I recently made a topic suggesting adding the Vlach/Romanian civillization and Stephen the Great campaign (1457 - 1504) and further down in the same topic I suggested Bassarab and Bogdan (1310 - 1367) as an alternative. I don’t expect nor want to see 3 Vlach campaigns in the game, my no.1 choice still remains Stephen the Great but for those who wanted alternatives in a different time period I suggested Bassarab and Bogdan and now, I wish to suggest another right at the end of AoE 2’s timeframe - 1593 - 1601.
The “trinity” of the best Romanian medieval rulers are:
- Vlad the Impaler
- Stephen the Great
- Michael the Brave
Vlad the Impaler is more famous because of his Dracula reputation, but Stephen the Great and Michael the Brave were far more skilled generals, equal to Hannibal in my opinion.
Stephen the Great’s story is present in the topic I linked here, as for Michael the Brave:
Here is a 90 minutes doccumentary:
Michael the Brave briefly united much of the future Romania under his rule. Acceding to the princely throne of Walachia in 1593, Michael submitted in May 1595 to the suzerainty of the prince of Transylvanian lord Sigismund Báthory in order to secure support against Ottoman rule. He routed the Turks at Călugăreni and Giurgiu. In 1598, he took an oath of fealty to the Habsburg Emperor Rudolf II and also concluded a peace with the Turks.
The following year he attacked his new Transylvanian suzerain Andreas Báthory and defeated him at Şelimbăr. Having now proclaimed himself prince of Transylvania, Michael next conquered Moldavia and assumed the title of “prince of Ungro-Walachia, Transylvania, and Moldavia.”
In September of that year, however, the troops of Emperor Rudolf divested him of Transylvania, while Polish forces wrested Moldavia from his control the following month. Reconciled to the Emperor in 1601, he helped suppress a rebellion of Magyar nobles at Gorăslău but was killed shortly thereafter on the order of the imperial general Giorgio Basta. During the 19th century, Michael acquired the reputation among Romanian nationalists as the pioneer of national unity.
In the late 16th century, after defeating Persia, the Ottoman Empire turned his gaze towards Europe. In 1593 the Ottoman Empire declared war on the Austrian Empire. Because of the expensive wars with Persia and Austria, the Ottoman Empire needed gold and started taxing the heck out of the vassal states of Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania. Collectively known as the Carpathian Principalities.
Motivated by these high taxes, the 3 princes of Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania: Michael the Brave, Arron the Tyrant and Sigismund Bathory join the Holy Leauge against the Ottoman Empire in 1954. Michael the Brave invades the Ottoman province of Dobruja and ravages it, the Ottomans send an army of Turks from Constantinopole and of Tatars from the Austrian border to Wallachia. Michael the Brave defeats both armines (2 wins) and proceeds to invade Bulgaria. The Ottomans send another army to fight Micahel the Brave in Bulgaria, they are defeated (3 wins).
At one point, Michael the Brave reaches within one day march of Constantinopole itself, but is forced to turn back to Wallachia after assistance from the Holy League fails to materialize. In Wallachia, Michael the Brave accepts to become Sigismund Bathory’s vassal in exhcange for military support. Following the devastation of Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire intends to fully incorporate Wallachia into the Ottoman Empire and sends a 100.000 troops army against Micahel the Brave’s now 15.000 troops. The battle takes place at Calugareni. Michael the Brave wins losing about 1.000 men while the Ottomans lost about 15.000 men (4 wins).
After the victory, Michael the Brave retreats to the Bran Pass on the border with Transylvania where he waits reinforcements from Sigismund Bathory. Meanwhile, the Ottoman army occupies Bucharest, Targoviste and other cities, starting to fully annex Wallachia into the Ottoman Empire. Eventually, Sigismund Bathory from Transylvnia and Stefan Razvan (the new prince who replaced Arron the Tyrant) from Moldavia arrive with reinforcements.
The combined armies of the 3 princes are of 32.000 men. Their armies take back Targoviste and Bucharest then defeat the Ottoman army at Giurgiu (5 wins). After Wallahcia is liberated, Sigismund Bathory and Stefan Razvan return to Transylvania and Moldavia. But while Stefan Razvan was away, the Polish-Lithuanians bought a pretender on the throne of Moldavia - Ieremia Movila. Stefan Razvan fights against Ieremia Movila in Moldavia but was defeated. Ieremia Movila then swore fealthy to the Sultan and now Michael the Brave is threatened by Moldavia as well.
