Roumania Past and Present eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 315 pages of information about Roumania Past and Present.

III.

But Michael’s troubles were far from terminated by these victories.  Before securing the co-operation of the Prince of Siebenbuergen, he had, with a duplicity which characterised his whole career, agreed to acknowledge Sigismund as his suzerain, his object being to free himself from Turkish rule and then assume independent power.  But the Transylvanians were not to be so easily disposed of, and after the victories over the Turks they in their turn demanded homage from the two Voivodes, and backed their claim by an irresistible force.  The Voivode of Moldavia was seized and imprisoned, and Michael, deeming prudence the better part of valour, submitted to the terms which were dictated to him.  These were in appearance worse even than the Turkish ‘capitulations,’ but, as they were never kept, it is unnecessary to mention them.  Sigismund assumed the title ’By the grace of God, Prince of Siebenbuergen, of Moldavia and Wallachia, and of the Holy Roman Empire, &c.’ (he in his turn being the vassal of the German Emperor), whilst Michael was denied the claim to divine right, was restricted in his princely powers, and was addressed as ’Dominus Michael Voivoda regni nostri Transalpinensis.’  He was not permitted to employ the national seal, but was allowed the use of red wax.

Perhaps it was well for Michael that he submitted to these humiliating conditions at the hands of his ally, or his reign might have been even shorter than it was, for the Turk was again at his gates with an overwhelming army.  The Sultan Murad III. was dead, January 1595, and was succeeded by Mahommed III.; nineteen brothers, we are told, having been slaughtered to obviate dissensions, a custom which is still followed, as the reader is doubtless aware, in certain oriental realms.  Shortly after his accession, the Porte again proceeded to assume the sovereignty of the Principalities, and an army variously estimated from 100,000 to 180,000 men, under Sinan Pasha, was concentrated at Rustchuk to take possession of the provinces.  Michael was at the time able to collect only 8,000 men, for the Transylvanian troops had been withdrawn, but his encounter with the overwhelming Turkish force arrayed against him on this occasion undoubtedly presents the most brilliant phase of his remarkable career.  Marching rapidly to Giurgevo with his handful of men, he managed to detain the Turkish army for weeks on the south side of the Danube, destroying their bridges and preventing them from crossing the river.  Turned at length by a Turkish detachment, which had succeeded in crossing at a point above Giurgevo, he was compelled to withdraw to a village about halfway towards Bucarest.  His little army had been strengthened by an accession of Transylvanian and Moldavian troops, the former under brave Albert Kiraly, but even then it barely numbered 16,000, whilst the army of Sinan Pasha must have been at least six times as strong.  Kalugereni, the village at which this stand was made, is still to be found on the maps, on the line of railway from Giurgevo to Bucarest; and it only differed from Thermopylae in the fact that the enemy was not alone checked in his career, but for the time the little army of Roumanians and their allies were completely victorious.

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Roumania Past and Present from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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