The theme of the project is placed at the intersection of the history of diplomacy, diplomatic history, genealogy, social and institutional history. So, the present work is about a research with interdisciplinary features which aims to deal with a rather poorly explored topic in the Romanian historiography. Although there have been written some studies and there have been published various works with direct reference to some Romanian diplomats’ careers or talked about Romania’s foreign policy after the First World War, there isn’t a systematic research about the diplomatic service, which could explain the changes during the period 1918-1947. In other words, we know little about the intellectual profile, the social origin, family environment and professional path of the Romanian diplomats who activated between 1918 and 1947, a period marked by the end of the First World War as well as by the instalment of the Communist regime.

Theoretically open to everybody, the diplomacy was, in fact, a high-end world: it had its own customs, rules and it was governed, before the First World War, by the aristocratic principle. Coming mostly from important families of boyars (Cantacuzino, Ghica, Lahovary, Mavrocordat, Sturdza, Stirbey), the diplomats formed a category of special clerks of the Romanian government, enjoying privileges and immunity stipulated in international conventions. In fact, the diplomacy before the First World War represented an attractive space for the descendants of noble families, who had studied abroad and could afford to cover, from their own money, the necessary expenses for a fine representation of Romania in the world (Rudolf Dinu, 2014, p. 184-185, 191-192). The diplomats’ circle, which was pretty small before the Great War, began to enlarge as the Romanian state extended its network of diplomatic missions. If prior to the Balkan Wars Romanian Legations abroad had comprised 70 members, including both diplomats and consular staff, at the end of the First World War their number almost doubled. In 1920s only the Legations in Paris and Washington had about 30 employees together, while later, in 1942, we can identify 120 diplomats (along with those who activated at consulates there were about 200) who worked in Home Headquarters and Foreign Diplomatic Service of the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

After the First World War in the Romanian diplomatic corps there are integrated “new people”, who came from the Romanian elite living on the territories which had recently become parts of the Romanian state. These ones have access to a diplomatic career under special conditions, benefiting even of a deregulation from studies. The people living in Transylvania, Bucovina, Banat and Bessarabia have a professional advantage slightly different from that of the diplomats coming from the Old Kingdom (they speak Hungarian, German, Russian), which the leaders of the ministry want to benefit from. In this context it can be noticed a tendency to promote young people with worthy studies, who didn’t come from boyars or noble families. Thus, the field of diplomacy opens gradually to those from other social environments (sons of lawyers, jurists, small company owners and intellectuals). Nevertheless, the world of diplomacy continued to show preference for the descendants of the noble families and political representatives (George Duca, i.e. I. Gh. Duca’s son). On the other hand, some diplomats encourage their children to follow their careers, such as: George Cretzianu (Alexandru Cretzianu), Constantin G. Nanu (Frederic Nanu), Duiliu Zamfirescu (Al. D. Zamfirescu) or Nicolae Mișu (Nicolae N. Mișu). At the same time, with the increase in number of the Romanian diplomats, it can be noticed the tendency to get professional members in the Diplomatic Service, in agreement with what happens in the western countries.

Simultaneously with the increase in the number of Romanian diplomats, we can also observe, during the inter-war period, a tendency of professionalisation of the diplomatic corps’ members. Though it keeps on functioning the custom of choosing people outside diplomacy to activate as leaders of foreign missions (see the cases of Dimitrie Plesnila, Gheorghe Taşcă), most of the Legation chiefs had already a diplomatic career with vast experience in diplomacy. Even in these cases, receiving a leading post in wanted missions (such as Paris, London or Rome) depended also on some factors such as the relationships of the diplomats with the executives of the Ministry and other political influences. In this way it is relevant the analysis of the diplomatic group, promoted and supported by Nicolae Titulescu, which later suffered when their “protector” wasn’t the leader of the Romanian diplomacy any more (after 1936), as well as the group of diplomats sustained by King Carol II (Constantin Cesianu, Richard Franasovici). However, during World War II and in the first years after the conflagration, more and more diplomatic missions were entrusted to people outside the diplomacy (Iorgu Iordan, Ion Raiciu, Tudor Vianu). In the diplomatic corps, decimated by expulsions, entered, as an effect of certain provisions in the organisation law of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of 1946, another type of officials that distinguished themselves especially by their affiliation to the Communist Party and not by their specialised training. A phenomenon of proletarization of the Romanian diplomacy thus emerged, considering the fact that several of the people that entered the diplomatic corps had already worked in factories and plants or, even if they had university studies, they had no previous connection with the diplomacy (I. Calafeteanu, 1996, p. 179).


