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“Blouse Roumaine – The Unsung Voices of Romanian Women” – Selected and Introduced by Constantin Roman (Extracts from the Biography of Carmen Sylva – Queen Elisabeth of Romania)

April 28th, 2014 · No Comments · Books, Diaspora, History, International Media, PEOPLE, Poetry, quotations, Reviews, Translations

"Blouse Romaine - The Unsung Voices of Romanian Women"

“Blouse Romaine – The Unsung Voices of Romanian Women”

“Blouse Roumaine – The Unsung Voices of Romanian Women”
– Selected and Introduced by Constantin Roman
(Extracts from the Biography of Carmen Sylva – Queen Elisabeth of Romania)

"Blouse Roumaine- une anthologie des femmes de Roumanie" par Constantin ROMAN

“Blouse Roumaine- une anthologie des femmes de Roumanie” par Constantin ROMAN

Queen Elisabeth of Romania
(Princess Elisabeth von Wied), Regina Elisabeta, “Carmen Sylva”, “Mother of the wounded” (Mama răniţilor),
(b. 29th December 1843, Neuwied, Germany – d. 18th February 1916, Curtea de Arges, Romania)
First Queen of Romania, Consort of Carol I Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen
Poet, Writer, Essayist,
Patron of the Arts, Founder of Charitable Institutions

Queen Elisabeth of Romania to President Roosevelt:

“I thank you with all my heart for the kind letter you sent me through your most amiable messenger! We are so glad to have an American representative to ourselves at last, and I am sure you will never regret it, as there are so many increasing interests that could not be thoroughly understood by someone who did not know our country at all.”
Letter to President Roosevelt in 1905 from Queen Elizabeth

Vincent van Gogh on Elisabeth of Romania:
“A childless woman is like a bell without a clapper—the sound of the bronze would perhaps be beautiful, but no one will ever hear it.”
Quoted by Vincent van Gogh In a Letter to Theo Saint-Rémy, 19 September 1889

Queen Elisabeth of Romania on Women in Arts and Industry:

“(This) will leave many amazed by the Romanian ladies and their hard work. In Germany they no longer work as they used to, which is a shame”.
Preface to the catalogues of the 1912 Berlin exhibition “Die Frau im Kunst und Beruf” (The woman in art and industry)

The Queen of Romania wrote the poem "The Soldier's tent" put to music by Sir Herbert Parry - a song popular during the Boer War

The Queen of Romania wrote the poem “The Soldier’s tent” put to music by Sir Herbert Parry – a song popular during the Boer War

Princess Elisabeth von Wied came to Romania in 1869, at the age of 16, to marry Karl von Hohenzollern, known as Carol I of Romania. At the time the Principality was under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire. Following the War of Independence of 1877 and the Treaty of Berlin (1878), Romania was declared an independent Kingdom in 1881 and Elisabeth became the first Queen of Romania. During the 1877 War against Ottoman Turkey, Elisabeta organised hospitals, ambulance and nursing services and obtained medicine for the wounded. Queen Elisabeth was very active in the patronage of Arts and of charitable societies, through which she encouraged the ladies of the high society to take an active role in fund-raising and the administration of charities. In the absence of a welfare system, the Queen’s own Societatea Regina Elisabeta (Queen Elizabeth Society) founded in 1893, treated free of charge 17,000 patients a year, distributed free medicine and monitored the welfare of needy families.

The Queen had the foresight, common sense and initiative to recognise the immense potential of Romanian arts and crafts. She wore the national costume herself, until then considered the garb of the peasantry. She further established a fashionable trend by encouraging her ladies-in-waiting to do likewise and wera the Romanian national dress and in this way she gave it social status. The Queen organised at the royal castle at Sinaia a centre of national crafts.

She further made it her duty to encourage young talented people to study through a programme of scholarships. The Queen surrounded herself of budding artists such as Georges Enesco and Helene Vacaresco and patronized the painter Grigoresco and poet Alecsandri.
Elisabeta also understood the immense benefit of tourism to a country which was not yet on the circuit of a grand tour. In this field she initiated a spirited PR campaign to make her adoptive country be known abroad. The Orient Express stopped at Sinaia the travellers were received at the royal castle.

As part of the same campaign Romania participated in the Paris Universal Exibitions of 1867, 1868, 1889 and 1900 with numerous traditional exhibits crafted by women: embroideries and tapestries. In 1912 the Queen organized in Berlin the exhibition “Die Frau im Kunst und Beruf” (The woman in art and industry).
An accomplished linguist, the Queen published in French, German and English, under he nom de plume of “Carmen Sylva”,books which put Romania on the map, as she attracted the attention of literrati such as Pierre Loti and Marke Twain, who said of her:
“That charming and lovable German princess and poet, Carmen Sylva, Queen of Roumania, remembers yet that the flowers of the woods and fields “talked to her”.

Despite her pronounced romanticism, it can be said, without fear of contradiction, that Carmen Sylva succeeded in a patriarchal society, at a time when western European values were only a veneer. In effect the Queen started in earnest a movement for the emancipation of Romanian women: perhaps the best example of such trend was her erstwhile protégé, Helene Vacaresco.
Queen Elisabeth died before Romania declared war on Germany. She is buried at the Curtea de Argesh Monastery, which enjoyed the Royal patronage of the Hohenzollern dynasty, which, after WWI become the Casa Regala a Romaniei.


Roman, Constantin: Blouse Roumaine – the Unsung Voices of Romanian Women: http://www.blouseroumaine.com/buy-the-book/index.html
Elisabeth, Queen of Roumania. “From Memory’s Shrine: The Reminiscences of Carmen Sylva.” Translated by Edith Hopkirk. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1911.

Elisabeth, Queen of Roumania. “Letters and Poems of Queen Elizabeth (Carmen Sylva)”. 2 vols. Boston: Bibliophile Society of Boston, 1920.

Roosevelt, Blanche. “Elizabeth of Roumania.” London: Chapman and Hall, 1891.

Burgoyne, Elizabeth. “Carmen Sylvia, Queen and Woman.” London: Thornton Butterworth, 1940.
“Carmen Sylva, Queen of Roumania” (The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine – August 1884)

Henry W. Fisher, “The Great Balkan Intrigue “ (Munsey’s Magazine – October 1895)

“Steria’s Revenge’, (The Cosmopolitan – September 1889)

“Galaxy of People” (The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine – December 1890)

“Her Majesty the Queen of Roumania”, Royalties of the World – 1902

“The Summer Life of the Queen of Rumania” (The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine – May 1902)

Carmen Sylva, “My Reminiscences of War ‘, (The North American Review – October 1904)

Mark Twain “Does the Race of Man Love a Lord? $30,000 Bequest and Other Stories” – 1906

“Roosevelt and Royalties” , (Scribner’s Magazine – April 1920)

Carmen Sylva, “The Women of My Realm,” (The Ladies’ Home Journal)

Further Reading:
Blouse Roumaine Anthology http://www.constantinroman.com/blouseroumaine/page_quo_08.html

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