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Moldavia (Romanian: Moldova, pronounced [molˈdova] (About this soundlisten) or Țara Moldovei (in Romanian Latin alphabet), literally The Moldavian Country; in old Romanian Cyrillic alphabet: Цара Мѡлдовєй) is a historical region and former principality in Central and Eastern Europe, corresponding to the territory between the Eastern Carpathians and the Dniester River. An initially independent and later autonomous state, it existed from the 14th century to 1859, when it united with Wallachia (Țara Românească) as the basis of the modern Romanian state; at various times, Moldavia included the regions of Bessarabia (with the Budjak), all of Bukovina and Hertza. The region of Pokuttya was also part of it for a period of time.

The western half of Moldavia is now part of Romania, the eastern side belongs to the Republic of Moldova, and the northern and southeastern parts are territories of Ukraine.

Name and etymology

The original and short-lived reference to the region was Bogdania, after Bogdan I, the founding figure of the principality. The names Moldavia and Moldova are derived from the name of the Moldova River; however, the etymology is not known and there are several variants:[7][8]

  • a legend mentioned in Descriptio Moldaviae by Dimitrie Cantemir links it to an aurochs hunting trip of the Maramureș voivode Dragoș and the latter's chase of a star-marked bull. Dragoș was accompanied by his female hound called Molda; when they reached the shores of an unfamiliar river, Molda caught up with the animal and was killed by it. The dog's name would have been given to the river and extended to the country.
  • the old German Molde, meaning "open-pit mine"
  • the Gothic Mulda (Gothic: 𐌼𐌿𐌻𐌳𐌰, Runic: ᛗᚢᛚᛞᚨ) meaning "dust", "dirt" (cognate with the English mould), referring to the river.
  • a Slavic etymology (-ova is a quite common Slavic suffix), marking the end of one Slavic genitive form, denoting ownership, chiefly of feminine nouns (i.e., "that of Molda").
  • A landowner named Alexa Moldaowicz is mentioned in a 1334 document as a local boyar in service to Yuriy II of Halych; this attests to the use of the name before the foundation of the Moldavian state and could be the source for the region's name.[citation needed]

On a series of coins of Peter I and Stephen I minted by Saxon masters and with German legends, the reverse feature the name of Moldavia in the form Molderlang/Molderlant (recte Molderland).[9][10]

In several early references,[11] "Moldavia" is rendered under the composite form Moldo-Wallachia (in the same way Wallachia may appear as Hungro-Wallachia). Ottoman Turkish references to Moldavia included Boğdan Iflak (meaning "Bogdan's Wallachia") and Boğdan (and occasionally Kara-Boğdan – "Black Bogdania"). See also names in other languages.

The name of the region in other languages include French: Moldavie, German: Moldau, Hungarian: Moldva, Russian: Молдавия (Moldaviya), Turkish: Boğdan Prensliği, Greek: Μολδαβία.

History

Prehistory and antiquity

Early Middle Ages

The inhabitants of Moldavia were Christians. Archaeological works revealed the remains of a Christian necropolis at Mihălășeni, Botoșani county, from the 5th century. The place of worship, and the tombs had Christian characteristics. The place of worship had a rectangular form with sides of eight and seven meters. Similar necropolises and places of worship were found at Nicolina, in Iași[12]

The Bolohoveni, is mentioned by the Hypatian Chronicle in the 13th century. The chronicle shows that this[which?] land is bordered on the principalities of Halych, Volhynia and Kiev. Archaeological research also identified the location of 13th-century fortified settlements in this region.[which?] Alexandru V. Boldur identified Voscodavie, Voscodavti, Voloscovti, Volcovti, Volosovca and their other towns and villages between the middle course of the rivers Nistru/Dniester and Nipru/Dnieper.[13] The Bolohoveni disappeared from chronicles after their defeat in 1257 by Daniel of Galicia's troops. Their ethnic identity is uncertain; although Romanian scholars, basing on their ethnonym identify them as Romanians (who were called Vlachs in the Middle Ages), archeological evidence and the Hypatian Chronicle (which is the only primary source that documents their history) suggest that they were a Slavic people.[14][15]

In the early 13th century, the Brodniks, a possible SlavicVlach vassal state of Halych, were present, alongside the Vlachs, in much of the region's territory (towards 1216, the Brodniks are mentioned as in service of Suzdal).

Somewhere in the 11th century, a Viking named Rodfos was killed by Vlachs presumably in the area of what would become Moldavia.[16] In 1164, the future Byzantine emperor Andronikos I Komnenos, was taken prisoner by Vlach shepherds in the same region.

