Greatest Romanians Of All Time (3)

This series of posts about the most important Romanians of all time does not have a predetermined and limited number of people. We are eagerly looking forward your proposals!It will not be a ranking, but rather a gallery of great personalities of Romania, whether they are known or unknown. They will not be presented in a certain order, by domain, importance or other criteria, but in a random way.

  Greatest Romanians of All Time (3)

9. Princess Natalie Cheşcu, Queen Natalie of Serbia (1859 – 1941)

Greatest Romanians - 9

Natalia Cheșcu, the Romanian noblewaman who became Queen of Serbia

  • Nationality: Romanian and Serbian
  • Ethnicity/Origins: Romanian (NOT Russian-Romanian or simply Russian as many sources on the Internet falsely claim) (source 1, 2)
  • Short presentation: Princess Natalia Cheșcu (often referred to under the russificated names Kesko, Keschko, Cheșco) was born to an ethnic Romanian nobleman from Bessarabia, Petre Cheșcu, who was colonel in the Russian Empire army, and the Romanian Princess Pulheria Sturdza.
  • Fields: Leadership, Philanthropy
  • Notoriety level: international
  • Achievements:

the first Romanian to become queen in a foreign country;

Princess Natalia was Queen consort of Serbia from 1882 to 1889 as the wife of King Milan Obrenović IV.

one of Europe’s most beautiful queens in the nineteenth century, along with Empress Elisabeth of Austria, widely known as Sissi;

        • Reading Eagle (January 9, 1897 ) – source
The most beautiful queen in Europe is Natalie of Serbia […]
        • The Sydney Mail (April 3, 1897) – source
Queen Natalie of Serbia […] is one of the most beautiful of Royal women […]
        • The Milwaukee Sentinel (March 23, 1930) – source
As a girl she was considered wonderfully beautiful […] she was considered one of the most beautiful queens of Europe.

one of  Europe’s most beautiful women of the nineteenth century, as The New York Evening Post once wrote;

        • The New York Evening Post (February 3, 1930) – source
Queen Natalie once was perhaps the most beautiful woman in Europe. […] in Belgrade, as well as other European societies, her beauty found admiration and adoration.

 first Queen of Serbia in modern history (the last queen of Serbia was born as Princess Helena of Bulgaria and held the title until 1374). (sources 1, 2, 3)

 ♦ one of the greatest patrons of charities in the nineteenth-century Serbia

After the assassination of her son and his wife, Natalie remained the last surviving member of the Obrenović dynasty. Thus, she inherited the entire estate of the other members. She then donated the inheritance to the University of Belgrade and various churches and monasteries around Serbia. (source 12)

♦ one of the most beloved members of the Serbian Obrenović dynasty.

In a history of autocratic leadership, of corruption and several scandals, Queen Natalie remained a respected and well-thought-of royal. By her actions, she proved the love for the Serbian people and fought for the interests of the country. 

Because she opposed her husband’s dictatorial actions on both the familial and the political plans, she was exiled. A year later, when she arrived in Belgrade on 29 August 1889, she was “enthusiastically welcomed by the population”.

She fought with all her strength to influence her son for the better when he became the King of Serbia, as he began to patronize a corrupt system with his wife, the evil Queen Draga. Natalie had always been considered a woman of unblemished character.

When her husband, now exiled, told her ‘For the love of God and in the name of your child, do not trust the Serbs.’ , the Queen’s reply was: ‘A King is not crowned to distrust his people and to exploit them, but to live and to die with them.‘ (source)

Read more about her life here.

  • Admirers:

 Princess Martha Bibescu

10. Elena Cernei (1924 – 2000)

Elena Cernei, one of the world’s greatest mezzo-sopranos of the 20th century.

  • Nationality: Romanian
  • Ethnicity/Origins: Romanian
  • Fields: Music, Science
  • Notoriety level: international
  • Achievements:

 the first Romanian mezzo-soprano with international career;

 the greatest Romanian mezzo-soprano of the 20th century (she approached all the lyrical styles in her career);

♦ one of the world’s greatest mezzo-sopranos of the 20th century, as The Montreal Gazette, for example, named her in 1973; (source)

the first Romanian mezzo-soprano to perform at La Scala, the world-renowned opera house in Milan, Italy, which is recognised as one of the leading opera and ballet theatres in the world;

♦ the first Romanian mezzo-soprano to perform at the New York Metropolitan Opera House;

 the first Romanian mezzo-soprano to perform at the Paris Opera, the greatest opera company of France;

♦ the first lyrical artist performing at the New York Metropolitan Opera who was awarded the distinguished title of Active Member of the New York Academy of Sciences;

the first lyrical artist in the world to act as interdisciplinary scientific researcher;

In 1985, the New York Academy of Sciences recognized her work when she became member of the important society, one of the most prestigious in the United States.

