On February 3rd, 1531, less than three decades after the passing of Stefan III , the principle of Moldova, Sigismund I, the king of Poland (1506-1548), referred to him as Stephanus ille magnus (“that great Ştefan”). Bernard Wapowski, the official cartographer and historiographer of the same king, wrote that the Moldavian ruler was “the most famous principle and warrior” of his time. Doctor Matteo Muriano, sent to Suceava from Venice in the summer of 1502, in order to provide medical assistance to the Moldavian principle, wrote in his report that “he is a very wise man, worthy of much praise, loved by his subjects as he is merciful and righteous, always vigilant and generous”. Considered by his contemporary fellow Europeans as a head of state who had managed to hold the reins of the country for 47 years, Stefan was seen by the people as a symbol of stability, consistency, economic development and justice and, at the time of his funeral, Moldova was “in mourning, and everyone was weeping as they had lost a parent…” (Grigore Ureche).
Stephen the Great, son of Bogdan II (1449-1451) and his wife, Oltea, was most probably born in 1438. Following the death of his father, Stefan sought shelter in Transilvania, ruled at the time by Iancu de Hunedoara (1441-1456), where he became familiar with his military tactics that combined elements of Eastern, Central and Western European military art. Aided by the troops provided by Vlad Ţepeş (1448; 1456-1472; 1476), and subsequently joined by his partisans from the south of Moldavia, Ştefan cel Mare defeated Petru Aron at Doljeşti (Dolheşti), conquering the throne of Moldavia on April 12th, 1457. He found the country depleted and torn apart by the fights between the various pretenders to the throne of Moldavia, a country that had been paying dues to the Ottoman Empire since 1456.