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Basarab I of Wallachia - Founder of the House of Basarab and Ancestor of Vlad III Dracula
Basarab I of Wallachia
Basarab I Voivode of Wallachia, Reign 1310 - 1352
Vlad III Dracula was Voivode (prince) of Wallachia during the 15th century. Going much further back in time, we find his great-great-great grandfather, Basarab I of Wallachia, the founder of the House of Basarab, who established the Principality of Wallachia.
Ivanco Basarabai was born sometime around 1310. He was the son of Thocomerius of Wallachia, his mother is unknown. Not much is known about Thocomerius, other than he was possibly a local leader, monarch or potentate. He was obviously of the line of Basarab. There is no written record of Thocomerius that came down in history, except for a short mention by Charles I of Hungary, who wrote in a diploma about Basarab:
"the schismatic Basarab, son of Thocomerius."
So, it seems that the inherent strong leadership abilities of the men in the family descended from Thocomerius.
The name Basarabai most likely originally meant "father ruler", which is denoted by basar (to rule) and the 'aba' (father) at the end -- the name originated from one of the Turkish languages. The 'ai' on the end of the name was dropped in the Romanian language.
It was during the time when Hungary was at war with the Orthodox states of the Balkan Peninsula that Basarab apparently began to rise in power. He became a vassal (pledged homage) to King Charles I Robert of Hungary. However, Charles was not happy with Basarab and accused him of unauthorized occupation of crown territories. King Charles, intending to reclaim his authority entered Wallachia with a huge army, where the two leaders came against each other at Posada.
Basarab came into notable power in the Battle of Posada. The battle lasted for three days (November 9, 1330 to November 12, 1330). Basarab led the Wallachian army, which was small compared to the Hungarian army of 30,000 soldiers led by Charles I. Basarab defeated the much larger Hungarian army, thereby giving Wallachia independence and freedom from paying homage to the feudal lord, Charles I Robert.
Battle of Posada
Battle of Posada
Basarab knew that his small army of foot soldiers with their bows and arrows and peasants with whatever weapons they had, was not strong enough to fight in an open battlefield with Robert's huge army of trained soldiers on horseback -- so he took his army higher up into the Transylvanian Alps. Basarab had offered his own son as hostage to Charles, plus silver and handed over the fortress of Severin to Charles, who had previously captured the fortress, but Basarab had taken it back under siege.
Charles' councilors strongly advised him to accept the offer Basarab had made to stop the hostilities, but the king was too stubborn and did not take their advice.
Charles did not even take time to supply his own troops with adequate supplies, nor did he have any well-thought out plans of attack. He gave chase to Basarab up into the mountains, which was a mistake, for Basarab and his small army were all too familiar with the mountain terrain. After several days of searching in the Carpathian Mountains, with his troops starving and losing energy, Charles agreed to a truce if Basarab would lend some guides to lead the lost Hungarian army out of the mountains. Basarab, seeing an advantage, sent some guides down to Charles.
Rather than leading Charles' army out of the mountains, the guides led them into an ambush in a narrow ravine, where Basarab and his army were ready. The kings army was trapped when stones were rolled down to block them in the ravine as the Wallachians attacked from all sides with arrows and large rocks thrown down upon the Hungarians.
Seeing no way of defeating Basarab, Charles gave his royal clothes and insignia to one of his captains in exchange for a set of civilian clothes and made his escape. Charles left behind his army, which was already mostly destroyed, including many nobles that had been killed.
King Charles Fleeing From the Battle of Posada
Victory for Wallachia
Basarab's victory saved Wallachia, although the two states were still in tense relations until 1344, when Basarab sent his son Alexandru to resolve and re-establish relationships with the Kingdom of Hungary. The disputes were eventually solved and Wallachia remained an independent state under the rule of Basarab.
Coat of Arms
House of Basarab
From the mid 1300s on, the name Basarab was well-known throughout Hungary, Serbia, Moldavia and Poland.
