Ioana Rudaresea

 

 

1843, against the backdrop of the emancipation of Roma slaves belonging to the Crown (state slaves), a Romani woman named Ioana Rudăreasa, a slave belonging to the Brăiloiu boyar family, filed a lawsuit against her master in hopes of gaining freedom. Born a slave of the Crown, she was forced to marry Nicolae Cincea in her youth, a slave belonging to the Brăiloiu boyar family. According to the law of the land, every wife had to assume her husband’s legal status. Rudăreasa thus became a slave belonging to the Brăiloiu family. However, after the declaration of the emancipation law of 1843 in Wallachia, Rudăreasa claimed she had been born a slave of the Crown, and so the new law should extend to herself and her six children born out of the marriage with Cincea. The trial with the Brăiloiu family lasted for more than ten years. A local tribunal (court of first instance) ruled in favour of Rudăreasa and declared her a free woman in 1845. However, the defendant (boyar Brăiloiu) contested the decision and pushed the case to be heard by an appeals court. This led to the revision of the entire case. Rudăreasa brought witnesses to court that she knew from childhood, but their testimony was dismissed as slaves did not have the right to bear testimony before a court of law. The appeals court reversed the initial ruling of the local tribunal in 1847, ruling that Rudăreasa was indeed a slave of the Brăiloiu family and thus, the law of emancipation did not extend to her. But she did not give up hope and decided, with the help of a lawyer, to present her case before the Supreme Court of Wallachia. In a  surprising turn of events, this court ruled in Rudăreasa’s favour, declaring her once and for all “free from slavery”