I am from Romania, where Stephen the Great of Moldavia is considered a national hero, and is often talked about and studied.

I noticed that his reign coincides with Columbus's discovery of the the New World.

I am curious whether Stephen the Great knew about this. I doubt there are any sources on this, but I am curious if a ruler like him, with no vested interest and no naval access, would be aware, or even care about such a discovery.

  • 3
    It is likely he knew about syphilis, which exploded in the French wars in Italy in 1495 and by 1500 had reached Hungary, Greece, Poland and Russia and many other countries.
    – Henry
    Commented Nov 24, 2021 at 0:50
  • He probably knew as much about it, as it knew about him.
    – Lucian
    Commented Dec 1, 2021 at 8:47

1 Answer 1


I don't know of any sources directly about Stephen knowing this either, but it seems a fair assumption that he probably knew of it. The printing press disseminated news of the western discoveries very quickly around Europe, and Stephen lived for another 12 years. During that time both the Portuguese and English had expeditions return from the Americas.

However, for most of that the time what exactly had been found was up for debate. Columbus went to his maker in 1499 insisting he'd been visiting the Indies (in the Indian Ocean) the entire time. The first known use of the geographic term "America" wasn't until 3 years after Stephen's death.

I seriously doubt Stephen had much reason to care about it though. His outlook and ambitions seemed very much continental.

  • All states in Europe were in contacts with neighboring states (at least) through trade and diplomacy, so such news spread even before book printing. How much this particular ruler was interested in this particular news, is of course hard to decide without sources.
    – Alex
    Commented Nov 24, 2021 at 0:35
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    @Alex - Well, what I like to compare it with is the Norse settlements in Greenland. They also discovered the New World, and were even living in it for centuries. However, other than the very few people who had enough of a need to know about it worth taking up the expense, time, and trouble of hand-writing (eg: the one stovepipe in the Papal hierarchy that had to periodically send out parish priests), nobody in Europe really knew about it. The main difference between the Greenlanders and Columbus was that Columbus was post-printing press.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Nov 24, 2021 at 2:45
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    ...Stephen the Great is in fact a really good example of someone who otherwise wouldn't really need to know about the Spanish discoveries, but quite likely did anyway due to the fact that making copies of interesting information was no longer an expensive luxury.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Nov 24, 2021 at 2:51
  • Norse settlements in Greenland (and possibly in America) were a minor event with no consequences. While discovery of America by Columbus was considered important in Europe, so the news spread quickly. But Eastern European rulers had little reason to care about it. Ivan III of Moscow probably cared as little as Stephen.
    – Alex
    Commented Nov 24, 2021 at 15:04
  • @Alex - Don't mix up cause and effect. While it was very long-lived (about 500 years) it indeed had few larger consequences, but a large amount of that is because almost nobody outside of the Norse maritime community knew it existed. Greenland and Vinland didn't even show up on the early maps of the New World, even though often mythological islands did.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Nov 24, 2021 at 16:39

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