Today in European history: the Battle of Vaslui (1475)

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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6 thoughts on “Today in European history: the Battle of Vaslui (1475)

  1. Very detailed article, nicely done! There is no difference between the old “Moldovans” and the Romanians of our days, both them, the Wallachians and the Transylvanians speak one language – Romanian, which is a Romance language and are all descendants of the Dacians and Romans.

  2. The inheritor of medieval Moldova is the part that gave its consent to unite with Wallachia (Tara Romaneasca or Muntenia) to form a powerful state that would resist against foreign empires. All the capital cities of medieval Moldova are on the Romanian side, even the grave of Stephen the Great is in Romania.

    Nowadays Republic of Moldova was called by the Russians Bessarabia (wrongly) and is just a patch of land that was stolen from medieval Moldova, and latter from Romania by the Russians.

    Republic of Moldova gain independence in the 90’s and had no independent history to talk about.

  3. Radu III was, unfortunately for most historians, not a convert. I know that alluding to Radu as a Moslem would quickly explain his taking the side of the Ottomans. But, alas, he was a faithful Orthodox Christian, and his fairhfulness to the oath given to Mehmed Han comes from the fact that he probably was tired of that messy parade of traitors and double-dealers abounding all around. And also, of course, the fact that he had this conciliatory, calm personality, which in fact put him him in difficulties by the last few years of his life. Yes, there were rational people in the Middle Ages, but they are are seldom acknowledged, and rather diminished by those
    said historians.

  4. Thank you for posting this and giving this battle some more attention! There is no difference between Moldavians/Moldovans and Romanians. Moldavia is just the British spelling of Moldova. Wallachia, Transilvania, and Moldova were all Romanian states, just as New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio are US (American) States. All three states spoke Romanian.
    When Moldova and Wallachia unified they needed a name that would apply to both, so they called the country Romania, which consists of sub-states such as Moldova, Wallachia, Oltenia, etc.
    Then when Bassarabia (eastern part of Moldova) was taken by the USSR after WWII, the USSR called the republic Moldova, and tried to present “Moldovan” as a separate language even though it is just Romania. The majority of historic Moldova including the capital is in Romania.
    As side note, Romanians in Moldova continue speakingRomanian, even t hough it has been banned from schools for nearly a century. The group O-Zone which had a hit that went worldwide sings in … you guessed it … Romanian.

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