The tribe or mal (" mountain") is often composed of several clans (phis-i, phdrea)or baryaks (literally "standards") each under a chief or baryaktar (standard-bearer), who is, strictly speaking, a military leader; there are in each clan a certain number of elders or voivodes (Albanian kru-ye, pl.
Radu dies in 1310, and is succeeded by a series of voivodes whose names and dates are duly given; but this early chapter of Walachian history has been rudely handled by critical historians.
" The voivodes," he writes, " of Walachia and Moldavia fawn alternately upon the Turks, the Tatars, the Poles and the Hungarians, that among so many masters their perfidy may remain unpunished."
The old capital, Tirgovishtea, was considered by the Divan to be too near the Transylvanian frontier, and the voivodes were accordingly compelled to transfer their residence to Bucharest, which was finally made the seat of government in 1698.
During the first half of the 15th century Polish influence was preponderant, and it was customary for the voivodes of Moldavia to do homage to the king of Poland at his cities of Kameniec or Snyatin.
It in circa cluded the Carpathian region of Bukovina, literally the beechwood, " where lay Sereth and Suciava (Suczawa), the earliest residences of the voivodes, the maritime district of Budzak (the later Bessarabia), with Kilia, Byelgorod and the left bank of the lower Danube from Galatz to the Sulina mouth.
The election of the voivodes, though in the hands of the boiars, was strictly regulated by hereditary principles, and Cantemir describes the extinction of the house of Dragosh in the 16th century as one of the unsettling causes that most contributed to the ruin of the country.
He published an astounding pedigree, in which, starting from " Hercules Triptolemus," he wound his way through the royal Servian line to the kinship of Moldavian voivodes, and, having won the emperor Ferdinand to his financial and military support, succeeded, though at the head of only 1600 cavalry, in routing by a bold dash the vastly superior forces of the voivode, and even in purchasing the Turkish confirmation of his usurped title.
Voivodes were now created and deposed in rapid succession by the Divan, but the victories of Michael the Brave in Walachia infused a more independent spirit into the Moldavians.
On Michael's murder the Poles under Zamoyski again asserted their supremacy, but in 1618 the Porte once more recovered its dominion and set up successively two creatures of its own as voivodes - Gratiani, an Italian who had been court jeweller, and a Greek custom-house official, Alexander.
The voivodes owed their nomination entirely to the Porte, and the great officers of the realm were appointed at their discretion.
This richly wooded Moldavian province, containing Suciava (Suczawa), the earliest seat of the voivodes, and Cernautii or Czernovicz, was in 1774 occupied by Habsburg troops with Russian connivance, and in 1777 Baron Thugut procured its formal cession from the sultan.