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The Romanian Prince Petru Cercel (Earring Peter) (1583-1585) in Rhodes and Cyprus

Abstract

The ruler of Wallachia Petru Cercel (1583-1585), whose nickname comes from the piece of jewelry he was wearing on his right ear according to the western fashion of the time, represents a truly unique figure among the voivodes of the Romanian Lands both by his unconformist behaviour (his clothing was extraneous to the local traditions, he was not hiding his homosexual preferences) and his adventures in the West. Contrary to most offspring of former ruling princes in the Constantinopolitan environment who were seeking
support for ascending the throne, Peter began a long journey in the Occident, with the ambitious aim to convince the Christian monarchs to intercede for him with the sultan. Thus, he departed for Wien (1575), trying to acquire the support of the emperor Maximilian II, and, after the death of the sovereign, he left for Italy (Genoa and Rome), and from there he headed to Paris, to the royal court of king Henry III (1579-
1581), whom he persuaded to support his claims.
This unprecedented itinerary has monopolized the interest of the Romanian historians, making them neglect the thrilling Oriental adventures of Peter΄s youth. When he was ten years old he had already been sent as a hostage in Istanbul, in order to assure the loyalty to his father Pătraşcu the Good (1554-1557), who had just been appointed ruler. He did not spend a lot of time in the Ottoman capital, instead he was rapidly sent to the island of Rhodes, where he stayed until the death of Suleiman the Magnificent, in 1566. Then sultan Selim II ordered Peter's transfer to the eastern part of the empire. Thus, during the following years (until 1571) the presence of the prince is documented in Cyprus, Caramania and Syria. In our present paper we shall attempt to reconstruct on the basis of available sources the life of Peter in the decade he spent in the island of Rhodes and to solve the thorny issue of his presence in Cyprus (dating, before or after the Turkish conquest of the island, the reasons of his arrival and his activity in there).

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