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- For other uses of "Moldavia" or "Moldova," see Moldova (disambiguation).
Moldavia is a geographical and historical region in South-Eastern Europe, roughly corresponding to the territory of the historic principality of the same name. The latter (an initially independent and later autonomous state) existed from the 14th century to 1859, when it united with Wallachia as the basis of the modern Romanian state; at various times, it included the regions of Bessarabia (with the Budjak) and much of Bukovina. The larger part of the former is nowadays the independent state of Moldova, while the rest of it and the northern part of Bukovina are territories of Ukraine.
Historically, Moldavia extended between the Carpathian Mountains (the historical border with Transylvania) and the Dniester River; the Prut River flowed approximately through its middle from north to south. Lands in Pokuttya and other portions outside of the Carpathians-Dniester area (such as Cetatea de Baltă and Ciceu, both in Transylvania) were at times politically connected with the Moldavian state, but were never considered part of its territory. Romania still controls 43% of the former state's territory.
The Bujak region bordering the Black Sea was incorporated into the principality (and into Bessarabia) in 1392, however it was lost beginning with 1484 to the Ottoman Empire, and, from 1812, together with the rest of Bessarabia, to Imperial Russia (its areas around Bolhrad, Cahul, and Izmail, were part of Moldavia, and then of Romania, between the end of the Crimean War and that of the Romanian War of Independence).
The traditional border between the two Danubian Principalities - Moldavia and Wallachia - roughly coincided with the Milcov River. As a state, Moldavia also controlled a relatively narrow strip of land around Galaţi, which granted it access to the Chilia branch of the Danube.
The Romanian region itself spans over 46,173 km² (19.5% of Romania's territory), and consists of eight counties:
- Bacău County
- Botoşani County
- Galaţi County
- Iaşi County
- Neamţ County
- Suceava County
- Vaslui County
- Vrancea County
Its total population is 4,681,555 as of 2002 (21.6% of Romania's population). Most of Moldavia (6 out of 8 counties) is part of the Nord-Est development region, while the two southern counties (Galaţi County and Vrancea County) are in the Sud-Est development region.
The Republic of Moldova has a population of 3,388,000 (2004 census); data for the population of the areas within Ukraine, according to the 2001 census, indicates around 1,539,000 inhabitants. The estimated total for all regions is 9,608,600 people.
- Main article: Etymology of Moldova
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:
- a legend featured in Cronica Anonimă a Moldovei links it to a wisent (or aurochs) hunting trip of the Maramureş voivode Dragoş, and the latter's chase of a star-marked bull. Dragoş was accompanied by his bitch hound called Molda; when they reached 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 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 by the name of 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 prior to the foundation of the Moldavian state, and could even be the source for the region's name.
In several early references, "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 Bogdan Iflak and Bogdan (and occasionally Kara-Bogdan - "Black Bogdania"). See also: Name in other languages.
 Flags and coats of arms
 Early history
The Neolithic saw the Cucuteni culture extend over what would become Southern Moldavia and what is now Western Ukraine (roughly, to the Dnieper River). Peopled by Dacians in antiquity, the region remained outside of Roman Dacia.
During the Migration Period, Moldavia was successively invaded by Goths, Huns, Eurasian Avars, Slavs, and Bulgars. It was later under the brief occupations of Magyars, Pechenegs, and Cumans, and was invaded by Mongols of the Golden Horde (notably, during the expedition to Hungary in 1241).
In the early 13th century, the Brodniks, a possible Slavic-Vlach vassal state of Halych, were present, alongside the Bolohoveni, in much of the region's territory (towards 1216, the Brodniks are mentioned as in service of Suzdal). On the border between Halych and the Brodniks, in the 11th century, a Viking by the name of Rodfos was killed in the area by Vlachs who supposedly betrayed him. In 1164, the future Byzantine Emperor Andronicus I Comnenus, was taken prisoner by Vlach shepherds around the same region.
 Foundation of the principality
Later in the 13th century, the King of Hungary Charles I attempted to expand his realm and the influence of the Roman 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 Tatars; 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 Mark of Brandenburg.
In 1353, Dragoş, mentioned as a Vlach Knyaz in Maramureş, was sent by Louis I to establish a line of defense against the Golden Horde forces on the Siret River. This expedition resulted in a polity vassal to Hungary, centered around Baia (Târgul Moldovei or Moldvabánya).
