Romania — Transylvania — Fortress Castle

An Epic Wallachian Battle In Most Gothic Times Won By Basarab I of Wallachia

Many battles occurred during the Middle Ages, often due to pride or religion. Some of the epic battles were between Wallachia and Hungary. This is the story of the Battle of Posada.

Wallachia Was Small, But Mighty

Between November 9th and 12th of 1330, the Battle of Posada took place between Basarab I of Wallachia and Charles I of Hungary, who shared the name, Charles Robert. Wallachia, known today as Romania, had a small army with Basarab at the head. The cavalry and archers lived in a land of mountains and would mostly travel on foot.

Historians claim that the Turks’ nomadic people, the Cumans, helped Wallachia in their battle. However, because of the substantial number of Cuman-Hungarian people, there is no proof to back the claim. Charles referred to Basarab as Voivode, a Romanian word and term translating as Warlord, but nothing above it. Charles did so due to Wallachia being a vassal to Hungary in 1324.

Dionisie, later bearing the title Ban of Severin, tried to encourage the Voivode of Transylvania to declare war on Hungary and he did so at the very beginning of the war. However, Charles captured the citadel of Severin, often disputed as Wallachian territory, and gave it to the Transylvanian Voivode in 1330.

Sadly, this gesture aggravated the already austerity between Basarab and Charles, pushing Wallachia over the edge. Charles’ pride was about to become his downfall.

Wallachia Would Never Kneel Before Charles

Basarab was ready to take significant measures and sacrifices to cease the hostilities. In return for peace, he would pay seven thousand marks in silver, surrender the fortress Charles handed him and give him his son as a royal prisoner. This gesture often occurred in realms such as Wallachia, Hungary, and Turkey.

Charles was verbal when it came to Basarab I of Wallachia. What he said about the Transylvanian Voivode shows the extent of his condescension. 

“He is the shepherd of my sheep, and I will take him out of his mountains, dragging him by his beard.”

— Charles I of Hungary, Viennese Illuminated Chronicle.
Charles I of Hungary Statue

Meanwhile, another account claims that Charles went further into his view of how he could dominate the Transylvanian Voivode.

“…he will drag the Voivode from his cottage, as would any driver of his oxen or shepherd his sheep.”

— Viennese Illuminated Chronicles

Romanian Warlords and Printul were forceful leaders and impressive defenders of their people and kingdoms. Basarab I of Wallachia was one of them. Little did Charles know Wallachia was the kingdom of his Warlord, and he knew it by heart.

It’s Just The Home Field Advantage

While the councillors to the Hungarian King begged him to accept Basarab I of Wallachia’s generous offer, he did not. Charles refused the Voivode’s kindness and prepared to march thirty thousand strong men into the Wallachian kingdom. What he should have accounted for was bringing proper supplies and suitable reconnaissance.

The central city of the Wallachian state was Curtea de Arges, the one the Hungarian Commander marched on. However, Basarab had already moved into the mountains, leading the Hungarians to pursue him. This forced the commander’s cavalry and archers to march in the Carpathian Mountains.

The Hungarian army and Basarab came to an agreement on the armistice because of the location. The condition of the consensus was that the latter would provide guides to the way out of the mountains, leading them to Hungarian lands. But Basarab was smarter than blindly listening to those under Charles’ command.

Entering a ravine, Basarab gave the order to attack the Hungarian army from all sides. Surrounded by Wallachian archers and knights pelting the Hungarians with trees and stones, they suffered defeat. After two days of battle in mountainous terrain, the Hungarian army suffered a significant loss after hand-to-hand combat.

The Exact Location Remains A Mystery

The bottom line is that no one is sure where the battle took place as a victory for Wallachia. Some historians believe the battle occurred at Loviștei in a mountain gorge in the Olt Defile, Transylvania. However, Neagu Djuvara, a Romanian Historian, maintains that it was between Oltenia and Severin.

Charles Robert led an army of ecclesiastics and laymen who had military duties. Joining them were Transylvania Saxons and Székelys. He added mercenaries and Cumans. The commander of his army was Stephen Lackfi, and despite the impressive army he gathered, he still lost to the strategic mind of Basarab. Even in his land, the Saxons of Sibiu refused to join Charles’ army because they supported Basarab.