Three years later, in 1988,  the International Festival “Vincenzzo Bellini” (which took place in Sicily, Italy) awarded her with the “Gold Plaquette” for special interdisciplinary scientific merits, for the Italian version of her book entitled “Enigmas of Human Voice”.

Also, in 1997, the International Society of Environmental Physicians awarded her the “Gold Plaquette” for the merit of being the only lyrical artist in the world to act as interdisciplinary scientific researcher, during the International Meeting on “Cooperation between the North and South; Climate Changes; International Waters; Ozon Holes; Biodiversity”.

 the last mezzo-soprano to perform in Giuseppe Verdi’s famous opera Aida at the Old Metropolitan Opera House (before it closed down); she acted as Amneris, the only role of this opera created for the mezzo-soprano voice type.

The Old Met (1937, New York City)

 the first mezzo-soprano to perform in Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida at the New Metropolitan Opera House, in the much awaited inaugural performance;

 the first artist in the world to perform as a librettist, director and first interpreter of an original opera in absolute premiere, in the opening performance of the “Doamna Chiajna”, by N. Buicliu, at the Romanian National Opera House in Bucharest, in October 1973;

 the first person in the world to formulate the second type of breathing (which she explained through the cephalic phase of non-ringing voice), in 1980;

(source 1)

  • Admirers:

 Plácido Domingo (Spanish tenor and conductor)

♦ Mario del Monaco (Italian tenor, regarded by some as the greatest tenor of the 20th century)

♦ Giuseppe di Stefano (Italian operatic tenor)

♦ Franco Corelli (Italian tenor)

11. Mihai Eminescu (1850 – 1889)

Mihai Eminescu in his first photography, taken in 1869 by Jan Tomas, when the poet was 19 years old

Mihai Eminescu in his first photography, taken in 1869 by Jan Tomas, when the poet was 19 years old

  • Nationality: Romanian
  • Ethnicity/Origins: Romanian
  • Fields: Literature, Journalism
  • Notoriety level: mostly national
  • Achievements:

♦ the greatest Romanian poet of all time; (source)

♦ the most important representative of Romanticism of the Romanian literature; his work encompassed every genre of poetry (love, philosophical, cosmological, mythological, historical, etc.) as well as prose and journalism. (source)

♦ Eminescu is consideredEurope’s last great Romantic writer, not in the least because he gave voice of such unmistakable music to the sadness of love. His legacy, however, transcends the confines of Romanticism, the literary and philosophical Western traditions, the far east influences and even the obvious imprint of the Romanian folklore. Blessed with the touch of genius, his synthesis is a personal world of meaning about the life of man and of the cosmos in archetypal images of universal worth. (source)

♦ the most famous Romanian author inside the country;

 the first Romanian writer who published in all Romanian provinces and was constantly interested in the problems of Romanians everywhere; this fact was incredibly important because, at that time, the historical regions of Romania (Wallachia, Moldavia, Transylvania, Dobruja, Banat, Crișana and Maramureș) were not united in a single country. Therefore, he knew the traditions of all the Romanians and incorporated them into his vast work. (source)

♦ the first to transform the Romanian language in a piece of art; while Eminescu is often described as the essence of the Romanian soul, modern literary language in Romania is also much indebted to him. (source)

♦ the first writer who merged the Romanian culture with the Western one;  (source)

♦ Eminescu created the longest love poem ever, Luceafărul (The Evening Star). The 98 stanzas long poem is about the impossible love between immortal Evening Star and a beautiful mortal princess, is generally considered his masterpiece and this record was officially recognized by the World Records Academy in January 2009.  (source)

♦ one of the greatest Romanian men of culture of all time; he knew to perfection, besides his native Romanian, the German language. He also knew French, English (he read Shakespeare in the original). (source)

♦ one of the greatest connoisseurs of the Romanian language and literature from its beginning. (source)

  • Admirers:

♦ Mircea Eliade (Romanian writer and historian of religions)

 Emil Cioran (Romanian philosopher and essayist)

George Bernard Shaw (Irish playwright)

♦ Mite Kremnitz (noted German author)

♦ Queen Elisabeth of Romania

Ion Luca Caragiale (the greatest Romanian dramatist)

 Eugen Ionesco (Romanian-French dramatist)

  • Quote about Romania or the Romanians:
Patriotism is not only the love of the earth where you were born, but especially the love of the past, without which there is no love of country. My nation is the world. Without my nation, there is no world.