Bogdan of Cuhea, another Vlach voivode from Maramureş 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 Tatars.
After first residing in Baia, Bogdan moved Moldavia's seat to Siret (it was to remain there until Petru Muşat moved it to Suceava; it was finally moved to Iaşi under Alexandru Lăpuşneanu - in 1565). The area around Suceava, roughly correspondent to Bukovina, formed one of the two administrative divisions of the new realm, under the name Ţara de Sus (the "Upper Land"), whereas the rest, on both sides of the Prut River, formed Ţara 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 Laţcu accepted conversion to Roman Catholicism around 1370, but his gesture was to remain without consequences. Despite remaining officially Eastern Orthodox and culturally connected with the Byzantine Empire after 1382, princes of the Muşatin family entered a conflict with the Constantinople Patriarchy over control of appointments to the newly-founded Moldavian Metropolitan seat; Patriarch Anthony 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 Alexandru cel Bun. 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 Hungarians - specifically Csángós), as well as non-Chalcedonic Armenians; after 1460, the country welcomed Hussite refugees (founders of Ciuburciu and, probably, Huşi).
 Early Muşatin rulers
- Main article: Romania in the Middle Ages.
Petru I 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, and established a frontier with Wallachia; his son 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 Theodor Koriatovich 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, and the throne was soon occupied by Yury Koriatovich (Vytautas' favorite).
Alexandru cel Bun, although brought to the throne in 1400 by the Hungarians (with assistance from Mircea I of Wallachia), 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 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.
Under Stephen the Great, who took the throne and subsequently came to an agreement with Kazimierz 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 confirmed Ottoman overseeing in 1489, when he agreed to continue paying tribute to Bayezid II. Alongside the capture of Khotyn, Stephen's rule brought a brief extension of princely rule into Transylvania: Cetatea de Baltă and Ciceu became his fiefs in 1489; this was, however, doubled by the loss of Cetatea Albă and Kilia to the Ottomans. Under Bogdan III cel Orb, Ottoman submission was confirmed in the shape that would rapidly degenerate into control over Moldavia's affairs. Petru Rareş, 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 remove Moldavia from Ottoman rule – the country lost the Bujak and Bender, which were included in the Silistra eyalet.
 Renaissance Moldavia
- Main article: Early Modern Romania.
A period of profound crisis followed. Moldavia stopped issuing its own coinage cca. 1520, under Prince Ştefăniţă, when it was confronted with rapid depletion of funds and rising demands from the Porte. Such problems became endemic when the country, brought into the Great Turkish War, suffered the impact of the Stagnation of the Ottoman Empire; at one point, during the 1650s and 1660s, princes began relying on counterfeit coinage (usually copies of Swedish riksdalers, as was that issued by Eustratie Dabija). The economic decline was accompanied by a failure to maintain state structures: the feudal-based Moldavian military forces were no longer convoked, and the few troops maintained by the rulers remained professional mercenaries such as the seimeni.
However, Moldavia and the similarly-affected Wallachia remained both important sources of income for the Ottoman Empire and relatively prosperous agricultural economies (especially as suppliers of grain and cattle – the latter was especially relevant in Moldavia, which remained an under-populated country of pastures). In time, much of the resources were tied to the Ottoman economy, either through monopolies on trade which were only lifted in 1829, after the Treaty of Adrianople (which did not affect all domains directly), or through the raise in direct taxes - the one demanded by the Ottomans from the princes, as well as the ones demanded by the princes from the country's population. Taxes were directly proportional with Ottoman requests, but also with the growing importance of Ottoman appointment and sanctioning of princes in front of election by the boyars and the boyar Council – Sfatul boieresc (drawing in a competition among pretenders, which also implied the intervention of creditors as suppliers of bribes). The fiscal system soon included taxes such as the văcărit (a tax on head of cattle), first introduced by Iancu Sasul in the 1580s.
The economic opportunities offered brought about a significant influx of Greek and Levantine financiers and officials, who entered a stiff competition with the high boyars over appointments to the Court. As the manor system suffered the blows of economic crises, and in the absence of salarisation (which implied that persons in office could decide their own income), obtaining princely appointment became the major focus a boyar's career. Such changes also implied the decline of free peasantry and the rise of serfdom, as well as the rapid fall in the importance of low boyars (a traditional institution, the latter soon became marginal, and, in more successful instances, added to the population of towns); however, they also implied a rapid transition towards a monetary economy, based on exchanges in foreign currency. Serfdom was doubled by the much less numerous slave population, comprised of migrant Roma and captured Nogais.
