Gorovei and Székely, Princeps omni laude maior. A History of Stephen the Great
Annotation author: Chiriluş, Oana-Andreea
Book author: Gorovei Ștefan S. and Székely, Maria Magdalena

Ștefan S. Gorovei; Maria Magdalena Székely, Princeps omni laude maior. A History of Stephen the Great (Centrul de Cercetare și Documentare “Ștefan cel Mare” al Sfintei Mănăstiri Putna 1), Putna 2005

Ștefan S. Gorovei and Maria Magdalena Székely are both professors at the Faculty of History at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iași, Romania. During their academic careers the two medievalists published, both individually and together, an impressive number of volumes and studies about the Moldavian prince Stephen the Great. Gorovei and Székely also edited a number of volumes in cooperation with the Putna Monastery’s Research Center [Centrul de Cercetare și Documentare “Ștefan cel Mare” al Sfintei Mănăstiri Putna], such as the series Ștefan cel Mare și Sfant 15042004 [Stephen the Great and the Saint 1504–2004] published over the years 2003–2011. This series includes the following volumes: Portret în istorie [Portrait in History], Portret în cronică [Portrait in Chronicle], Bibliografie [Bibligraphy], Biserica. O lecție de istorie [The Church. A History Lesson], Ștefan cel Mare și Sfânt. Atlet al credinței creștine [Stephen the Great and the Saint. Athlete of the Christian Faith] and Portret în legendă [Portrait in Legend].

Published in 2005 in Romanian, “Princeps omni laude maior. O istorie a lui Ştefan cel Mare” [Princeps omni laude maior. A History of Stephen the Great] became the first volume of the aforementioned series launched under the auspices of the Putna Monastery’s Research Center. This volume consists of six books: 1. Răsăritul [The Dawn]; 2. Spre zările împărătești [Towards „the Imperial Horizon”]; 3. Marea politică [The Great Politics]; 4. Marea rugăciune [The Great Prayer]; 5. Apusul [The Twilight]; 6. Ștefan cel Mare, bunul suveran [Stephen the Great, “the Good Sovereign”]. While the first five books provide a reconstruction of Stephen the Great’s reign, the last book is meant to analyze it from the perspective of the mental perception, the words, the gestures, and the deeds of the Moldavian prince, at the same time putting them into broader context. The volume ends with a series of thematically grouped illustrations, both in colour and black and white.

Despite the fact that much has been written about Stephen’s reign over time, him being the most renowned prince of Moldavia and the most studied at the same time, this volume is not just another work on this topic. On the contrary, the effort of the two authors cannot go unnoticed because, far from being a conventional monograph, Princeps omni laude maior aims at the re-evaluation of the old historiographical opinions by correcting a series of inaccurate ideas, forced connections, omissions, and misidentifications that generated an inaccurate picture in terms of both the details and the major aspects of one of the most glorious reigns in the medieval history of Moldavia. In order to achieve their goal, Gorovei and Székely undertook a thorough investigation of the sources and their various – sometimes contradictory – interpretations, which represents a challenging task given the nature of these sources and the extensive bibliography of the subject. The result of their endeavour is a book that looks almost like an encyclopaedic work, written in an essayistic style that communicates an impressive amount of knowledge without making the book difficult to read. Such writing style makes it an easy read both for the specialists and the general public.

Although “a book that was born without the authors intending to write it” (p. 547), Princeps omni laude maior has become one of the most valuable works and a must-read on the topic, and this not just because it offers a definitive narrative of the reign of Stephen the Great, but also because it comes with new approaches and challenges the traditional historiography. The only shortcoming of this book is that to this day it lacks an English translation.