Mircea (Proud Heritage) (1989)

 

 

 

Director:     Sergiu Nicolaescu.

Starring:     Sergiu Nicolaescu (Mircea),  Serban Ionescu,  Adrian Pintea, Vlad Nemes (Young Vlad Tepes),  Ion Besoiu, Ion Ritiu (Baiazid).

1393, Ottoman Empire had to go through Romania; the King Mircea the Old of Romanian Principate of Valahia decides to fight

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.

 

One warrior is going to kill the other when the poor fellow on the ground calls his foe: brother.  The victor says:  "Brother you say?!  When you sold our country to the Turks and you robbed me of my throne was I still your brother?"  The man on the ground says their country is too small and unimportant.  "Our destiny is to obey the strong ones."  The victor replies:  "I don't want to rule over people living on their knees . . ."  The defeated brother finally says:  "You sentenced me to death!"  The victorious brother puts his sword away and says to his brother:  "You sign your own sentence if you step foot on this land again.  Don't forget the blood spilled here and at Rovine."

His highness says he dreamt of that night when he was young when he forgave his brother Dan.  The other man in the room says:  "May he rot in Hell!" 

A priest speaks to a young woman saying that the negotiations with her husband, co-regent prince Mihail, have been difficult.  His Majesty Sigismundus, king of Hungary and emperor of Germany.  The woman introduces her son, Prince Dan to the priest.  The priest replies: "Sigismundus is the first sword and the last hope of Christianity."  [His Majesty Sigismundus, king of Hungary and emperor of Germany.]  He also says it's a great honor for the Emperor to even accept the vassalage of Romania.  The mother says that Mircea can't even understand this fact of life.  The priest urges her to make her husband Mircea understand this reality.  "Only by accepting the protection of the great Sigismundus can he be crowned as ruler."  She says that it's impossible as long as Old Mircea is still alive. 

The other son, young Mircea, has heard the whole discussion and he throws a pebble at his brother that hits Dan in the eye.  Mother looks around for the culprit, but doesn't see him. 

An older man says to a fellow:  "Lords Udova and Iercau want us to reach an understanding and that's why they're here . . ."   Another fellow says:  "Prince Mihail, it's an outrage!  I'm sent here by King Vladislav of Poland."  The older fellow says that Prince Mihail is the co-regent prince.  He has equal rights with his father.  "Use them." 

Prince Mihail says that along with his military help, the King of Poland offers them his protection.  The Polish delegate tells the Prince that the war against the Ottoman will be led by the Polish King. Prince Mihail now asks can anyone force his father to obey the King of Poland?  Dan's brother has been listening in on the whole conversation.  He looks very concerned about what he's hearing.  

An assassin tries to kill the Romanian King with an arrow from his crossbow, but he misses. 

The little spy, Vladut, tries to pick up his Grandfather's crown, but Grandfather stops him as soon as the boy touches the crown.  The boy asks him if he has visited the troops downy by the Danube River?  Yes.  Grandfather tells the boy that he doesn't like traitors.  The boy warns him that if he is silenced, grandpa will surely live to regret his decision. 

Grandpa goes to sit on the throne.  Next to him is Prince Mihai, his son.  He says he would like to visit the troops by the Danube  -- the place ruled by "our" son , Vlad.  On the other side of the river is Mehmet and his soldiers.  Their army is bigger than that of Baiazid I. 

Grandfather tells the Polish envoy that he received the letter from King Laroslav Lagelo.  He says he thinks the letter was meant for Mihail and given to him by mistake and vice-versa.  The letter says that the Wallachians would have to fight under the command of the Polish army.   He dismisses the envoy. 

Now grandfather calls for the Turkish envoy to see what Mehmed I is up to.  The envoy says Sultan Mehmed will retreat and let Mircea rule if he will pay a tribute; send the sultan troops when he asks for them; and let his army pass through Walachia whenever necessary.  To make sure Mircea agrees, one of his sons will live as a guest at the sultan's palace.   Mircea responds:  "Mehmet doesn't have the great wishes of his father, Baiazid."  He will give the Turks his answer in two days time.  The Turkish envoy leaves.

Mircea now opens up asking the question:  "Do we obey the pagans or the Christians?  Or both?"  He hears Lord Udova whispering and asks him to speak up.  Udova goes to his knees saying the king knows better than anyone else what to do. 