The conflict between princes and boyars was to become exceptionally violent – the latter group, who frequently appealed to the Ottoman court in order to have princes comply with its demands, was persecuted by rulers such as Alexandru Lăpuşneanu and Ioan Vodă cel Cumplit. Ioan Vodă's revolt against the Ottomans ended in his execution (1574). The country descended into political chaos, with frequent Ottoman and Tatar incursions and pillages. The claims of Muşatins to the crown and the traditional system of succession were ended by scores of illegitimate reigns; one of the usurpers, Ioan Iacob Heraclid, was a Protestant Greek who encouraged the Renaissance and attempted to introduce Lutheranism to Moldavia.
In 1595, the rise of the Movileşti boyars to the throne with Ieremia Movilă coincided with the start of frequent anti-Ottoman and anti-Habsburg military expeditions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth into Moldavian territory (see Moldavian Magnate Wars), and rivalries between pretenders to the Moldavian throne encouraged by the three competing powers. The Wallachian prince Michael the Brave deposed Prince Ieremia in 1600, and managed to become the very first monarch to unite Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transylvania under his rule; the episode ended in Polish conquests of lands down to Bucharest, soon ended by the outbreak of the Polish-Swedish War and the reestablishment of Ottoman rule. Polish incursions were dealt a blow by the Ottomans during the 1620 Battle of Cecora, which also saw an end to the reign of Gaspar Graziani.
The following period of relative peace saw the more prosperous and prestigious rule of Vasile Lupu, who took the throne as a boyar appointee in 1637, and began battling his rival Gheorghe Ştefan, as well as the Wallachian prince Matei Basarab – however, his invasion of Wallachia with the backing of Cossack Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky ended in disaster at the Battle of Finta (1653). A few years later, Moldavia was occupied for two short intervals by the anti-Ottoman Wallachian prince Constantin Şerban, who clashed with the first ruler of the Ghica family, Gheorghe Ghica. In the early 1680s, Moldavian troops under George Ducas intervened in Right-bank Ukraine and assisted Mehmed IV in the Battle of Vienna, only to suffer the effects of the Great Turkish War.
 18th century
During the late 17th century, Moldavia became the target of the Russian Empire's southwards expansion, inaugurated by Peter the Great during the Russo-Turkish War of 1710-1711; Prince Dimitrie Cantemir's siding with Peter and open anti-Ottoman rebellion, ended in defeat at Stănileşti, provoked Sultan Ahmed III's reaction, and the official discarding of recognition of local choices for princes, imposing instead a system which relied solely on Ottoman approval – the Phanariote epoch, inaugurated by the reign of Nicholas Mavrocordatos. Short and frequently ended through violence, Phanariote rules were usually marked by political corruption, intrigue, and high taxation, as well as by sporadic incursions of Habsburg and Russian armies deep into Moldavian territory; nonetheless, they also saw attempts at legislative and administrative modernization inspired by The Enlightenment (such as Constantine Mavrocordatos' decision to salirize public offices, to the outrage of boyars, and the abolition of serfdom in 1749, as well as Scarlat Callimachi's Code), and signified a decrease in Ottoman demands after the threat of Russian annexation became real and the prospects of a better life led to waves of peasant emigration to neighboring lands. The effects of Ottoman control were also made less notable after the 1774 Treaty of Kucuk Kaynarca allowed Russia to intervene in favor of Ottoman subjects of the Eastern Orthodox faith - leading to campaigns of petitioning by the Moldavian boyars against princely politics.
In 1712, Khotyn was taken over by the Ottomans, and became part of a defensive system that Moldavian princes were required to maintain, as well as an area for Islamic colonization (the Laz community). Moldavia also lost Bukovina, Suceava included, to the Habsburgs in 1772, which meant both an important territorial loss and a major blow to the cattle trade (as the region stood on the trade route to Central Europe). The 1792 Treaty of Jassy forced the Ottoman Empire to cede all of its holdings in what is now Transnistria to Russia, which made Russian presence much more notable, given that the Empire acquired a common border with Moldavia. The first effect of this was the cession of Bessarabia to the Russian Empire, in 1812 (through the Treaty of Bucharest).
