„Son of Bogdan dismounts first, and raising his beautiful eyes to the crowd that is admiring him, asks with the sweet shyness that beseems a brave man, if they wanted him to be Lord of all. And all responded in a voice: „God help you in many years of reign!””.
Saint and decisive in the history of Moldova is the day of 12 April 1457, when in the grace of God, Saint Stephen the Great from the House of Muşat, the worthy nephew of Alexandru the Good, sits on the throne in Suceava.
Stephen III of Moldova was born in Borzeşti in1433 and by fate (after his father’s death), at the age of only 24 years old he becomes Lord of the Principality of Moldova and for 47 years he shows human qualities of a good politician, strategist, and diplomat.
„Stephen is not a dangers hunter. He does not stir them, does not seek for them, and does not stay on their way, except for the case when there is no space to pass by for an honest man. He was fearless and he loved fighting since the first time he saw the day light, but the anxiety of youth was replaced by the serious concerns of reign.”
Stephen the Great was victorious in 34 of his 36 battles. Here are some of the struggles waged by Prince:
1467 – Battle of Baia where the armies of Hungarian King, Matthias Corvinus were defeated.
1469 or 1470 – Lipnic Battle against the Tatars (a commemorative monument has been installed);
1475 – Battle of Podul Înalt against the Turks, led by Suleyman Pasha (The Ottoman troops numbered up to 120000, facing about 40000 Moldavian troops). After this brilliant victory, Pope Sixtus IV named him “Athlete of Christ” (according to other sources “Sword of Christ” or “Sword of Christianity”);
1476 – Defeat at Valea Albă or Războieni, Turks have exhausted the efforts of Moldovans;
1476 – Stephen assists Vlad Ţepeş to resume his reign
1482 – Battle at Râmnicu Sărat, Stephen defeats Basarab Ţepeluş, Lord of Romania, which was under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire;
1484 – Defeat and capture of Chilia and Cetatea Alba citadels by the Turks;
1486 – „When you cannot defeat the strong enemy, try to reconcile. He paid the required taxes to Baiazid Sultan. He gave his son Alexander as hostage, and thus, wisdom concluded what the sword had begun”.
1497 – Destruction of the Polish army led by King John Albert, in the Cosmin forests;
„ Stephen was a fame-hungry Prince. He did not think of glory and the echo of his name, but of the security and steadiness of his country, and the wellbeing of his people.”
„The Lord, ruler of times of blood and fire, is „giver of laws and customs” and his word is holy”.
History and sources mention something about the family and heirs of the great ruler. His first wife was Evdochia, sister of the famous Duke of Kiev. She died in 1466, leaving Stephen the beautiful Elena (Olena) and his beloved son Alexander. Stephen marries for the second time in 1472 with Maria, sister of the Lord of Mangup. Following this marriage, his son Bogdan was born (he died at early age). The third and last wife of Stephen was Maria, daughter of Radu the Handsome (Ruler of the Romanian Country). The youngest son was Bogdan-Vlad, future ruler Bogdan III the Blind. Historians mention that the Lord had 8 children from the 3 marriages, 5 of them having died at early age. Also, there is a certainty that Petru Rareş is also the son of the prince, but illegitimate.
„In the presence of nobles, he designated Bogdan as Lord of the country, and fully reconciled in his heart, brightened by the thought that he did the best for his country and nation, he closed his eyes for the eternal sleep on the day of 2 July, 1504.”
„ As chroniclers say, Stephen the Great has reigned for 47 years, 2 months and 3 weeks and built 44 monasteries and churches, and was the master of the entire country.”
With grief and sorrow, he was taken to Putna monastery and buried there, under a slab of marble, where at his command the following words were written: „Pious Lord, Ion Stephen, in the grace of God Prince of Moldavia, son of Bogdan, founder and Creator of this holy place, who lies here and moved to the eternal sanctuaries.”
Throughout his reign, Moldova has known unprecedented prosperity. Fighting equally with more powerful neighbours, Stephen the Great managed to make Moldova a state with almost equal rights.
His remarkable actions to protect the integrity of the country and his initiatives for cultural development caused the admiration of illustrious contemporaries. Due to popular tradition, he was transformed into a legendary hero.
In the Republic of Moldova:
Also, Stephen the Great’s image is used on national banknotes (for all denominations).
Sources: Alexander Vlahuţă „From our Past”, www.wikipedia.org