1. CARACAL - HISTORY AND PRESENT
1.1. HISTORY AND LEGEND
The town of Caracal is located in the southeast region of Oltenia on the 44 degrees 7 minutes northern latitude and 24 degrees 21 minutes eastern longitude. The town’s surface is about 72 square kilometers and according to a statistics from 1845, Caracal had ten outskirts comprising of 952 families, with approximately 5,000 inhabitants. The 2002 census registered 34,406 inhabitants with a reported 2,000 young people studying all over the country.
Caracal’s history dates back thousands of years to time when it was a settlement located on the former Roman road that binds Sucidava to Romula-Malva. Archaeological findings during the “Constantin Poroineanu” Park establishment, proved that this is actually so, certified by the discovers of: stone nucleus specific for stone culture, silex tools and stone hammers with catching places, animal bones, piece from painted pots and ceramics representing the Vădastra Culture, and bronze and iron objects. Caracal development from a rural settlement to a market community, begin with the commerce development of the region and Caracal’s location on a key commercial road linking the region of Transylvania by the valley of Olt to the Danube River. This main route passes connects the important cities of Craiova with Bucureşti. Meanwhile, Caracal became the capital town of the former Romanaţi County.
Regarding the name of the City of Caracal, there are two hypotheses. The first is linked to the Roman Emperor’s name Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Caracalla. (211-217) After the Emperior’s campaign against the Gothic’s people in 215 B.C, it is believed that a portion of his soliders, the grey-headed soldiers, established a settlement called Caracalla, with the local citizens of Romula getting roman citizenship and the name of "Romanates.”
The second hypothese is lent to the Cummins, in the IX-X centuries and their native name Cara-cale meaning (Black Fortress or Black Tower). This could be only a coincidence in Caracal’s toponymy, an estimation asserted by all of those villages situated in neighborhoods carrying names such as Comanca, Comani, and Comăniţa.
During the Medium Age, Caracal City name appears in historic documents dating back to 1496 during Radu “The Greatest” reign (1495-1508). During this period, Caracal starts to emerge as an important market and well-developed commercial center for the agricultural area and for the Romanaţi district county. Logically thinking, this fact advises us to look for documentary attesting to the existence of Caracal since 1496.
Until now, it was accepted that the first documentary attestation of Caracal, was the document emitted on Novermber 17 th 1538, at Târgovişte by Radu the Greates’s illegitimate son, Radu Vodă Paisie’s office (1535-1545).
According to this document, Radu Vodă Paisie certifyes: "i gave and i gave alms to my nobleman Radu vel Clucer (treasurer), for fulfilling honestly his service two estates baught from the noblewoman from Marga from Caracal with 30.000 aspri” (t.n. time’s romanian coins)
This document mentions the noblewoman Pârvu Craiovescu’s daughter and Neagoe Basarab’s sister, (Matei Basarab’s grand grandmother) and certifies the existence of the city of Caracal and the fact that the lands were gave as a present to that boyar by the Voivode for the way he served it.
At the end of the XVI th century the Voivode Mihai Viteazul (1593-1601), built in Caracal a mansion house and a church, from where he wrote a series of documents that mention the date 1957, "in 1957 will win the turkish invadors” and with each including the ending formula "emitted at my princelyhouse in Caraca.”
Also at this princely house lived the Voivodes Matei Basarab, (1632-1654) original from the Romanaţi district, Grigore Ghica (1662-1664) that assert "we set off with fur cap and flag arriving in Caracal, Friday, Saint Nicolae Day, decembre 6, 7169 promotion 1662 where we spent the winter,” and Constantin Brâncoveanu (1688-1716). All three of these men linked their name to the city of Caracal through a series of economical-social and cultural measures.
Throughout history, many of the strangers that have visited Romanian Counties have mentioned facts about that time’s Caracal. Thus, in his memoirs book "The Patriarch Macarie Antiohia’s travels in Romanian Countries,” the archdeacon Paul (Pavel) Alep, the patriarch Macarie Antiohia’s son, certifies that he arrived in " market city , Caracal, with a beautiful castle built by Matei Voievod.” This statement leads to the conclusion that at that time, (1653-1658) Caracal was a well-defined market city situated on cross-commercial roads from Transylvania through Craivoa to Bucharest.
