XIII, 2017, 1

Emperors or Lords ? Successors of Stephen the Great and Their “Tsar” Title in the Chronicle of Macarie | p. 265–272

Byzantine Chronicles, Macarie, Moldavia, Serbian Annals, tsar


The chronicle of Moldavian Bishop Macarie written in the 16th century is probably the most influential work of early Moldavian historiography. One of its specifics is the frequent and systematic use of the title “tsar,” which is the Slavonic translation of the Greek βασιλεύς (“emperor”), in connection with Moldavian voivodes. The aim of this article is to examine how this usage might have been influenced by older Byzantine chronicles (translated into old Slavonic in Bulgaria) and Serbian annals that circulated in Moldavia.


In the Slavic‑Orthodox tradition, which closely follows the Byzantine one, the usage of the title “tsar” is broader than that in the western tradition. While in the western tradition many of the monarchs are called “only” kings—as is also the case with the rulers of Egypt, Assyria, Judea, Persia, Macedonia, etc., named “kings” not “tsars”—in the Slavic‑Orthodox tradition, they are called “tsars.”


Many of these statesmen and monarchs are depicted as having a stable role and position throughout the chronicles. In fact, they represent a historical axis that is the center of the narrative about universal Roman (and Serbian) history. This article posits that Macarie’ regular and systematic usage of the title “tsar” is based on a significant reason. It represents the effort to include Moldavia in this “axis,” thus making it a part of “the history of Tsars and Tsardoms” and appointing its role in the history of Orthodox Christendom.