Romanian Achievements and Records: Part 13

86. Wallachian (Romanian) ruler Mircea the Great organized the first offensive campaign against the Ottoman Empire in the history of Europe.

Note that this fact occurred in 1395, and that the Ottoman Empire was formed in 1299. So in almost a century, no European country had the courage to initiate a battle against this great power that was threatening the European civilization. At that time, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire was Bayezid I and his army was considered one of the best of the Islamic world.


  • Istoria militara a poporului român (en: The military history of the Romanian people), 1986, vol. II, pages 160-162 (here)
  • Mircea cel Mare. Scutul Europei (en: Mircea the Great. Europe’s shield), 2009, page 169 (here)

Mircea the Great (also called the Elder)

87. Mircea the Great was the first ruler to ever win an Ottoman battle in which the sultan personally participated.

The Battle of Rovine took place in 1395 and was the 5th battle in the history of the Ottoman Empire in which the sultan led the army in person and the 2nd time the Ottoman leader did so in Europe. (more here) The Sultan who led the army against Mircea and Wallachian army was Bayezid I, the one who was nicknamed ‘the Thunderbolt’.

Wallachia on Romania’s map

In more than 600 years, there have only been 17 such battles, from a total of over 200 (!) battles involving the Ottoman Empire (source). This means that the sultans participated in person in only 8% of the Ottoman wars ever held. You can get an idea about how feared these rulers (against which the Ottoman leader personally fought) were. Mircea the Great was one of them. But as we’ve stated, he was the first ever who obtained a victory, speaking either of the Asian or European rulers.

German historian Gustav Hertzberg stated that “Mircea demonstrated very clearly that the Ottoman army is not invincible and he freed of complexes a terrified Europe, creating the favorable climate for the crusade of Nicopolis.” (source: Gustav Friedrich Hertzberg, Geschichte des Byzantiner und des Osmanischen Reiches bis gegen Ende des sechszehnten Jahrhunderts, Berlin, 1883, page 516)

Thanks to Mircea, the Islam was stopped forever at the Lower Danube, just as Frankish statesman Charles Martel – who is considered to be the founding figure of the European Middle Ages – halted the Islamic advance into Western Europe in 732.

There were only 2 other victories against a Sultan-led army: Timur‘s in the Battle of Ankara (the only Asian such victory) and Prince Eugene of Savoy‘s in the Battle of Zenta (the 2nd European victory ever; it took an European power 302 years to win after Mircea the Great’s victory; and it was an union of nations, not a single country as in Wallachia’s case!).


  • Geschichte des Byzantiner und des Osmanischen Reiches bis gegen Ende des sechszehnten Jahrhunderts, by Gustav Friedrich Hertzberg, Berlin, 1883, page 516 (here)
  • Mircea cel Mare. Scutul Europei (en: Mircea the Great. Europe’s shield), 2009, page 12 and page 51 (here)

Mircea the Great

88. Romanian athlete Mariana Lucescu was the first female rugby coach in the world. (sources 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Mariana graduated in 1963 from the National Academy of Sports and Physical Education with the specialization in rugby. This is also the year when she began training. After a decade of hard work, she won the first National Junior Championship with CSS 2 School (1973). If her presence as a coach in this sport was shocking, this moment was inconceivable.

19 years after she became the first woman to coach a rugby team, the first Women’s international rugby union ever took place in Utrecht, the Netherlands (in 1982).

Mariana Lucescu

89. Romania was the first country in Europe to produce petroleum on a large-scale. (sources 1, 2, 3)

This information was stated by Mark Mobius, manager at the American holding company Franklin Templeton Investments.

90. Romanian Cătălina Ponor is the only gymnast in sports history to win the European Gold medal on beam four times (2004, 2005, 2006, and 2012). Remarked for her brilliant performances on the balance beam, her favourite apparatus, she’s been nicknamed ‘Queen of the Beam‘ in the gymnastics world. (sources 1, 2)

Cătălina Ponor