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August Treboniu Lauarian

AUGUST TREBONIU LAURIAN (1810-1881) Transylvanian Romanian scholar, historian, and linguist, son of a Greek-Catholic(Uniate) priest. He was well-educated in German schools in Sibiu and the Piarist gynasium inCluj, followed by studies at the University and the Polytechnical Institute of Vienna and also atGöttingen. He was named a professor at the St. Sava School in Bucuresti (1842), where he stoodout as a teacher. During this time, he became close to Nicolae Balcescu, with whom he edited and published the first pan-Romanian historical journal, the Magazin Istoric Pentru Dacia (1845). The journal's articles on national history stressed and promoted the basic Romanian nationalist views on the antiquity, continuity, and unity of the Romanian people in Transylvania, Moldova, and Muntenia. Laurian also joined Balcescu and others in various nationalist and revolutionary societies, including Fratia (1843) and the Literary Association (1845).

On Balcescu's urging, when 1848 broke out, Laurian returned to Transylvania where hebecame one of the foremost mobilizers and leaders of the Transylvanian movement. He helped organize the national assemblies at Blaj in 1848 and participated in the drafting of the revolutionary manifestos of the Transylvanian Romanians.

On April 26/8 May, 1848, he took part in the Sibiu meeting that planned the great Blaj gathering on the Field of Liberty in May. Laurian (along with Simion Barnutiu) also addressed the pre-session on May 2/14 that set the tone for the Blaj assembly. On the following day, he and George Barit supported and expanded on Barnutiu's keynote address. Laurian served as the secretary of the gathering and in the drawing up of the 16-point Blaj Program. He was subsequently chosen as a member of the Romanian permanent national committee, headquartered in Sibiu, and of the delegation that carried the Romanian manifesto to the emperor.

After the outbreak of the Muntenian revolution in June, Laurian also served as thecoordinator of relations between the Transylvanian and Muntenian Romanian movements. More than most of the Romanian leaders, he believed it would only be through concerted action by Romanians in all regions that the Romanian cause would stand a chance of success. He was briefly arrested in Sibiu in August 1848, but freed after eight days by a peasant uprising. In September, he participated in the Third Blaj assembly, which decided to move to armed struggle. As a member of the Committee of Pacification selected at this meeting, Laurian continued to beone of the principal leaders of the Transylvanian Romanian 1848 and one of its prime negotiators with the Hungarians.

The successes of the Magyar armies under Bem in December 1848-January 1849, resulted in Laurian's being sent to Vienna to defend Romanian interests in the context of a new program of preserving the Habsburg Monarchy through the creation of autonomous ethnic states within the Monarchy. This meant formation of a Romanian state (Daco-Romania) through the unification of Romanian-majority regions in Transylvania, Banat, Maramures, Bucovina, and the Hungarian plains border. The imperial regime was not receptive; Laurian felt that its only concern by this point was to refashion again the chains which had bound the Romanians of the Empire before 1848.

Following the defeat of the Revolutions of 1848, Laurian continued to carry out extraordinary publicistic and scholarly efforts in Vienna. He resumed publication of the Magazin Istoric Pentru Dacia, lectured widely, and published the premier collection of documents related to the Romanian 1848.

In 1852, at the call of the new reformist prince of Moldova, Grigore Ghica, he served (until 1858) as inspector general of education. In 1859, he returned to St. Sava in Bucuresti to teach, serving at the same time as director of the National Libraries and in the education ministry. When the University of Bucuresti was founded in 1864, partly at his instigation, he was named as a professor of the history of classical literature and the head of the faculty of letters (until 1878).

He was a founding member of the Romanian Academy in 1866, serving as its secretary general and also twice as president. At the charge of the Academy, Laurian and I. C. Massim edited the first comprehensive Romanian dictionary and glossary (1871-1876), an effort that was roundly critized for excessive latinizing of the Romanian language and whose exaggerations contributed to the eventual triumph of the view that Romanian lexicography should follow the language as it was actually used. As a result, he generally withdrew from public life, though following the death of A. Papiu-Ilarian in 1877, he did assume the presidency of the Transylvanian Society that had been formed in 1867 to combat and protest the establishment of the Dual Monarchy.

Laurian was regarded as one of the principal "apostles of Romanianism," and his writings served as guide and instructor to much of the younger generation of Romanian nationalists from the 1840s onward. He was not only a leading light of the Romanian 1848, he was also its first historian. He was an able continuer of the traditions of the Transylvanian School; with Mihail Koganiceanu and Nicolae Balcescu, he was a founder of the modern study of the Romanianhistorical tradition; and he was a major exponent of the Roman heritage/Latinizing language emphasis that had such great influence in Romanian culture before 1878.
Paul E. Michelson


A. T. Laurian, Die Romänen der Österreichischen Monarchie, 3 vols. (Vienna, 1849-1851).

Ilie Popescu Teiusan and Vasile Netea, August Treboniu Laurian (Bucuresti, 1970).

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