Michael was one of Romania's greatest medieval rulers, as well as a celebrated military commander. Having been obliged to pay a large sum to the Ottoman emperor for his appointment as prince of Walachia, he did away with his Ottoman creditors, who had advanced him the money, by summoning them to his palace and then having them massacred. This act was imitated throughout Wallachia and became known as the Wallachian Vespers. Michael repeatedly routed an Ottoman retaliatory army with the help of Sigismund Báthory, prince of Transylvania, and mercenaries. Michael's subjects were oppressively taxed to pay for the victory. In 1596 the sultan made peace, leaving Wallachia virtually independent. Michael now turned to the conquest of Transylvania, which he accomplished after defeating (1599) Andrew Cardinal Báthory, to whom Sigismund had given up his throne. Initially, Michael had the support of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II and he was able to unite all Romanians under his sole rule. However, Rudolf II soon came to suspect Michael's increased power, and when Transylvanian nobles provoked a rebellion against Michael, the imperial army in Hungary under Gen. George Basta came to their aid. Defeated, Michael fled and presented himself at the imperial court in Vienna, where he was pardoned and reinstated as governor of Transylvania. Returning, he defeated Sigismund Báthory, who had renewed his claim to the principality, but Michael was shortly afterward assassinated on the order of General Basta. After his death Walachia and Moldavia reverted to Ottoman control, while Transylvania came under Austrian domination; the union of the three areas became a national ideal in succeeding generations, and Michael himself a national hero. This 1970 film, made under Romania's communist government, is suspiciously nationalistic; unofficially, a crime in any so-called socialist state. Nonetheless, it is not too blatant in its nationalism and is quite entertaining.
Our NEW extended version totaling 201 mins. replaces the old version totaling 102 mins.
DVD-Rs are in Romanian with switchable English subtitles. See film sample for audio and video quality!