High Middle Ages

A bison, which was killed on the banks of a stream, is surrounded by a group of people
The hunt of Voivode Dragoș' for the bison (by Constantin Lecca)
Ruins of the Roman Catholic Cathedral established by Transylvanian Saxon colonists at Baia (German: Moldenmarkt), Suceava County, Romania
The Seat Fortress in Suceava, Romania
Equestrian statue of Moldavian Prince Stephen the Great in Suceava
Akkerman Fortress in Cetatea Alba, Ukraine

Friar William of Rubruck, who visited the court of the Great Khan in the 1250s, listed "the Blac",[17] or Vlachs, among the peoples who paid tribute to the Mongols, but the Vlachs' territory is uncertain.[18][19] Rubruck described "Blakia" as "Assan's territory"[20] south of the Lower Danube, showing that he identified it with the northern regions of the Second Bulgarian Empire.[21] Later in the 14th century, King Charles I of Hungary attempted to expand his realm and the influence of the Catholic Church eastwards after the fall of Cuman rule, and ordered a campaign under the command of Phynta de Mende (1324). In 1342 and 1345, the Hungarians were victorious in a battle against Tatar-Mongols; the conflict was resolved by the death of Jani Beg, in 1357. The Polish chronicler Jan Długosz mentioned Moldavians (under the name Wallachians) as having joined a military expedition in 1342, under King Władysław I, against the Margraviate of Brandenburg.[22]

In 1353, Dragoș, mentioned as a Vlach Knyaz in Maramureș, was sent by Louis I to establish a line of defense against the Golden Horde forces of Mongols on the Siret River. This expedition resulted in a polity vassal to Hungary, in the Baia (Târgul Moldovei or Moldvabánya) region.

Bogdan of Cuhea, another Vlach voivode from Maramureș who had fallen out with the Hungarian king, crossed the Carpathians in 1359, took control of Moldavia, and succeeded in removing Moldavia from Hungarian control. His realm extended north to the Cheremosh River, while the southern part of Moldavia was still occupied by the Tatar Mongols.

After first residing in Baia, Bogdan moved Moldavia's seat to Siret (it was to remain there until Petru II Mușat moved it to Suceava; it was finally moved to Iași under Alexandru Lăpușneanu - in 1565). The area around Suceava, roughly correspondent to future Bukovina, would later constitute one of the two administrative divisions of the new realm, under the name Țara de Sus (the "Upper Land"), whereas the rest, on both sides of the Prut river, formed Țara de Jos (the "Lower Land").

Disfavored by the brief union of Angevin Poland and Hungary (the latter was still the country's overlord), Bogdan's successor Lațcu accepted conversion to Roman Catholicism around 1370. Despite the founding of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Siret, this move did not have any lasting consequences. Despite remaining officially Eastern Orthodox and culturally connected with the Byzantine Empire after 1382, princes of the House of Bogdan-Mușat entered a conflict with the Constantinople Patriarchy over control of appointments to the newly founded Moldavian Metropolitan seat; Patriarch Antony IV even cast an anathema over Moldavia after Roman I expelled his appointee back to Byzantium. The crisis was finally settled in favor of the Moldavian princes under Alexander I. Nevertheless, religious policy remained complex: while conversions to faiths other than Orthodox were discouraged (and forbidden for princes), Moldavia included sizable Roman Catholic communities (Germans and Magyars), as well as non-Chalcedonic Armenians; after 1460, the country welcomed Hussite refugees (founders of Ciuburciu and, probably, Huși).

The principality of Moldavia covered the entire geographic region of Moldavia. In various periods, various other territories were politically connected with the Moldavian principality. This is the case of the province of Pokuttya, the fiefdoms of Cetatea de Baltă and Ciceu (both in Transylvania) or, at a later date, the territories between the Dniester and the Bug rivers.

Petru II profited from the end of the Hungarian-Polish union and moved the country closer to the Jagiellon realm, becoming a vassal of Władysław II on September 26, 1387. This gesture was to have unexpected consequences: Petru supplied the Polish ruler with funds needed in the war against the Teutonic Knights, and was granted control over Pokuttya until the debt was to be repaid; as this is not recorded to have been carried out, the region became disputed by the two states, until it was lost by Moldavia in the Battle of Obertyn (1531). Prince Petru also expanded his rule southwards to the Danube Delta. His brother Roman I conquered the Hungarian-ruled Cetatea Albă in 1392, giving Moldavia an outlet to the Black Sea, before being toppled from the throne for supporting Fyodor Koriatovych in his conflict with Vytautas the Great of Lithuania. Under Stephen I, growing Polish influence was challenged by Sigismund of Hungary, whose expedition was defeated at Ghindăoani in 1385; however, Stephen disappeared in mysterious circumstances.

Although Alexander I was brought to the throne in 1400 by the Hungarians (with assistance from Mircea I of Wallachia), he shifted his allegiances towards Poland (notably engaging Moldavian forces on the Polish side in the Battle of Grunwald and the Siege of Marienburg), and placed his own choice of rulers in Wallachia. His reign was one of the most successful in Moldavia's history, but also saw the very first confrontation with the Ottoman Turks at Cetatea Albă in 1420, and later even a conflict with the Poles. A deep crisis was to follow Alexandru's long reign, with his successors battling each other in a succession of wars that divided the country until the murder of Bogdan II and the ascension of Petru III Aron in 1451. Nevertheless, Moldavia was subject to further Hungarian interventions after that moment, as Matthias Corvinus deposed Aron and backed Alexăndrel to the throne in Suceava. Petru Aron's rule also signified the beginning of Moldavia's Ottoman Empire allegiance, as the ruler agreed to pay tribute to Sultan Mehmed II.

