The principality of Moldavia emerged under a Vlach warlord named Dragoș in the middle of the 14th century as a frontier state between Hungary and the Mongolian Golden Horde Khanate. It survived until the middle of the 19th century, when it was merged with Wallachia and thereby became one of the three (along with Transylvania) main components of the modern nation of Romania. Its easternmost region, Bessarabia, was absorbed by the Russian Empire in the 19th century. Most of that region was eventually incorporated as the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic, the precursor to the modern state of Moldova, though its southern region became part of Ukraine.
I mention this background to note that Stephen III of Moldavia (d. 1504), whose military victory we’re here to commemorate, is nowadays considered a national hero in both Moldova and Romania. Stephen, who ruled Moldavia from 1457 until his death and is known as “Stephen the Great and Holy” if you’re into that sort of thing, is said to have fought dozens of battles against all comers during his reign, and only lost two of them. He defended tiny Moldavia against every surrounding power that threatened its autonomy and/or its prosperity: Hungary, Poland, the Mongols, and, most especially, the Ottomans. Stephen was among the first European rulers to take on and defeat the Ottomans after the fall of Constantinople—although, struggling to fend off threats from both the Ottomans and the Poles, he eventually wound up paying tribute to Constantinople in exchange for guarantees of Ottoman non-aggression.
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