The priest speaks to the young wife of Mihail saying that he has another piece of bad news for her.  Prince Dan has returned.  He will know what to do, even if Mihail doesn't.  Dan impressed Emperor Sigismundus.

Lord Udova says to others that Prince Dan is their only hope.  He adds that they have to go to Bran.

Grandfather's little spy suddenly gets help to get on his horse and he just rides out of the castle.  His mother goes a bit crazy and she tells grandfather that she cannot find her son Vladut.   The King tells Irina that she should dress properly and not in her nightgown when she comes to see him.  She apologizes to the king.  He says they will find her son. 

Vladut has come to see his father who is also known as Vlad down by the Danube.  He tells his father that things are bad at home and he wants to speak to him in private.  Dad, however, wants Vladut to go to bed and they will speak in the morning. 

Now Vlad speaks to the Turkish envoy.  He says that the sultan wants him to replace his father because granddad has grown weak and tired.  After the envoy leaves, Vlad laughs and tells his aide that the sultan wants him to kill his father and his brother Mihail.  Vladut hears all this and starts back on the run.  He jumps from a second story window into the water down below and starts swimming away.  Soon he tires and worries that he will drown so he yells for help.  And who should pick him up out of the water?  None other than the Turkish envoy. 

Mihail gets on a bit of a wild horse, a gift from his father.  The horse bucks Mihail off its back.  Mihail is so angry that he starts to hit the horse right between its eyes.  He is stopped by his father, who says that horse knows if the rider is good or bad, courageous or a coward.  Irina now comes up to tell grandfather that a messenge has come back from Vladut.  Now grandfather Mircea gets on the wild horse and rides out.  A bunch of men come with him. 

Vlad is about to behead a man for not telling him where is his son?  Grandfather arrives just in time to put a stop to this.  Vlad  explains to his father that the Turks have his son.  Izedin told him.  Vladut is being kept by Mehmet.  Mircea decides to take a boat across the river to speak with Mehmet.  He soon hooks up with Izedin who is very afraid that someone might recognize Mircea.  Mircea tells him to introduce him as an envoy from Mircea.   He now asks Izedin if he is the one who took his grandson?   Izedin says yes, because he wanted Mircea to accept Mehmet's offer.  "If I don't hand you over to him, it's my head."

Izedin bows before Mehmet and tells him that Emergi of Karavlachia's envoy is here.  Vladut, of course, recognizes his grandfather, but he gets up to welcome Captain Nicoara.  Mehmed is suspicious of this Emergi because, as Mehmed says, he does not look like an ordinary man.  A Walachian prisoner is brought in and thrown on the ground before the sultan.  The prisoner recognizes Mircea, but will not give him away.  Instead, he begins to act crazy and is killed by the guards.  The body is removed from the royal tent.  Mehmed says that they will give Mirecea one more week to decide, but that's all.  Mircea bows and walks backwards to the back of the tent. 

Mehmed now calls for Izedin to come before him.  He asks him what does he know about the whereabouts of this fellow Dan?  Izedin says he is in the right position and if the battle begins now, he will be alright.  Mehmed feels more secure of victory now, so he decides to let Vladut go.  Vladut shakes the sultan's hand and rushes over to Captain Nicoara.  The envoys and Vladut bow to the sultan and then leave. 

Vladut reunites with his father.  In private Vlad asks his son how could he have thought that he would betray grandfather?  Vladut says that a lot of people betray grandfather. 

Grandfather says that he wants Vladut to come with him.  He also says that because Vladut was so clever during the meeting with the sultan that he deserves a reward.  Vladut says he wants the king's horse.  Mircea says that after they defeat the Turks, Vladut can have the horse. 

At camp grandfather says that many kings have fought over this land.  At Posada, Basarab defeated Carol Robert de Anjou.  Then came the Mongols.   They defeated the Bulgarians and the Serbs and took power in those two countries.  And then it was the Walachian's turn.   

Flashback.  The Turkish envoy comes to speak with Mircea.  There is a bit of posturing from both sides and then Mircea tells the Turkish envoy to leave.  The king talks now with his soldiers and officers.  He says he know the Turks have a mighty army, but that will not deter them from protecting their land.  Brother Lercau comes to Mircea to tell him that Dan says that if Mircea fights the Turks, it means he has lost his mind and they shouldn't let him ruin Walachia.  Mircea is furious and tells him to tell brother Dan that he will fight both the Turks and Dan. 

