Moldavia is important as being one of the two states that were unified to establish Romania
in the 19th century. Beginning its time as a nation in the 15th century lasting until the early 19th century, Moldavia was one of the three Romanian
nations, the others being Wallachia
. The region
was originally a conquest
of the Roman Empire
and included in the province of Dacia
. It would be heavily populated by Roman
citizens over time, which helped to make the area a Latin
dominated one early in its history. But Rome’s control would not last long, as the Emperor Aurelian
withdrew from Dacia in the second century BC and established the new border along the Danube
Over the centuries, various peoples would inundate the area. Among the most important of the time are the Slavic invaders who ruled the area from the 9th to the 11th century as part of the massive Kievan state. By the 13th century Moldavia was under the sway of the Cumans, until their expulsion by the invading Mongols. By the early 14th century though, the Mongols would withdraw from Moldavia.
It was now that the true history of the Moldavian nation would begin. The 14th century became the first time that Moldavia was ruled by native peoples and at the time the nation included Bukovina and Bessarabia making it not an insignificant power. Unfortunately, much like it’s sister-state to the south, Moldavia was torn throughout much of its history by internal strife. The princes and boyars of the realm reduced the population to virtual slavery and the nation limped forward.
Moldavia would see its one period of renown in the late 15th century. It was then that the sole great leader of Moldavia would rise, Stephen I (the Great). In 1475 Stephan’s armies routed the Turkish forces and gave Moldavia a period of respite from the Turkish threat to the southeast. Unfortunately, upon the death of Stephen, in 1504, Moldavia would become a tribute paying state to the Ottoman Empire.
It was under the empire that the state of Moldavia would survive until the early 1900s, slowing being absorbed as a vassal, but never completely. It was just this vassalage that would cause Moldavia no end of trouble, not from the Ottomans, but from those that the Ottoman Empire warred with. Moldavia would be occupied by various states throughout the centuries and was constantly nibbled upon.
By the 18th century, the Ottoman Empire had grown tired of the local princes, who were still allowed nominal rule up until this time. These princes had made a habit of supporting the empire’s enemies almost as much as the empire itself. So it was that the Ottoman Empire appointed governors (hospodars) to rule over Moldavia. These governors where mostly of Greek descent and were unmatched in their greed and avarice. It was at this time that Moldavia would become a decayed state to be preyed upon.
Greek rule ended in 1822, with the insurrection of Alexander Ypsilanti, and the Ottoman Empire again placed native leaders as the governors of Moldavia. Unfortunately this was during the fading time of the empire and it no longer served as any kind of protection to Moldavia, who found itself on the border of two huge empires, Austria and Russia. Bukovina was taken by Austria in 1775 and Bessarabia was taken by Russia in 1812. The Russo-Turkish War of 1828-29 and the Treaty of Adrianople made Moldavia, along with Wallachia, a protectorate of Russia. During this time Russia would suppress a Romanian nationalist revolution in the two provinces. Again though Moldavia would fall back into Ottoman hands, and again it would be occupied, by Russia, in 1856 at the end of the Crimean War.
That would be the last real time that Moldavia would change hands though. In 1856 both Moldavia and Wallachia were granted nominal independence by the Congress of Paris, though they were still somewhat under the sway of the Ottoman Empire. Three years later, Moldavia would be unified with Wallachia under the rule of Prince Alexander John Cuza to form a united Romania.
Moldavia would rise to the scene one more time in history. In 1924, under USSR occupation, the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic would be created along the basic borders of Moldavia. When Romania was forced to give Bessarabia and Bukovina to the USSR, these provinces were added to the Moldavian Socialist Republic. This province would eventually become the Republic of Moldova.