Ecaterina Cercheza

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Doamna Ecaterina Cercheza  (Romanian)
Princess Catherine the Circassian  (English)
Princess consort of Moldavia[1]
Bornc. 1620
Circassia (present-day Russia)
Diedafter 1 March 1666
SpouseVasile Lupu
IssueȘtefăniță Lupu

Doamna Ecaterina Cercheza (c. 1620 – after 1 March 1666) was a Circassian noblewoman who became Princess consort of Moldavia by marriage to Vasile Lupu.[2][3][4] As reported by Evliya Çelebi, her mother was the sister of Koca Dervish Mehmed Pasha who was the Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire from 1653 to 1654, and her sister was married to Islam III Giray, Khan of Crimea (1644–1654).[5] She played a major role on personal and political decisions of her husband and son Ştefăniţă Lupu.[3] Well known for her philanthropic activities,[6] Doamna Ecaterina Cercheza became patron of the Moldavian monasteries and churches.[5] She developed a strong reputation for her diplomatic and negotiating skills in time of crisis, in the absence of her husband and son.[5]

In his work The Return 1639, the Italian traveller Niccolò Barsi da Lucca illustrates in details the journey of Doamna Ecaterina whom he describes as having "all the attributes of Aphroditic beauty that a woman can ever have".[5][7][8] The historian and Prime Minister of Romania (1931–1932) Nicolae Iorga also states that "the Princess [Ecaterina], a Circassian by birth, was extraordinarily beautiful" and highly appreciated all over Moldavia.[2][3][9][10][11][12][13]

Marriage to Vasile Lupu[edit]

Originating from a wealthy Circassian family in the Caucasus, Ecaterina (born circa 1620) was brought to Moldavia in 1939 to marry Vasile Lupu who, upon the death of his first wife Doamna Tudosca (1600 – May 1639), immediately sent Ambassador Nicolae Catargie to look through the entire Circassian land for a new wife.[3][14][15] Catargie paid 1500 ducats as dowry to Ecaterina's parents before taking her to Crimea.[3] On 19 August 1639, they left Bakhchysarai to go to the fortress Ochakov.[7] With the permission of Bahadır I Giray who received 1000 ducats,[3] hundreds of Tatar and Moldavian guards accompanied the Circassian Princess to the Moldavian border.[3] Although the journey was later interrupted by Nasuh Hussein Pasha, Beylerbey of Silistra (1638–1640), the conflict was resolved with Pasha receiving 2000 ducats.[7] The delegation was met by a special escort even at the border crossing in Moldavia, which consisted of boyars and senior government military officials since the hospitality of foreign guests represented a particular ritual for them.[3] On 28 September 1639, Ecaterina has finally arrived in the capital.[3] On the entrance in Iaşi they were met by Vasile Rupu himself.[3] For the arrival of the luxury-lover ruler's bride, money was not saved and Ecaterina has been honored with numerous pre-wedding gifts in addition to the most distinguished reception.[3] Her brother and her maid were lodged in a separate residence, especially built for them.[3][16]

The wedding was of major political importance.[3]

Official activities[edit]

Doamna Ecaterina Cercheza undertook official engagements in Moldavia.[17] She participated alongside Vasile Lupu at all official celebrations, including the weddings of Princess Maria and Princess Ruxandra whose fates were determined by Ecaterina herself.[5] Doamna Ecaterina also made cash donations to the Golia and Hlincea monasteries, among others.[5][18] She equipped the Golia Monastery with pews brought from Constantinople.[5]

Because of the battle for the throne between Gheorghe Ştefan and Vasile Lupu, Doamna Ecaterina left her family to Kamianets-Podilskyi.[5] During the Ottoman deposition of her spouse in 1653, she was evacuated to the city of Suceava.[5] The historian Georg Krauss states that although she initially refused to surrender, defending Suceava during the Ottoman siege, Doamna Ecaterina was forced to capitulate and compelled to give her jewels as well as five of her most beautiful horses.[19] Then she was taken captive to Bistrița, where she was imprisoned until 1658.[5] When her son ascended to the throne in November 1659, she accompanied him to Iaşi and supervised his activity.[5] In 1661, after the death of her husband and son, Doamna Ecaterina Cercheza moved to Constantinople and spent four years in the family palace on the Bosphorus.[5] In 1665, she returned to Moldavia.[5] Her last attestation appears in a donation document issued on 1 March 1666.[5]


