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The story of Vrancea


Tale typology
Local traditions

Age Suitability

Tale summary
The story of Vrancea can be tracked back to the time when Stephen the Great was the voivode of Moldova. It is said that he had lost a battle and he was wandering through the woods, when he arrived at a woman’s house, Vrâncioaia by her name. She was unaware at first that he was speaking to the voivode himself, but when she realized that, she immediately summoned her seven sons and asked them to help the ruler of Moldova. They, in turn, raised a new army to replace the old, defeated one, and together with Stephen the Great, they reclaimed the lands. After the battle, they were repaid by the voivode and they all got a small district in Vrancea, to be theirs forever, and they named their lands after them.
Educational potential / Learning Outcomes
Teaching purposes:

1. The story has been adapted for kindergarten learners and it presents aspects related to the history of Stephen the Great which was the voivode (prince) of Moldavia (1457-1504) – a geographical Romanian region.
2. Insert keywords related to cultural / religious / historical issues.
3. Introduce basic knowledge of patriotic values, love of country, religion, trust in God, faith, inheritance, devotion, and trust in the wise of the old.
The story aims at raising the learners’ awareness of the fact that one sometimes can lose, but he or she must never give up in the face of defeat; instead, one has to always look for answers and ask for the other’s help.
Full Plot
A long time ago, during the reign of Stephen the Great, while Wallachia was not yet united and the lands of Walachia and Moldavia each had their rulers, there was a great battle between Ștefăniță’s men and the Turkish army, which had invaded the Moldavian land.
The battle was fierce and because there were too many enemies, Stephen’s Moldavians were overwhelmed.
The Voivode, saddened by this loss, had run away from the enemy's army, so that he would not be caught, and while wandering alone in the mountains, arrived at the Putna valley.
At that time, in Vrancea there were no villages with many people, as there are today, and no deserted places and no barren hills, as they are now. The forests were everywhere, and only here and there you could find a few houses, hidden at the woodland edges, along water streams, and the people were all shepherds who were pasturing their sheep all over the meadows of the mountains.
After so many walks through the forests, at the sunset Stephen arrived at a house in the Bârseşti grove. Here, an old woman was sitting on her front porch, spinning a tow.
"Greetings, old lady!" said the voivode, dismounting the horse and tying it to the gate.
"Well be with you, brave man" the old lady replied gently, forgetting to spin the thread from the tow. She looked at the brave man, for she did not know who he was.
"Would you be kind enough, auntie, to give me something to eat and let me rest here for a while, because I’m tired since I've been walking around these places.”
The old woman, without much talk, set the table and let the stranger eat milk with polenta and cheese, and then hurried to the barn to move stallion next to the stall, so it can eat too.
When she returned to the house, she found the stranger lying down. He was sitting on a bench, fully clothed as he was and he was snoozing away, for he was very tired, as anyone could see that on his face.
Now she was just standing there, looking at him and she did not understand who this stranger could have been, with his fair hair and a rosy, beautiful face, and how he could have been lost in the heart of those forests, where only the shepherds there were willing to roam with their sheep, without being disturbed.
Still looking at him, the old woman noticed that the brave man was wearing noble war gowns, sewn with gold, under the heavy burden of the wool coat, which had moved a little, revealing his chest. She immediately thought that he could have been none other than Ștefan Vodă, the ruler of Moldavia, of whom she had heard that he had been defeated by the Turks in a battle, that his army was scattered and banished, and that he had retreated to the mountains. Without too much thinking, she ran to the valley to tell her sons, leaving Ștefan Vodă alone to sleep. The old woman had seven mighty sons, each one great in his own way, seven sons who were not afraid of anyone standing in their way. In them she had now put her hope and, when she got to the sheepfold, she told them what had happened to the voivode, urging them to leave as soon as possible, and gather as many brave men from the land of Vrancea as possible, with whom Ștefan would continue his efforts to fight the Turks. Men of their word, all seven sons spread to seven parts of Vrancea, calling people to arms across the valleys and hills, until the next day at dawn, they managed to gather a bunch of brave people with whom they left on the hill of Dumbrava. In the morning, when the old woman saw her sons coming, she opened the door to Ștefan Vodă's room and said:
