VIII, 2012, 1

Stephen the Great between Crusade and “Defending Orthodoxy” (1499–1502) | p. 59–70

diplomacy, later crusades, Moldavia, Moscow, Orthodoxy


The present study analyzes the involvement of the Moldavian Prince in the crusade project of Pope Alexander VI, an interesting project in that the Pope appeared not just as the initiator of the holy war but took upon a new quality, that of an ally of the Catholic rulers. Another important characteristic was the diplomatic character of the crusade, since, apart from the common interest and the fight against the Turks, there laid the immediate interests of the involved parties, Moldavia being no exception to that. Moldavia’s involvement in this project was manifested in a very good synchronization with the political actions of the King of Hungary. Thus, the Prince of Moldavia conditioned his involvement in the endeavor by the completion of a Venetian-Hungarian treaty, whereas the King of Hungary demanded the Pope to grant a more prominent role to Moldavia. Furthermore, King Vladislaus Jagiellon supported the claims of Stephen the Great regarding Pokuttya, advising his brother, King John Albert, to accept a commission which would investigate the rights of the parties upon the disputed territory. In return, the Prince of Moldavia promised to mediate the conflict between the Knyaz of Moscow and the Great Duke of Lithuania. Mediating this conflict was an extremely difficult mission that Stephen the Great took upon himself, because important religious aspects were at stake: on the one hand, there was a unification project of the Orthodox Church in the Polish-Lithuanian territories with Rome, a project promoted by the Metropolitan of Kiev with the support of the Constantinople Patriarchy; on the other hand, there was the mission of “defending the Orthodox Christianity” that Knyaz Ivan III took more and more upon himself. Stephen the Great manifested great ability in performing the task, separating himself from any kind of action towards the unification and at the same time expressing his support for the crusade and asking the Moscow Knyaz to join the Catholic rulers, a fact which showed that despite kinship and sharing the same confession, the political interests of Moldavia and those of Moscow were divergent.