MOLDAVIA. Present-day Moldavia is divided between Romania (q.v.) and the former Soviet Union, the latter holding the present republic of Moldova (formerly Bessarabia). The region lies between the Carpathian Mountains on the west and the Pruth River on the east with its capital at Jassy. Much of it is a fertile plain. Moldavia is one of two principates, the other being Wallachia, where the Romanian people first appear on the historical scene as an identifiable nation in the 14th c. Previously, the area had been one of missionary activities for both the East and West. (See Constantine-Cyril; Methodius.) Its princes, together with those of Wallachia, served as the protectors and patrons of Orthodox clergy and monks of the Ottoman Empire (q.v.) during the 15th c.–17th c. The churches and monasteries of Moldavia, rich and numerous then and equally active today, are of extraordinary beauty and importance.
It was in Moldavia that Paisii Velichkovsky (q.v.) received his first initiation into hesychasm on his way to Mt. Athos (qq.v.) in the 1740s. It was here also that he came to stay after Athos in order to build up large communities of monks at the monasteries of Dragomirna, Neamts, and Sihastria, and work on the translations of the Philokalia (q.v.) into Church Slavic and Romanian. The latter would fuel a renaissance of monasticism (q.v.) in both countries throughout the 19th c., and it contributed to another renewal in Romania in the 20th c.
The principate provided a kind of transition point from Greece and the Balkans (q.v.) to the lands of Russia. After a cultural apogee under Stephen the Great (d. 1504), Moldavia passed under Turkish rule. In the 19th c., rule passed among native hospodars, Russia, and Turkey until 1859 when Alexander John Curza initiated the history of modern Romania.