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10 lei 2011 - Nicolae Milescu - 375 Years since Birth
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Nicolae Milescu - 375 Years since Birth - 10 lei 2011 Nicolae Milescu - 375 Years since Birth - 10 lei 2011
31 mm diameter, 31.103 g, 99.9% silver, grained edge
Obverse: ROMANIA, face value "10 LEI", year 2011, coat of arms of Romania, an astrolabe - an old instrument that was used for latitude determinations - pointing to the travel of Milescu in China
Reverse: inside linear circle bust of spătar Milescu, a sheet of parchment with seal, inkpot and feather, inscription "375 DE ANI DE LA NASTEREA LUI NICOLAE MILESCU" meaning "375 YEARS SINCE BIRTH OF NICOLAE MILESCU" and, between two cross-like adornments, 1636 - 1708, the years of Milescu's life

Issuing date: 31st of October 2011

Mintage: 500 coins

In 2014 Republic of Moldova dedicated to Milescu a silver coin, with a face value of 50 lei.

About Nicolae Milescu-Spătaru

Nicolae (Nicholas) was the son of Gavril (Gabriel), a boyar form the county of Vaslui, with a possible Greek or Aromanian descent, as he was born in Peloponnesus. Nicolae studied in the Patriarchy school in Constantinople. He has translated the Old Testament to Romanian, his text being the basis in the matter for the Bible of prince Șerban Cantacuzino, that was printed at Bucharest in 1688.

In 1653 he became the scribe of Moldavian ruler Gheorghe Ștefan (1653 - 1658). He also served prince Gheorghe Ghica (1658-1659), during the laters's Moldavian rule. As voivod Ghica was moved to Walachia (1659-1660), Ștefăniță-vodă (1659-1661), son of Vasile Lupu, asserted the throne in Moldavia. Nicolae followed Gheorghe Ghica to Bucharest, being rewarded with the rank of grand "spătar" of Walachia ("sword bearer", hinting at the sword of the ruler). After his protector's being dismissed, Nicolae returns from Walachia to Moldavia. Chronicler Ion Neculce then places the "crookedness" of Nicolae. During the first reign of Grigore Ghica in Walachia (1660-1664 - son of Gheorghe Ghica!), Nicolae was capuchihaie - diplomatic agent of the prince - at Constantinople.

After 1664 over to 1668, Nicolae wandered a big part of Europe, reaching Berlin, Stockholm, Paris, charged with missions entrusted by the former ruler of Moldavia, Gheorghe Ștefan, who during that time sought refuge in Pomerania, at Stettin (Szczecin today, in Poland). It was during these travels that Nicolae used for the first time the name of Spatarius. He has returned to Moldavia during the reign of Iliaș Alexandru (1666-1668). Probably then he was "signed" at the nose, having been rendered crooked nosed, as reckoned treasonous against the rule. Such a mutilation was applied to pretenders to the throne (as a person with infirmities was not eligible as ruler), whence the opinion that Nicolae would have aimed to take the throne of Moldavia.

In 1671 Nicolae left for Moscow, having been commended to czar Aleksey Mikhailovich by patriarch Dositei of Jerusalem. At Moscow Milescu got a job at Posolski Prikaz - Departamen of Envoys. In 1675 he was sent as ambassador to China, to the great emperor Kangxi or Kang-hi (1654-1722), the fourth of the Qing dinasty (1644-1912), who ruled from Beijing. Before the departure he got the rank of polcovnic - colonel - of the Russian army. The entire adventure lasted for two and a half years. The mission in the far east brought about the writing of two very interesting books, "Travelling Journal in China” and "Description of China”.

The name of Milescu was not used by Nicolae, as chronicler Ion Neculce was the one who coined this distinction. It is certain that the kin of spătar Nicolae stayed in Moldavia and owned the village of Milești in the county of Vaslui, hence the distinction.

Inside the chronicle of Miron Costin, a character named Crooked Nosed Nicolai is mentioned, who led a military corps sent in an expedition to Transylvania. Usually the name Cîrnul (Crooked Nosed) is interpreted as a nick-name hinting at the cut-off nose of the spătar (it is just that in 1658, during the events told by the chronicler, the nose of Nicolae was at its rightful place; it is to say that either it is same person and Miron Costin applied the nick-name anachronously before hand or it is a different person).

