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Constantin Brâncoveanu

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Constantin Brâncoveanu

Constantin Brâncoveanu
Prince of Wallachia
Reign 1688–1714
Predecessor Șerban Cantacuzino
Successor Ștefan Cantacuzino
Born 1654
Brâncoveni, Wallachia
Died 1714
Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
Spouse Doamna Marica Brâncoveanu
Issue Stanca (1676)
Maria (1678)
Ilinca (1682)
Constantin (1683)
Ștefan (1685)
Safta (1686)
Radu (1690)
Ancuța (1691)
Bălaşa (1693)
Smaranda (1696)
Matei (1698)
Constantin Brâncoveanu and family, mural from 1709 at Hurezi monastery
Saints Constantin, Constantin, Ștefan, Radu and Matei Brâncoveanu
Born 1654 (Constantin)
1683 (Constantin)
1685 (Ștefan)
1690 (Radu)
1698 (Matei)
Brâncoveni, Wallachia
Died 15 August 1714
Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
Venerated in Romanian Orthodox Church
Canonized 20 June 1992, Bucharest
Major shrine Relics at the New Church of St. George, Bucharest.
Feast 16 August (Eastern Orthodox Church)
Attributes They are usually depicted together, wearing golden cloaks.

Constantin Brâncoveanu (Romanian pronunciation: ; 1654 – August 15, 1714) was Prince of Wallachia between 1688 and 1714.


  • Biography 1
    • Ascension 1.1
    • Policies 1.2
    • Cultural contributions 1.3
  • Legacy 2
  • Historiography 3
  • Quotes 4
  • Issue 5
  • Notes 6
  • Bibliography 7
  • External links 8



A descendant of the Craiovești boyar family and related to Matei Basarab, Brâncoveanu was born at the estate of Brâncoveni and raised in the house of his uncle, stolnic Constantin Cantacuzino. He soon became involved in the conflict between Constantin and Şerban Cantacuzino, and rose to the throne after the latter died in mysterious circumstances. He was initially supported by Constantin Cantacuzino, but the two ended up facing each other in a violent competition. Cantacuzino was exiled, and began advocating his son's Ștefan's candidacy to the throne, while competing with Brâncoveanu for the support of the Ottoman Empire - Wallachia's overlord.


The prince took steps in negotiating anti-Ottoman alliances first with the Habsburg Monarchy, and then with Peter the Great's Russia (see Russo-Turkish War, 1710-1711): upon the 1710 Russian intervention in Moldavia, the prince contacted Tsar Peter and accepted gifts from the latter, while his rivalry with the Moldavian Prince Dimitrie Cantemir (the main regional ally of the Russians) prevented a more decisive political move. Instead, Brâncoveanu gathered Wallachian troops in Urlați, near the Moldavian border, awaiting for Russian troops to storm into his country and offer his services to the tsar, while also readying to join the Ottoman counter-offensive in the event of a change in fortunes. When several of his boyars fled to the Russian camp, the prince saw himself forced to decide in favor of the Ottomans or risk becoming an enemy of his Ottoman suzerain, and swiftly returned the gifts he had received from the Russians.

Such policies were eventually denounced to the Porte. Brâncoveanu was deposed from his throne by Sultan Ahmed III, and brought under arrest to Constantinople, where he was imprisoned in 1714 at the fortress of Yedikule (the Seven Towers).

Brâncoveanu's statue in Bucharest

There he was tortured by the Ottomans, who hoped to locate the immense fortune he had supposedly amassed. He and his four sons were beheaded on the same day in August, together with Prince Constantin's faithful friend, grand treasurer Enache Văcărescu.

According to his secretary, Anton Maria Del Chiaro, their heads were then carried on poles through the streets of Constantinople, an episode which caused a great unrest in the city. Fearing a rebellion, including from that of the Muslim population which was outraged by the injustice done to the Prince, his sons and his close friend, ordered for the bodies to be thrown into the Bosporus. Christian fishermen took the bodies from the water, and buried them at the Halchi Monastery, in the city's vicinity.[1]

Cultural contributions

Brâncoveanu was a great printing press was established in Bucharest - an institution overseen by Anthim the Iberian. In 1694, he founded the Royal Academy of Bucharest.

