John III the Terrible

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Ioan Vodă

John III the Terrible (Romanian: Ioan cel Cumplit), also John III the Brave (Romanian: Ioan cel Viteaz) (1521–1574) was Voivode of Moldavia between February 1572 and June 1574.

He was the grandson of Stephen the Great and the son of Bogdan III and his Armenian mistress Serpega. It is said he spent part of his life being a merchant in Constantinople, where he had closely studied the Ottomans and their weaknesses.

Ioan was one of the last medieval Romanian rulers to battle the Turks. His nickname "the Terrible" was a result of his harsh treatment of the Boyars, the Moldavian nobility, which at that time were very influential in deciding the rulers of the small principality. Attempting to strengthen his rule and make an example out of disloyal nobles, Ioan III carried out several Boyar executions, thus earning his alias "the Terrible". The common people appreciated his courageous stand against the nobility's corruption and the harsh Turkish domination. He refused to double the amount of tribute paid to the Ottomans but the Moldovan army was defeated in the Battle of Cahul Lake, he was captured and executed.[1]

His short reign was marked by fierce combat against the Ottoman Empire and their Crimean Tatar allies. In order to counter the power of the Ottomans, he allied himself with the Ukrainian Cossacks. He was victorious at the battles of Jiliște, the Siege of Brăila, Tighina and Cetatea Albă.[citation needed] When an army of 150,000 Turks[citation needed] was sent against him, he personally surrendered, being promised that his Moldavian soldiers and Cossack allies would be spared in exchange for his capture.[citation needed] He was killed by the Ottomans by tying his body to four camels, which were driven in different directions.[citation needed] His soldiers were nonetheless slaughtered mercilessly.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The A to Z of Moldova, Andrei Brezianu,Vlad Spânu, page xxviii, 2010
Preceded by
Bogdan Lăpușneanu
Ruler of Moldavia
Succeeded by
Petru Şchiopul