Ovidiu Cristea, A Historian’s Portrait

The study aims to trace the professional biography and the career of Şerban Papacostea, one of the most remarkable Romanian historians of the second half of the twentieth century. The article focuses, first of all on the historian's difficult career during the communist regime in Romania. The essay outlines the professional development of the historian by focusing on the major directions of research he has remained faithful to throughout his life: the Reformation in Moldavia,  ‘international politics' in the middle ages, that is, relations between the kingdoms of Hungary and Poland and the Ottoman Empire and their impact on the Romanian principalities, the Hungarian-Polish rivalry over Moldavia, Venetian policy in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea, Stephen the Great's Pontic policy, the crusades, trade routes through the Romanian principalities and the genesis of the Moldavian and Wallachian states The characteristics of Professor Papacostea's scholarship, his methodological choices are also highlighted by the study. These comprise a concern to bring to light new sources and to integrate them into existing scholarship, concern for context, and a desire to open up new avenues of research. As a consequence, his studies often changed deeply-rooted beliefs in Romanian historiography and drew a new picture of medieval Romanian society. The essay also highlights the connections of the historian with previous scholarship and the training of new generations. The analysis highlights the courageous attitude of the historian, his independent spirit, his commitment to his ideals, his generosity as a teacher and his involvement in current issues.