Basarab led his Wallachian army at the front himself, gathering less than ten thousand men. His cavalry gathered infantry archers and recruited peasants. He defended his kingdom and people with calculated warfare tactics and faith in his people. This leads to the belief that Basarab was a just and fair Warlord worthy of a king‘s crown.

Romania — Basarab I of Wallachia
Romania — Basarab I of Wallachia

Basarab anticipated Charles’ move and had every potential escape route blocked and guarded by his Wallachian cavalry. When the best Hungarian knights died at the hands of Basarab’s men, incapable of fighting back or walking out of the ambush, he ordered an escape. There was no way out of Wallachia without surrendering to Basarab.

But Charles found a way by surrendering his royal attire and clothing and the insignia to one Desev, son of Dionysius. He died under a hail of arrows and stones due to misidentification trapped in the Hungarian King’s colours. Meanwhile, with a few loyal subjects and an overwhelming complex escape plan to Visegrád, Charles made it in clad and dirty civilian clothes.

The Humbling Of A Much Too Proud King

On December 13th, 1335, King Charles I of Hungary recounted his escape from Basarab I of Wallachia. He never surrendered to Basarab, but he did at least give his thanks where it was due.

“Nicholas, son of Radoslav, saved my life by defending me from the swords of five Wallachian warriors, giving me enough time to escape.”

— Charles I of Hungary.

Meanwhile, the Vlachs stripped the remaining captives, injured and corpses. They took their weapons, raiment, pouches of silver and gold, baldrics, horses with their saddles and bridles, and vessels and brought them back to their beloved Voivode.

Hungary — Visegrád — Királyi Palota Maradványai
Hungary — Visegrád — Királyi Palota Maradványai

What Basarab tried to avoid and was later on forced to do by Charles was for the survival of the Wallachian state. The freedom of the Wallachian people rested on Basarab’s shoulders of his heart. It marked the beginning of a tense relationship between the Kingdoms of Wallachia and Hungary. But again, as a much bigger man, Basarab sent his son Alexandru in 1344 to Hungary to re-establish peace between the two states.

Sadly, because of Hungary’s richness, the army regained its force and numbers in no time. It found itself another conflict; this time, it would be with the Holy Roman Empire in 1337. Meanwhile, having bigger fish to fry, the Hungarian king agreed to maintain an unwritten peace with Wallachia until they would resolve their diplomatic disputes in person.

What The Battle Of Posada Teaches Us

Romania is the birthplace of many gothic legends, folklore, and heroes few know. They often left Romania out of incredible historic moments in mediaeval times. Their history, deserving of kings and queens, instead was forced to lower titles such as Voivode and Printul.

The Battle of Posada demonstrates how a strategic mind equipped with deduction and experience can win over armies. They outnumbered Basarab in numbers, quality, and weaponry, yet he used what he knew would be Charles’ downfall to his advantage: pride.

Basarab had faith in his recruitment and council. He listened to his people and used his home terrain to weaken the Hungarian army. He even played the king by having his cavalry and himself fool him into believing they were lost in the forest. Basarab turned it into a ruse by having his archers on higher grounds leading the army into a ravine. He was a genius.

The Romanian Heroes We Will Never Know

Why aren’t we taught about Romanian heroes? Basarab won a critical battle for the freedom of his people that depended on his knowledge and bravery. Romania had no ‘real’ recognised nobility per se. Warlords were elected or passed down to the next in line. They had to be smarter than kings, with all the wisest experts and money to buy people to do their deeds. Romania didn’t have that luxury. They were Warlords for a reason. They had to defend their kingdom day and night for the entirety of their reign.

Wallachia In 1330
Wallachia In 1330

Wallachia is the home of my hero, Vladislav Basarab Tepes III or Vlad the Impaler. Many see Romania as a gothic, morbid, deprived of history place on Earth. They are wrong. Romania is the birthplace of legends and a country that fought for its people and freedom. They had leaders of great wisdom and values. 

The Battle of Posada is only one battle won by maths over brawn out of so many from Wallachia. Basarab used an algorithm to win over Charles Robert. He proved that brains and knowledge will always win over power, regardless of your title. So, what do you think of Romania now?

The OCD Vampire

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