Ileana Mihăilă, A Romanian Scholar in the Age of Enlightenment: Ianake Văcărescu

Ileana Mihăilă - University of Bucharest
pp. 251-265
Online publication date: 
Enlightenment, erudition, diplomacy

Ianake Văcărescu (1740–1797) stood out both for his diplomatic and political skills and as a scholar. A polyglot, he knew the languages of the Balkans (Slavonic, Turkish, Greek) as well as western languages (Italian, French, German), as he proved through his works. A poet in his spare time (in Romanian, but also in Greek), he wrote the first published grammar of the Romanian language (1787), which demonstrates his in-depth knowledge of European, particularly French literature. But his little-known masterpiece remains the History of the all-powerful Ottoman emperors [Istorie a prea puternicilor împărați otomani, in the original], written during his exile in Nicopolis and Rhodes (1788–1794), a synthesis of his experiences but also of his readings of Turkish, Western and Romanian authors, which remained in manuscript for 70 years and is still little and poorly known, not least because of the critical judgements expressed by many specialists.