Author: ARDELEANU KONSTANTIN
John Stokes (1825–1902)
John Stokes was the first British representative in the European Commission of the Danube (ECD) and one of the best connoisseurs of the Lower Danube. After graduating from the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich and the Military Engineering School at Chatham, Stokes joined in 1845 the 9th Company of Royal Sappers and Miners, ordered for the Cape of Good Hope, where he took part in the Seventh and Eighth Zulu Wars. After a period spent in Britain, Stokes volunteered for the East after the British involvement in the Crimean War, and in 1856 was appointed British Delegate in the European Commission established under the Treaty of Paris for the improvement of the mouths of the Danube River. He withdrew from the ECD in 1871, after he managed to negotiate the conditions for the prolongation of the institution based in Galaţi. Since this period, Stokes became the official consultant of the Foreign Office in problems related to navigation on the Danube, his vast experience being used all along the forthcoming decades by the British diplomats in shaping London’s Danubian policy. During this period, his credo is relevant for explaining his actions in the 15 years in office at the Danube: “My object had always been to ensure this [English] predominance and I had succeeded. It was an influence which was for the good of all countries, for, although we took the lead in the work, we did not arrogate to ourselves any of the advantages. It was by ensuring English influence and direction that we had things done honestly and well, and that was a matter which I considered of primary importance in everything connected with this international work”. After a short period back to Britain, he was sent to another vital area for the British interests, as a member of the International Commission assembled at Constantinople for dealing with the Suez Canal Company. He then served as the British Representative on Board of Suez Canal Company and the representative of the British Government in Egypt.
Charles George Gordon (1833–1885)
Gordon was born in Woolwich, London, in the family of a high ranking officer. He was educated at Fullands School, Taunton School and the Royal Military Academy of Woolwich. He was commissioned in 1852 as a second lieutenant in the Royal Engineers, completing his training at Chatham. Gordon served in Southern Russia during the Crimean War and took part at the siege of Sevastopol. In 1856 he was attached to the commission for settling the border between the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire in Southern Bessarabia and then in Asia Minor. After a short period when he had returned to Britain, he volunteered in 1860 to serve in China during the Second Opium War. There he became famous as “Chinese Gordon” and led a victorious army to conquer several cities. In October 1871 he was appointed British representative in the Danube Commission and stayed at Galaţi for two years. In 1873 he moved to Egypt with the mission to strengthen Egyptian control in Sudan and to limit the local slave trade. By 1881 he was the chief of British engineers in Mauritius and then spent a year in Palestine. When the British authorities requested him to proceed to the Sudan, he headed to that area where a revolt had arisen, led by a fundamentalist leader, Mahdi. Gordon was ordered to go to Khartoum and find the best solution for evacuating endangered forces, but he eventually died heroically.
Edouard Engelhardt (1828–1916)
Engelhardt was an important French diplomat, who worked at the drafting of the regulations for Danube navigation. He was sent as a delegate to the Conference of Berlin in 1885 and was a member of the Institute of International Law in Paris. Engelhardt wrote several books on international fluvial law, such as Histoire de droit fluvial conventionnel (Paris, 1889).
Camille Eugène Pierre Barrère (1851–1940)
Born in 1851 at Charité–sur–Loire (Nièvre), Barrère was a diplomat, also serving in the Danube Commission at the complicated context of the London Conference (1883). He was then French consul general at Cairo (1883–1885), president of the conference for drafting the treaty for the Suez Canal (1885–1886), French minister to Stockholm (1888–1894), chief of the French legation to Munich (1894–1897), ambassador to Bern (1894–1897) and to Rome (1897–1925). He was a member of several diplomatic and cultural commissions (president of L’Office international d'hygiène publique of Paris and member of the Académie des sciences morales et politiques).
 Details on his activity at the Danube in C. W. S. Hartley, A Biography of Sir Charles Harltey, Civil Engineer (1825–1915). The Father of the Danube, 2 volumes (Lampeter: Edwin Mellen Press, 1989) and Constantin Ardeleanu, “The Little–Known Autobiography of Sir John Stokes, the First British Representative in the European Commission of the Danube (1856–1871)”, Analele Universităţii Dunărea de Jos din Galaţi, History, part I – 2 (2003), 87–102 and part II – 3 (2004), 79–90. His autobiography is available at the address https://archive.org/details/SirJohnStokes1825-1902Autobiography.
 Gordon is a great personality of British history and there are several important biographers of him. For his relations to the Danube, see E. D. Tappe, “General Gordon in Romania”, Slavonic and East European Review, 35:85 (1957), 566–572.
 Biographical details at http://www.idref.fr/03379507X and http://data.bnf.fr/12462102/edouard_engelhardt/.
 Details in L. Noël, Notice sur la vie et les travaux de M. Camille Barrère (1851–1940) (Paris: Firmin–Didot, 1946). Details at http://www.idref.fr/060580674 and http://cths.fr/an/prosopo.php?id=113011.
Autobiography of John Stokes
Serviciul Judeţean Galaţi al Arhivelor Naţionale (The National Archives, Galaţi Branch), Comisia Europeană a Dunării (The European Commission of the Danube), files starting with 1856.
Ardeleanu, Constantin, “The Little–Known Autobiography of Sir John Stokes, the First British Representative in the European Commission of the Danube (1856–1871)”, Analele Universităţii Dunărea de Jos din Galaţi, History, part I – 2 (2003), 87–102 and part II – 3 (2004), 79–90.
Hartley, C. W. S., A Biography of Sir Charles Harltey, Civil Engineer (1825–1915). The Father of the Danube, 2 volumes (Lampeter: Edwin Mellen Press, 1989).
Noel, L. Notice sur la vie et les travaux de M. Camille Barrère (1851–1940) (Paris: Firmin–Didot, 1946).
Tappe, E. D., “General Gordon in Romania”, Slavonic and East European Review, 35:85 (1957), 566–572.