Notes on Sources, Dates, Translations, and Transliterations

In: The Eclectic Visual Culture of Medieval Moldavia
Alice Isabella Sullivan
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This book examines the visual culture of medieval Moldavia through images, spaces, and texts. The extant secular and religious monuments—as well as their accompanying mural decorations, objects, furnishings, rituals, and activities—serve as primary sources of analysis. In addition to the visual and spatial evidence, the arguments put forth in this book utilize contemporary textual sources written in Church Slavonic, Greek, and Latin; these include courtly and ecclesiastical documents, chronicles, edicts, manuscripts, and inscriptions. Some have been published already in notable collections, in full transcriptions with summaries in Romanian, or transcriptions followed by translations in Romanian. Where available, I have included in the footnotes references to these previous publications. In this book, I offer English translations for all primary texts alongside transcriptions of the original. Finally, for accessibility, readers will find in the bibliography English translations of all scholarship in non-Western-European languages.

The primary language of the medieval written sources treated in this book is Church Slavonic—the official chancery language and that of the Church in Moldavia and the language used in other Romanian-speaking regions around the Carpathian Mountains, as well as in parts of the Balkan Peninsula. Although the precise moment of the introduction of Church Slavonic to Moldavia is still debated, from the beginning of the 14th century and on through the first half of the 17th century, Moldavian ecclesiastical and administrative texts were written with Cyrillic characters mainly in Church Slavonic. Beginning in the second half of the 17th century, the sources continued to be written with Cyrillic characters but now in Romanian, a transformation that persisted up until c.1860, when the Latin alphabet was used exclusively.

Several surviving chronicles written in Church Slavonic recount significant historical events in Moldavia from the 15th and 16th centuries. Most relevant for this book is The Anonymous Chronicle of Moldavia, which covers the years 1359 (the year of the establishment of the principality) to 1507. It is the most detailed out of all the early chronicles. Others include The Putna Chronicle i and The Putna Chronicle ii, as well as four other so-called foreign chronicles sent from Stephen’s court as diplomatic instruments to inform others of his deeds and Moldavia’s history: The Moldo-Russian Chronicle, The Moldo-German Chronicle, The Moldo-Polish Chronicle, and The Moldo-Serbian Chronicle. It is likely that all of these texts had a common prototype from which they derive the emphasis on particular events as well as some of their common language. Because Stephen’s reign receives the most attention in these texts, which glorify his accomplishments, it is likely that the prototype dates to Stephen’s reign and was perhaps even written at his court, at his behest.

The chronicles of the 16th century present a continuation of The Anonymous Chronicle of Moldavia. These include The Chronicle of Macarie, The Chronicle of Eftimie, and The Chronicle of Azarie. Whereas Bishop Măcărie wrote under Peter Rareș, his two pupils, Father Superior Eftimie and the monk Azarie, completed their texts under Peter’s followers, Alexander Lăpușneanu and Peter Șchiopul, respectively. The famous chronicler Grigorie Ureche (1590–1647), whose text modern scholars often cite in their studies, reworked and translated the Church Slavonic chronicles of the 15th and 16th centuries into Romanian. In this book, I draw extensively on and analyze the original 15th- and 16th-century chronicles written in Church Slavonic at Stephen’s and Peter’s courts.

A note about dates: the Moldavian textual sources written in Church Slavonic are dated according to the Byzantine calendar, which was most commonly used in the Eastern Christian cultural context. To arrive at the appropriate date in the Julian calendar, which is offered for the translations in this book, a simple calculation must be carried out. Because the Byzantine church year begins on 1 September, 5509 has to be subtracted from all dates recorded according to the Byzantine calendar that fall between 1 September and 31 December; 5508 should be subtracted from all dates given according to the Byzantine calendar that fall between January 1 and August 31. If the month and date are not indicated in an inscription, then I offer in brackets the two options for the corresponding year. For example, the year 7000 in the Byzantine calendar is the equivalent to 1491/92.

Finally, for simplicity and accessibility, I have translated the names of Romanian institutions into English, as well as transliterated most personal names; hence, readers will encounter Alexander rather than Alexandru, Stephen for Ștefan, Peter in place of Petru, Basil for Vasile, and so on. The proper names without a direct equivalent, like Iliaș, have been retained in their Romanian form. For names of local towns, places, and sites, the Romanian versions have been reproduced.

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