The Turkish army is on the move.  Baiazid asks Dan if he knows his brother very well?  No, because he's very closed off.  Then Dan sees a lone figure on a grassy ridge and says that is Mircea.  Baiazid rides up to see this Mircea.  Both men stand their ground and refuse compromise.  The battle is on. 

Back to the present.  Grandfather tells grandson that it was only later that Baiazid realized that the would fight on the sun burnt Dobrogea, which weakened his army.  The impatient Turks went to Arges.  Grandfather waited for the Turks at Rovine. 

Flashback.  The Turks walk into an ambush.  And then the main body of the Walachian army moves forward to fight.  Dan has not entered the fight as of yet.  A Turk asks why?  Dan replies that the sultan himself asked him to stay in this position.  Then the Turk brings a Walachian soldier to Dan and tells him to kill the man.  Dan hesitates but does bring down his sword on the back of the soldier's neck.  The Turk is pleased. 

The sultan is told that the barbarians are attacking the left flank.  His command is to send in the royal cavalry.  Mircea is in the thick of the battle.  A messenger rides to the sultan to tell him that their reserves have been attacked and are now destroyed.  Izedin has been captured and is brought to Mircea.  The king tells his men to get this man a horse and says to Izedin that he is free to go.  The sultan orders his forces to retreat. 

Back to the present.  Vladut asks grandfather if he drowned the Turks in the Danube?  Grandpa says no.  Even though he won the Battle of Rovine, the Turks still outnumbered the Walachians.  Grandpa returned to his castle in Fagaras.  The Turks gave the throne to his brother Dan. 

Flashback.  The Europeans gathered together a force under the lead of Sigismund, Germany's emperor.  The commander in the field was the very young Jean de Neverre, son of the duke of Burgundy.  A Byzantine commander says the plan was to conquer Nicopole.  The place has been under siege for some 40 days.  Another commander speaks up saying that their first goal is to free Constantinople. 

Mircaea informs Sigismund that Baiazid and his army have arrived.  Sigismjund tells the othesr and also says since Mircea defeated Baiazid, he will be given the first crack at the Turkish army.  This, however, makes Jean de Neverre furious.  He and the men under him want the glory of victory.  The commanders support Jean, so he will be in command of the attack.  Mircea turns to Sigismund and says:  "Unfortunately, the battle is lost before it could begin."

The battle begins.  The cavalry retreats back into the lines of the army.  The Turks come after them.  Mircea and his men enter the immense battle.  The Turks are victorious. 

Back to the present.  Vladut asks grandfather if Baiazid ever reached Rome?  Grandfather says no because a bigger threat came with the hordes of Timur Lenk. 

Flashback.  Timur even took Baiazid as prisoner and placed him in a copper cage.  He also holds the three sons belonging to Baiazid.  With Timur is the Byzantine commander.   Timur tells the three sons that they must put their father on a spit and roast him.  One son bows before his father, another one (Mehmed) spits in his face and the last son kisses his father's hand.  Later Mehmed would kill his brother Musa. 

Back to the present.  Vladut asks grandpa what did he do with his brother Dan?  Mircea says he forgave his brother, who now must be hiding at the bottom of the world.  Grandfather tells grandson that tonight they will sleep.  In the morning with a clear mind:  "We clear the yard."

The other commander Dan is having a feast with wine, women and song, while Mircea goes to sleep.  An assassin with a cross bow hits Mircea in the back with an arrow.  The assassin comes to the feast and nods to his leader that the job has been done.  The leader asks if it's true and the assassin says:  "Will Stapleton never missed his target."  The leader throws a small bag of coins to Will Stapleton and announces to the revelers that King Mircea is dead.  He now says:  "Long live the new king, Dan!"

The problem for Dan is that his brother is not dead.  It was an aide named Mezea that was killed by the dart from the crossbow.  The dart went right through his body and sticks out on both sides, back and front.  Mircea with his men ride to see the revelers.  The revelers are all astounded to see Mircea.  Mircea wants to fight Dan to the death, but Dan has a heart attack and dies. With Dan are two traitors.  The king decides to let his grandson decide their fate.  The grandson orders that the two men be impaled.  The sentences are carried out. 

