Emmanuel de Martonne, the Frenchman who drew the Borders of Romania

emanuel de martonneOne of the most esteemed French scholars in Romania is the geographer Emmanuel de Martonne. He published some of the first scientific papers about the geography of Romania. Moreover, he contributed substantially to drawing the borders of Romania after World War I, as he had been hired as an expert in the works of the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.

Emmanuel de Martonne was born in 1873. His first encounter with Romania was the result of his friendship with a Romanian colleague, Pompiliu Eliade, while studying at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. Following his advice, Emmanuel de Marton began his scientific career as geographer with a research project on the Southern Carpathians, which he called the Transylvanian Alps. Emmanuel de Martonne continued to come to Romania to work on his doctoral thesis, which he called Wallachia: Geographical Monograph Essay.

He dedicated this thesis to his mentor, Vidal of Blache. His field research has also inspired another book dedicated to Romania: Research on the Geographical Distribution of the Population in Wallachia. Not only did Emmanuel de Martonne stand up in the quality of research on Romania, but he also set up remarkable institutions in France, which have continued to operate to this day. Such is the case of geography lab in Rennes and the Institute of Geography at the Sorbonne University. Furthermore, Emmanuel de Martonne published a Treaty of Physical Geography in 1909 and the Universal Geography in 1931. During this time, he led the specialized publication entitled Atlas of France, and the International Geographical Union during 1931-1949. Emmanuel de Martonne was elected member of the French Academy for his contributions to geographical science development. But he enjoys the highest esteem in Romania for another reason. In 1919, Emmanuel de Martonne was employed by the  people in charge with the Peace Conference in Paris as an expert for the establishment of the borders of Poland and Romania. He managed to impose, during the debates, the principle of border sustainability. Specifically, this principle required that new borders take into account not only the ethnic configuration, but also of the topography and territorial infrastructure. The sustainability of the work performed by Emmanuel de Martonne is proven by the fact that even today, nearly a century later, the borders between Romania, Hungary and Serbia have endured as he drew them.

Read the article in French HERE.



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