XIII, 2017, 1

Father and Son. About Blood and “Metaphorical” Kinship of Moldavian Princes with Grand Dukes of Lithuania | p. 251–264

“metaphorical kinship”, connections between the Lithuanian and Moldavian dynasties, Lithuania, Moldavia, Sigismund Kiejstutowicz, Voivode Elijah


Called “metaphorical kinship” by Craig Kennedy in a study investigating how these alliances defined and gave substance to the political relations between the grand princes of Moscow and the ruling elite of the Tatar khanates, the bilateral ties in which the contracting parties voluntarily assumed the symbolic roles of “father” and “son” can also be found in the Romanian extra-Carpathian principalities in the 15th century.


In the case of Moldavia, the acts cosigned by the rulers from Suceava and John Hunyadi, the powerful governor and later captain general of the Kingdom of Hungary, are well known and they express the political status of the parties using the same language. Far from being a diplomatic convention, however, this “metaphorical kinship” embeds complex and varied realities in a simple formula. This study tries to identify the realities that determined Elijah, the son of Alexander the Good, to refer to the Grand Duke Sigismund Kiejstutowicz of Lithuania as “father” in the treaty closed between the two in 1437. The research focuses on indications that Elijah was a member of the prestigious Lithuanian ducal family through his mother, Ana-Neacșa, who seems to have been a direct descendant of Grand Duke Gediminas. Under these circumstances, his personal and political relationship with Sigismund Kiejstutowicz, the undisputed head of the ducal house in 1437, would have been impossible to express through the conventional diplomatic formulas of the epoch given the context of vassalage that tied the Moldavian ruler to the King of Poland. The solution in this situation, as in other similar cases inventoried and analyzed in the text, was that of “metaphorical kinship.”