 Organic Statute, revolution, and union with Wallachia
- Main article: National awakening of Romania.
Phanariote rules were officially ended after the 1821 occupation of the country by Alexander Ypsilantis' Filiki Eteria during the Greek War of Independence; the subsequent Ottoman retaliation brought the rule of Ioan Sturdza, considered as the first one of a new system – especially since, in 1826, the Ottomans and Russia agreed to allow for the election by locals of rulers over the two Danubian Principalities, and convened on their mandating for seven-year terms. In practice, a new fundament to reigns in Moldavia was created by the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829, and a period of Russian domination over the two countries which ended only in 1856: begun as a military occupation under the command of Pavel Kiselyov, Russian domination gave Wallachia and Moldavia, which were not removed from nominal Ottoman control, the modernizing Organic Statute (the first document resembling a constitution, as well as the first one to regard both principalities). After 1829, the country also became an important destination for immigration of Ashkenazi Jews from the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria and areas of Russia (see History of the Jews in Romania and Sudiţi).
The first Moldavian rule established under the Statute, that of Mihail Sturdza, was nonetheless ambivalent: eager to reduce abuse of office. Sturdza introduced reforms (the abolition of slavery, secularization, economic rebuilding), but he was widely seen as enforcing his own power over that of the newly-instituted consultative Assembly. A supporter of the union of his country with Wallachia and of Romanian Romantic nationalism, he obtained the establishment of a customs union between the two countries (1847) and showed support for radical projects favored by low boyars; nevertheless, he clamped down with noted violence the Moldavian revolutionary attempt in the last days of March 1848. Grigore Alexandru Ghica allowed the exiled revolutionaries to return to Moldavia cca. 1853, which led to the creation of Partida Naţională (the “National Party”), a trans-boundary group of radical union supporters which campaigned for a single state under a foreign dynasty.
Russian domination ended abruptly after the Crimean War, when the Treaty of Paris passed the two principalities under the tutelage of Great European Powers (together with Russia and the Ottoman overlord, power-sharing included the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the Austrian Empire, the French Empire, the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, and Prussia). Due to Austrian and Ottoman opposition and British reserves, the union program as demanded by radical campaigners was debated intensely. In September 1857, given that Caimacam Nicolae Vogoride had perpetrated fraud in elections in Moldavia in July, the Powers allowed the two states to convene Ad-hoc divans, which were to decide a new constitutional framework; the result showed overwhelming support for the union, as the creation of a liberal and neutral state. After further meetings among leaders of tutor states, an agreement was reached (the Paris Convention), whereby a limited union was to be enforced – separate governments and thrones, with only two bodies (a Court of Cassation and a Central Commission residing in Focşani; it also stipulated that an end to all privilege was to be passed into law, and awarded back to Moldavia the areas around Bolhrad, Cahul, and Izmail.
However, the Convention failed to note whether the two thrones could not be occupied by the same person, allowing Partida Naţională to introduce the candidacy of Alexander John Cuza in both countries. On January 5 (January 17, 1859 Old Style), he was elected prince of Moldavia by the respective electoral body. After street pressure over the much more conservative body in Bucharest, Cuza was elected in Wallachia as well (February 5/January 24). Exactly three years later, after diplomatic missions that helped remove opposition to the action, the formal union created Romania and instituted Cuza as Domnitor (all legal matters were clarified after the replacement of the prince with Carol of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen in April 1866, and the creation of an independent Kingdom of Romania in 1881).
 See also
- History of Moldova
- History of Romania
- List of rulers of Moldavia
- Moldavian military forces
- Painted churches of northern Moldavia
- ^ The Annals of Jan Długosz, p. 273
- Gheorghe I. Brătianu, Sfatul domnesc şi Adunarea Stărilor în Principatele Române, Bucharest, 1995
- Vlad Georgescu, Istoria ideilor politice româneşti (1369-1878), Munich, 1987
- Ştefan Ştefănescu, Istoria medie a României, Bucharest, 1991
 External links
- The Princely Court in Bacău - images, layouts (at the Romanian Group for an Alternative History Website)
- Original Doments concerning both Moldavia and other Romania Principalities during the Middle Ages (at the Romanian Group for an Alternative History Website)
- Pilgramage and Cultural Heritage Tourism in Moldavia