurtu, pp 132
  12. ^ "Reminiscences of the KING OF ROMANIA", Edited from the original with an Introduction by Sidney Whitman, Authorized edition, Harper& Brothers: New York and London, 1899, pp.15-20.