1st Edition

The Fascist Faith of the Legion "Archangel Michael" in Romania, 1927–1941 Martyrdom and National Purification

By Constantin Iordachi Copyright 2023
    492 Pages 10 Color & 33 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    492 Pages 10 Color & 33 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    492 Pages 10 Color & 33 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Fascist Faith of the Legion "Archangel Michael" in Romania, 1927–1941 engages critically with recent works on fascism, totalitarianism, and religion, and advances an original theoretical and methodological approach to fascism as a political faith.

    On this basis, the book constructs an innovative comparative research framework for reconceptualizing the history of the Legion "Archangel Michael" in Romania, 1927–1941. It contends that the Legion put forward a palingenetic political faith of a theological type, called Legionarism. To provide a comprehensive analysis of the origins, main features, mechanisms of institutionalization, and demise of this self-proclaimed salvific political faith, the book documents the palingenetic foundations of the Legionary faith, the syncretism between fascist and Christian rites and rituals, and the intricate relationship between the Legion and the Orthodox Church and its dogma. The book documents three main sacrificial strategies employed by the Legion to "re-evangelize" the people in the new faith: (1) the appropriation of the cult of the fallen soldiers; (2) terrorist missions meant to create fascist heroes through violent sacrifice; and (3) sanctification through heroic fight for Christianity in the Spanish Civil War, in an attempt to link Legionarism with the transnational crusade against "Judeo-Bolshevism." As well as providing a detailed historical and interpretive account of the Legion, the book makes a significant contribution to debates about defining fascism and its relation to religion. It also provides novel comparative perspectives for studying other attempts at constructing fascist faiths in interwar Europe, most notably in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany but also in Central and Eastern Europe.

    This book will be of interest to students and scholars of fascism, Romanian studies, politics and religion, political theory, totalitarianism, youth radicalization, violence, and the emergence of terrorism.

    Introduction: Fascism as a Political Faith: Toward a New Research Framework

    Part 1: A New Covenant: The Making of the Legionary Political Faith, 1927–1937

    1. National Unification, Cleavages, and Charismatic Nationalism in Greater Romania

    2. A New Political Faith: National Authenticity and the Cult of the Ancestors

    3. Charismatic Nationalism, Patriarchalism, and Salvation: The Cult of the "Captain"

    4. Manufacturing Martyrdom: The Cult of the Fallen Soldiers, Terrorism, and Salvific Sacrifice

    5. Fascist Constituencies: Social Identities and Fascist Radicalization

    Part 2: A Continuum of Dictatorships: Hybrid Totalitarian Experiments, 1937–1944

    6. Carol II’s Dictatorship: From Antifascism to Fascistization (1938–1940)

    7. Teaching the New Faith: The Legion’s Rule (1940–1941)

    8. A Fascist Festival of the Dead: Codreanu’s Re-Burial and the Politics of National Resurrection

    9. The Legionary Faith and the Romanian Orthodox Church

    Conclusion: From a Civil Religion to a Fascist Political Faith


    Constantin Iordachi is Professor of History at the Central European University in Vienna, Austria.