Friederich Wilhelm von Bauer, a native of Austria who was an engineer, topographies and a general in the Russian Army. Wrote in 1770, a work presenting villages and cities of the area "Memoires historiques et geographique sur la Valachie,” that described Caracal as "town and princely mansion with three churches, a police station and a valley market.”
The XIX century brought revolutionary events to the region and the participation, many being citizens of Caracal, helped shape the national political structure.
In the revolution of 1821, the city supported the revolutionary leader Tudor Vladimirescu, thanks to Iancu Jianu, appointed in rank as pandours captain. Iancu Jianu led fighting alongside the rebel peasants from Caracal outskirts villages and helped Tudor Vladimirescu gain regional victory.
The “1848 Revolution” also embraced the city of Caracal. On the morning of June 11, revolutionary force were at the entrance of the city where they were triumphantly greeted by townsmen, dorobanţi (t.n. Romanian soldiers) and peasants from neighbouring villages, leaded by Gheorghe Magheru the Romanaţi County "Ispravnic.” (t.n. romanian leader) Then on the former weekly market field, thousands of peoples took part in the reading of: the temporary Government’s Blazon and the Constitution Draft documents which were approved enthusiastically by the people present.
The XIX century victorious revolutionary events helped realized the necessary conditions for the establishment of the Union Central Comittee in Bucharest that sought to unite the two principalities of Moldavia and Romania.
On 15th september 1857, the "Union Comitee from Caracal” emitted a document that authorized the deputy Ioan Dumitriu "to vote outspokenly but not secretly the Union of the countries Romania and Moldavia”during the meeting of ad –hoc Divan on behalf of the community.
Once the Romanian Principately Union was established, the Hospodar Alexandru Ioan Cuza visited twice the city of Caracal, in 1859 and 1862. From this period, legends remain in the Plain villages of the city of Caracal that put forward the Hospodar’s character, his love for commoners and the way that he esteemed honesty, truth and observing of law.
According to one legend, on his first visit to Caracal, the Voivode of “the little union” was met by thousands of peasants from Caracal and neighboring villages and upon his appearance, there burst out from thousands of bosoms, enthusiast yells of “ura.” There enthusiasm manifesting itself for the one that renewed their hopes for a better life based on reforms and appropriation of land. Upon arriving on stage, he spoke to the crowd requiring that they become quiet and telling them that he was not delighted in their use of the word “ura” and that it should be rather diverged onto the country’s enemies. The distinguished guest was delighted in the crowd’s answer: “long live Sir Cuza!
Another legend says that having being invited to a local party, Alexandru Ioan Cuza was sitting next to city officials and area boyars when the Voivode became intrigued in the behavior of one the officers. This officer was standing by himself and not joining in the celebration. Asked why the officer was not joining the party, the officer answered that it was because he was not a Boyar descendant and could not join them. Upon hearing this, Cuza Vodă invited him to join him. The officer’s name was Stănescu Ilie, native of the Dioşti village. His successors donated to the Romanaţi Museum a few pieces of the uniform that had once joined in celebration with the Voivode of the Romanian Country.
During the Independence War of 1877, the troop’s movements passed through the south Danube battlefields and through Caracal where they established a food, arms and ammunition store. During the war, the headquarters for the School no 1 was moved into Nicolae Petrescu’s house and a military hospital was established on the school’s grounds. There, according to documents described the wounded reception and care in an organization referred to as the “Red Cross from Iaşi headquarters.” Documents from that period certify the population’s financial efforts in supporting the bayonet fighter’s efforts in winning over the country’s independence.
In 1907, a peasant rebellion spread throughout the regions, with the peasants setting fire and sending away Boyars and Leaseholders from there estates. Caracal became a powerful garrsion for the national government and was used as the rebells’s repression centre for their leaders with about 450 peasants being put under arrest and taken here and placed in the cellars of the constabulary.
During the first half of the 20th century, Caracal became an important centre for spreading socialism thoughts both in municipal working clubhouses and among peasants in villages from the area. The municipal working movement was represented among tinkers, irons and carpenters with established communist cores in more than 10 nearby villages.
The two world wars claimed may sacrifice’s from the Caracal people’s on the battlefields for fighting for the country unification or for the fascism defeat both in wonded body and death. For these real heros’ veneration, monuments were raised and the community renders homage on Heros Day and every time manifestations rise regarding the country’s past and history.