Despite his erudition, Nicolae Milescu-Spătaru did not manage to raise a big fortune in Russia. His descendants stayed in the service of the czars. A descendant of his was Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov (1845-1916), Russian scientist that took the Nobel prize for medicine for year 1908. The name of Spătaru was russianized, first having become Spafari, being later translated entirely - "mech” meaning sword in Russian, spadă or spată the same in Romanian.

Legend about Milescu from "O seamă de cuvinte" (A Gathering of Words) by Moldavian Chronicler Ion Neculce (Legend XCI)

"There was a boyar, namely Neculai Milescul Spătariul, from Vaslui as landholder, overly learnt and book lover, and he knew languages many: Old Hellenic, Slavic, Greek and Turkish. [...] And there once was, he did not get enough of the honour he had at Ștefăniță-voivod, instead he sat and wrote some cunning letters and put them in a hollowed stick and sent them to Costantin-voivod the Old Băsărabă in the Polish Country, in order to raise from there with armies, to come and oust Ștefăniță-vodă from rule. [...] So Ștefăniță-voivod, as he saw the stick with the letters, he overly angered and had that Nicolai Milescul brought before him, in the small house, and had the executioner cut his nose. [...] After that, Crooked Nosed Nicolai fled to the German Country and found there a doctor, who was releasing blood from the cheek and folding it at the nose, and so from day to day the blood was clotting, so the nose grew back, so he got healed.. [...] he went to Moscow, to the great emperor, to Aleksey Mikhailovich, father of great Peter-emperor, who came to us here in Moldavia. And for his learning he was interpreter of the emperor and taught the son of the emperor, Peter Alekseyevich, to read and write. And he was in great honor and fortune. And emperor Aleksey Mikhailovich sent him as envoy to the great emperor of the Chinamen, so he stayed at China about two, three years. And he had there much honor also from the great emperor of the Chinamen, and many wonders saw he at that empire of Chinamen. And he was gifted an entire bowl of gems and a diamond like pigeon's egg. As he was returning on his way back, it happened that the emperor of Moscow passed away, [...] and the senators of Moscow came forth to meet him and took away those gifts and all he had and exiled him to Siberia. [...] And later [...] Peter Alekseyevich emperor at once called up the senators and questioned by saying: << Where is my teacher who taught me how to read and write>? Now soon bring him to me. >> [...] And he asked him what he saw and what came upon him and payed the stuff all that the senators took, over to a length of a thread and the big diamond. And the emperor, after having seen it, wondered and have it to the empire treasury and to Crooked Nosed he gave eighty money bags. [...]

And when he shaved the beards, emperor [Peter], of the Muscovites, then the clothing changed, then the emperor himself shaved his beard with his own hand. [...]"

The legend is very beautiful, being full of fantastic elements: the nose that grew back, the bowl of gems and the giant diamond, the huge sum received by Milescu for the diamond. From the "Travelling Journal in China” we know that Nicolae Milescu bought from China a very large gem, but that was a ruby, bought with the czar's money and specifically for him.

In which the gifts received from the Bogd Khan are concerned, Milescu wrote clearly that the Chinese emperor did not give him anything: "And the envoy received his gifts also while standing and he was given as written below:

A little horse, small and meager, with saddle and harness.

12 pieces of silk of mean and low quality.

1 oziam with golden embroidery.

1 pair of boots with socks.

1 belt with knife and a scarf.

1 Chinese hat.

26 bolts of kitaik of mean quality.

2 basketfuls of tea.

And when the gifts were given to the envoy, they did not say the gifts were either from the khan or that the gifts were for that which the envoy had brought, but it is deemed that they were only response gifts for his gifts, and on behalf of the khan they did not give anything, because they did not give to the envoy even a tenth of the value of that which he himself had given.” Inside the text: kitaik - cotton fabric made in China, and oziam - kaftan long down to the knees, resembling a robe, meant for wearing during summer on top of other clothes.

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