This study explores the manner in which two competing empires, the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire, acted through material culture and diplomacy to strengthen their influence in a territory lying at the periphery of Europe. To this end, the distribution, rhetoric and reception of the awarding of decorations is analysed, starting from the case of the great Romanian boyar Iordache Filipescu. Wallachia, an Ottoman province under Russian protectorate, in what is today south-eastern Romania, was at a moment of transition on the political level. Attracting loyalties and creating local action networks became diplomatic strategies, and one way in which pro-Ottoman and pro-Russian groupings may be traced in the Romanian space is through the intermediary of decorations. They transpose at the public level merits and services rendered to one of the two powers, but it is necessary to trace at the individual and family level the extent to which loyalty won in this way continued to exist. The message that the decorations transmitted remained a deceptive one: their possession was not equivalent to a transfer of power towards the holder in comparison with his compatriots, just as it did not guarantee complete adherence to the cause of the issuing power.
Ottoman Empire; Russia; Wallachia; diplomacy