Nicolae Iorga

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Nicolae Iorga

Nicolae Iorga, born Nicu N. Iorga (January 17, 1871 – November 27, 1940) was a prominent Romanian historian, politician, and author.

Early Life

Nicolae Iorga was born in 1871 in Botosani, Moldavia. He finished the National highschool in Iasi in 1888 and managed to finish with "Magna cum laude" at the University of Iasi by the end of 1889, one year ahead of his class. He made brilliant studies at universities in Paris, Berlin and Leipzig, obtaining his doctorate degree in 1893. Iorga had travelled across Europe, mostly in Germany, Austria, and Italy, searching archives for information on Romanian history and recording his finds. In 1894, after he had returned to Romania, he became a professor at the University of Bucharest. [1]

Political Activity

In 1905 Nicolae Iorga began working with the famous professor A.C. Cuza, first by working on the newspaper Neamul Românesc ("Romanian People"), and later in 1910 the two founded the Democratic Nationalist Party. During those years, especially in 1908, Iorga and Cuza had written numerous articles for that newspaper dealing with Jews in the press, the effects of Jewish media influence, and Jewish economic effects. In 1912, they established the party's paper Unirea ("Union"), and by 1914 Cuza was making speeches advocating land reform for the peasants and universal suffrage. [2] Iorga made some significant speeches during this time as well. One of the most cited works from Iorga was the paper which formed the basis of a lecture in the Romanian Academy in 1913, titled "The History of Jews in our Principalities". In this, he exposed the economic power and parasitism of the Jews, pointing out facts such as the following:

"In the regions of Cernauti and Campulung, to which were annexed parts of Hotin and Suceava-in all these regions-before the Austrian imperial domination there were only 206 Jewish families. In 1775, through overflow from Galicia their number reached 780-800 families. The country's first governor, Gen. Ehzenberg, learned that they engage primarily in tavern keeping, with wine, whiskey, beer... They are, says the general, 'the most outright wicked people, inclined to laziness, living, without much trouble, from the sweat of Christian workingmen'... As the Kahals offered Enzenberg in writing 5,000 pieces of gold annually to tolerate the old state of affairs, corrupting our Ruler was also tried, but he rejected the MONEY rather than expose his country to total destruction."


However, eventually in a few years Cuza broke from his partnership with Iorga because of disagreements on how to deal with the Jewish Problem. After World War I, Iorga became president of the Romanian National Assembly and from 1931-32 was a premier along with Argetoianu of the coalition government under King Carol II. [4]

Involvement in Codreanu's Imprisonment

Iorga had, throughout the 1930's, been attacking Corneliu Codreanu's Legionary Movement through propaganda in his newspaper Neamul Romanesc (The Romanian People). In March of 1938, Codreanu sent a letter to Nicolae Iorga to complain of Iorga's campaign of calumny against the Legion, in which he tells Iorga that he is a dishonest person who has taken part in the oppression of innocent people. Iorga, insulted, then files a lawsuit against Codreanu, which resulted in King Carol II (who had earlier established himself as a dictator, changing the constitution) and his Minister, Armand Calinescu, arresting Codreanu (and then thousands of Legionaries) and condemning him to six months in prison. The government organized a second trial to take place, closed to the public and extremely biased, in which Codreanu is sentenced to ten years in prison for unreasonable and unproven accusations of sedition and treason. Calinescu, a few months later, then has the military police murder Codreanu, acting outside of the law. [5]

The question as to why Iorga took part in such actions against the Legionaries, who had earlier looked up to him as one of their significant teachers on the Jewish Problem, is something for which no clear answer has been obtained. It is likely, as Sturdza suggest in The Suicide of Europe, that it was envy for the great admiration the Romanian youth showed to Codreanu, which Iorga knew he could never match. [6]


Horia Sima and Ion Antonescu had overthrown King Carol's dictatorship and created the National Legionary State in September of 1940. By November 25, 1940, the bodies of Codreanu and other murdered by Calinescu were exhumed. In two days, by November 27, the Legionaries who were working in that exhumation were so disturbed and angered upon seeing the bodily remains of Codreanu and the other martyrs that they could not restrain themselves from executing 64 members of previous political regimes imprisoned at Jilava who were involved in imprisoning, torturing, and massacring Legionaries in the past. Among these executed for their past crime was Nicolae Iorga. [7]

