Table of Contributors   Table of Contents   Return to Encyclopedia Home Page

The Bratianu Brothers

THE BRATIANU BROTHERS Dumitru C. Bratianu (1817-1892) and Ion C. Bratianu (1821-1891) were born into a lesser provincial Muntenian bo yar family. Dumitru Bratianu was educated at St. Sava's College, in Bucuresti. In 1835 he was sent to Paris, where he was later graduated in law. He was a leader among Romanian students in the French capital (active in the Romanian Students Society patronized by Lamartine), developed ties there with other East European emigres, and participated in various politically-oriented Masonic lodges. He took part in the Paris revolution that broke out in February 1848.

Returning to Bucuresti, by April Dumitru Bratianu had become a member of the Revolutionary Committee and one of its principal diplomatic agents. On May 3/15 1848, he was present at the Transylvanian Romanian assemby at Blaj and acted as liaison with the Transylvanian movement.

Following the revolution in Bucuresti in June, he became Muntenian diplomatic agent to the Hungarian government in Pest. His efforts to promote cooperation between Magyar and Romanians against the Habsburgs and the Tsar foundered over the Hungarian refusal to consider Romanian national aspirations in Transylvania legitimate. In early August, he was a member of the Muntenian delegation sent to Constantinople to seek Ottoman approval of their new constitution. With the fall of the Muntenian revolution, Dumitru Bratianu and Maria Rosetti (the wife of C. A. Rosetti) were instrumental in the escape into exile of most of the principal revolutionary leaders.

In exile, he distinguished himself in London as an advocate of the Romanian cause to Lord Palmerston. In 1851 he represented the Romanians on the Central European Democratic Committee in London, serving as its secretary. Along with C. A. Rosetti, I. C. Bratianu, and Cezar Bolliac, he also published in 1851 the revolutionary journal Romanian Republic.

Dumitru Bratianu later played an important role, principally as a diplomatic agent, during the movement toward the unification of the Romanian Principalities (1854-1861), and, then, in their eventual gaining of independence (1878). In 1881, he served briefly as prime minister when the Romanian Kingdom was proclaimed.

After being educated at home, Ion Bratianu became a member in 1835 of the newly created Muntenian national militia. In 1841 he joined his brother in Paris, where he studied at the General Staff College and the Collège de France, where (along with many other Romanian students) he came under the influence of Jules Michelet, Edgar Quinet and Adam Mickiewicz. Like his brother, he was admitted into several Masonic lodges and had close contacts with the emigré leaders of other East European nationalities. He participated in the French revolution of February 1848, establishing ties with Alphonse de Lamartine, who greatly encouraged the Romanian national cause.

Returning in April to Bucuresti, Ion Bratianu became one of the authors of the Muntenian revolutionary program, and on June 11, he led the uprising in Bucuresti that toppled the Bibescu regime. He became secretary of the Provisional government and later police prefect of the capital and organizer of the civic guard. In this capacity, he was one of the principal mobilizers of the Bucuresti crowds in support of the revolution, calling the masses to arms on several critical occasions.

In September, he was arrested and exiled by the Turkish and Russian forces that ended the Muntenian revolution. In the autumn of 1848 he managed to return to France, where he became a leader of efforts to promote the Romanian national cause. He and C. A. Rosetti, were the acknowledged leaders of Romanian liberalism.

Returning to Muntenia in 1857, he was key deputy in the Divan ad-hoc that organized the first steps toward Romanian unification and in the Elective Assembly of Muntenia that chose Alexandru Ioan Cuza as the first prince of the the United Principalities. In 1866, he was a leader in the bringing to Romania of Carol of Hohenzollern. He was National Liberal prime minister numerous times between 1866 and 1888, the recognized moving force behind the achievement of Romanian independence in 1877, and significant contributor to the economic and political development of modern Romania.

Apostol Stan and Paul E. Michelson


Alexandru Cretzianu, Din arhiva lui Dumitru Bratianu 1840-1870, 2 vols Bucuresti, 1933-1934.

N. Banescu, "Dumitru si Ion C. Bratianu," in: Figuri revolutionare romane Bucuresti, 1937, 101-125.

Anastasie Iordache, Pe urmele lui Dumitru Bratianu Bucuresti, 1984.

Contant Rautu, Ion C. Bratianu Turnu-Severin, 1940. Apostol Stan, 'Ion C. Bratianu: rolul sau in revolutia de la 1848 si in exil," Studia et Acta Musei Nicolae Balcescu, V-VI (1973-1974), 29-52.

Dumitru Vitcu, Diplomatii Unirii Bucuresti, 1979.

Table of Contributors&nbs p;  Table of Contents   Return to Encyclopedia Home Page

JGC revised this file ( on September 3, 2004

Please E-mail comments or suggestions to

© 1999, 2004 James Chastain.