The concrete objectives of the project are the following:

  1. The analysis of the way in which the members of the diplomatic corps of Romania was recruited, and the explanation of the mechanism that underlay promotions and the procedures according to which diplomats were moved to certain legations or summoned to Bucharest to work for the ministry. The research of the ministry’s functioning laws and of the internal regulation policies will be the starting point for the achievement of the intended goal. We will particularly investigate the way in which the admission exams for the diplomatic corps took place, by comparing the documents in the ministry archive with certain diplomats’ accounts (see, for example, Raoul Bossy, I, 1993, p. 36-37; Camil Demetrescu, 2001, p. 18-22).
  2. On the other hand, we wish to identify the attraction points of the diplomatic career, analysing to what extent the financial factors, the possibility of working in various countries and of being in contact with the nobility and the political elite, or the symbolic prestige of being part of a specifically shaped category of bureaucrats, constituted decisive elements in opting for a diplomatic career. We are, in fact, asking who the Romanian diplomats from the interwar period were, and how did they performed their professional duties.
  3. The restoration of the diplomats’ image within Romanian society, as well as the analysis of the manner in which Romanian diplomats were perceived abroad, represent two of our goals. In other words, we intend to establish how the diplomatic corps was portrayed in the press, in memoirs, as well as in the personal correspondence of the diplomatic and political elite. We are concerned, for instance, whether the contemporaries’ attention was drawn by the appointment of heads of diplomatic missions, or by the deaths of noted diplomats (Michael Pâcleanu; Constantin Diamandi). The articles published at the time of a diplomat’s death have, beyond their emotional bearing, the role to retrace the diplomat’s biography. Romanian periodicals, depending on their political orientation, assigned at least a column space to the biographies of diplomats.
  4. We are interested in analysing the social and intellectual profile of the Romanian diplomats, comparing the generation of diplomats active before World War I, with those recruited in the early post-war years, and then with that of those embracing their diplomatic career diplomats in the ’30s. We will also analyse the social background and the intellectual profile of those that joined the diplomatic service in 1945–1947, in order to establish who were the “new men” promoted by the communist regime. We are interested in the extent to which the francophone or the German education influenced a diplomat’s development, and the share of diplomats employed after WWI who had university and doctoral degrees from their home country. We thus seek to raise awareness of the social and cultural history of Romanian diplomacy, a still burgeoning field in Romanian historiography.


The project proposes new research paths (social history, cultural history, institutional history, etc.) in the Romanian diplomacy of 1918—1947, while building the foundation for further investigations. The novelty of the approach proposed in the project and the expected impact is warranted by other factors, too:

  1. the poor representation of the topic from a historiographical viewpoint, the insufficient work up to date as emphasised above;
  2. the use of new, unpublished sources, mostly identified in Romanian archives, but also in foreign ones; the release into the scientific field of the personal correspondence of diplomats and some unpublished memoirs and daily notes (Alexander Iacovaky, Nicolae Petrescu-Comnen). The classification and cataloguing of unpublished collections of sources (manuscripts from family files, private pieces of correspondence, personal papers preserved in the records of the foreign ministry, etc.), their integration into the national scientific circuit providing originality and an optimal level of external visibility.
  3. the methodological approach that the project pursues, making use of research tools used by the other social sciences (sociology, the auxiliary sciences of history), designed to complement the mainly factual analysis of Romanian diplomacy.


The methods used to achieve the objectives and scope of the research will be the comparative, documentary and interdisciplinary ones. Firstly, the project proposes a comparative approach to the subject area, delineated by three different historical perspectives: a narrative perspective describing the interaction of the Romanian diplomats in 1918–1947 with their social milieu, and their public conduct; a cultural perspective drawing on the intellectual profile, level of education, training for different levels in diplomacy, in an attempt to outline the profile of the Romanian diplomat. Here, a comparison with the diplomatic services of other countries with tradition in the field (France, UK) is necessary, or of those countries whose status was similar to that of Romania, such as Czechoslovakia or Bulgaria, in order to have a reference point when analysing the diplomatic corps of Romania from a numerical (i.e. social) point of view, or from the perspective of professional training or financial motivation; a historical perspective that reconstructs in distinct biographical sequences the characters’ genealogy, the events preceding their diplomatic mission, as well as their activity following the end of their diplomatic mission. The documentary analysis makes constructive use of the new information resulting from the examination of a range of historical sources (diplomatic correspondence, autobiographical literature, media, etc.). The interdisciplinary side of the research involves the historian’s access to tools and concepts from the fields of sociology and genealogy, such as in the case of the influential families from the diplomatic corps, or statistical analysis in, for instance, the inquiry of the heads of diplomatic missions.