But now the grandson can't stand hearing the cries of the condemned men.  Grandfather makes him watch the executions.  Grandson keeps saying over and over that the two men were guilty.  Meanwhile, the crossbow assassin prepares to kill Mircea.  He hits Mircea in the right shoulder.  He then tries to finish him off, but Mircea kills him with his sword.  Mircea himself pulls out the dart.  Now he asks Vladut to bring him a hot iron to cauterize his wound. 

Mircea and Vladut are out with the army again.  They run into son Vlad.  Mircea asks why isn't he with his army at the Danube.  Vlad says:  "I couldn't stand to see my army attacked from behind."  The talk among the army is that brother Mihail is scheming treason and Uncle Dan is at Bran with an English and a German army. Vlad says he rode to Arges to see for himself and the rumors are true.  Mircea says that since the army knows about this treason, they will have to take care of the matter. 

The priest speaks with Mihail and his ambitious wife.  He tells them that Mircea is keeping Mihail from his deserved throne.  Mihail says that he can't fight his father.  His wife says she can poison Mircea.  The priest says that would be a mortal sin.  "But placing a poisoned needle on his chair is not a sin."  Vlad with his men rush into the castle and tell Mihail to surrender.  Mihail surrenders his sword.  And now they will stand before Mircea.  Mircea has the priest thrown into a "rat hole".  He then says he will decide Mihail's fate in the morning.  Mihail's wife on her knees confesses that it was her hunger for power that pushed Mihail into this.  She asks for mercy for the father of her child.  For a moment Mircea thinks of killing Mihail's son, but he decides not to do it. 

A dancer dances around Baiazid.  (brief nudity)   All of a sudden Baiazid gets a terrible pain in his head and he has flashbacks of seeing Mircea fighting his army.  He yells for Izedin and asks him how many days does Mircea have left to give him his decision?  Six days. 

Mircea tells the plotting priest to return to Sigismund and tell him to mind his own business.  The priest is free to go. 

Mircea looks Mihail straight in the eyes and then the men both start laughing.  In other words, Mihail was only acting the part of a traitor at his father's request.  Now Mircea turns to the wife Elisaveta.  He tells her:  "You acted too good.  Be careful!"  He now tells Mihail that he will led the army at the Danube and he is to take his son with him so the boy can become a man.  This shocks Vlad and he asks his father what did he do wrong?  Dad says he didn't do anything wrong.  He just needs Vlad for another mission. 

The Turkish envoy arrives.  Izedin tells Mircea that Mehmed is ready to meet with him wherever Mircea wants to meet with him.   

Mircea waits on a huge sand bar for Mehmed, who is rowed out to meet with Mircea.  Mehmed says he still remembers Mircea's face even though he was only a child when the Battle of Rovine took place.  Mehmed suggests that it's time for Mircea to reach an agreement with the Turks.  (He notices that Mircea is bleeding because blood is dripping from his right hand onto the sand.)  He tells Mircea:  "You're the wall that stops me."   Even if they fight and Mircea wins the day, the Turks will just come again with even a bigger army.  He adds that he would rather go around the wall than try to destroy it. 

Mircea asks him what is the price he would have to pay Mehmed?  Mehmed says that Mircea helped his brother, Musa, against him.  Furthermore, he gave an army and council to his other brother, Mustafa.  It was only last year that he was able to defeat Mustafa at Thessalonica.  Mircea says simply:  "I was wrong."  Mehmed likes what he hears.  But Mircea says he has certain conditions to be met.  One, of course, is their independence and the other is that the Turks will never build a castle or mosque on Romanian soil.  In turn, he will send Mehmed 3,000 red coins every year.  In addition, each year he will send 40 mares and 40 hawks. 

Mehmed says that his condition is that Mircea must give him one of his sons to be raised by the Turks.  Mircea says he can have his son Vlad.  Mehmed says:  "You don't love him enough.  I want to have next to me the person you love the most."  He wants Vladut, his grandson.  Mircea says no and walks away.  Mehmed looks at his hand and it has Mircea's blood on it.  He returns to his boat.  He gives the order for Izedin's head to be chopped off here and now. 

Mircea is bleeding from the dart wound that did not heal.  He tells his sons that he will led the army tomorrow.  He adds:  "The Danube army is mine.  They listen to me."

