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Stephen the Great

Stephen the Great, d.1504, prince of Moldavia (1457–1504). A great military and political leader, Stephen consolidated princely authority, furthered economic prosperity, and reorganized the army, thus creating a powerful Moldavian state that hindered the Ottoman advance. Although helped to the throne by Vlad IV (Vlad the Impaler), prince of Walachia, Stephen attacked and defeated Vlad in 1462. Moldavia was prey to the expansionist interests of Hungary, Poland, and the Ottoman Empire, and, in 1467, Stephen repelled an attack by King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary. To prevent the Ottomans from using Walachia as a base of operations, he invaded Walachia and replaced Vlad's pro-Ottoman successor with his own candidate. Stephen continued to repulse Ottoman attacks, winning decisively at Vaslui in 1475. Nevertheless, the Moldavian position grew increasingly weak as other countries, particularly Poland and Hungary, failed to aid Stephen. It was probably on Stephen's deathbed advice that his son and successor, Bogdan, purchased (1513) the continued existence of Moldavia by paying tribute to the sultan.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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