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Voivode in Moldavia
Voivode in Maramureş
Bogdan Dragos of Moldavia.gif
Reign c. 1352 - c. 1353
Predecessor None / Unknown
Successor Sas
Spouse Unknown
Issue (?) Sas
Dynasty House of Dragoș
Father (?) Giula of Giulești
Mother Unknown
Born Unknown
Died c. 1353
Burial Volovăț

Dragoș[1][2] also Dragoș Vodă[3] or Dragoș of Bedeu,[4] was a voivode in Maramureş[5] who has traditionally been considered the first ruler[1] or prince of Moldavia,[4][5][6] sent to Moldavia as a representative of king Louis I of Hungary to establish a line of defense against the Golden Horde. He ruled in Moldavia for two years, from 1352 to 1353.[3][7]


There are various Romanian folklore or legends that surround Dragoș.[8] One such story being that Dragoș crossed into Moldavia from Maramureș while hunting an aurochs and imposed his rule there, colonizing the territory with Romanians from Maramureș.[6] Such stories were the subject of controversy until the time of Dimitrie Cantemir Prince of Moldavia, in the early 18th-century. During the late 1800s, the Romanian historian Dimitrie Onciul claimed these were a myth to try to explain the origin of the aurochs in the arms of Moldavia.

Voivode in Maramureș[edit]

In the Moldo-Russian Chronicle, written in the 16th century, Dragoș is considered one of the ‘Romans’ who had gone to Hungary to help a certain ‘King Vladislav of Hungary’ against the Tatars; he was granted territories in Maramureș by the king.[4] In a diploma of the last days of 1336, the boundaries of the lands in Bedeu (Bedevlya, Ukraine) of the brothers Drag and Dragoș were established at the order of King Charles I of Hungary (1308–1342).[4] The document calls them “servants of the king”.[4]

Dragoș of Bedő (Bedeu) has often been falsely identified with Dragoș of Giulești.[4][9] If Dragoș of Bedeu is identical to Dragoș of Giulești, as Tudor Sălăgean thinks,[10] he was the son of Giula of Giulești. In 1349, the Maramureș domains of Dragoș of Giulești and his family were confiscated by Bogdan[10] (who would later establish the independent Principality of Moldavia).[1]

In the chronicle of the Ragusan Luccari, completed in 1601, Dragoș is designated “barone di Ust, cittá in Transilvania” (“Baron of Hust, a town in Transylvania”).[4] However, the problem of the relation between Dragoș and Hust cannot be elucidated as there is no possibility of checking the truth of Luccari’s assertions.[4]

Dragoș Voivode hunting an aurochs

Dragoș' 'dismounting'[edit]

Dragoș and the aurochs monument in Câmpulung Moldovenesc

The arrival of Dragoș in Moldavia is often referred to in Romanian historiography as the descălecat (dismounting).[5] It is considered by the Romano-Slavic chronicles to be the birth of the Moldavian Principality.[5] This is in keeping with the ritual nature of the chasing of the aurochs.[8]

The territory of the future Moldavia had been under the control of the Golden Horde since the Tatar invasion of 1241.[2] But by the middle of the 14th century the Golden Horde's power was declining, and the Polish-Hungarian offensive against it was at its strongest.[2] The Hungarian military campaigns in the territories east of the Carpathians started in 1343; in 1345–46 important successes were recorded as the Tatars were pushed back towards the eastern Black Sea.[10] At the same time, King Casimir III of Poland (1333–1370) attempted to win territories there, but the Polish army was driven back by Voivode Peter, leader of one of the state formations of this region.[10]

The Anonymous Chronicle of Moldavia relates briefly Dragoș’s ‘dismounting’:[4]

In the year 6867 (1359) Dragoș Voivode came from the Hungarian country, from Maramureș, hunting an aurochs, and reigned for two years.

—The Anonymous Chronicle of Moldavia

The Moldo-Polish Chronicle, written in Polish in the third quarter of the 16th century on the basis of internal annals, gives a more ample description (placing the event, however, in 1285):[4]

By the will of God, the first voivode, Dragoș, came from the Hungarian country from the town and river of Omaramuruș /Maramureș/, hunting an aurochs which he killed on the river Moldova. There he feasted with his nobles, and liking the country he remained there, bringing Hungarian Romanians as colonists and reigned for two years.

—The Moldo-Polish Chronicle

After Pavel Parasca and other Romanian historians the eveniments were in 1285 during Vladislav the IVth, The Cuman, who reigned between 1272–1290. The tradition which attributes to Dragoș the quality of single organizer of the foundation of the state is not in keeping with contemporary sources.[4] It may convincingly be asserted that the armed initiative was undertaken by King Louis I and Dragoș was a tool of his policy.[4] However, the fact that he was put at the head of the defensive border province in Moldavia[2] shows that his participation and that of his followers in the military operations east of the Carpathians was important.[4]

The place at which Dragoș “dismounted” and the center where he established his capital preoccupied many researchers.[4] Onciul and Spinei suggested that the centre of Dragoș’s Moldavian voivodeship must have been on the Moldova river and in Bukovina.

