Not within these portals shalt thou ever come.
Hasten to thy brave ones; for thy country fall;
Then maternal love with wreaths shall deck thy pall!”
Once more Stephen rallies; lusty sounds his horn;
Heroes flock around him on the battle morn.
Fierce and dire the slaughter; on that glorious day
Falls the Moslem chivalry like the new-mown hay.’
Notwithstanding the great victory which he obtained, the Moslem power was too strong for him, and he is found, before the century’s close, allied with them against Poland, to whose sovereign he had but a few years previously sworn fealty, and into which he now made a raid. In 1504 he died a natural death, and it is said that before his decease, either from fear of the Turks, or distrusting the power of his son Bogdan, he advised the latter to make a permanent treaty with the Porte, which he did shortly after his death. The most favourable traits in Stephen’s character seem to have been his courage and patriotism, notwithstanding the story which is told of his flight to Niamtz. Like Mircea, he organised an army which is estimated at about the same strength, with the addition of irregular troops. That he was pious after a fashion is most likely, but that he also practised the tyrannic cruelties of his age is undoubted. Shortly after his advent to the throne, the Tartars entered his dominions, carrying fire and sword everywhere, but they were eventually repulsed and driven out by Stephen. In the course of this campaign he took a son of the Tartar chief prisoner, and when envoys came to treat for his liberation he ordered the prince to be decapitated in their presence, a deed which may have been justified as a lesson to the ruthless tribe who had invaded his country. Not content with this, however, he impaled all the envoys but one, whose nose and ears he cut off, and sent him back to his master in that dreadful condition. ‘But,’ adds the chronicler, ’Stephen, who was a man of his period, only regarded this act as a manifestation of zeal in the faith. Shortly afterwards he built the monastery of Putna, dedicated it to Jesus and the Virgin, and caused to be transported thither the wooden chapel which Dragosch had constructed at Volovitz.’ ’These were the ordinary practices of the age,’ remarks another commentator; ’and if such treatment was reserved for the high and noble, one may guess what was the fate of the humble.’
[Footnote 135: For the terms of this treaty see Appendix II.]
What that fate was may easily be imagined by anyone who follows the narrative of the wars which devastated the land. But, before treating of the condition of the country and the customs of the period, we must refer to one or two voivodes whose rule was pacific, and whose energies were directed to the promotion of civilising influences. Concerning these, too, we have the trustworthy records already cited in our description of the cathedral of Curtea d’Ardges. One of them was Neagu Bassarab, the other John Radul, known as Radul d’Affumati, and both were voivodes of Wallachia.