VII, 2011, 1

Some Remarks on Gaining the Princely Power in Moldavia during Stephen the Great Epoch | p. 7–20

gaining power, Moldavia, monarchy, political ideology, princely family


The present study aims to reconstruct the main stages of succession to the Moldavian throne from the middle of the 15th century until the half of the next one, a time marked by the personality of prince Stephen the Great (1457–1504). In terms of methodology, the research appeals to the corresponding realities in the Byzantine Empire and other Orthodox political entities, such as Serbia and Russia, in order to understand how accession to the throne in medieval Moldavia took place. Brief and often ambiguous information from internal sources was thus used to reconstruct a coherent image of gaining the princely power. It was found that the hypothesis, according to which a whole ceremonial following the Byzantine or Western model had been performed since the foundation of the Moldavian state, should be excluded. In fact, the rituals meant to seal the getting of power were structured gradually, as the concept of supernatural power and a proper perspective on succession were being shaped. The result was a scenario consisting of two well-defined moments: the consensus of the secular and ecclesiastical elite regarding the future leader, which could take place anywhere in the country, and the liturgical ceremony of coronation and unction, which had to be performed in the Metropolitan cathedral of Suceava. One notices the absence in Moldavia of any evidence on rituals designed to consecrate the participation of the potential successors to exercising the power. Nevertheless, one cannot reject the idea that the practice of awarding titles to suggest the right to inherit the throne existed and produced symbolic and actual effects. In absence of any narrative or documentary evidence from Stephen the Great time on the ritual of coronation of the successors as co-rulers, a revision of terminology should be considered, namely replacing the idea of co-rulers, with the admission of the practice of designating the successors by awarding them specific titles.