Dimitrie Cantemir

Dimitrie Cantemir (1673 – 1723), is one of the most outstanding representatives of the Romanian culture and history.

Patron and protector of the educational institution “Dimitrie Cantemir”, he was chosen by the founders as an aegis and a spiritual emblem due to his extremely complex activity in the whole sphere of knowledge of cultural and spiritual values  and because of his constant and assiduous ambassador’s role of the Romanian culture and values.

Known as an encyclopedic scholar, Dimitrie Cantemir, is the most important promoter of the Romanian humanism and pre-enlightenment of  the 17thand the 18th centuries.

Born on October 26, 1673, the son of Ana Bantaş and Constantin Cantemir, prince of Moldavia between 1685 and 1693, the young prince received a complete and complex education, under the guidance of Jeremiah Cacavelas – scholar, philosopher and Greek author–the first teacher who planted in the soul of his learner, the seed of knowledge. During this period he studied Latin, Greek and Slavonic (he spoke fluently 14 languages), the ideas of  “Liberal Arts”, theology, military strategy and history. He proved a strong leaning towards the synthesis and interpretation of his acquired knowledge and as a result he soon started to write his first creations: “Divan”, “Metaphysics” and “Logic”.

Sent to Constantinople, as a guarantee of Moldova towards the High Porte, he carried on his studies at the “Patriarchate’s Greek Academy “, knowing the Muslim world,  the Arab wisdom and the oriental beliefs and languages, so that he became our first Orientalist.

Entering into the world of the great European powers, Cantemir had the opportunity to promote the Romanian culture and space. In Europe, Dimitrie Cantemir was immediately  and definitively accredited as the foremost scholar of the Hystory of the Ottoman Empire, occupying for over a century, a privileged place in the erudites caste.

Dimitrie Cantemir became the ruler of Moldavia in 1710, and during his short reign, he tried to establish a centralized state, signing “The Treaty of Alliance ” with Peter the Great and thus being forced to support the Russian ruler in the Russian-Turkish war.

After a defeat at Stănilești, the scholar fled to the court of Peter the Great. In Russia, Dimitrie Cantemir became a close associate of the Tsar, supporting him in his political actions.

Encouraged by Leibntz, he writes  “Descriptio Moldaviae” –  work in which he developed the same policy that he promoted from his monarch position. As a recognition of the value this creation, at the proposal of the German philosopher, Dimitrie Cantemir is elected member of the Royal Academy of Berlin.

As an ideal counselor, considering the conception of the state, of the two monarchs, he initiates a series of radical reforms, in order to rapidly develop the state. Integrated into the Russian economic and military transformation, Cantemir continues his literary work: ” History of the Growth and Decay of the Ottoman Empire ” –  creation translated from Latin into all European broad-based languages – and ” Chronicle of the Antiquity of the Romano-Moldavo-Wallachians”.

Cantemir’s participation at the Russian political system, intensified after his appointment as ” Secret Advisor and Member of the Senate “.

The last major political action – the campaign of Peter I against Persia (1722) – was the source of Cantemir’s latter researches and writings: „Collectanea Orientalia. Princips Demetrii Cantemiri variae schedae et excerpta e autographo descripta „ – a volume of cartographic and archeological notes, of records about folklore and Oriental customs,  of interpretation and comments on them.

Dimitrie Cantemir’s work is unique even nowadays due to the complexity of his encyclopedic formation: science is associated with philosophy, history and geography are analyzed scientifically, and ethics, literature and music are complemented by the study of morals and folklore. All these esteemed works, wear the seal of the scientific method and the real knowledge.

Dimitrie Cantemir’s remains, brought up back to Romania, in 1935, can be found at the “The Three Holy Hierarchs Monastery”  in Iași.

On the tombstone of his reliquary is written: “Here, returned from the long and  heavy wandering, made for the freedom of his country, rests Dimitrie Cantemir, the prince of Moldavia.”