Stephen III of Moldavia

"Ștefan cel Mare" redirects here. For other uses, see Ștefan cel Mare (disambiguation).
Stephen III the Great
Miniature from the 1473 Gospel at Humor Monastery
Prince of Moldavia
Reign 1457–1504
Predecessor Peter III Aaron
Successor Bogdan III
Born 1433–1440
Died 2 July 1504
Burial Putna Monastery
Spouse Mărușca (?)
Evdochia of Kiev
Maria of Mangup
Maria Voichița of Wallachia
Bogdan III
Petru Rareș
Dynasty Mușat
Father Bogdan II of Moldavia
Mother Maria Oltea
Religion Orthodox

Stephen III of Moldavia, known as Stephen the Great ( Romanian: Ștefan cel Mare; pronounced  [ˈʃtefan t͡ʃel ˈmare]; died on 2 July 1504) was voivode (or prince) of Moldavia from 1457 to 1504. He was the son and co-ruler of Bogdan II of Moldavia who was murdered in 1451. Stephen fled to Hungary, and later to Wallachia. With the support of Vlad the Impaler, Voivode of Wallachia, he returned to Moldavia and forced Peter III Aaron to seek refuge in Poland in the summer of 1457. Teoctist I, Metropolitan of Moldavia, anointed him prince. Stephen continued to pay a yearly tribute to the Ottoman Empire. He broke into Poland and prevented Casimir IV Jagiellon, King of Poland, from supporting Peter Aaron, but acknowledged Casimir's suzerainty in 1459.

Stephen decided to recapture Chilia (now Kiliya in Ukraine), an important port on the Danube, which brought him into conflict with Hungary and Wallachia. He besieged the town during the Ottoman invasion of Wallachia in 1462, but he was seriously wounded during the siege. Two years later, he captured the town. He promised support to the leaders of the Three Nations of Transylvania against Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary, in 1467. Corvinus invaded Moldavia, but Stephen defeated him in the Battle of Baia. Peter Aaron broke into Moldavia with Hungarian support in December 1470, but Stephen defeated him. Peter Aaron and the boyars who had supported him were executed. He restored the old fortresses and erected new ones, which improved the defence system of Moldavia and strengthened central administration.

The Ottomans' expansion threatened the Moldavian ports in the region of the Black Sea. Stephen stopped paying tribute to the Ottoman sultan in 1473. He launched a series of campaigns against Wallachia to replace the rulers who accepted Ottoman suzerainty with his protégés, but each prince who seized the throne with Stephen's support was soon forced to pay homage to the sultan. Stephen defeated a large Ottoman army in the Battle of Vaslui in 1475. In 1476, the Ottoman Sultan, Mehmed II, routed him in the Battle of Valea Albă, but the lack of provisions and the outbreak of a plague forced the Ottomans to withdraw from Moldavia. Taking advantage of a truce with Matthias Corvinus, the Ottomans captured Chilia, their Crimean Tatar allies Cetatea Albă (now Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi in Ukraine) in 1483. Corvinus granted two Transylvanian estates to Stephen to compensate him for the loss of the two ports. Stephen paid homage to Casimir IV of Poland who promised to support him to regain Chilia and Cetatea Albă, but Stephen's efforts to capture the two ports ended in failure. From 1486, Stephen again paid a yearly tribute to the Ottomans. During the following years, dozens of stone churches and monasteries were built in Moldavia, which contributed to the development of a specific Moldavian architecture.

Casimir IV's successor, John I Albert, wanted to grant Moldavia to his younger brother, Sigismund, but Stephen's diplomacy prevented him from invading Moldavia for years. John Albert broke into Moldavia in 1497, but Stephen and his Hungarian and Ottoman allies routed the Polish army in the Battle of the Cosmin Forest. Stephen again tried to recapture Chilia and Cetatea Albă, but he had to acknowledge the loss of the two ports to the Ottomans in 1503. During his last years, his son and co-ruler, Bogdan III, played an active role in the government. Stephen's long rule represented a period of stability in the history of Moldavia. From the 16th Century onwards both his subjects and foreigners remembered him as a great ruler. Modern Romanians regard him as one of their greatest national heros. After the Romanian Orthodox Church canonized him in 1992, he is venerated as Stephen the Great and Saint ( Romanian: Ștefan cel Mare și Sfânt).

Early life

Stephen was the son of Bogdan, who was a son of Alexander the Good, Prince of Moldavia. [1] Stephen's mother, Maria-Oltea, [1] was most probably related to the princes of Wallachia, according to historian Radu Florescu. [2] The date of Stephen's birth is unknown. [3] Historians estimate that he was born between 1433 and 1440. [4] [5]

The death of Alexander the Good in 1432 gave rise to a succession crisis, lasting for more than two decades. [6] [7] Stephen's father seized the throne after defeating one of his relatives with the support of John Hunyadi, Regent-Governor of Hungary, in 1449. [8] [6] Stephen was styled voivode in his father's charters, showing that Stephen had been made his father's heir and co-ruler. [9] Bogdan acknowledged the suzerainty of Hunyadi in 1450. [10] Stephen fled to Hungary after Peter III Aaron (who was also Alexander the Good's son) murdered Bogdan in October 1451. [2] [11] [12] Peter Aaron did homage to Casimir IV, King of Poland and Grand Prince of Lithuania, in 1455. [13] A year later, he agreed to pay a yearly tribute to the Ottoman Empire. [6]

Vlad Dracula (who had lived in Moldavia during Bogdan II's reign) invaded Wallachia and seized the throne with the support of Hunyadi in 1456. [14] Stephen either accompanied Vlad to Wallachia during the military campaign or joined him after Vlad became the ruler of Wallachia. [15] With the assistance of Vlad, Stephen broke into Moldavia at the head of an army of 6,000 strong in the spring of 1457. [16] [17] According to the Moldavian chronicles, "men from the Lower Country" (the southern region of Moldavia) joined him. [16] [18] The 17th-century Grigore Ureche wrote, Stephen routed Peter Aaron at Doljești on 12 April, but Peter Aaron left Moldavia for Poland only after Stephen inflicted a second defeat on him at Orbic. [12] [16]

Other Languages
башҡортса: Штефан чел Маре
беларуская: Стэфан III Вялікі
български: Стефан Велики
한국어: 슈테판 3세
Հայերեն: Շտեֆան Մեծ
Bahasa Indonesia: Stefan III dari Moldavia
қазақша: ІІІ Стефан
монгол: Их Стефен
norsk bokmål: Stefan III av Moldavia
Simple English: Stephen III of Moldavia
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Stefan III Moldavski
Türkçe: III. Ştefan
українська: Штефан III Великий