New Perspectives on the Process of Urbanization in Medieval Moldavia

This study attempts to identify the elements connecting towns in the Moldavian area to those in Central Europe, especially Poland and Hungary. Our research will follow several directions: 1. the presence of large groups of colonists (German, Hungarian, Armenian) settled by the representatives of the Hungarian king (during 1345/1347 - cca. 1364) or by the first rulers of Moldovia (after cca. 1364) in or around older local settlements; 2. the way these colonists settled, as well as the privileges they were granted; 3. the traces left by settlers in the administrative bodies of towns (şoltuz, voit, pârgar); 4. elements which favoured the adoption of ‘German law' in Moldavian towns. The transition to this ‘law' did not only imply the adoption of legal norms, but was a part of the elaborate process of locatio civitatis, which made provisions for the foundation of towns on new principles (where colonists settled). We believe that the rulers of Moldavia set into motion the transition of their towns to the ‘German law', but failed to complete it. This was because of unfavourable historical conditions (especially in the fifteenth century), when Moldavia became the theatre of internal political conflict and a target for forays from abroad (Mongol, Ottoman).

 Key Words: Moldavia, towns, urbanization, colonist, trade.