THE RUSSIAN ADVANCE
The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were a period of slow disintegration for Moldavia and Turkey, but of rapid rise for Austria and Russia. Whereas the solicitude of the earlier rulers of Moldavia, in their anxiety to retain Bessarabia, had been to guard themselves against Poles and Tartars and Turks, new and more powerful neighbors now appeared on the scene. The last great struggles of Turks, Tartars and Poles on Moldadian soil occurred early in the seventeenth century, culminating in a great defeat of the Poles; the Peace of Hotin restored this city to Moldavia, in 1621. Three years later another treaty stipulated that the Tartars should be expelled from the Budjak in southern Bessarabia; but the latter, under a talented leader, Cantemir Mirza, held out for over ten years; and later Tartar hordes which ravaged Bessarabia were so savage that a contemporary, the boyar Toader Ianovitch, states that "between Dniester and Pruth not a house was left." Fortunately for Bessarabia, Prince Basil Lupu of Moldavia, a man of great ability, now came to the throne, and took special interest in Bessarabian problems. Entering Kilia with his army, in the campaign against Cantemir Mirza, he is petitioned by the Moldavians there resident to build them a church; and the inscription commemorating the consecration of the church of St. Nicholas, under "John Basil Voyevode, by the grace of God ruler of the land of Moldavia," is still in existence. A Roman Catholic traveler, Bishop Peter Stanislavoff of Nicopolis, was struck by the iron gates and drawbridges of Kilia. He says that in the city there were 300 houses of Tartars, with four mosques; in the extensive suburbs, 500 houses of Tartars, with five mosques, and 400 houses of "schismatics" of different nationality, with two orthodox churches, one of them built by Basil Lupu. Basil may also have built the church of St. Nicholas in Ismail, which Paul of Aleppo tells us had in 165812,000 families, Roumanian and Bulgarian.
The Cossacks now supplanted the Tartars in the role of raiders from over the Dniester. They had just won their independence from the Poles, and were so redoubtable that Basil made a family alliance with their Hatman, giving his daughter Ruganda to the heir apparent, Timush. This served him in good stead when a rival, George Stephen, with Hungarian help, succeeded in driving him out of Jassy; Timush and his Cossacks raided Moldavia and drove George Stephen into Wallachia. But when the Cossacks left, George Stephen returned; Basil went to Constantinople for aid from the Sultan, and died there. George Stephen also looked for aid beyond the Dniester. He made a treaty with Grand Duke Alexis Michaelovitch of Moscow, for the recovery of the Bessarabian territories occupied by Turks and Tartars; the Russians bound themselves by the treaty not to ask tribute from Moldavia for this service. That is the first formal connection between Russia and Moldavia; but it came to nothing.
Troubles now broke out among the Cossacks; part declared for Russia, part for Poland; and in the Armistice of Andrusov (1667), Russia annexed the Ukraine beyond the Dnieper, that between the Dnieper and the Dniester remaining Polish. Dissatisfied Cossacks appealed to the Porte, and a long war broke out between Poles and Turks, fought in part on Moldavian territory. A Polish traveler who succeeded with difficulty in reaching Jassy at that time, writes that he passed no man on the road, which was however lined with corpses. Fortune smiled on Mohammed IV, who penetrated deep into Poland with a Turkish-Roumanian army; and in the Peace of Buczacz (1672), the Poles surrendered the Polish Ukraine to Peter Doroshenco, a Turkish vassal prince, and ceded Podolia, with its chief city Kamenetz Podolsk, outright to the Turks, together with the promise of an annual tribute, and with a war indemnity of 80,000 thalers.
