Due to their geographical position, the Rumanian lands have acted as a bridge between the Near East and Central Europe since time immemorial. Located on the fringes of the Greek-Orthodox world, they were part of the "Byzantine Commonwealth' '2, embracing the same spiritual values and political designs. Entering the Turkish area of influence in the 15th century contributed to their role as a territory of interchange between civilizations. Although absorbed into the Ottoman Empire, the Rumanians developed a different relationship to the Sublime Porte than that of the Western Europeans, which was mostly based on fear and suspicion. Capable of adapting to hardships while harbouring hopes for freedom, Rumanians embraced those customs that did not require renouncing their Christian faith, their language, and their customs3. Because of close contacts with the Ottoman political and cultural élite, Rumanian ruling families and court officials were in a position to observe and spread knowledge about Muslim history and contemporary life. With the Rumanians, Oriental studies were not born as a branch of science, but were generated by the necessity for survival and progress under Ottoman authority.
Rumanian Pioneers, Oriental Studies, 18th Century, Dimitrie Cantemir, Lanache Vacarescu