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Elie Dăianu was a prominent member of the Romanian elite in Transylvania in the first half of the 20th century. Although he had a rich ecclesiastical, publishing, cultural and political activity, he received little attention from historians, remaining somewhat in an undeserved shadow. Elie Dăianu was born on 9 March 1868 in the village of Cut, Alba county. His parents, Iosif Dăianu and Ana Dăianu née Munteanu, were wealthy peasants (his father was a mayor).

Elie_Daianu_img7Elie Dăianu

Elie_Daianu_protopope Daianu his parents and his sister 1890

Dianu, his parents and his sister, 1890

Elie Dăianu began his studies at the village school, then continued them in Sibiu and Blaj, where he took his baccalaureate in 1888. Among his teachers in Blaj were famous Romanian scholars like Timotei Cipariu (1805–1887) and Ioan Micu Moldovan (1833–1915). Elie Dăianu then went to university in Graz and Budapest, graduating in Theology and Letters; he also obtained his doctorate in Budapest, also in Letters. Elie Dăianu was the only one of his brothers to pursue an intellectual career (he had three sisters and two brothers who remained peasants).

In 1897 Elie Dăianu married Ana Totoianu who came from a family of priests from Micești, Alba county, with whom he had two children, Ioachim Leo and Lucia Monica. Unfortunately, his wife died in 1900, shortly after the birth of his daughter (later, his son Ioachim Dăianu was to make a career as a diplomat, working in various places such as chargé d’affaires at the Romanian embassy in Riga, counsellor at the Romanian embassy in Moscow, Romanian consul general in Tirana etc.).

Elie Dăianu began his cultural and political carreer as a student. While in Budapest as a doctoral student in 1893, Dăianu was elected president of the “Petru Maior” Society, together with Iuliu Maniu (1873–1953) vice-president, Aurel Vlad (1875–1953), Octavian Beju, Octavian Vassu (1873–1935), Axente Banciu (1875–1959). In April 1894, together with Valer Moldovan (1875–1954), Ilie Cristea (1868–1939) (future Orthodox patriarch), Iuliu Maniu and Aurel Vlad, he participated in the Student Congress in Constanța, about which he wrote in the newspaper “Dreptatea”, under the pseudonym Edda; in May of the same year he was part of the press office of the Memorandum process, led by Dr. Vasile Lucaciu (1852–1922) and Septimiu Albini (1861–1919).

After finishing his studies, Elie Dăianu worked for a year (1895) as an editor at the newspaper Dreptatea in Timișoara, then, assigned by Ioan Rațiu (1828–1902), he became director of the “Tribuna” in Sibiu, which he directed between 1896 and 1900. For the next two years, until the summer of 1902, Elie Dăianu was professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology in Blaj. In August 1902 he was appointed priest and protopope of Cluj, a position he held until his retirement in 1930. At the same time, he carried out an intense cultural and political activity. In addition to articles on important current issues, he published writings and translations of literature, history, philosophy and poetry in numerous newspapers from Bucharest, Budapest, Cluj, Sibiu, Arad, Brașov etc; in 1903 he founded a new magazine in Cluj, “Răvașul”.

Elie Dăianu was an important member of the Transylvanian Association for Romanian Literature and Culture (ASTRA), founded in 1861 in Sibiu as the first central cultural institution of the Romanians of Transylvania, which played an important role in the cultural and political emancipation of the Romanian nation in Transylvania. Elie Dăianu was first a scholarship holder of ASTRA while he was a student in Blaj; later, he became involved in ASTRA’s activities, wrote educational brochures and books, held popular conferences, and even became a member of its Central Committee.

Before 1918, when Transylvania was still part of Hungary, the ideas expressed by Elie Dăianu in newspapers were considered provocative by the Hungarian authorities who sentenced him to one year in prison in Cluj and then to deportation to Sopron in Hungary. The end of the war and the union of Transylvania with Romania brought an end to Elie Dăianu’s exile.

He participated in the Great National Assembly in Alba Iulia as a delegate of the Cluj diocese; at the same time, he was the president of one of the electoral circles in Cluj that appointed delegates to this assembly. Later he joined the People’s Party, together with Octavian Goga (1888–1938) and Vasile Goldiș (1862–1934), being elected deputy in the Romanian Parliament in 1920 and vice-president of the Chamber of Deputies; the president was Duiliu Zamfirescu (1858–1922), former collaborator of his magazine “Răvașul” from Cluj. He was involved in politics until 1926, serving several terms as deputy and senator. At the same time, from 1921 to 1938, Elie Dăianu was a member of the Historical Monuments Commission - Section for Transylvania, which had the task of cataloguing and monitoring architectural and artistic monuments.

After his retirement, Elie Dăianu continued to publish articles on literature, history, theology, etc. In the last part of his life, he suffered material hardship due to the withdrawal of his pension by the communist regime on the pretext that he was a forest owner. In his later years he was supported by his son Ioachim, who was also living modestly after his diplomatic career was ended by the communist regime.

 

Sources:

 

Literature:

Valentin Orga, Din zile de detenție. Însemnările lui Elie Dăianu din anii 1917–1918, in “Revista Bistriţei”, XVII, 2003, P· 247–265.

Ilie Moise, Ilie Dăianu şi spiritul Blajului, in “Transilvania”, 5/2010, p. 73–78.

Gheorghe Naghi, Din însemnările inedite ale dr. Elie Dăianu (1917–1918), in “Ziridava”, XI, 1979, p. 1089–1097.

Robert Marcel Hart, Raluca Maria Viman, Un mare cărturar și publicist ardelean: Elie Dăianu (1868–1956), in “Caiete de Antropologie Istorică”, 2018, p. 42–50.

 

Press :

“Gazeta Transilvaniei” no 180/18 August 1902.

“Răvașul” no. 4/23 ianuarie 1904.