Radu I of Wallachia

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Radu I
Radu I.jpg
Voivode of Wallachia
Reign c. 1377 – c. 1383
Predecessor Vladislav I
Successor Dan I
Spouse Kalinikia
Issue Dan I, Mircea I, Staico
House Basarab
Father Nicolae Alexandru
Mother Lady Maria

Radu I was a ruler of the principality of Wallachia, (c. 1377 – c. 1383). His year of birth is unattested in any primary source. He was the son of Nicolae Alexandru and half-brother and successor to Vladislav I . He is identified by many historians as the legendary Radu Negru, a mythical voievode of the early medieval state Wallachia, founder of the state's institutions and ruler.

Beginning of reign[edit]

Radu was the only son of Nicholas Alexander of Wallachia by his second wife, Clara Dobokai.[1] He was co-ruler with his half-brother Vladislav I at least from 1372.[2] He may have started his reign as sole ruler after 9 July 1374 when the last documentary mention of his brother as being alive is dated. Unfortunately, there aren't any internal documents that could attest his reign. There are a few external mentions of him, primarily documents of the Kingdom of Hungary and a contemporary Italian chronicle and also a late pisanie[clarification needed], an inscription on the walls of Curtea de Argeș Cathedral and an important quantity of coins (ducati, dinari and bani) which were emitted by the voievod .

Conflicts with the Kingdom of Hungary[edit]

The relations with the Hungarian kingship during his reign remained tense, resulting in armed conflicts. The details of these fights remain unclear. An Italian chronicle "Cronaca Carrarese" tells about an expedition of the Hungarian king Louis the Great between 5 July - 14 August 1377 with the intention of subduing a one "Radano principe di Bulgaria infedele" (Italian), identified with Radu I. These tense relations which preceded the fight are confirmed by the registers of the Venetian Republic where, in the same year, a large order of full-equip armors made by the Wallachian voievod appears. These armors were to be worn by those "armadura da cavali", 10.000 at number (a slightly exaggerated number) who were defeated in battle against the Hungarian king as pointed out by the Italian chronicle.

It is hard to tell whether the troops of the Wallachian voievod were truly defeated, as from the internal documents of the Kingdom of Hungary which were published in the next period, it appears that the Hungarian king still had the intention of subduing the unfaithful voievod. Thus on 19 November of the same year, the king promised the Saxon traders of Transylvania from Brasov that if Wallachia becomes his possession he reduces the dues. On the contrary, in an order given to the landlord of Orsova in 1382 through which he was obliged to forbid any foreign trader to enter Wallachia with merchandise and to keep guard of the border "day and night" reporting everything that happened, there is no mention of an Hungarian ban of Severin and Orsova appears as border point thus suggesting that the Eastern part of Banat was annexed by the Wallachian voievod Radu I.

Maybe linked to this fact is the strange name given to the voievod in the biography of Sigismund of Luxembourg in which, speaking of Vlad Dracul, it is said that he was the son of "Merzeweydan" (Mircea) and grandson of "Pankraz dem Weisen" (Pankraz the Wise). The name Pankraz (Pancratius) is explained from the deterioration of the name Radu Ban (ban of Severin, title taken after the conquest of the territory). Nevertheless, the Wallachian voievod, in another Hungarian document which is contemporary with the events of 1377, bears the name "Godon" as well strange and unclear.

Other accomplishments[edit]

An important event linked to the reign of Radu I is the move of the remains of Saint Filofteia from Tarnovo to Arges, event which happened app. in 1384 when the scene is painted on the walls of the Curtea de Arges Cathedral that became the guardian of the Saint and whose ctitor was the voievod with his brother and father. His activity as ctitor of religious establishments makes him one of the most active rulers of Wallachia, building a large number of churches with Tismana, Cozia and Cotmeana being the most important. Also, during his reign the two Catholic cathedrals from Severin (a. 1380)and Arges (9 mai 1381) are built and following the tradition, a Catholic monastery in Targoviste.

Another important and controversial moment of his reign is represented by the ruling of the Tsardom of Vidin. At the basis of this theory stands an illegible inscription on the walls of Curtea de Arges Cathedral in which, some researchers, identified the title „domn singur stăpânitor al Ungrovlahiei, al Vidinului și al oblastiei Vidinului“ ("sole ruler of Ungrovlahia, Vidin and the Oblast of Vidin"). It is true that the relations between the Wallachian rulers Vladislav I and Radu I and the Bulgarian Tsars from Tarnovo and Vidin, Shishman and Ivan Sratsimir were very tensed, the latter being themselves in conflicts for the succession of the paternal throne. Once, Vladislav I managed to annex Vidin, but he later gave it to the rightful ruler. It is possible that the same thing was done by Radu I, although the proofs supporting this theory are insufficient.

Death and tomb[edit]

The exact date of his death, as well as his tomb, remain unknown. As a result, to the archaeological diggings made in 1920 in the voievodal necropolis situated on the grounds of the Curtea de Arges Cathedral, a rich tomb was found dating from the end of the 14th century, presumed to be that of Radu I. The clothes of the defunct, his accessories and jewelry shows him as a powerful feudal ruler, with whatsoever no distinction from the contemporary kings of Western Europe or the Byzantine emperors, the pomp of the Wallachian court being a reality well supported by evidence.

Radu I and Lady Ana in a mural representation on the walls of Curtea de Arges Cathedral
Preceded by
Vladislav I
Prince of Wallachia
c. 1377 – c. 1383
Succeeded by
Dan I

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hasan, Mihai Florin (2013). "Aspecte ale relaţiilor matrimoniale munteano-maghiare din secolele XIV-XV [Aspects of the Hungarian-Wallachian matrimonial relations of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries]". Revista Bistriţei (in Romanian). Cumplexul Muzeal Bistrița-Năsăud. XXVII: 128–159. ISSN 1222-5096. Retrieved 4 January 2016. 
  2. ^ Czamańska, Ilona (1996). Mołdawia i Wołoszczyzna wobec Polski, Węgier i Turcji w XIV i XV wieku. Poznań: Wydawnictwo Naukowe UAM. p. 202. ISBN 83-232-0733-X.