At their father's request, the sons have their father taken outside on a cot so he can see the sky.  Mihail now says that Mehmet crossed the Danube and is coming for them.  Mircea says then the Turks will be very tired in the morning.  He now tells his sons to go to bed and get some sleep for it will be a huge battle tomorrow.  He promises his sons he will be with them in the morning.  They leave and Vladut comes to see his grandfather.  Mircea tells Bratu to take his grandson away because Vladut should not see this.  The boy tells his grandfather not to die.  They need him.  Vladut says he will sing for grandfather.  Mircea tells him to sing and don't let him fall asleep.  Vladut sings.  Mircea closes his eyes and Vladut keeps shaking him and keeping him awake.  Mircea says it's better now.

A messenger arrives to tell Mehmed that King Mircea is dead.  Mehmed comments that Mircea was the only one that he was afraid of. 

Mihail and Vlad await the arrive of the Turks.  The men suddenly see Mircea up on top of a large cliff.  They start shouting hurrah to him.  Mehmed sees him too, but says this is a trick.  They put Mircea's armor and helmet on someone else to impersonate their great leader.  But now, Mircea takes off his helmet.  Mehmed now sees him and says:  "He's not human!  He's the devil!"  Now he sends a messenger to Mircea to tells him Mehmed accepts the deal they made on the sand bar. 

Mircea hears the news, but hesitates because he doesn't want to have to send his grandson to Mehmed.  But now Vladut says he will willingly go with Mehmed.  And he says he will not forget his own country.  He will come to know the Turks very well, including their weak points.  Mircea now says to the messenger to telll Mehmed that there will be no fight today.  He accepts the agreement and one of his sons will be sent to him within a year's time. 

Mehmed's army starts leaving.  Mehmed waves up to Mircea, who waves back.

When the Turks are away in their ships, Mircea tells everyone to leave because he wants to be alone.  Vladut tells his grandfather farewell and that Mircea will never die.

 

This is not an easy film to follow.  And there is a lot of history here that I doubt most Americans know about. After all, how much do we know of Romania and the Ottoman Empire?  To really understand what's going on historically in the film, I would have to learn a lot more about these two groups.  One thing I liked about the film was that it dealt with a group of Muslims, people about which we do not hear about enough.  (Excluding the modern era, when the Muslims and Middle East oil became so important.) 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

 

1386-1418  --  reign in Wallachia of Mircea the Elder. 

1395 (May 17)  --   one of the most important battle victories in Romanian history, the Battle of Rovine took place between the Wallachian army led by Voivod Mircea cel Bătrn (Mircea the Elder) against the Ottoman invasion led by sultan Bayezid I. The Ottoman army, numbering approximately 40,000 men, faced the much smaller Wallachian army, which was about 10,000 men.

c. 1418  --  in the final years of Mircea the Elder's reign, Wallachia became an Ottoman tributary state.  He succeeded in driving the Turks back away from Dobruja and briefly extended his rule to the Danube Delta, Dobruja and Silistra (c. 1400-1404).  He oscillated between alliances with Sigismund of Hungary and Jagiellon Poland (taking part in the Battle of Nicopolis).

1415  --  Mircea accepted a peace treaty with the Ottomans, after Mehmed I took control of Turnu and Giurgiu the two ports remained part of the Ottoman state, with brief interruptions, until 1829.

1418  --  death of Mircea the Elder.  Replaced by Mihail I.

1418-1420  -  Mihail I defeated the Ottomans in Severin, only to be killed in battle by the counter-offensive.

1453  --  the fall of Constantinople to Sultan Mehmed II.  Now the entire Balkan Peninsula became an integral part of the emerging Ottoman Empire.  Wallachia became engaged in frequent confrontations.

1422  --  danger was averted for a short while when Dan II inflicted a defeat on Murad II with the help of Pippo Spano.

1428  --  peace signed.  This inaugurated a period of internal crisis, as Dan had to defend himself against Radu Prasnaglava, who led the first in a series of boyar coalitions against established princes (in time, these became overtly pro-Ottoman in answer to repression).

 1431 --  the year when the boyar-backed Alexandru I Aldea took the throne.

14361442; 14431447  --  the boyars are dealt successive blows by Vlad II Dracul, who nevertheless attempted to compromise between the Porte and the Holy Roman Empire.

 

 

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