X, 2014, 1

The Assets of Probota Monastery until Petru Rareş. Economical Value and Symbolic Significance | p. 73–98

ecclesiastical history, monachal benefits, princely piety, Probota Monastery


Probota is one of the most important medieval Moldavian monasteries, founded in the late 14th century, rebuilt in the following one and again at the beginning of Petru Rareş’ first reign (1527–1538). The present study aims to describe how the monastery accumulated estates, benefits and privileges up to the first decades of the 16th century. It also aims to point out the location of the monastery’s properties on the Moldavian map and to eliminate the confusion regarding assignation and dating. We also have taken into account the manner in which the monastery had managed its resources and possibilities so as to organize various economic activities. This research uses the comparative method, thus making a parallel between the situation of Probota and other great Moldavian monasteries, such as Neamţ, Bistriţa or Putna. The analysis of the documentary sources revealed that in terms of assets, Probota was at a level comparable to that of the great monasteries. Given the way in which monastic possessions were acquired since the end of the 14th until the first decades of the 16th century, one can speak about a pattern, with strong significance in terms of the ideology of power. Thus, the rulers sought to gather the monastery villages in a compact geographic area, located near the monastery, so that the monks could exercise their ecclesiastical, fiscal and legal powers. The situation was the result of the fact that sovereigns had perpetuated the tradition of granting goods and privileges to the monasteries seen as princely necropolis. These concerns had given them a special status, both in terms of the relations with the Reign and their position within the Church. The main conclusion of the present approach is that the Moldavian princes’ endowment of great Moldavian monasteries was not only the result of their concern for the welfare of the sacred, but even more so a way to ensure the legitimacy of the power.