After Michael the Brave takes back all of Wallachia, the Ottoman Empire sends an army of Tattars that is easily defaeted (6 wins). Then another army of Tattars is sent, that is again defeated (7 wins). By 1596 the Austrian and Translyvanian defeats against the Ottoman Empire force them to negociate a turce. This leaves Wallachia alone and isolated against the Ottoman Empire. After taking a loan from the Austrian Emperor Rudolph II, Micahel the Brave was once again the first to make a move and invaded Dobruja and Bulgaria with an army of 13.000 men.
But in Moldavia, Ieremia Movila planed to repalce Michael the Brave on the throne of Wallachia with his younger brother, Simion Movila. And in Transylvania, Sigismund Bathory was forced to abdicate and was repaced by his cousin Andreas Barothy. Then, Michael the Brave made a proposition to Emperor Rudolph II, the unification of Wallachia and Transylvania under his rule to help him fight the Ottoman Empire with the help of Transylvanian resources. Emperor Rudolph II refused and Michael the Brave began planning to seize Transylvania for himself while being at war with the Ottomans and Moldavians.
Surrounded on all sides, Michael the Brave was forced to seek peace with the Ottomans and used the numberous victories and destruction he caused in Dobruja and Bulgaria to gain favourable terms in the peace treaty. He was allowed to keep the fortified fortresses on the Danube and was recognized by the Sultan as ruler of Wallachia.
In 1599, although Michael the Brave has achieved pretty much what he wanted, a favourable peace with the Ottoman Empire. The rulers of Moldavia and Transylvania, Ieremia Movila and Andreas Barothy, where both competing in trying to overthrow Michael the Brave and seize Wallachia for themselves. It was then that Michael the Brave laid out his political plan of unifying the Carpathian Principalities under his rule.
With Andreas Barothy enjoying support from Polish-Lithuania, Transylvania became a vassal state of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth who was friendly towards the Ottoman Empire. While Moldavia was a vassal of Transylvania, Polish-Lithuania and the Ottoman Empire at the same time. This concept is known as conduminium, a territory ruled by 2 or more sovereign powers. After securing Translyvania, Andreas Barothy asked the Sultan for confirmation of his hereditary rule and suzerainty over Wallachia, which the Ottoman Empire accepted. And so, Andreas Barothy began trying to install a pretender, Simion Movila (Ieremia Movila’s younger brother) on the throne of Wallachia. The Ottoman Empire supported this policy, deeming Michael the Brave a dangerous vassal. Michael the Brave was now surrounded from all sides by rulers who was in their political and economic interest to replace him.
In a cunning move, Michael the Brave swore fealthy to Andreas Barothy, which gave him time to prepare an army of 13.000 troops. Michael the Brave then asked the Austrian Emperor Rudolph II for his backing, which gave his plan to invade Transylvania considerable legitimacy. Austrian Emperor Rudolph II didn’t like the loss of Transylvania due to Andreas Barothy’s swore of fealthy to Polish-Lithuania, and it was in his interest to help Michael the Brave’s invasion, seeing it as a chance to bring Transylvania back into the Austrian Empire.
In October 1599, a messanger from Transylvania came to Michael the Brave preventing a provocative and insulent ultimatum. By the power of his overlordship over Wallachia, Andreas Barothy ordered Michael the Brave to take his entire family and leave Wallachia. And so Michael the Brave left Wallachia, to invade Transylvania.
Declaring that he is attacking Transylvania on behalf of Emperor Rudolph II, some Transylvanians joined Michael the Brave, such as the Hungarians from Targu Mures and Fagaras, and the Saxons from Brasov, together with some new fresh troops from Oltenia in Wallachia, Michael the Brave’s army reached 20.000 men while Andreas Barothy army had 16.000 men. The forces of Michael the Brave and Andreas Barothy met near Sibiu. Michael the Brave won (8 wins) then took Sibiu and Alba Iulia. At Alba Iulia, the Hungarian nobility elected him Prince of Transylvania.
A few days later, Michael the Brave established a diet, demanding that the Hungarian nobility swears loyality to Emperor Rudolph II, to himself and to his son. And began calling himself “King of Transylvania and Wallachia”. Afterwards, he met to Polish-Lithuanian officials to negociate a conduminium where Michael the Brave would be a vassal of the Austrian Empire and Polish-Lithuanian in exchange for the Moldavian crown and recognition of himself and his heirs over the Carpathian Principalities.
Polish-Lithuanian officials refused, but nonetheless, Michael the Brave’s army entered Moldavia and as the Moldavian armies and castles slowly joined Michael the Brave’s side, Ieremia Movila fled the country to Poland-Lithuania and Michael the Brave was crowned prince of Moldavia. Michael the Brave’s warring ways united for the first time the principalities of Wallachia, Transylvania and Moldavia under a Romanian ruler. But a new dynasty controlling this potentially powerful kingdom, would upset the balance of power in the region.
