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Title: Dragos  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: History of the Balkans, Hunting in Romania
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For other uses, see Dragoș (disambiguation).
Voivode in Moldavia
Dragoş (a 19th-century rendition)
Reign c. 1352 - c. 1353
Born Unknown
Birthplace Unknown
Died c. 1353
Place of death Unknown
Buried Volovăţ
Predecessor None / Unknown
Successor Sas
Consort Unknown
Issue (?) Sas
Father (?) Giula of Giuleşti
Mother Unknown

Dragoș[1][2] also Dragoş Vodă[3] or Dragoş of Bedeu,[4] was a voivode in Maramureş[5] who has traditionally been considered the first ruler[1] or prince of Moldavia,[4][5][6] sent to Moldavia as a representative of king Louis I of Hungary to establish a line of defense against the Golden Horde, where he ruled for two years, from 1352 to 1353.[3][7]


There are various Romanian folklore or legends that surround Dragoș.[8] One such story being that Dragoş crossed into Moldavia from Maramureş while hunting an aurochs and imposed his rule there, colonizing the territory with Romanians from Maramureş.[6] Such stories were the subject of controversy until the time of Dimitrie Cantemir Prince of Moldavia, in the early 18th-century. During the late 1800s, the Romanian historian Dimitrie Onciul claimed these were a myth to try to explain the origin of the aurochs in the arms of Moldavia.

Voivode in Maramureş

In the Moldo-Russian Chronicle, written in the 16th century, Dragoş is considered one of the ‘Romans’ who had gone to Hungary to help a certain ‘King Vladislav of Hungary’ against the Tatars; he was granted territories in Maramureş by the king.[4] In a diploma of the last days of 1336, the boundaries of the lands in Bedeu (Bedevlya, Ukraine) of the brothers Drag and Dragoş were established at the order of King Charles I of Hungary (1308–1342).[4] The document calls them “servants of the king”.[4]

Dragoş of Bedő (Bedeu) has often been falsely identified with Dragoş of Giuleşti.[4][9] If Dragoş of Bedeu is identical to Dragoş of Giuleşti, as Tudor Sălăgean thinks,[10] he was the son of Giula of Giuleşti. In 1349, the Maramureş domains of Dragoş of Giuleşti and his family were confiscated by Bogdan[10] (who would later establish the independent Principality of Moldavia).[1]

In the chronicle of the Ragusan Luccari, completed in 1601, Dragoş is designated “barone di Ust, cittá in Transilvania” (“Baron of Hust, a town in Transylvania”).[4] However, the problem of the relation between Dragoş and Hust cannot be elucidated as there is no possibility of checking the truth of Luccari’s assertions.[4]

Dragoş' 'dismounting'

The arrival of Dragoş in Moldavia is often referred to in Romanian historiography as the descălecat (dismounting).[5] It is considered by the Romano-Slavic chronicles to be the birth of the Moldavian Principality.[5] This is in keeping with the ritual nature of the chasing of the aurochs.[8]

The territory of the future Moldavia had been under the control of the Golden Horde since the Tatar invasion of 1241.[2] But by the middle of the 14th century the Golden Horde's power was declining, and the Polish-Hungarian offensive against it was at its strongest.[2] The Hungarian military campaigns in the territories east of the Carpathians started in 1343; in 1345–46 important successes were recorded as the Tatars were pushed back towards the eastern Black Sea.[10] At the same time, King Casimir III of Poland (1333–1370) attempted to win territories there, but the Polish army was driven back by Voivode Peter, leader of one of the state formations of this region.[10]

The Anonymous Chronicle of Moldavia relates briefly Dragoş’s ‘dismounting’:[4]

In the year 6867 (1359) Dragoş Voivode came from the Hungarian country, from Maramureş, hunting an aurochs, and reigned for two years.
—The Anonymous Chronicle of Moldavia

The Moldo-Polish Chronicle, written in Polish in the third quarter of the 16th century on the basis of internal annals, gives a more ample description (placing the event, however, in 1285):[4]

By the will of God, the first voivode, Dragoş, came from the Hungarian country from the town and river of Omaramuruş /Maramureş/, hunting an aurochs which he killed on the river Moldova. There he feasted with his nobles, and liking the country he remained there, bringing Hungarian Romanians as colonists and reigned for two years.
—The Moldo-Polish Chronicle

After Pavel Parasca and other Romanian historians the eveniments were in 1285 during Vladislav the IVth, The Cuman, who reigned between 1272–1290. The tradition which attributes to Dragoş the quality of single organizer of the foundation of the state is not in keeping with contemporary sources.[4] It may convincingly be asserted that the armed initiative was undertaken by King Louis I and Dragoş was a tool of his policy.[4] However, the fact that he was put at the head of the defensive border province in Moldavia[2] shows that his participation and that of his followers in the military operations east of the Carpathians was important.[4]

The place at which Dragoş “dismounted” and the center where he established his capital preoccupied many researchers.[4] Onciul and Spinei suggested that the centre of Dragoş’s Moldavian voivodeship must have been on the Moldova river and in Bukovina.

In 1360, King Louis I granted Dragoş of Giuleşti and his sons 6 villages along the valley of the river Mara.[4] According to the diploma issued on March 20, 1360, Dragoş of Giuleşti had restored “the country of Moldavia” thus “bringing back the revolted Romanians to steadfast loyalty”.[4] As Dragoş of Giuleşti did not remain in Moldavia but returned in Maramureş after the submission of the Moldavian Romanians, Victor Spinei thinks that he is not identical to the founder of Moldavia.

Dragoş was buried at Volovăţ.[4]

See also



  • Brezianu, Andrei – Spânu, Vlad: Historical Dictionary of Moldova (entry ‘Dragoş Vodă (?-ca. 1353)’);
  • Georgescu, Vlad (Author) – Calinescu, Matei (Editor) – Bley-Vroman, Alexandra (Translator): The Romanians – A History; Ohio State University Press, 1991, Columbus; ISBN 0-8142-0511-9
  • Klepper, Nicolae: Romania: An Illustrated History; Hippocrene Books, 2005, New York; ISBN 0-7818-0935-5
  • Sălăgean, Tudor: Romanian Society in the Early Middle Ages (9th-10th Centuries); in: Ioan-Aurel Pop – Ioan Bolovan (Editors): History of Romania: Compendium; Romanian Cultural Institute (Center for Transylvanian Studies), 2006, Cluj-Napoca; ISBN 978-973-7784-12-4
  • Spinei, Victor: Moldavia in the 11th-14th Centuries; Editura Academiei Republicii Socialiste Româna, 1986, Bucharest
  • Treptow, Kurt W. – Popa, Marcel: Historical Dictionary of Romania (entry ‘Dragoş (Mid-14th century)’); The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1996, Lanham (Maryland, USA) & Folkestone (UK); ISBN 0-8108-3179-1
  • Vásáry, István: Cumans and Tatars: Oriental Military in the Pre-Ottoman Balkans, 1185-1365; Cambridge University Press, 2005, Cambridge; ISBN 0-521-83756-1
Preceded by
None / Unknown
Voivode in Moldavia
c. 1352/1359–c. 1353/1360
Succeeded by
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