Iorga's death was oftentimes and still is used as propaganda against the Legionary Movement by philosemites, Jews, and Communists (it was used by the Romanian Communist regime during its reign) in order to label Horia Sima and the Legion as "terrorists" and "criminals". Sima wrote in his 1990 book Era Libertaţii - Statul naţional-Legionar vol. 2 ("It was Freedom - National Legionary State vol. 2") that "Iorga's killing offered our enemies a weapon of great efficiency, which they fired into the Movement and which has not left their hands even today." [8] Of course, the Communist propaganda usually overlooks the fact that Iorga was very anti-Semitic and very anti-Communist like many other Romanians, and finally that Iorga brought his death upon himself by his own actions.

It has also been pointed out that Traian Boeru, Iorga’s assassin, was a Communist agent and that the Legionaries involved would not have actually killed Iorga had this agent not been there. [9] The facts of the situation are not fully clear, but it must be remembered that it is not reasonable to condemn the Legionary Movement based on Iorga’s death, if one simultaneously praises the many "democratic" movements throughout history despite the murders they had committed, as is often done.

Major Works

  • Geschichte des Rumänischen Volkes im Rahmen seiner Staatsbildungen, 2 vols. ["History of the Romanian Folk during its State formations"] (1905)
  • Geschichte des Osmanischen Reiches, 5 vols. ["History of the Ottoman Empire"] (1908-1915)
  • Essai de synthese d l'histoire de l'humanité, 4 vols. ["Essay of the Sythesis of the History of Mankind"] (1926-1928)
  • Histoire de la vie byzantine, 3 vols. ["History of the Byzantine Life"] (1934)
  • La place des Roumains dans l'histoire universelle, 3 vols. ["The Place of Romanians in Universal History"] (1935-1936)
  • Istoria românilor, 11 vols. ["History of Romanians"] (1936-1939)
  • Istoria literaturii române in secolul XVIII, 2 vols. ["History of Romanian Literature in the 18th Century"] (1901)
  • Istoria literaturii religioase a românilor până la 1688 ["History of the Religious Literature of the Romanians up to 1688"] (1905)
  • Istoria literaturii româneşti în veacul al XIX-lea, de la 1821 înainte, 3 vols ["History of Romanian Literature in the 19th Century, from 1821 forward"] (1907-1909)
  • Istoria literaturii româneşti ["History of Romanian Literature"] (1925-1928)
  • Istoria literaturii româneşti contemporane, 2 vols. ["History of Contemporary Romanian Literature"] (1934)


  1. Nagy-Talavera, Nicholas. Nicolae Iorga, a Biography. Iasi: Center for Romanian Studies , 1996.
  2. Biography of A.C. Cuza with Bibliography at, major source on Cuza's life: Gabriel Asandului, A.C. Cuza – Politică şi cultură ("A.C. Cuza - Politics and Culture"), Iaşi, Ed. Fides, 2007.
  3. Iorga, Nicolae. Istoria evreilor în țările noastre ("The History of Jews in our Principalities"). Bucharest, Romanian Academy, Sept. 13, 1913.
  4. Nagy-Talavera, Nicholas. Nicolae Iorga, a Biography. Iasi: Center for Romanian Studies , 1996.
  5. Ronnett, Alexander E. and Bradescu, Faust. "The Legionary Movement in Romania." The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 193-228.
  6. Sturdza, Michel. The Suicide of Europe: Memoirs of Prince Michel Sturdza, Former Foreign Minister of Rumania. Boston & Los Angeles: Western Islands Publishers, 1968.
  7. Ronnett, Alexander E. and Bradescu, Faust. "The Legionary Movement in Romania." The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 193-228.
  8. Sima, Horia. Era Libertaţii - Statul naţional-Legionar vol. 2 ("It was Freedom - National Legionary State vol. 2"). Madrid: Editura Miscãrii Legionare, 1990.
  9. Sima, Horia. Sfarşitul unei domnii sângeroase ("The End of a Bloody Reign"). Editura "Miscarii Legionare", Madrid, 1977.

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