The couple had three children together: Ştefăniţă (d. 1661), Ioan (d. 1648), and Alexandru (d. 1648).[5] In 1659, Ştefăniţă became Voivode of Moldavia under the name Ştefăniţă Lupu.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Andreescu, Constantin I.; Stoide, Constantin A. (1937). "Ştiri despre petrecerea în Moldova a doamnei Ecaterina Cercheza". Iaşi: 33–39. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ a b Iorga, Nicolae (1902). Studii şi documente cu privirea la istoria românilor: Legăturile principatelor române cu Ardealul de la 1601 la 1699 [Studies and documents regarding the History of Romanians: The connections of the Romanian principalities with Transylvania from 1601 to 1699]. (in Romanian) 4. Bucharest: Ministry of Education. p. 127.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Pavel, Lilia Zabolotnaia (2012). "The Story of the Courtship of Catherine 'the Circassian', the Second Wife of the Prince Vasile Lupu" (PDF). Codrul Cosminului. 18 (1): 43–50. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
  4. ^ Toderaşcu, Ciprian-Gică (2010). "Ecaterina Cerchez, soţia lui Vasile Lupu [Cerchez Catherine, the wife of Vasile Lupu]": 7. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Marcu, George (2012). Enciclopedia personalităţilor feminine din România. Bucharest: Editura Meronia.
  6. ^ Iftimi, Sorin. "Mănăstirea Golia din Iaşi – o privire retrospectivă."
  7. ^ a b c Barsi, Niccolò (1973) [1639]. "Întoarcerea. 1639" [The return. 1639]. In Holban, Maria; Alexandrescu, Maria Matilda; Bulgaru, Dersca; Cernovodeanu, Paul (eds.). Călători străini despre Ţările Române [Foreign travelers about the Romanian Countries] (in Romanian). 5. Bucharest: Scientific Publishing House. pp. 86–89.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Iorga, Nicolae (1910). Viaţa femeilor în trecutul românesc [Life of Women in the Romanian Past]. Vălenii de Munte.
  10. ^ Iorga, Nicolae (1911). Femeile în viaţa neamului nostru [Women in the life of our people]. Vălenii de Munte.
  11. ^ Iorga, Nicolae (1932). Scrisori de femei [Women letters]. Vălenii de Munte.
  12. ^ Iorga, Nicolae (1937). Portretele doamnelor române [The portraits of Romanian Women]. Bucharest.
  13. ^ Iorga, Nicolae (1992). Istoria românilor în chipuri şi icoane [The History of Romanians in Faces and Icons]. Bucharest.
  14. ^ Nistor, Oltea I. (1929). "O circasiană pe tronul Moldovei, extras din "Junimea Literară"". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  15. ^ Costin, Miron (1990). "Letopiseţul Ţării Moldovei de la Aaron-vodă încoace (1595–1675) [The Chronic of Moldavia from Aaron voivode]". Letopiseţul Ţării Moldovei. Chişinău. p. 189.
  16. ^ Capraşu, Ioan (2000). "Documente privitoare la istoria oraşului Iaşi" [Documents Regarding the City of Iasi]. Acte interne (1661–1690) [Internal Documents (1661–1690)]. 2. Iaşi: Dosoftei. p. 100.
  17. ^ Gane, Constantin (1991). Trecute vieţi de doamne şi domniţe [Bygone lives of queens and princesses]. Chișinău: Universitas Printing House. p. 207.
  18. ^ Iftimi, Sorin (2010). "Doamna Ecaterina Cercheza şi fiul ei, Ştefăniţă Lupu". Iaşi: 47–86. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  19. ^
  20. ^ Andreescu, Constantin I.; Stoide, Constantin A. (1938). "Ştefăniţă Lupu, domn al Moldovei 1659–1661 [Ştefăniţă Lupu, ruler of Moldavia 1659–1661]". Bucharest: Foundation of the King Carol I: 27. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)