Cristea, The Power of Words
Annotation author: Chiriluş, Oana-Andreea
Book author: Cristea, Ovidiu

Ovidiu Christea, The Power of Words, Târgoviște 2014

Ovidiu Cristea has worked as a senior researcher at the Institute of History “Nicolae Iorga” in Bucharest since 1993 and as the director of the same institution since 2012. He is known mostly for his contributions to the study of the presence of the Venetians in the Black Sea basin and the Danubian Principalities and the Black Sea in the Middle Ages. His long list of publications includes two volumes published by Brill in 2018 and 2020 in collaboration with Liviu Pilat: The Ottoman Threat and Crusading on the Eastern Border of Christendom during the 15th Century and From Pax Mongolica to Pax Ottomanica. War, Religion and Trade in the Northwestern Black Sea Region (14th16th Centuries).

Puterea cuvintelor. Știri și război în sec. XVXVI [The Power of Words. News and War in the 15th–16th Centuries] was published in 2014 by the “Cetatea de Scaun” Publishing House in Târgoviște. As reflected in the title of this volume, Ovidiu Cristea’s attention is focused on words, gestures, and information related to warfare and how they were transmitted and understood. In order to showcase how news and rumours come into existence and spread, the author takes the reader on a journey through Moldavia, Wallachia, Transylvania, Venice, and the Ottoman Empire.

The volume opens with a foreword written by the renowned academician Șerban Papacostea and consists of three main parts aside from the Introduction and Conclusions. The first part, O marfă de preț [A valuable merchandise], demonstrates the value of the news and information regarding war and military threats and how it may undergo alterations from oral to written transmission, while the second part, Părțile mecanismului [The Parts of the Mechanism] describes how the news was transmitted, including the various components that set this mechanism in motion. The third part, Traista cu povești [The Bag of Tales], contains five case studies meant to illustrate how tales/stories can provide a possibility for historical reconstruction.

The work on this book involved assiduous research of the archival materials and extensive bibliography, the author resorting especially to the resources of the Venetian archives and those of various European libraries.

Some of the chapters of this book were originally published in the form of individual studies and articles, but Cristea revised them in the light of new discoveries and interpretations for this volume. Thus, a valuable work resulted: through the novelty of the subject approached, the method of analysis, and writing style making it accessible not only to the researchers familiar with the complicated topic of news circulation in the 15th–16th centuries but also to the general public.