In his religious and laic constructions, Brâncoveanu harmoniously combined in architecture the mural and sculptural painting, the local tradition, the Neo-Byzantine style and the innovative ideas of the Italian Renaissance, giving rise to Brâncovenesc style.[2] The most accomplished and the best preserved example of Brâncovenesc style architecture is Hurezi monastery, inscribed by UNESCO on its list of World Heritage Sites, where Brâncoveanu intended to have his tomb. Other buildings erected by him are Mogoşoaia Palace complex, Potlogi Palace, Brâncoveanu monastery. Such cultural ventures relied on increased taxation, which was also determined by the mounting fiscal pressure of the Ottomans (adding in turn to Brâncoveanu's determination to strip Wallachia of Turkish rule).


Brâncoveanu left to the secular Romanian spirituality a few fundamental books, printed for the first time in Wallachia; among them, Aristotle's Ethics, the Flower of the Gifts and the Philosophical Examples, the last two being translated and printed by Antim Ivireanul. The neo-Romanian style was born from the style of the monasteries, of the houses and of the palaces of Brâncoveanu and it became, through Ion Mincu and his school, the national style at the time of the affirmation of the cultural identities of the nations of Europe in the beginning of the 20th century.

The architectural Bucharest. Among secular buildings, the style can be found in Mogosoaia palace and the reworked Old Court.[3]

The Constantin Brâncoveanu University is located in Pitești, but it also has subsidiaries in Brăila and Râmnicu Vâlcea.

In June 1992, the Sinode of the Romanian Orthodox Church decreed the sanctification of Constantin Brâncoveanu, his sons Constantin, Radu, Ştefan and Matei, and vornic Ianache Văcărescu.


The intrigue marking Constantin's ascension and reign is reflected in chronicles of the time, which are ideologically divided: Letopisețul Cantacuzinesc gives a bleak account of Șerban's rule, as does Cronica Bălenilor; Radu Greceanu's is an official account of Brâncoveanu's rule, and Radu Popescu is adverse to Cantacuzino rulers.

Brâncoveni Monastery
Basic information
Location Brâncoveni, Olt County, Romania
Affiliation Eastern Orthodox
Ecclesiastical or organizational status Monastery
Status active
Website [3]
Architectural description
Architect(s) Patroness Celea (1570–83)
Matei Basarab and Preda Brâncoveanu (1634–40)
Constantin and Ștefan Brâncoveanu (1699–1704)
Theodosius of Trebizond (1842)
Architectural type Church
Architectural style Brâncovenesc
Direction of façade West
Groundbreaking 1570
Completed 1842[4]

Dimitrie Cantemir's Historia Hieroglyphica is centered on the clash, and reflects Cantemir's preference for Constantin Cantacuzino, who was also related to Dimitrie through marriage (despite the fact that Cantemir and Brâncoveanu have taken the same side in the conflict with the Porte).

Ștefan Cantacuzino's brief rule saw in turn the downfall of the Cantacuzinos; he and his father were executed by the Ottomans, who saw the solution to the risk of Wallacho-Russian alliances in imposing the rigid system of Phanariote rule (inaugurated in Wallachia by Nicholas Mavrocordato, who, through his previous rule in Moldavia, is also considered the first Phanariote in that country).

Through his death, Constantin Brâncoveanu became the hero of a series Romanian folk ballads, as well as being depicted on some of Romania's official coinage. According to the Romanian Orthodox Church, the reason for his and his sons' execution was their refusal to give up their Christian faith and convert to Islam. In 1992 the Church declared him, his sons, and Enache saints and martyrs (Sfinții Martiri Binecredinciosul Voievod Constantin Brâncoveanu, împreună cu fiii săi Constantin, Ștefan, Radu, Matei și sfetnicul Ianache - "The Martyr Saints the Right-Believing Voivode Constantin Brâncoveanu, together with his sons Constantin, Ștefan, Radu, Matei, and the counselor [Enache]"). Their feast day is August 16.


