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1360-1653 - Moldavia

About the middle of the fourteenth century, Bogdan, Voivode of Maramarps in Transylvania, who rebelled against the suzerainty of Hungary in 1360, founded the Principality of Moldavia by overrunning the Carpathians and reducing under his sway the hilly country along the River Moldau. For Moldavia the long reign of Alexander the Good (1401-32) was a time of prosperity: he organized the finances, the administration, and the army, drew up acode of laws after Byzantine models, and increased the culture of the people by founding schools and monasteries. Alexander had on three occasions to take the oath of fealty to the King of Poland ; his sons had likewise to recognize the suzerainty of Poland, and his natural son, Peter (1455-57), had in addition to pay tribute to the Turks.

After a period of almost uninterrupted wars for the princely dignity, Stephen the Great (1457-1504), a grandson of Alexander, inaugurated a period of peace and splendour for Moldavia. Thanks to his valiant and well-organized army, he succeeded not only in keeping his country independent of the Turks and Poland for nearly half a century, but also increased his territory by subduing a portion of Bessarabia, organized the Church, founded a new bishopric, und built several new churches and monasteries. Under him Moldavia reached its greatest power and extent. His son Bogdan III (1504-17), in view of the superior forces of the Turks, had to engage to pay a yearly tribute, in return for whioh Moldavia was (like Wallachia) allowed the maintenance of the Christian faith, the free election of its princes, and independent domestic administration. In spite of these treaties, a period of bondage began for both lands after the battle of Mohacs, which had brought Turkey to the height of ite power.

The Turks created a military zone along the Danube and the Dniester, established Turkish garrisons in important places, and compelled the princes to do personal homage to the sultan in Constantinople every three years, to bring (in addition to the tribute) presents in token of their submission, to perform military service, to maintain a troop of janizaries in their retinue, and to give relatives as hostages for their fidelity. The sultans finally arrogated to themselves the right of appointing and removing at will the vaivodes of both principalities; the princes thus became mere blind tools of the Porte, were for the most part engaged in harrying each other, and in very many instances fell by the hands of assassins. Turkey abused its power to appoint new princes at short intervals; as the princes had usually to purchase the recognition of the Porte with large sums of money, they exacted from their subjects twice or three times the amounts thus paid. The chief portions of these extortions were wrung from the peasants, who were reduced by the large landowners and the nobles (the boyars) to the condition of serfs. The nobles also became demoralized, and wasted their strength in scheming to obtain the vaivodoship.

Vasili Lupu, Vaivode of Moldavia (1632-53), endeavored by the foundation of schools and charitable institutions to promote the culture of the land. Thus, despite the oppressive political conditions of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, became possible the existence of a flourishing ecclesiastical literature and spiritual lyrical poetry, which kept alive the national consciousness of the people. At this period were laid the enduring foundations of Rumanian culture. Of great importance also was the circumstance that the Old Slavonic language then began to be replaced by the Rumanian both in public life and in the Church.

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Page last modified: 21-11-2011 17:29:46 ZULU