the Moldavians are descended from Romanized peoples from the
south of Eastern Europe. Chronicle writer Jon Skilitsa this
year mentions 976 volojo people as Moldavian ancestors. In
the middle of the 14th century, the Volojo of the northeast
created a state, independent of the Hungarian kingdom, in
southern Bukovina. The first gospodar (head of
government) in the Principality of Moldova was Bogdán
(1356-1374), although the Principality according to. the
legend was formed by Dragos.
In the second half of the 14th century, the Moldavans
detached themselves from Hungarian domination and from the
Tartar Khan, while expanding their territory. Thus, in the
early 15th century, Moldova had its eastern boundary on the
Dniéster River, on the south by the Black Sea and Danube,
and on the west by the Carpathian Mountains.
The small principality was within the sphere of interest
of the larger surrounding states. These included Hungary,
Poland, the Grand Duchy of Lithaun, Turkey and the Khanate
of Crimea. The principality depended on Hungary, Poland and
the Ottoman Empire. The official religion was the Christian
Orthodox. The official language was called Church Slavic
and was used not only during the religious ceremonies but
also in the administration and in teaching. The
Principality's first capitals were Baya, Siret and Suchava.
The population was predominantly engaged in cattle farming
and the cultivation of wheat and wine.
The Principality of Moldova achieved a political and
economic climax under the gospodars ' one Alexander
Dobri the Good (1400-1432) and Stefan III the Great
(1457-1504). During this period, the Principality waged wars
against Hungary, Poland, and Crimea, but the biggest threat
was Turkey's expansion. Moldova was forced to pay taxes to
the Ottomans, but when the Turks invaded the country in
1475, they suffered a staggering defeat at the Battle of
Vaslui. Nevertheless, the relationship of strength was
unequal, and in 1484 Turkey seized the territories
surrounding the fortresses of Kilia and Belgorod, which they
named the Turkish name Akerman. The so-called rayá
's were created - enclaves ruled by the Turks.
At the beginning of the 16th century, Moldova lost its
state independence and recognized the Turkish Sultan,
although it retained considerable autonomy within the
Ottoman Empire. Turkish control over Bukovina lasted until
1775, when it was incorporated into the Austrian Empire.
Besarabia remained under Turkish control until 1812 and the
rest of Moldova until 1878. By the 18th century, Turkey had
deprived Moldova one area after another, and by the middle
of the century half of the country's territory - between the
Prut and Dnestr rivers - on Turkish hands.
The theft of land, the increase in taxes for the Turkish
Sultans and the repeated invasions of Turks and Tartars that
ravaged the Moldovan cities and villages acted as a stimulus
to the anti-Turkish struggle. Gospodar 's one Petra
Rares (1527-38, 1541-46), Ioann Voda Liuti (1572-74) and
Dmitri Kantemir (1710-11) set off against Turkey. Moldova
was therefore forced to ally with the great powers that were
Turkey's enemies. In 1711, Dmitri Liuti joined his Moldovan
army with the Russian Peter the Great. In its fight against
the Ottoman Empire, the country entered into agreements with
Hungary, Austria and Poland, and from the late 18th century
it began to approach Russia.
All the wars waged in the 18th and 19th centuries between
Russia and Turkey somehow affected Moldova. The bargain
expedition undertaken by Peter the Great in 1711 became a
defeat for Russia and its allies Moldova, yet showed the
Moldavians' desire for secession - with Russian help. The
Turks developed considerable distrust of the Moldavians and
began deploying their own Fanar (suburb of Istanbul)
princes. This practice continued in Besarabia until the
early 19th century and throughout the rest of Moldova until
1821. Bloody wars between Russia and Turkey took place in
the Moldavian territory (1735-39, 1768-74, 1787-91), and a
considerable numbers of volunteer Moldavans fought in the
Russian army against the Turks.