"[...] Then Costandin-vodă [old rendition of his name] as well, arriving to his seat in Bucharest, catching news of the Austrians having entered his country and having reached Târgoviște, immediately left his seat [...] went forth towards Pitariului Bridge, setting camp in the river meadow of Plătăreşti, leaving behind the ispravnic [...] with orders that, when the Austrians were to arrive in Bucharest, he was to provide them with all supplies they would need.
Subsequently [the Austrian General], upon understanding this [action], immediately sent a letter to Costandin-vodă, inviting him to return to his seat and join [the Austrians] in harassing the Turk.
Then Costandin-vodă, upon understanding this, called as soon as he could the Metropolitan Theodosie, as well as all his lower and higher boyars, summoning a great council on what was to be done, whereupon some of the boyars vigorously showed themselves to favor Costandin-vodă's rejection of the Turks and his joining the Austrians; while another bunch of boyars, foremost Costandin [Constantin] Cantacuzino, who has been great stolnic, and Mihai Cantacuzino, the great spătar, believed this not to constitute good advice, as, where such a thing to happen, the nearby Tatars [who were Ottoman allies] would immediately arrive with a mighty force in order to enslave and plunder the country, and the Austrians would prove of no help. And immediately they moved spot and went to the village of Ruși, where the princely fish ponds are located.
Then [the Austrian General] came to Drăgănești, inviting Costandin-vodă to leave Ruși and meet him in Drăgănești, showing himself a great friend towards Costandin-vodă, asking him, in all good faith, to teach him what he should do next. And he told all the truth about how his and his troops' arrival had been brought about by the lies of [a high boyar], and how [the boyar] had boasted that, were [they] to enter the country, all boyars and all country would pay allegiance to [them], but that this had not in fact happened.
Thus Costandin-vodă told him the whole truth, about how the Tatars wished to enter his country, and [he] threw a major banquet in his honor and then returned to Bucharest in great fear. And the Tatars, aware of the Austrian presence, wasted no time in raising troops for the Sultan and sent forth messengers to Costandin-vodă, telling him that they were to come in the country to fight the Austrians.
Thus Costandin-vodă, upon hearing news of this, became very saddened, most of all considering the plight of the poor country, and immediately lifted camp and left for Buzău. And when he arrived there, he sent his Lady and all her ladies-in-waiting to the convent [...], and he rode with a few of his men to meet the Sultan, paying him high allegiance and offering him many gifts.
It is then that the Sultan saw that Costandin-vodă was not being rebellious, but rather [his] honest servant, and gave him assurance that his country would not be enslaved, and that [the Ottomans] were instead to meet the Austrians, who were their enemies."


Brâncoveanu and his wife Marica had seven daughters and four sons. Although all of his sons were murdered, many of his daughters had issue. Brâncoveanu's first born, Constantin II, also had a son which survived exile and rose to be a mare ban (foremost state function in Wallachian political hierarchy, except for the ruler). The male line of the Brâncoveanu family became extinguished in 1932, when Grigore Brâncoveanu died without having any children of his own. Yet he adopted a relative (who was also a descendant of Constantin Brâncoveanu) and thus passed the family name on.

According to a genealogical study, roughly 250 of his bloodline were alive at the middle of the 19th century. Amongst them Dan and Mihnea Berindei.


  1. ^ Del Chiaro
  2. ^ Epoca lui Serban Cantacuzino si a lui Constantin Brancoveanu, p. 205, University of Bucharest 2004
  3. ^ Epoca lui Serban Cantacuzino si a lui Constantin Brancoveanu, pp. 209-213, University of Bucharest 2004
  4. ^ [4]


