Neac?u's letter (Romanian: Scrisoarea lui Neac?u), written in 1521, is the oldest surviving document available in Old Romanian that can be reliably dated. Written using Cyrillic, it was sent by Lupu Neac?u, a merchant from Câmpulung, Wallachia (now Romania) to Johannes Benkner, the mayor of Brassó, Kingdom of Hungary (now Bra?ov, Romania), warning him about the imminent attack of the Ottoman Empire on Transylvania.
Lupu Neac?u was the son of Mircea Neac?u, mentioned for the first time during Vlad cel Tân?r's reign (1510-1512), in documents related to a trial regarding debts between himself and merchants of Bra?ov. It is possible that he was himself a merchant involved in the trade of Turkish goods that he was buying south of the Danube and selling in Transylvania, which may explain his relationship with the mayor of Bra?ov.
The Letter of Neac?u of Câmpulung to Johannes (Hans) Benkner of Bra?ov was most probably written on June 29 or 30, 1521, in the city of Dl?gopole (Old Bulgarian rendition/translation of Câmpulung, lit. "the long field"). The date is not mentioned within the letter itself, it being inferred from the historic events described and the people mentioned.
The text of the letter was written in the Cyrillic script, and is composed of three parts. The introduction in Old Church Slavonic, translated: "To the most wise and noble and venerable and by God endowed master Hanas Begner of Bra?ov, all the best, from Neac?u of Câmpulung".
Following the Slavonic introduction, the content of the letter is written in the old Romanian language. As opposed to the first documents of other languages, which are in general more ancient, the Romanian language used in this letter is very similar to the language spoken in the present day. The Romanian linguist Aurel Nicolescu stated that no less than 175 words of the 190 found in the letter have Latin origins, this not counting the repeated words and the names. Some incorrect forms of different words appear due to the difficulty of representing some Romanian sounds like ? and î, while using the Cyrillic alphabet.
Another two Slavonic expressions are also present throughout the content of the letter: "I pak", meaning "and again" and having a similar function as the Latin "item", being also used to mark the beginning of a new sentence, and also the word "za", meaning about.
The letter ends with another sentence written in Bulgarian, which means: "And may God bring happiness upon you. Amen."
"Mudromu I plemenitomu, I cistitomu I B(o)gom darovannomu zupan Han Begner ot Bra?ov mnog(o) zdravie ot Néc?ul ot Dlugopole.
I pak dau ?tire domnietale za lucrul turcilor, cum am auzit eu c? împ?ratul au ie?it den Sofiia ?i aimintrea nu e. ?i se-au dus în sus pre Dun?re.
I pak s? ?tii domniia-ta c? au venit un om de la Nicopoe de mie mi-au spus c? au v?zut cu ochii lui c? au trecut ceale cor?bii ce ?tii ?i domniia-ta pre Dun?re în sus.
I pak s? ?tii c? bag? den toate ora?ele câte 50 de oamini s? fie în ajutor în cor?bii.
I pak s? ?tii cumu se-au prins ne?te me?teri den ?arigrad cum vor treace aceale corabii la locul cela strimtul ce ?tii ?i domniia ta.
I pak spui domnietale de lucrul lu Mahamet-Beg, cum am auzit de boiari ce sânt megiia?(i) ?i de genere-miu Negre, cumu i-au dat împ?ratul slobozie lui Mahamet-Beg, pre io-i va fi voia pren ?eara Rumâneasc?, iar? el s? treac?.
I pak s? ?tii domniia ta c? are fric? mare ?i B?s?rab de acel lotru de Mahamet-Beg, mai vârtos de domniele voastre.
I pak spui domnietale ca mai-marele miu de ce am în?eles ?i eu. Eu spui domnietale, iar? domniia ta e?ti în?elept ?i aceaste cuvinte s? ?ii domniiata la tine, s? nu ?tie oamini mul?i ?i domniele vostre s? v? p?zi?i cum ?ti?i mai bine.
I B(og)i te ves(e)lit, Aminu."
"În?eleptului ?i nobilului ?i cinstitului ?i d?ruitului de Dumnezeu jupan Han Begner din Bra?ov mult? s?n?tate de la Neac?u din Câmpulung.
?i de asemenea dau ?tire dumitale despre lucrul turcilor, cum am auzit eu c? împ?ratul a ie?it din Sofia ?i minciuna nu e. ?i se-a dus în sus spre Dun?re.
?i de asemenea s? ?tii dumneata c? a venit un om de la Nicopole pe mine mi-a spus c? a v?zut cu ochii lui c? au trecut cele cor?bii ce ?tii ?i dumneata spre Dun?re în sus.
?i de asemenea s? ?tii c? ei iau din toate ora?ele câte 50 de oameni s? fie în ajutor în cor?bii.
?i de asemenea s? ?tii cumu se-au prins ni?te me?teri din Constantinopol cum vor trece acele cor?bii la locul cel strimtul ce ?tii ?i dumneata.
?i de asemenea spui dumitale de lucrul lui Mahamet-Beg, cum am auzit de la boiari ce sunt vecini ?i de la ginere-miu Negre, cumu i-a dat împ?ratul libertate lui Mahamet-Beg, pentru el va fi voia prin ?ara Româneasc?, iar? el s? treac?.
?i de asemenea s? ?tii dumneata c? are fric? mare ?i B?s?rab de acel ho? de Mahamet-Beg, mai tare de dumneavoastr?.
?i de asemenea spui dumitale ca mai-marele miu de ce am în?eles ?i eu. Eu spui dumitale, iar? dumneata e?ti în?elept ?i aceste cuvinte s? ?ii dumneata la tine, s? nu ?tie oameni mul?i ?i dumneavoastr? s? v? p?zi?i cum ?ti?i mai bine.
?i Dumnezeu s? te veseleasc?, Amin."
"To the most wise and noble and honoured and by God gifted master Han Bengner [that is, Johannes Benkner] from Bra?ov, much health from Neac?u from Câmpulung.
And so you should know that they are taking 50 men from each town to help on the ships.
And so you should know that some experts from Tsarigrad [that is, Istanbul] realized how to make the ships to move past that tight place which you know too.
And so I tell you about the deed of Mahamet beg, as I heard from neighbouring boyars and from my son-in-law Negre, that the emperor gave Mahamet Beg freedom to pass through Wallachia [?eara Rumâneasc?, lit. "the Romanian land", this being also the first mention of the name "Romania" in a Romanian text] wherever he pleases.
And so you should know that our Basarab too is fearful of that thief Mahamet beg, even more so than you.
And so I'm telling you as my superior about what I have found out. I am telling you, and you are wise and you should keep these words for yourself, so that no many people know, and you should take proper guard.
And may God bring you happiness. Amen."