By first securing Wallachia’s defence against the Ottoman Empire, and then incorporating Transylvania and Moldavia into his kingdom, Michael the Brave proved he was a quick-thinking and brilliant general who mastered all of the basics of 16th century warfare. He understood the advantages of speed and flanking, attacking an enemy formation from 2 sides and he knew how to use terrain to his advantage.
The kingdom that Michael the Brave founded did not yet have a national agenda, and still wasn’t based on ethnical unity. While Wallachia and Moldavia were full of Romanians, Transylvania was made out of mostly Romanian peasants with a Hungarian nobility, Saxon (German) traders and Szekely (Germans speaking Hungarian) elite warriors. And while it was somewhat unclear while the name of this new kingdom would have been, it is clear that it was a project of the Wallachian elites to expand their power over the neighbouring principalities.
But as soon as he became prince of Moldavia and returned to Alba Iulia in Transylvania. Michael the Brave’s plans were met with both internal and external threats. Interanlly, the nobilities of Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania all had competing interests.
And externally, the interests of all 3 great powers: Austrian Empire, Poland-Lithuania and the Ottoman Empire were damaged by Michael the Brave’s unification. The Austrian Empire wanted control over Transylvania and its rich resources. Poland-Lithuania wanted Moldavia as their buffer state. While the Ottoman Empire wanted to restore their control over all their 3 former principalities. To make matters worse, Wallachia and Moldavia had almost no fortifications on the Ottoman border, since the Ottoman Empire previously banned them in order to weaken their rulers, an attacking enemy could quickly penetrate deep into Moldavia and Wallachia in a matter of days.
Although Michael the Brave still refered to himself as vassal of Emperor Rudolph II, he still refered to himself as “king” and began to negociate his position in Transylvania with Emperor Rudolph II, he wanted to be direct ruler of Transylvania instead of governor in Emperor Rudolph II’s name, and equally claimed the Partium / Crisana region as rightful part of Transylvana. This damaged his standing with Emperor Rudolph II and all 3 major powers started perparing armies to invade the unified kingdom of Wallachia, Transylvania and Moldavia.
Although the kingdom possesed enough manpower for a 60.000 men army, due to internal conflicts Michael the Brave could only mobilize an army of 15.000 troops. Eventually, the Hungarian nobility undertook a revolt against Michael the Brave with support from Austrian Italian-born general Georgio Basta with 20.000 men. In August 1600 their armies met, with only 12.000 troops and without his best units, Michael the Brave lost the battle (8 wins, 1 loss) and lost Transylvania. This was the beginning of the end for Michael the Brave, but he would not go down without a fight.
Meanwhile, Poland-Lithuania under the command of Jay Zamonski invaded Moldavia with 17.000 men bringing with them the brothers Ieremia Movila and Simion Movila with the goal of overthrowing Michael the Brave’s rule in Moldavia and Wallachia. Some Moldavian nobles joined the Polish-Lithuanians due to Michael the Brave’s harsh taxes, others had little choice else they would be stripped of their land and power. By October 1600 the Polish-Lithuanian army reached Wallachia were Michael the Brave has retreated after his defeat in Transylvania.
Michael the Brave marched against Jay Zamonski with 10.000 men and was defeated (8 wins, 2 loss). As Michael the Brave retreated to Olternia, Jay Zamonski reached Bucharest and put Simion Movila as ruler of Wallachia. Michael the Brave invaded Muntenia in Wallachia to take back his throne but was defeated again by Jay Zamonski (8 wins, 3 loss). Realising he has no change to retake Wallachia on his own, Michael the Brave left Oltenia and headed for Vienna to negociate with Emperor Rudolph II. However, Emperor Rudolph II refused to give him an audience at his court.
However, the Hungarian nobility in Transylvania that previously revoted against Michael the Brave, now revolted against the new governor, Georgio Basta, and reinstalled Sigismund Bathory who turned his back on Austria and was now loyal to Poland-Lithuania having received substantial military support from them. Needing to retake Transylvania once again, Emperor Rudolph II reacted. He allowed Michael the Brave an audience and provided him 100.000 florins to build a new army formed by mercenaries.
With 10.000 troops, Michael the Brave’s army met with Georgio Basta’s army of also 10.000 men. Emperor Rudolph II ordered his 2 commanders to set their differences aside and work together with Michael the Brave taking command of the whole army. The Michael-Basta coallition invaded Transylvania and defeated Sigismund Bathory’s army of 40.000 men (9 wins, 3 loss). Then Michael the Brave took Cluj while Georgio Basta took Targu Mures.
