XIII, 2017, 2

Tradition and Innovation: The Succession to the Throne of Moldavia in 1517 | p. 43–53

associated reign, Bogdan III, choice, dynastic legitimacy, Moldavia, Stephen the Young, succession


The analysis of the circumstances in which power was transferred after the sudden death of Bogdan III reveals that all conditions existed for a succession crisis in April 1517. Although Bogdan’s successor, Stephen the Young, was his eldest son, his young age and the fact that he was born out of wedlock (though he had been legitimized by his father) was disadvantageous when considering contenders from other branches of Alexander the Good’s descendants. The potential crisis was avoided, however, due to the decisions made by the boyars from Bogdan III’s council.


Their main action was the renewal of the treaty with Poland, the first important political act of the new ruler, by which Stephen the Young was practically recognized by Sigismund I, and the danger represented by the pretender Peter, the king’s protege, was eliminated. Although the provisions of this treaty state the name of the new ruler along with that of his younger brother, also called Peter, it was not, as some historians assume, an associated reign in which the older brother had a preeminent position. Research has shown that the explanation should be sought rather in the very young age of the two brothers with all its inherent risks and inconveniences, including the fact that there was no prospect of a successor to the throne in the near future, that role being temporarily filled by the younger brother. The goal was, of course, to ensure the validity of the documents even if any of the parties involved were to disappear. In conclusion, the succession to the throne of Moldavia in the spring of 1517 was the first for which dynastic legitimacy was not enough, its having to be reinforced by the elective formula.