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The Bust of Michael the Brave, StrehaiaCod 1490

Michael the Brave (born in 1558, Târgul de Floci – deceased on the 9th of August 1601, Turda) was the prince of Wallachia between 1593 and 1601. For a period (in 1600), he was the commander de factor of the three great medieval countries which form today’s Romania: Wallachia, Transylvania and Moldavia. Before arriving on the throne, as aristocrat, he held the high offices of small ban of Strehaia, prince High Steward and ban of Craiova.

The figure of Michael the Brave arrived in the national Romanian pantheon after it was recovered by the Romanian historiography of the XIXth century, an important role playing during the occupation of Romania under Michael the Brave Voivode of Nicolae Bălcescu. Therefore the voivode became an important precursor of the unification of the Romanians, which was going to be accomplished in the XXth century.

At the end of the year 1588 he becomes a high steward of the court of Mihnea Turcitul, and in 1593 ban of Craiova during the reign of Alexander the Bad. In September 1593, with the help of the Patriarch of Constantinople, but also with the help of the Ottomans, after paying a record amount of 1, 5 million ducats, he became Voivode of Wallachia, effectively on the 11th of October.

He adheres to the Christian “Holy League”, constituted from the initiative of Pope Clement the VIIIth, of which there were initially part of the Holy Roman – German Empire, The Pope State, Spain, Austria, Ferrara, Mantova and Tuscany (England and Poland manifested reserves towards the crusade politics of the popality). Further one, Transylvania also adheres, considered to be a decisive factor in attracting in the alliance the other two Romanian states, Moldavia and Wallachia. Aron Vodă, the prince of Moldavia signs a treaty with the Hapsburg Emperor on the 16th of September 1594, in this manner offering an additional reason for Michael the Brave to decided, with the approval of the aristocrats, the entrance in the anti-ottoman alliance.

The outline of the myth of Michael the Brave illustrates better then any other historic model the mutations which happened in the Romanian conscience. The prince who managed to command for a short period of time, between 1599 and 1600, the three countries reunited, three centuries later, in the modern Romania, he starts to be considered as unifier only by the middle of the XIXth century. Such an interpretation is absolutely lacking in the chronicle historiography of the XVIIth century and even later, around 1800, by the Transylvanian School.

The international context was unfavorable for Michael. Forced to take the path of the exile, Michal requests the help of Rudolph the IInd, who, in the context of the re-establishing Sigismund Bathory on the throne of Transylvania, he accepts to support the Romanian. Together with general Basta, Michael starts the campaign of re-conquering the Romanian territories. Through the victory from Guruslău (the 3rd of August 1601), the Wallachia voivode removes Bathory from Transylvania. He continues by recovering Wallachia, removing Simion Movilă from the throne. In these conditions, there were foreseen the perspectives of a new Romanian unification, perspective which didn’t suit the Hapsburg Emperor, Rudolf the IInd. Through his order there is planned the physical removal of the Romanian prince, and on the 9th/10th of August 1601, at 3 km south from Turda, Michael the Brave is killed by the general Gheoghe Basta. His head is taken by one of the prince’s captains and buried by Radu Buzescu at the Monastery Dealu, near Târgoviște.


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