”Your Majesty, do not be sad. It is said that such a mighty, brave man like you should not be defeated by his enemies. Look how your soldiers are coming to help you defeat the pagan troops.
Stephen stepped outside the house and was astonished upon seeing so many brave men, armed with spears and bows, scythes and axes, all shining in the sunrise light.
"But where did all these brave men come from, and who gathered them like that?
"They are the men of Vrancea, Your Majesty, and they all have come for you to start fighting alongside them. I saw how upset you were when you came last night, and I knew that your army had been destroyed in battle. That is why I have sent my seven sons and look, by sunrise, they have gathered your new army, all willing and eager to fight”. Then, calling the seven boys to her, she continued:
"This is Bodea, this one Spirea, the other one Negrilă, then Bârsan, Spulber, Pavel and Nistor. They are all my sons, and now they are at Your Majesty’s service. With them and the whole crowd that they have gathered, you go without fear and you chase away enemies from the country.”
Ștefan looked proudly at the soldiers around him, who seemed worthy of battle, then, turning to the old woman he said:
”What is your name?”
”Tudora Vrâncioaia.”
”Long may you live, Auntie Tudora, and may God give you health, for the support and love of the country that you show.”
Then, as they assembled their army, they all went over the hills and crossed the valley attacking the enemy.
They all fought relentlessly, with Ștefan Vodă in the first line, flanked by Vrâncioaia’s boys, who fought like lions, striking all the pagans, who were falling like pumpkins, soaking the soil in blood.
And so, with the help of God, Ștefan once again defeated the Turks, banishing them from the country.
Then, the voivode, being happy and cheerful, joyfully partied with his soldiers, and called seven sons of Vrâncioaia before him the, and told them:
"My brave boys, I have won alongside you and together we have banished the enemies. Had I not come to your mother's house, the Turks would have occupied our country for a long time. You are worthy of a reward. You are seven brothers, and in Vrancea there are seven mountains. May they be yours forever, along with the valleys, the meadows and all that is there. Now go to your forests and rule them healthily, for a long time from now; as for your mother, wish her good health from Ștefan Vodă, who offered shelter and support in her house through hard times.”
He wrote everything down on calfskin, written in golden letters, so that they could trust his words, a document saying that the sons of Vrancenia were rulers over the Vrancea Mountains, from Trotuș to the Bâsca valley of Buzău.
And, since then, each of the seven brothers, upon returning to the Vrancea lands, settled down at the foot of the mountains, naming the villages after themselves: Bodeşti, Spireşti, Negrileşti, Bârseşti, Spulber, Păuleşti and Nistoreşti.
One Lesson Plan
Aim: Cultivating the sense of admiration for the ruler of Moldavia, i.e. Stefan cel Mare.
1. List the characters in the story;
2. Arrange chronologically the pictures in the;
3. Trigger the learner’s interest in didactic activities.
Didactic Approach
Methods and procedures: conversation, explanation, observation, exercise, narration, storytelling.
Learning resources: the story, visual aids, video projector, computer, white sheets, and colored pencils.
Form of organization: face to face interaction, individual.
Duration of activity: 20-25 min.
Carrying out the activity:
The educator makes sure that: the room has been ventilated, the furniture is in its place, the didactic material has been printed and it is ready for use.
The educator explains to the pre-school children the new words encountered in the story: army, opponent, outlaw etc. Pupils are asked to enumerate the characters in the story and identify who the main character is. The learners are supposed to arrange chronologically a series of pictures which illustrate different scenes in the story.
Learners take turns and come next to the table on which the pictures are; depending on the story scene that follows, the learner picks the picture and place it on a special prop.
Consolidation: learners draw a scene from the story.


This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

The TIK - Tradition & Innovation @ Kindergarten project © 2018