Units of Measurement in Wallachia

Throughout Wallachia, whenever I refer to a distance, weight, etc., I try to use the era-appropriate word. So Laureline is a “nearly a palm’s width” taller than her older sister, not “4 inches.” Whether this successfully makes the story more immersive and adds an air of authenticity or it’s just annoying to read and off-putting is for you to decide. Here are the units I’ve used so far. All are listed in the glossary as well.

📏Distance:

  • Poştă / poşti: 8 km (5 miles).
  • Stânjen / stânjeni: 2 m (6.56 feet).
  • Palmă / palme: 0.25 m (9.84 inches). 8 palme make a stânjen.
  • Lat de palmă (palm’s width): Half a palmă. 12.5cm (5 inches).

Wallachia also had measurements for a pas mic (small step), 4 palme, and pas mare (large step), 6 palme, but I haven’t had occasion to use them. Wikipedia seems to indicate that Wallachia and Moldavia both used large steps but only Wallachia used the small one, so I’d probably use that if needed.

⚖️Weight:

  • Oke / Okes: 1.25 kg (2.8 lbs). Variously this is oke, oka, or oca depending on the language. I’m using oke because that’s how it’s used in An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia.
  • Dram: 3.25 grams (0.12 ounces).

💧Liquid:

  • Oke / Okes: 1.25 liters (0.33 gallons) in Wallachia. (In Moldavia it was 1.5 liters.)

💰Currency:

  • Piaşter / piaştri: The main currency in Wallachia, as minted by the Ottoman Empire. Equal in 1816 to 0.75 English shillings, with 26.67 making an English pound.
  • Para / paras: 40 paras make one piaşter.
  • Thaler: Used as the coins in Flowers of Transylvania. This was the coin of the Holy Roman Empire and Austria-Hungary. They often had lions on them. Wallachia minted them, too, and Romania’s current coin, the leu, gets its name from this lion. We get our word “dollar” from thaler.

📅Dates:

Wallachia was still on the Julian calendar, which was twelve days off the West. So Chapter seven (out tomorrow) takes place on 26 June (14 June old style). Here’s a handy calculator for converting the dates.

🌑Moon Phases:

Wolfram Alpha will tell you what phase of the moon it was for any given date. I don’t go as far as to get the weather right, aside from 1816 being a cold summer due.

I can’t guarantee any of this is actually accurate to the period, but I’m at least trying to be consistent.