Michael considered himself, as viceroy of Siebenbuergen, called upon to manage the affairs of the country. Basta, smarting under the disappointment of having failed to secure the viceroyalty, continued to assume the position of commander-in-chief of the forces, and not only interfered with the orders and wishes of Michael, but charged him with various offences, the chief one being that he was again usurping the supreme power. Believing that he would be safe in using this charge as a justification for his acts, and that his removal would pave the way for his own accession to the viceroyalty, Basta then determined to have Michael assassinated. Knowing that it was his intention to proceed to the Carpathians and liberate his family which had been kept there in confinement, Basta sent a captain with three hundred Walloons to effect his purpose. This man applied at Michael’s tent for permission to accompany him on his journey, and asked him to obtain the necessary permission from Basta. Michael assented, whereupon the officer entered the tent hastily, and, approaching the prince who was reposing, addressed him as his prisoner. Michael exclaimed that he would not yield himself alive, but before he could obtain possession of his sword to defend himself, the officer had ran him through the body with his halberd. This foul deed was perpetrated between August 17 and September 1, 1601, and it is said that the assassins struck off his head and sword-hand with Michael’s own sword. Afterwards they tortured and assassinated his minister, a veteran of eighty years of age, and spread such terror amongst the troops who had remained faithful to their murdered prince, that his boyards and their followers took to flight and sought refuge in Wallachia.
Thus fell Michael the Brave, rash, courageous, false, ambitious, patriotic, the central figure in the past history of Roumania. Basta sought to justify his act of treachery in a letter to the Emperor; but whilst on the one hand the German court dared not quarrel with him in the then condition of Transylvania, on the other hand they refused to reward him for a deed of blood which has sent down his name with execration to posterity.
[Footnote 143: Teutschlaender, p. 201.]
[Footnote 144: According to Vaillant and others there were two officers each with 300 men, and Michael ran his sword through one of the officers, but before he could withdraw it the other, called Bory, struck him down with his halberd.]
FROM THE DEATH OF MICHAEL THE BRAVE (A.D. 1601) TO THE DEPOSITION OF PRINCE COUZA (A.D. 1866).