Saturday, September 1, 2012

History of Moldova

The history of Moldova can be traced to the 1350s, when the Principality of Moldavia, the medieval precursor of modern Moldova and Romania, was founded. In 1812, following one of several Russian-Turkish wars, the eastern half of the principality, Bessarabia (where most of today's Moldova is located), was annexed by the Russian Empire. In 1918, Bessarabia briefly became independent as the Moldavian Democratic Republic and united with Romania. In 1940 it was annexed by the Soviet Union, joined to the Moldavian ASSR, and became the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic until the dissolution of the USSR. In 1991 the country declared independence as the Republic of Moldova

The medieval Principality of Moldavia was established in 1359 and covered the so-called CarpathianDanubeDniester area, stretching from Transylvania in the west to the Dniester River in the east.Its territory comprised the present-day territory of the Republic of Moldova, the eastern 8 of the 41 counties of Romania (a region still called Moldova by the local population), the Chernivtsi oblast and Budjak region of Ukraine. Its nucleus was in the northwestern part, the Ţara de Sus ("Upper Land"), part of which later became known as Bukovina. The name of the principality originates from the Moldova River.

Moldavia and the modern boundaries‎
The foundation of Moldavia is attributed to the Vlach noblemen Dragoş of Bedeu, from Maramureş, who had been ordered in 1343 (1345 according to other sources) by the Hungarian king Louis of Anjou to establish a defense for the historic Kingdom of Hungary against the Tatars, and Bogdan I of Cuhea, Maramureş, who became the first independent prince of Moldavia, when he rejected Hungarian authority in 1359. The greatest Moldavian personality was prince Stephen the Great, who ruled from 1457 to 1504.

Soroca in the 1780s
Stephen III was succeeded by increasingly weaker princes, and in 1538 Moldavia became a vassal of the Ottoman Empire, to which it owed a percentage of the internal revenue, that in time rose to 10%. Moldavia was forbidden to have foreign relations to the detriment of the Ottoman Empire (although at times the country managed to circumvent this interdiction), but was allowed internal autonomy, including sole authority over foreign trade. Turks were legally forbidden to own land or build religious establishments in Moldavia. Prince Vasile Lupu had secured the Moldavian throne in 1634 after a series of complicated intrigues, and managed to hold it for twenty years. Lupu was a capable administrator and a brilliant financier, and soon was the richest man in the Christian East. Judiciously placed gifts kept him on good terms with the Ottoman authorities.
In the 18th century, the territory of Moldavia often became a transit or war zone during conflicts between the Ottomans, Austrians, and Russians. In 1774, following a victory in a war against the Ottomans, Russia became a protector of the Christian Moldavia, still a vassal of the Ottoman Empire at the time. In 1775, the Habsburg Monarchy annexed ca 11% of the territory of Moldavia, which became known as Bukovina. By the Treaty of Bucharest following the Russo-Turkish War (1806–1812), Russia has annexed further 50% of its territory, which became known as Bessarabia.