Meanwhile in Wallachia, Michael the Brave’s supporters already overthrew Simion Movila and sent messages to Michael the Brave that a Wallachian army is waiting for his arrival in Targoviste. However, Michael the Brave wanted to separate himself from Georgio Basta and retake Transylvania once again by taking Alba Iulia again as his princely seat, directly against Emperor Rudolph II’s wishes.
Needless to say, it was unacceptable for Emperor Rudolph II to allow Michael the Brave to rule once again a potentially powerful kingdom, so he ordered Georgio Basta to assassinate Michael the Brave. On Emperor Rudolph II’s orders, Georgio Basta sent his men to Michael the Brave’s camp near Campia Turzii on 9th of August 1601, when the tried to defend himself, he was struck down with Halebards and his head was cut off (9 wins, 3 loss, 1 assassination). His body was left in display for a while, but his followers managed to take his body back to Wallachia in Targoviste, where it is still today.
Following Michael the Brave’s death, Simion Movila took back the throne of Wallachia, while having to fight against Michael the Brave’s son Nicolae Patrascu who was spared by Georgio Basta had Austrian support and Radu Mihnea who enjoyed support from the Ottoman Empire as they wanted to regain control over the princiaplities. Eventually Radu Mihnea won and Wallachia became an Ottoman vassal state once again. Georgio Basta became governor of Transylvania for a few months, until due to his cruelty leading once again to discontent, Emperor Rudolph II recalled him, but soon after Sigismund Bathory would invade Transylvania from Moldavia once again but swear fealthy to the Ottoman Empire instead. While Ieremia Movila will keep ruling Moldavia until his death in 1606, afterwards he was replaced by his brother, Simion Movila.
Each chapter from the full story can be a mission in the campaign:
- The Holy League → Michael joins the Holy League to provide a second front against the Ottoman Empire, pushing deep into Bulgaria trying to reach for Constantinopole (12:00 video)
Outro1: Michael’s raid is succesful, but he has to retreat to Wallachia due to lacking supplies while the Ottomans prepare a 100.000 men force to counter-attack.
- Battle of Calugareni → Michael makes a stand against the vastly superior army at Calugareni, using the bridge as a chokepoint while trying to encyrcle the Ottoman forces with his cavalry.
Outro2: Michael manages to defeat the vastly superior Ottoman army, but his victory is only temporary, as another wave of Ottoman troops is prepared, Michael retreats north to get reinforcements from Transylvania and Moldavia. (16:00 video)
- Battle of Giurgiu → With Transylvanian and Moldavian reinforcements, Michael manages to rout the Ottomans out of Wallachia, the last Ottoman stronghold is Giurgiu. (33:00 video)
Outro3: Michael manages to deal a crushing defeat to the Ottomans at Giurgiu, with many of them running for their lives, which allowed Michael to secure a favorable peace with the Ottomans.
- Counter-Ambition → The new Transylvanian voivod seeks to take Wallachia for himself, Michael counters the offer by attacking Transylvania first, with the blessing of Emperor Rudof II. (51:00 video)
Outro4: Michael wins and is declared Voivode of Transylvania in the city of Alba Iulia. But another ruler, the new ruler of Moldavia, also covets the throne of Michael.
- Into Moldavia → Similary to Transylvania, Michael responds the ‘offer’ by attacking first. Pusing deep into Moldavia to defeat Ieremia Movila and become prince of Moldavia. (1:00:00 video)
Outro5: Michael defeats Ieremia Movila and becomes the prince of Wallachia, Transylvania and Moldavia. He begins to style himself as king, create a new coat of arms that incorporated elements from Wallachia, Transylvania and Moldavia alike and negociate with Emperor Rudolf II to become prince of Transylvania himself, rather than merely rule in his name.
- Fragile Union → 3 months after the unifciation of Wallachia, Transylvania and Moldavia, Emperor Rudolf II sent General Giorgio Basta to deal with him once and for all, their forces would clash at Miraslau. (1:11:00 video)
Outro6: Following his defeat in Transylvania, a Polish attack in Moldavia and Wallachia while Michael’s army is weakened made quick work of his new kingdom. Defeated, Michael seeks to negociate with the very man who invaded him - Emperor Rudolf II.
- The Last Chanace → Following a revolt of the Hungarian nobility against the Austrians, Emperor Rudolf II found use for Michael and his skill. With an army of mercenaries, him and General Basta were sent to Transylvania to retake it. (1:24:00 video)
Outro7: Michael’s forces are succesful and he controls Transylvania once again. Meanwhile, forces loyal to Michael in Wallachia led by his son, Nicolae Pătrașcu, drove out the Polish and are prepared to reenter Transylvania. It appaers Michael’s rise to power is about to start once again, but Emperor Rudolf II and General Basta had other plans (shows video or drawing where Micahel the Brave is assassinated).