THE TIMES AND CAREER OF MICHAEL THE BRAVE.
Michael, who was probably the posthumous son of a former voivode of Wallachia called Petraschko, was born about the year 1558, and in 1583 he married the widow of a boyard, by whom he had at least one, if not two sons, and a daughter. He occupied several honourable positions in the State, and was Ban of Craiova before he ascended the throne of Wallachia. This step he accomplished through intrigues at Constantinople with the aid of his father-in-law, whereby he succeeded in deposing his predecessor Alexander. Some marvellous tales are told concerning the hairbreadth escapes of Michael in his struggles for the ascendency, one being that, when he was captured by Alexander and ordered for execution, the headsman was so terrified at the majesty of his countenance that he dropped the axe and fled, and no one else was to be found willing to undertake the odious duty. Be that as it may, he succeeded eventually in removing his rival, and mounted the throne of Wallachia in 1593. For some time after his accession Michael addressed remonstrances to his suzerain at Constantinople concerning the lawless proceedings of the Turkish and Tartar soldiery, but, finding these to be of no avail, he sought the alliance of Sigismund, Prince of Siebenbürgen (Transylvania), and Aaron, Voivode of Moldavia, and determined to rid his country of the oppressors. Aaron of Moldavia, it should be added, was a feeble prince, who would not have joined Michael but for the circumstance that, having been attacked and defeated by the Poles, he was compelled to seek refuge at Michael's court. After the alliance between the three princes was completed the first blow was struck for independence, and on November 12 or 13, 1594, all Turks who were found in Bucarest or Jassy were slaughtered without mercy. Michael is said to have invited a large number of true believers, who were pressing for the settlement of unlawful claims, to meet him in a khan in Bucarest, and when they were assembled he had them all put to the sword, and this was the signal for a massacre throughout the Principalities. A few Turks escaped through the humanity or friendship of private individuals, and one instance of this is specially recorded. The Cadi of Giurgevo, who happened to be at Bucarest, was walking out on the morning of November 13, when he was stopped by a Wallachian friend who said, 'Ali-Gian-Hogea, how many years have I eaten of thy bread and salt?' 'About twenty years,' answered the Turk. 'Well, then,' said his friend, 'out of gratitude I will give thee a word of counsel.' 'Speak,' said Ali. 'Do not stay in this city until three or four o'clock; neither remain in Giurgevo, but hasten thee as speedily as possible to Rustchuk' (on the opposite bank of the Danube). 'But wherefore?' enquired the Turk. The Wallachian walked away, but, turning round and seeing his friend still undecided, he called out: 'Forget not what I have told thee!' Wandering on in the city, the Turk could not help noticing greater activity than usual in the streets; suspecting mischief, but without saying a word to any person, he ordered his horses to be harnessed and fled to Giurgevo. The interior of Wallachia having been thus cleared of the Turks, Michael proceeded to attack their positions on the Danube. First he stormed Giurgevo and compelled the Turks to leave it, some crossing over the Danube, and others taking refuge in the fortress which was situated on an island in the river; but this latter he was unable to capture, as troops, ammunition, and provisions were sent into it from the Bulgarian side. Content, therefore, with his victory, he retired to Bucarest.
Shortly afterwards a conspiracy against Michael was set on foot by adherents of the Turks, and under the pretence of desiring simply to march through the country, a Turkish Emir, with two thousand men, entered Bucarest. Michael, who know of the conspiracy, made a pretence of acquiescence in this movement, but shortly afterwards withdrew quietly to the camp of the allies, and returning with a sufficient force surrounded the house of the chief conspirator, in which the Emir and his escort were quartered, and put them to the sword. The fury of his troops was unbridled, and no quarter was given, the last of the enemy being put to death. But Michael did not stop here. In order to protect Wallachia from Turkish inroads, he determined to clear both banks of the Danube of their garrisons. With this view he sent the noted and successful Transylvanian general, Albert Kiraly, with a sufficient force, who took, plundered, and burned the Turkish town at the mouth of the Jalomitza, where it falls into the Danube. The fortress, however, he was obliged to leave in the hands of the Turks. Michael, following with the remainder of the army, crossed the river itself and besieged Oroschik (now Hirschova). This place was strongly reinforced by the Turks, but after an obstinate battle, which was fought partly on the frozen waters of the Danube, the allies were victorious, and retired across the river with an immense booty.