The Sultan had been unfavorably impressed, in Moldavia and in his association with his Moldavian allies, with the independence they enjoyed, as contrasted with the vassaldom of Serbs, Bulgarians and Hungarians, all of whom were, or had been, directly governed by Turkish pashas. The time seemed to him ripe for declaring Moldavia a pashalik; but he determined to test his ground, for he knew that the great Moldavian boyars would have to be won over first. The Grand Vizier asked Prince Petriceico of Moldavia to send him one of the leading boyars for a consultation; and by good fortune Myron Costin, the historian, was chosen. He has left us a graphic account of the conversation. "The Grand Vizier," he saps, "asked him to be seated before him, and then asked him to tell him frankly whether he thought it wise for the Empire to have occupied Kamenetz or not. But Myron replied that he was afraid to speak frankly. The Vizier laughed at him, and told him to speak out and have no fear. Then Costin said: 'We Moldavians are pleased to have the Empire spread in every direction as far as possible; but we do not want :o have it extend over our country.' Then the Vizier laughed again, and said to him: 'You have spoken frankly,' and then he asked him: 'How would you consider our leaving a Turkish army in Hotin with Prince Petriceico, to guard the country and Kamenetz ?'" Myron Costin replied that such a measure would be unwise, since the country was poor and without provisions. The Vizier then quoted the opinion of some of the boyars that the Turkish army should winter in Moldavia, to protect the country from Polish reprisals. Myron objected that the Poles would not come on a raid, for there was nothing for them to carry off. So the Sultan gave up for the moment the idea of reducing Moldavia to a subject state; its Prince continued to be independent, with only the obligation to pay tribute and provide things necessary for the Turkish armies in their passage through the country.
But with a Turkish pasha at Kamenetz up in Poland, and a Turkish citadel opposite Hotin, to protect their communications, the Turkish exactions became a great burden. Prince Petriceico tested Moscow for relief against the Turks; the Russians made fair promises, but when the Moldavians notified them that the time was ripe, they found excuses; and both Gregory Ghica of Wallachia and Stephen Petriceico appealed to the Poles, who were still smarting under the sting of their defeat. The famous John Sobieski was now leader of the Polish armies; with Roumanian help, he won a great victory over the Turks near Hotin on Nov. 10, 1673, capturing 66 Turkish banners and 120 cannon. Hotin received a Polish garrison, and a Polish contingent was stationed at Jassy. But Sobieski had to turn his attention elsewhere; the Sultan sent a Tartar force up into Moldavia, which drove out Petriceico ; and a Prince more favorable to the Turks was found in Dumitrashco Cantacuzene. The Tartars took advantage of the opportunity to plunder Moldavia; and a traveler who passed through the country at that time reports that two-thirds of the population had either perished or scattered in every direction.
The Turks had no sooner made peace with the Poles (1676) than war broke out with the Russians; with Wallachian and Moldavian help, the Russians were defeated (1678), though peace was not made till 1681. The Czar recognized as Turkish all the Ukraine south of Kieff, from the Dnieper to the Dniester; this was united by the Turks as an autonomous province with Moldavia, Prince Duca receiving the title of Lord of Moldavia and the Ukraine (June 25, 1681). But that union was brief. In 1683, the Turks suffered their greatest defeat, at the hands of John Sobieski, under the walls of Vienna; Hungary threw off the poke, and the Cossacks of the Ukraine asserted their independence. In the confusion which ensued, a Moldavian expedition plundered the Tartar Budjak, but was finally driven back. John Sobieski himself came down into Moldavia twice with Polish armies, and occupied the northern part of the country. Cossacks again raided the region around Orhei. The Moldavian historian Nicholas Costin gives us this picture of the condition of his country at the end of the seventeenth century: "Matters had now reached such a state that the land of Moldavia was governed in three sections. The fortresses of Neamtz and Suceava, with Campulung and their districts, were held by the Poles, . . . and the fortress of Soroca. In like manner the districts of Orhei and Lapusna had been occupied by the Khan of Tartary." Costin enumerates the districts held by the Cossacks under this khan, and laments that Prince Cantemir had possession only of Jassy and lower Moldavia. Indeed, at the Peace of Carlowitz (Jan. 26, 1699), the Poles brought great pressure to bear on Turkey for the cession of the districts of Czernowitz, Suceava, Neamtz, Hotin and Soroca. The Turks however explained that Moldavia was not theirs to give, being an independent principality; and the Poles finally contented themselves with the recovery of Podolia. So northern Moldavia was again united with Jassy; and the Tartars were forced back over the Dniester and down into the Budjak.Next Chapter Previous Chapter
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