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(Stephen the Great). Died 1504. Hospodar of Moldavia from 1457.
Stephen III pursued policies aimed at strengthening central authority and suppressing boyar opposition. In 1467 he defeated the Hungarian army of Mathias Hunyadi, which had invaded Moldavia. In 1475, Stephen routed the Turkish army near Vaslui, but in 1476 he suffered defeat in a battle at Räzboieni. When he failed to receive needed aid from European states, he was forced to buy peace by resuming payment of tribute to the Turks.
A prolonged war between Poland and Moldavia was decided by Stephen’s victory over the Polish army in 1497 in a battle in the Kozia Forest, in Bucovina. This victory was made possible by a military and political alliance with the Russian state, which was confirmed by the marriage of Ivan Ivanovich Molodoi, son of Ivan III Vasil’evich, to Elena Voloshanka (Walachian), Stephen’s daughter. The Lithuanian army hastened to join the Poles but returned on orders from Ivan III. The Moldavian people have many legends and songs about Stephen.