Ioan-Aurel Pop: The Expedition of the Sultan in 1538 in Moldavia (in the View of an Italian Author) (p. 257-271)

The year 1538 has special importance in the relations between the Christian powers and the Ottoman Empire. In the face of the increasing and impertinent provocation of the Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent after 1521, the Christian world has tried, upon several occasions to mobilise itself, without notable success. Such an act occurred on 8 February 1538 when the Empire of the Habsburgs, Venice and the Holy See have formed the Holy League, strengthened on 24 February the same year by the addition of Hungary, led by Ferdinand of Habsburg. The Porte has reacted, planning and preparing ample military operations, both at sea and on land. Finally, the land expedition-conceived with a clear anti-Habsburg purpose-has been launched directly against Petru Rareş, the prince of Moldavia, who had defied the orders of the Sultan on a number of occasions and, moreover, had reached an understanding with Ferdinand of Habsburg. Süleyman had the advantage in this endeavour, because of the support offered by János Szapolyai, the other king of Hungary, of Sigismund I the Old, the king of Poland and of the Tartars of Sahib Ghirai, all of them wishing to hurt ‘the Wallachian'. The Sultan's expedition has started in the summer of 1538 and has ended in the autumn of the same year. Its main result has been the replacement of prince Petru Rareş with one of his nephews, considered to be faithful to the Porte, as well as the conquest of a new region in the south of the country, turned into an Ottoman province.

            Venice has been closely involved in the anti-Ottoman events, but also in the dialogue and understanding with the Turks, because it had important interests, especially commercial ones all over the Levant and in many of the continental areas ruled by or disputed by the Habsburgs and Süleyman the Magnificent. Based on an unpublished document belonging to a certain Iacomo Verganalli from Pisa, the author tries to show how interested the Serenissima was in the events north of the Danube, in the campaign from ‘Bogdania', but also in other events in the Balkan Peninsula, from south-eastern Europe and the Ottoman Empire. Pop presents the itinerary followed by Verganalli through the Balkans, from Constantinople, through Adrianopolis, to Sophia and to Cerniţa, then to Trebinie and Ragusa, and finally to Venice, and interrogates all he had found out and seen in the capital of the Ottoman Empire and on the road. However, the author underlines that the main subject of the account is the Sultan's campaign in Moldavia, shortly after it had taken place. Pop choosed to analyze Verganalli's account based on a questionnaire. Its is also worth mentioning that in the appendix the author reproduced the Pisan's report adressed to the Venetian Serenissima. Thus, the readers could be self-convinced that the account is important for all the news it contains, and  for its richness of local colour, as well as for a complex picture of the year 1538, when the campaign in Moldavia seems framed by the general European military operations, in the context of the relations between the Christians and the Ottomans, within the network of political and diplomatic connections of the times. Of great interest is the Ottoman military and political scene, with all its rivalries, deciphered thorough the eyes of a Christian ‘spy', capable of understanding more than he saw and heard in actual fact.