Neacșu's letter

Neacșu's letter
Neacșu's letter is the oldest surviving document written in Romanian

The letter of Neacșu of Câmpulung (Romanian: scrisoarea lui Neacșu de la Câmpulung), written in 1521, is the oldest surviving document available in Romanian that could be reliably dated. Written using the Cyrillic alphabet, it was sent by Neacșu Lupu, a boyar of Câmpulung, to Johannes Benkner, the mayor of Braşov, warning him about the imminent attack of the Ottoman Empire on Transylvania. It was discovered by Nicolae Iorga in the Brașov archives, where it is housed[citation needed] today.

Neacșu Lupu was a 16th century Wallachian boyar, the son of Neacșu Mircea[citation needed], mentioned for the first time during Vlad cel Tânăr's reign (1510 - 1512), in documents related to a trial regarding debts between himself and merchants of Brașov. He probably was himself a merchant involved in the trade of Turkish goods that he was buying south of Danube and selling in Transylvania, which may explain his relationship with the mayor of Brașov.[1]

Contents

History

The Letter of Neacșu of Câmpulung to Hans Benkner of Brassó (now: Brașov) was most probably written on the June 29 or 30, 1521, in the city of Dlăgopole (Slavonic name of the present day Câmpulung). The date is not mentioned within the letter itself, it being inferred from the historic events described and the people mentioned.

The letter was discovered by the Romanian historian Nicolae Iorga in the early 20th century, in the archives of Braşov.[1]

Contents

The text of the letter was written in Cyrillic letters, and is composed of three parts. The introduction in Slavonic, translated: "To the most wise and venerable and by God endowed master Hanas Benger of Braşov, all the best, from Neacşu of Câmpulung".

Following the Slavonic introduction, the content of the letter is written in the old Romanian language. As opposed to the first documents of other languages, which are in general more ancient, the Romanian language used in this letter is very similar to the language spoken nowadays. The Romanian linguist Aurel Nicolescu stated that no less than 175 words of the 190 found in the letter have Latin origins, this not counting the repeated words and the names. Some incorrect forms of different words appear due to the difficulty of representing some Romanian sounds like ă and î, while using the Cyrillic alphabet.[2]

Neacşu Lupu’s letter contained a secret of great importance, warning Johannes Benkner of Braşov about Turkish preparations for an invasion through Transylvania and Wallachia.

Various Slavonic expressions are also present throughout the content of the letter, such as "I pak", which has a similar meaning to the Latin "Idem", but is also used to mark the beginning of a new sentence, as no punctuation marks are present in the text. Another Slavonic word is "za", meaning about.

The letter ends with another sentence written in Slavonic, which means: "And may God bring happiness upon you. Amen.".

Text

Romanian original

m(u)drom(u) i plemenitom(u) i čistitom(u) i b[o]gω(m) darovannom(u) župa(n) hanĭ(š) be(g)ne(r) o(t) brašo(v) mno(g)[o] z(d)ravie o(t) ně(k)šu(l) o(t) dlŭgopole i pa(k) dau štire do(m)nïetale za lukru(l) tu(r)čilo(r) kum amĭ auzi(t) èu kŭ ĩpŭratu(l) au èši(t) de(n) sofïę ši aimi(n)trě nue ši sěu du(s) ĩ su(s) pre dunŭre i pa(k) sŭ štïi do(m)nïjata kŭ au veni(t) u(n) ω(m) de la nikopoe de mïe mě(u) spu(s) kŭ au vŭzu(t) ku ωkïi loi kŭ au treku(t) čěle korabïi če štïi ši do(m)nïjata prè dunŭre ĩ su(s) i pak sŭ štïi kŭ bagŭ den tote ωrašele kŭte [50] de ωmi(n) sŭ ę fïe ĩn ažuto(r) ĩ korabïi i pak sŭ štïi kumu sěu prinsŭ nešte me(š)šte(r) de(n) c[a]ri gra(d) ku(m) vorĭ trěče ačěle korabïi la loku(l) čela (st)rimtu(l) če šttïi ši do(m)nïjata i pa(k) spui do(m)nïetale de lukru(l) lu mahame(t) be(g) ku(m)u amĭ auzit de boęri če sŭntĭ medžïja(š) ši de dženere mïu negre kumu ęu da(t) ĩpŭratu(l) slobozïe lu mahame(t) beg pre iu iωi va fi voę pren cěra rumŭněskŭ jarŭ èlĭ sŭ trěkŭ i pa(k) sŭ štïi do(m)nïjata kŭ are frikŭ mare ši bŭsŭrab de ače(l) lotru de mahame(t) be(g) ma(i) vŭrto(s) de do(m)nïele vo(s)tre i pa(k) spui do(m)nïetale ka ma(i) marele mïu de če amĭ ĩcele(s) šïeu eu spui do(m)nïetale jarŭ do(m)nïjata ešti ĩceleptĭ ši ačěste kuvi(n)te sŭ cïi do(m)nïjata la tine sŭ nu štïe umi(n) mulci ši do(m)nïele vo(s)tre sŭ vŭ pŭzici ku(m) štici ma(i) bine i b[og]ĭ te ve(s)[e]li(t) amï(n)ŭ