12. Ion C. Brătianu (1821 – 1891)

A very rare photography of Ion C. Brătianu in his 40s, taken by Franz Mandy around 1860-1870

A very rare photography of Ion C. Brătianu in his 40s, taken by Franz Mandy around 1860-1870

  • Nationality: Romanian
  • Ethnicity/Origins: Romanian
  • Fields: Politics, Leadership, Literature
  • Notoriety level: international
  • Achievements:

one of the most important figures of the Wallachian Revolution of 1848; (source)

♦ one of the founders of the Romanian liberalism, along with his friend for over 40 years, Constantin A. Rosetti; (source)

♦ Ion C. Brătianu played the most important role in bringing Carol I on the throne of Romania, who would become the first king of the country and one of the greatest personalities in the entire history of Romania; (source)

the first president of the National Liberal Party, which would be the most important party in Romania for more than seven decades; (sources 1, 2)

the 3rd longest serving president of the National Liberal Party in a history of more than a century of activity; he held this position for 15 years and only Dimitrie Sturdza, who was president for 16 years, and Brătianu’s own son, Ionel Brătianu, who held this position for 18 years. (source)

♦ one of of the most important Romanian politicians of the nineteenth century; (sources 1, 2, 3)

 one of of the greatest statesmen and politicians in the entire history of Romania; Brătianu was always situated at the forefront of the historical events that marked the destiny of the Romanian nation: the Revolution of 1848, the Union of the Principalities, the Romanian War of Independence.

♦ Ion C. Brătianu was the longest prime minister in the history of Romania, except for the period of the dictatorship of a single party in the communist years. He held the executive power of the country for 12 years  (1876-1888), over four parliamentary mandates (after the elections of 1876, 1879, 1883 and 1884). (sources 1, 2)

♦ he wasthe best collaborator of King Carol I of Romania in his whole reign of 48 years; this political “duet” brought the country the state independence and modernization. (source)

♦ one of the fathers of modern Romania;

  • Admirers:

♦ King Carol I of Romania

♦ C. A. Rosetti (Romanian literary and political leader)

♦ Mihail Kogălniceanu (Romanian political leader)

♦ Queen Elisabeth of Romania


13. Maria Lucia Hohan (1980 – )

Maria Lucia Hohan, the Romanian designer who conquered Hollywood

Maria Lucia Hohan, the Romanian designer who conquered Hollywood

  • Nationality: Romanian
  • Ethnicity/Origins: Romanian
  • Fields: Fashion
  • Notoriety level: international
  • Achievements:

♦ one of the first Romanian designers who managed to impose themselves on the international fashion market;

one of the most famous Romanian personalities in the field of fashion ever; her creations are worn by international celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez or Nicole Kidman.

 the first Romanian designer to be included in the portfolio of, the second largest online retailer of luxury fashion in the world; (source)

 the first Romanian designer to be included in the portfolio of L’Eclaireur, the oldest and the most renowned Parisian concept store; (source)

♦ one of the most powerful women in the Romanian business; (source)

 one of the greatest ambassadors of Romania at present; (source)

  • Admirers:

♦ Jennifer Lopez (American singer and actress)

Nicole Kidman (Australian actress and film producer)

♦ Maria Sharapova (Russian professional tennis player )

♦ Angela Gheorghiu (Romanian soprano)

♦ Christina Aguilera (American singer and songwriter)

♦ Catherine Zeta-Jones (Welsh/British actress)

♦ Eva Longoria (American television and film actress)

♦ Megan Fox (American actress)

Mădălina Ghenea (Romanian actress and model)

 Dita Von Teese (American burlesque dancer, model and costume designer)

♦ Lana Del Rey (American singer and songwriter)

♦ Jennifer Hudson (Oscar-winning American actress)

 Taylor Swift (American singer-songwriter)