Being the Voivode of Wallachia in the 15th century couldn’t have been an easy gig. The principality was strategically located on both the shore of the Black Sea and the northern bank of the Danube, and also happened to sit smack on the frontier between Hungarian Transylvania and the Ottoman Empire. Successive Wallachian rulers tried to manage their two larger neighbors, with varying degrees of success. But the reason why the David vs. Goliath story is so powerful is because, usually, Goliath wins. David, or in this case Wallachia, might steal a victory here or there, but unless he can kill Goliath–and nobody was killing the Ottoman Empire in the 1400s–eventually Goliath will wear him down and win the war. The Wallachian ruler Mircea I (d. 1418), for example, fought a number of successful engagements against the Ottomans, but ultimately was forced in 1417 to become an Ottoman vassal because the alternative was complete subjugation.
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