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Elites as Symbols. Queen Marie and Romanian
Transylvanians at a Turning Point -
The Year 1916 in the Press


Greater Romania was born in the aftermath of the First World War as a result of tremendous efforts both on the battlefield and on the diplomatic arena. Queen Marie was one of the personalities who had a significant impact upon the events’ unfolding and, given that she was the queen and thus not responsible for political choices, she could become the embodiment of this centuries-old dream, namely the union of all Romanians into a single state. The present study reveals part of this transformation process through which a person came to be regarded as a national symbol by quantitatively and qualitatively analysing a number of articles that were published by Transylvanian periodicals around a key moment of the conflagration, i.e. Romania’s entry into the war. The pieces of news containing information about Queen Marie that appeared in 1916 before this event (from January until 27 August) were compared with those that convey facts about her during the period in which the Romanian army occupied part of Transylvania (August-October) and after it was forced to abandon these territories (October-December). Given this intricate context, it is not that surprising that the first of these three distinct periods comprises roughly 80% of all the information about Queen Marie available to Transylvanians in 1916. Whilst at a closer look some differences between these three periods emerge, it is important to emphasise that none of the analysed articles was totally negative with regard to Queen Marie, but merely polemical in some cases. As a result, the image of a talented, extremely beautiful and kind-hearted queen doing her utmost to serve the needs of her subjects was easy to adopt by Transylvanians as a symbol of unity and contributed to stimulating their loyalty towards their future sovereigns.
Queen Marie, Transylvanian periodicals, Greater Romania, World War I, 1916