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An extract from Armies of the Middle Ages, Volume 2
by Ian Heath


This figure is a Moldavian of Stephen the Great's reign (1457-1504). One source describes the dress of such peasant-soldiers as 'clothes made of a dark-coloured, coarse, hairy stuff, conical fur caps, and opinci [sandals]', adding that since they were 'armed only with spears and scythes, they run through forests and over mountains with incredible swiftness.' Nicolae Costin in 1467 also refers to their weapons as comprising 'scythes, spears and axes', but it is clear from other evidence that the majority of Moldavian infantry were actually archers. As early as 1395 Stephen I's army is described as including 'a great multitude of archers' and in 1476 the greater part of Stephen the Great's army comprised rustici armed with bows, swords and spears. Jan Dlugosz even stated that if Stephen 'found a peasant without arrows, a bow and a sword, he ruthlessly condemned him to be beheaded.' A few had crossbows and there were also some Roumanian infantry with handguns, introduced during the first half of the century.

Armour, where it existed at all, comprised at best a shield, mail corselet and helmet. Quilted linen or hemp jackets, padded with wool or cotton to a thickness of about an inch, might also be worn, some contemporary accounts describing such armour as sword-proof. Shields where carried were of wood or interwoven osiers, covered with painted leather. That carried here, bearing the arms of Moldavia (for which see Appendix 1, number iv), is one of the former. These arms had started appearing on Moldavian flags too by the end of' the 14th century.

Next: 77. ROUMANIAN CAVALRYMAN, 14th CENTURY in Armies of the Middle Ages, Volume 2 by Ian Heath

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