June 4, 2017

3076 ROMANIA - Stephen the Great (1438/1439-1504)


Stephen III (1438-1439, Borzeşti - July 2, 1504, Suceava), known as Stephen the Great, was the voivode (or prince) of Moldavia between 1457 and 1504, for 47 years, the longest reign of the Medieval period in the Romanian Lands. During his reign, Moldavia reached the peak of its state development, knowing a long period of internal stability, economic prosperity and social peace. He wore over 40 battles (of which only in two was defeated), and it is said that after each victory he raised a church.

He was the son of Bogdan II of Moldavia who was murdered in 1451. Stephen fled to Hungary, and later to Wallachia, but with the support of Vlad the Impaler, he returned to Moldavia, forcing Peter III Aaron to seek refuge in Poland in the summer of 1457. He based his regime on a new ruling class made up of people coming mainly from among the small boyars, raised to dignities on the basis of military merit, loyalty to the prince, or close kinship with him. He also greatly supported the development of the răzeşi (rom), which ensured the loyalty of this class, the social peace in the country, and the base for a mass army - the Big Army.

On external plan, he imposed or supported favorable rulers in the small neighboring countries - Wallachia and the Crimean Khanate - and developed a policy of alliances that would allow neither one of the great neighboring countries - the Ottoman Empire, the Kingdom of Poland and the Kingdom of Hungary - to obtain a hegemonic position towards Moldavia. At the military level, he created a system of fortifications at the borders of the country, and formed a modern army with a permanent, professional component, and a mass component, mobilized when was required.

His most significant military victories were: the Battle of Baia (against the Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus - 1467),  the Battle of Lipnic (against Volga Tatars of the Golden Horde - 1469), the Battle of the Cosmin Forest (against king of Poland John I Albert - 1497), and the Battle of Vaslui (against the Ottoman army led by Suleiman Pasha, the beylerbey of Rumelia - 1475). Following the loss of this battle, the next year, sultan  Mehmed II, the conqueror of Constantinople, personally led an expedition to Moldavia ended with the defeat of Stephen in the Battle of Războieni.

After 1476, Stephen the Great was forced to accept the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire, but obtained good conditions: in return for a modest annual tribute, the country preserved its institutions and autonomy internally. Stephen was a great supporter of the culture and the church, building over 40 monasteries and churches both in Moldavia, Wallachia, Transylvania or Mount Athos. For these merits, he was canonized by the Romanian Orthodox Church, named Stephen the Great and Holy, on June 20, 1992.

He was married three times: with Evdochia of Kiev, the daughter of the prince Olelko, and the sister of the knyaz Simion Olelkovici (died in 1467); Maria of Mangup, of the Byzantine imperial family (died in 1476/1477); and Maria Voichița, daughter of Radu III the Handsome and a niece of Vlad the Impaler (died in 1511). Of these marriages, he had 7 children, but he had also some illegitimate. Stefan the Great died on 2 July 1504 and was buried at the Putna Monastery, subsequent became an important place of pilgrimage.

About the stamps
The first stamp is part of the series Flowers' Clock II, and the second is part of the series Flowers’ Clock I, about which I wrote here

Stephen III of Moldavia - Wikipedia

Sender: Eugen Mihai (direct swap)
Sent from Bucharest (Bucharest / Romania), on 29.05.2017
Author: painter Valentin Tănase

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