XIV, 2018, 1

The Outbreak of the Political Dynastic Crisis in Moldavia in 1447. A New Analysis of the Sources | p. 35–44

“metaphorical kinship”, Elijah, Moldavia, Peter II, Roman II, seniority, Stephen II, succession


In the years of political instability after the death of Alexander the Good, agreements between the main pretenders to the throne caused periods of peace but also of war. Research confirmed the existence of a principle that underlined these agreements, a principle accepted by all parts, in general, namely that of seniority. According to the old custom regarding succession to the throne of Moldavia, the brothers of the ruler could pretend the throne and then also their sons. Consequently, all the sons of Alexander the Good had the right to succeed him to the throne, and then all his grandsons, but in the order of generation and seniority. The agreement between Stephen II and his younger brother, Peter, in which the former accepted the latter as his presumptive successor lead to a short period without conflicts. The one between the son of Stephen II, Roman, and his uncle Peter was even shorter lived. The formulas from the documents issued by the main actors, which confounded the historians – for instance, Roman called Alexander the Good “father” in a document from August 4, 1447, and Peter, few days later, on August 22, called Roman “brother” – proved to be the key to understanding one of the factors which contributed to the new outbreak of the political dynastic crisis in Moldavia in 1447. Interpreting these formulas as “metaphorical kinship” – formulas meant to define and articulate the political statutes of the individuals who used them, a practice present in the entire Eastern Europe at the time – could explain why the seniority of Peter in relation to his nephew, Roman, was not sufficient for preserving peace.