The House of Basarab, was founded in 1310 by Basarab and became the first ruling dynasty of Romania -- thus, the first line of Princes for Wallachia was established from the family of Basarab and the lineage was strong enough to establish the Principality of Wallachia.
After the death of King Charles in 1342, his son, Louis I was crowned King of Hungary and Croatia.
Louis launched new offensives against Wallachia in 1343 and again in 1345 and Basarab again lost the fortress of Severin.
Basarab's son, Nicolae Alexandru, eventually pledged homage to Louis I.
Nicolae Alexandru, Voivode of Wallachia, Reign 1352 - November 1377
Alexandru had been an associate ruler with his father, Basarab. In 1352, when Basarab died, Alexandru became the sole Voivode of Wallachia.
The first Eastern Orthodox Metropolitan seat in Wallachia was founded by Alexandru in 1352. Although he initially resisted to become a vassal of the Kingdom of hungary, Alexandru yielded to Louis I of Hungary in 1354. As a vassal, Alexandru gave recognition to the right of the Roman Catholic Church in his Principality and missions were established. Saxon traders from Brasov were given privilege to enter and trade in Wallachia and no duty fees were charged.
The return of the fortress of Severin to the Wallachian state was agreed upon between the King of Hungary and Alexandru.
After the reign of Alexandru, the House of Basarab split between the Draculesti and Danesti lines. The House of Draculesti was founded by Vlad II Dracul and the House of Danesti was founded by Dan I.
Vladislav I, Voivode of Wallachia, Reign November 1364 - 1377
Vladislav I was one of the sons of Nicolae Alexandru. Radu I was the other son and half brother to Vladislav I.
In the beginning of his rule, Vladislav I paid homage to Ivan Alexander, the Bulgarian Emperor, then in 1369 became vassal to Louis I of Hungary in exchange for Severin and two other cities, Amlas and Fagaras.
When Vladislav died in 1377, Radu I, became Voivode of Wallachia.
Radu I, Voivode of Wallachia, Reign c. 1377 - c. 1383
Radu I was the son of Nicolae Alexandru and the Great Grandfather of Vlad III Dracula. Radu was the sole Voivode of Wallachia after his half brother, Vladislav I died in 1377.
There is quite a bit of discrepancy and uncertainties regarding Radu and events during his reign. He is even thought of by many historians as the mythical Radu Negru who was a legendary voivode of Wallachia in early medieval times, around 1290, nearly 100 years prior to the reign of Radu I. The legend states that Radu Negru was the founder and first ruler of Wallachia. However, in historical fact, it was Basarab I who is credited with the political independence of Wallachia as a state after his great victory over King Charles I of Hungary in 1330, at the Battle of Posada. So, it is obvious that Radu Negru was a mythical folk hero who over time blended with real rulers.
Tensions and conflicts with Hungary still existed during Radu's reign. There were armed conflicts, but no clear details emerge about them. Wallachia, along with Serbia, Moldavia, and Bulgaria were vassals King Louis the Great of Hungary. Radu evidently resisted Louis, for in July and August of 1377, Louis launched an expedition to bring Radu more under control. The Venetian Republic has records of the Wallachian voivode (obviously, Radu I) ordering fully equipped armor for several thousand soldiers. A battle ensued and the Wallachians were reportedly defeated, but, that is not certain, for there is no mention of defeat, or a battle in Hungarian internal documents. In November of 1377, Louis was still trying to subdue Radu and gain possession of Wallachia, so, apparently the Wallachians were not defeated in any battle prior to then.
During Radu's reign he had two Catholic cathedrals and a monastery built, and financed religious establishments and events, making him one of the most active rulers of Wallachia.
It seems a lot of history about Radu during his reign is murky and confused. Even the date of his death and the location of his tomb remains uncertain.
Radu's successor was Dan I, his son, who ruled for just three years, 1383 - 1386. Mircea I, or Mircea the Elder, was the son of Radu I, brother of Dan I and Grandfather of Vlad III Dracula. Mircea took over sole rule of Wallachia from 1383 - 1418.
© 2014 Phyllis Doyle Burns