Busuioceanu, Andrei (1989), "Constantin Brâncoveanu în viziunea istoriografiei române și străine", in Cernovodeanu, Paul și Constantiniu, Florin, Constantin Brâncoveanu, București: Editura Academiei Republicii Socialiste România, pp. 9–23 
Chiriță, Ilie (septembrie-decembrie 1932), "Urmașii lui Brâncoveanu-Vodă", Arhivele Olteniei, (anul XI) (nr. 63-64): 303–318 
Del Chiaro Fiorentino, Anton-Maria (2005), Revoluțiile Valahiei, Traducere din anul 1929 de S. Cris-Cristian, Iași: Editura Tehnopress 
Giurescu, Constantin; Dobrescu, N. (1907), Documente și regeste privitoare la Constantin Brâncoveanu, București: Inst. de Arte Grafice Carol Göbl 
Giurescu, Constantin C. (1946b), Istoria Românilor. Volumul III, Partea a doua. Dela moartea lui Mihai Viteazul până la sfârșitul Epocei fanariote (1601-1821), București: Fundația Regală pentru Literatură și Artă 
Greceanu, Radu logofătul (1970), Istoria Domniei lui Constantin Basarab Brîncoveanu Voievod (1688-1714), Studiu introductiv și ediție critică întocmite de Aurora Ilieș, București: Editura Academiei Republicii Socialiste România 
Grecianu, Radu (1906), Viața lui Costandin Vodă Brâncoveanu, Note și anexe de Ștefan D. Grecianu, București: Inst. de Arte Grafice „Carol Göbl” 
Ionescu, Ștefan; Panait, Panait I. (1969), Costandin Vodă Brîncoveanu: Viața. Domnia. Epoca, București: Editura științifică 
Iorga, N. (1914a), Activitatea culturală a lui Constantin Vodă Brâncoveanu și scopurile Academiei Române, Extras din Analele Academiei Române. Seria II. Tom XXXVII, București: Socec 
Iorga, N. (1914b), Constantin Brîncoveanu (dramă în cinci acte), Vălenii de Munte: Tipogr. „Neamul Romănesc” 
Iorga, N. (1914c), Valoarea politică a lui Constantin Vodă Brîncoveanu. Conferință ținută la Ateneul Romîn din București în ziua de 15 August 1914, Vălenii-de-Munte: Tipografia «Neamul Romănesc» 
[Iorga, N] Comisiunea Monumentelor Istorice (1930), Domnii Români, După portrete și fresce contemporane adunate și publicate de președintele comisiunii N. Iorga, Sibiiu [  
Iorga, N. (1938), Istoria Românilor. Vol. VI: Monarhii, București 
Iorga, N. (1972), Bizanț după Bizanț, Traducere de Liliana Iorga-Pippidi, Postfață de Virgil Cândea, București: Editura Enciclopedică Română, pp. 181–190 
Lupaș, I. (1941), Studii, conferințe și comunicări istorice. Volumul III, Sibiu: Tipografia „Cartea Românească” din Cluj, pp. 3–46 
Rezachevici, Constantin (1989), Constantin Brâncoveanu. Zărnești 1690, București: Editura Militară, p. 33 
Șerban, Constantin (1969), Constantin Brîncoveanu, București: Editura Tineretului 
Țighiliu, Iolanda (1989), "Domeniul lui Constantin Brâncoveanu", in Cernovodeanu, Paul și Constantiniu, Florin, Constantin Brâncoveanu, București: Editura Academiei Republicii Socialiste România, pp. 74–94 
Vîrtosu, Emil (1942), Foletul Novel. Calendarul lui Constantin Vodă Brăncoveanu 1693-1704, București 
Preceded by
Șerban Cantacuzino
Prince of Wallachia
Succeeded by
Ștefan Cantacuzino

External links

  • (Romanian) M. Brancoveni
  • (English) Manastirea Brancoveni
  • Steliu Lambru (11 August 2014), "The reign of Constantin Brâncoveanu", Radio Romania International, retrieved 13 August 2014 
  • Anton Maria Del Chiaro, Revoluțiile Valahiei
  • Letopisețul Cantacuzinesc (in antiquated Romanian)
  • Official Orthodox Church biography (in Romanian)
  • Wallachian coinage issued under Constantin Brâncoveanu
  • A lease issued by the Prince, bearing his signature and seal
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