Alexandru Dimitrie Xenopol

Alexandru Dimitrie Xenopol

Alexandru Dimitrie Xenopol (Romanian pronunciation: [alekˈsandru diˈmitri.e kseˈnopol]; March 23, 1847, Iaşi – February 27, 1920, Bucharest) was a Romanian scholar, economist, philosopher, historian, professor, sociologist, and author. Among his many major accomplishments, he is the Romanian historian credited with authoring the first major synthesis of the history of the Romanian people.

Born in Iaşi,[1] where he graduated from high school, he went on to Vienna in 1870 to study law and then to Berlin, where he studied philosophy. In 1868, he made his debut in Convorbiri Literare with a series of studies on Romanian traditions and on Romanian institutions.

At first, Xenopol served as a prosecutor in Iaşi, but he later decided to dedicate himself to the study of history. Starting in 1883, he was a professor of universal history at the University of Iaşi, where he served as rector from 1898 to 1901. He was named a member of the Romanian Academy in 1895.

In his 1899 French-language Les Principes fondamentaux de l'histoire ("The Fundamental Principles of History"), his work most well-known internationally, he argued for history being a true science which follows clearly defined laws and logic, through which the reasons for historical processes could be clearly defined.

His six-volume Istoria românilor din Dacia-Traiană ("The History of the Romanians in Trajan's Dacia"), completed between 1888 and 1893, strongly asserts that the Romanians are of predominantly Roman origin - a position further elaborated by the historian Nicolae Iorga, one of Xenopol's numerous pupils (see Origin of the Romanians).

Concerning events nearly two millennia in the past and being supported by multiple archaeological findings, it was still contested by some historians. It had, however, very concrete political implications - the Roman origin implying that Romanians are inherently different from - and in the minds of some Romanian nationalists, superior to - their Slavic and Magyar neighbors. This, despite his disagreement with radical nationalists and objection to violence against Jews,[2] unfortunately also translated to Xenopol being a noted anti-Semite and collaborator of A. C. Cuza. Though he died before the formation of the Iron Guard, Romania's notorious Fascist party, he is considered to be one of its sources of inspiration - according to the final report of the International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania.[3]


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  1. in his writing Istoria ideilor mele ("The History of My Ideas") (reprinted in I. E. Torouţiu, Studii şi documente literare. Vol. IV. Junimea, Bucureşti: Inst. Arte grafice Bucovina, 1933) he claims that his father had Anglo-Saxon ancestors. Available at Wikisource (in Romanian)
  3. available through the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

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