"Mudromu I plemenitomu, I cistitomu I bogom darovanomu jupan Hanăş Bengner ot Braşov mnogo zdravie ot Nécşu ot Dlăgopole.

I pak dau ştire domnie tale za lucrul turcilor, cum am auzit eu că împăratul au eşit den Sofiia, şi aimintrea nu e, şi se-au dus în sus pre Dunăre.

I pak să ştii domniia ta că au venit un om de la Nicopole de miie me-au spus că au văzut cu ochii lor că au trecut ciale corăbii ce ştii şi domniia ta pre Dunăre în sus.

I pak să ştii că bagă den toate oraşele câte 50 de omin să fie de ajutor în corăbii.

I pak să ştii cumu se-au prins neşte meşter(i) den Ţarigrad cum vor treace ceale corăbii la locul cela strimtul ce ştii şi domniia ta.

I pak spui domniie tale de lucrul lui Mahamet beg, cum am auzit de boiari ce sunt megiiaş(i) şi de generemiiu Negre, cum i-au dat împăratul sloboziie lui Mahamet beg, pe io-i va fi voia, pren Ţeara Rumânească, iară el să treacă.

I pak să ştii domniia ta că are frică mare şi Băsărab de acel lotru de Mahamet beg, mai vârtos de domniile voastre.

I pak spui domniietale ca mai marele miu, de ce am înţeles şi eu. Eu spui domniietale iară domniiata eşti înţelept şi aceste cuvinte să ţii domniiata la tine, să nu ştie umin mulţi, şi domniile vostre să vă păziţi cum ştiţi mai bine.

I bog te veselit. Amin."

Translation

"To the most wise and honoured and by God gifted master Hanăş Bengner [that is, Johannes Benkner] from Braşov, much health from Neacşu from Dlăgopole [Câmpulung].

And so I let you know of the deeds of the Turks, as I have heard that the emperor [that is, Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent] has left Sofia, and that must be true, and went up the Danube.

And so You should know that a man from Nicopolis came to me and told me they saw with their own eyes that those ships which you know about have sailed up the Danube.

And so you should know that they are taking 50 men from each town to help on the ships.

And so you should know that some experts from Tsarigrad [that is, Istanbul] realized how to make the ships to move past that tight place which you know too.

And so I tell you about the deed of Mahamet beg, as I heard from neighbouring boyars and from my son-in-law Negre, that the emperor gave Mahamet beg freedom to pass through Wallachia [Ţeara Rumânească, lit. "the Romanian land", this being also the first mention of the name "Romania" in a Romanian text] wherever he pleases.

And so you should know that our Basarab too is fearful of that thief Mahamet beg, even more so than you.

And so I'm telling you as my superior about what I have found out. I am telling you, and you are wise and you should keep these words for yourself, so that no many people know, and you should take proper guard.

And may God bring you happiness. Amen."

References

  1. ^ a b (Romanian) Ion Rotaru, Literatura română veche, Bucureşti, 1981, pp. 62-65, quoted by Institutul de Memorie Culturală; English translation.
  2. ^ "Epistola lui Neacsu" (in Romanian). Jurnalul Naţional. pp. 1. http://www.jurnalul.ro/index.php?section=rubrici&article_id=17747. 

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