In 1360, King Louis I granted Dragoș of Giulești and his sons 6 villages along the valley of the river Mara.[4] According to the diploma issued on March 20, 1360, Dragoș of Giulești had restored “the country of Moldavia” thus “bringing back the revolted Romanians to steadfast loyalty”.[4] As Dragoș of Giulești did not remain in Moldavia but returned in Maramureș after the submission of the Moldavian Romanians, Victor Spinei thinks that he is not identical to the founder of Moldavia.

Dragoș was buried at Volovăț.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Klepper, Nicolae. Romania: An Illustrated History. 
  2. ^ a b c d Georgescu, Vlad. The Romanians: A History. 
  3. ^ a b Brezianu, Andrei and Spânu, Vlad (2007) "Dragoş Vodă (?–ca. 1353)" Historical Dictionary of Moldova (2nd ed.) Scarecrow Press, Lanham, Maryland, USA, pages 124-125, ISBN 978-0-8108-5607-3
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Spinei, Victor. Moldavia in the 11th-14th Centuries. 
  5. ^ a b c d Vásáry, István. Cumans and Tatars: Oriental Military in the Pre-Ottoman Balkans, 1185-1365. 
  6. ^ a b Treptow, Kurt W.; Popa, Marcel. Historical Dictionary of Romania. 
  7. ^ Although Spinei gives the years as 1359-1360, the 1352-1353 dates are generally accepted by other authors, such as Niculescu, Alexandru (2005) "Romania Hungarica" Revista Literară Vatra (Vatra Literary Review) 2005(1-2): pp. 116-125 (in Romanian) and Harjula, Mirko (2009) Romanian Historia BoD (Books on Demand), Norderstedt, Germany, page 198, ISBN 978-952-92-5264-0; (in Romanian) and others. The earlier dates are more consistent with other known dates, such as the 1359 date of Bogdan I's overthrow of Hungarian suzerainty. See Deletant, Dennis (1986) "Moldavia between Hungary and Poland, 1347-1412" The Slavonic and East European Review 64(2): pp. 189-211, pages 190-191.
  8. ^ a b Eliade, Mircea (1970) "Chapitre IV: Le Prince Dragoș et La "Chasse Rituelle" (Chapter IV: The Prince and the "Ritual Chase")" De Zalmoxis à Gengis-Khan: études comparatives sur les religions et le folklore de la Dacie et de l'Europe orientale Payot, Paris, pages 131-160, OCLC 301472774; a deep psychological and mythological analysis of the legends.
  9. ^ Vásáry, István (2005). Cumans and Tatars: Oriental Military in the Pre-Ottoman Balkans, 1185-1365. New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 158. ISBN 9780511110153. 
  10. ^ a b c d Sălăgean, Tudor. Romanian Society in the Early Middle Ages (9th-10th Centuries). 


  • Brezianu, Andrei – Spânu, Vlad: Historical Dictionary of Moldova (entry ‘Dragoș Vodă (?-ca. 1353)’);
  • Georgescu, Vlad (Author) – Calinescu, Matei (Editor) – Bley-Vroman, Alexandra (Translator): The Romanians – A History; Ohio State University Press, 1991, Columbus; ISBN 0-8142-0511-9
  • Klepper, Nicolae: Romania: An Illustrated History; Hippocrene Books, 2005, New York; ISBN 0-7818-0935-5
  • Sălăgean, Tudor: Romanian Society in the Early Middle Ages (9th-10th Centuries); in: Ioan-Aurel Pop – Ioan Bolovan (Editors): History of Romania: Compendium; Romanian Cultural Institute (Center for Transylvanian Studies), 2006, Cluj-Napoca; ISBN 978-973-7784-12-4
  • Spinei, Victor: Moldavia in the 11th-14th Centuries; Editura Academiei Republicii Socialiste Româna, 1986, Bucharest
  • Treptow, Kurt W. – Popa, Marcel: Historical Dictionary of Romania (entry ‘Dragoș (Mid-14th century)’); The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1996, Lanham (Maryland, USA) & Folkestone (UK); ISBN 0-8108-3179-1
  • Vásáry, István: Cumans and Tatars: Oriental Military in the Pre-Ottoman Balkans, 1185-1365; Cambridge University Press, 2005, Cambridge; ISBN 0-521-83756-1
Preceded by
None / Unknown
Voivode in Moldavia
c. 1352/1359–c. 1353/1360
Succeeded by