Late Middle Ages

Under Stephen the Great, who took the throne and subsequently came to an agreement with Casimir IV of Poland in 1457, the state reached its most glorious period. Stephen blocked Hungarian interventions in the Battle of Baia, invaded Wallachia in 1471, and dealt with Ottoman reprisals in a major victory (the 1475 Battle of Vaslui); after feeling threatened by Polish ambitions, he also attacked Galicia and resisted Polish reprisals in the Battle of the Cosmin Forest (1497). However, he had to surrender Chilia (Kiliya) and Cetatea Albă (Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi), the two main fortresses in the Budjak, to the Ottomans in 1484, and in 1498 he had to accept Ottoman suzerainty, when he was forced to agree to continue paying tribute to Sultan Bayezid II. Following the taking of Hotin (Khotyn) and Pokuttya, Stephen's rule also brought a brief extension of Moldavian rule into Transylvania: Cetatea de Baltă and Ciceu became his fiefs in 1489.

Early Modern Era and Renaissance

Khotyn Fortress on the Dniester River, present-day Ukraine, then bordering the northern frontier of the Moldavian Principality and southern Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

Under Bogdan III the One-Eyed, Ottoman overlordship was confirmed in the shape that would rapidly evolve into control over Moldavia's affairs. Peter IV Rareș, who reigned in the 1530s and 1540s, clashed with the Habsburg Monarchy over his ambitions in Transylvania (losing possessions in the region to George Martinuzzi), was defeated in Pokuttya by Poland, and failed in his attempt to extricate Moldavia from Ottoman rule – the country lost Bender to the Ottomans, who included it in their Silistra Eyalet.

A period of profound

The western half of Moldavia is now part of Romania, the eastern side belongs to the Republic of Moldova, and the northern and southeastern parts are territories of Ukraine.

The original and short-lived reference to the region was Bogdania, after Bogdan I, the founding figure of the principality. The names Moldavia and Moldova are derived from the name of the Moldova River; however, the etymology is not known and there are several variants:[7][8]

  • a legend mentioned in Descriptio Moldaviae by Dimitrie Cantemir links it to an aurochs hunting trip of the Maramureș voivode Dragoș and the latter's chase of a star-marked bull. Dragoș was accompanied by his female hound called Molda; when they reached the shores of an unfamiliar river, Molda caught up with the animal and was killed by it. The dog's name would have been given to the river and extended to the country.
  • the old German Molde, meaning "open-pit mine"
  • the Gothic Mulda (Gothic: 𐌼𐌿𐌻𐌳𐌰, Runic: ᛗᚢᛚᛞᚨ) meaning "dust", "dirt" (cognate with the English mould), referring to the river.
  • a Slavic etymology (-ova is a quite common Slavic suffix), marking the end of one Slavic genitive form, denoting ownership, chiefly of feminine nouns (i.e., "that of Molda").
  • A landowner named Alexa Moldaowicz is mentioned in a 1334 document as a local boyar in service to Yuriy II of Halych; this attests to the use of the name before the foundation of the Moldavian state and could be the source for the region's name.[citation needed]

On a series of coins of Peter I and Stephen I minted by Saxon masters and with German legends, the reverse feature the name of Moldavia in the form Molderlang/Molderlant (recte Molderland).[9][10]

In several early references,[11] "Moldavia" is rendered under the composite form Moldo-Wallachia (in the same way Wallachia may appear as Hungro-Wallachia). Ottoman Turkish references to Moldavia included Boğdan Iflak (meaning "Bogdan's Wallachia") and Boğdan (and occasionally Kara-Boğdan – "Black Bogdania"). See also names in other languages.

The name of the region in other languages include French: Moldavie, German: Moldau, Hungarian: Moldva, Russian: Молдавия (Moldaviya), Turkish: Boğdan Prensliği, Greek: Μολδαβία.

History

Prehistory and antiquity

Early Middle AgesPeter I and Stephen I minted by Saxon masters and with German legends, the reverse feature the name of Moldavia in the form Molderlang/Molderlant (recte Molderland).[9][10]

In several early references,[11] "Moldavia" is rendered under the composite form Moldo-Wallachia (in the same way Wallachia may appear as Hungro-Wallachia). Ottoman Turkish references to Moldavia included Boğdan Iflak (meaning "Bogdan's Wallachia") and Boğdan (and occasionally Kara-Boğdan – "Black Bogdania"). See also names in other languages.

The name of the region in other languages include French: Moldavie, German: Moldau, Hungarian: Moldva, Russian: Молдавия (Moldaviya), Turkish: Boğdan Prensliği, Greek: Μολδαβία.

History

Prehistory and antiquity