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5000 lei 2004 - Stephen the Great's Death Quincentenary
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5000 lei 2004 - 500 years since the death of Stephen the Great - obverse 5000 lei 2004 - 500 years since the death of Stephen the Great - reverse
35 mm diameter, 31.103 g, gold 99,9%, flat edge
Obverse: ROMANIA, year 2004, Romanian coat of arms, denomination value 5000 LEI between two fleur-de-lis ornaments, a tower and the seal of the voivod
Reverse: bust of the voivod, the church of the monastery Putna and below the inscription PUTNA, years 1504 and 2004 written as a fraction, circular inscription 500 ANI DE LA MOARTEA LUI ȘTEFAN CEL MARE, meaning 500 YEARS SINCE THE DEATH OF STEPHEN THE GREAT

Issuing date: 19th of April 2004

Mintage: 250 coins

The coin comemorates the death of voivod Stephen the Great, 250 pieces having been minted only.

The great Moldavian voivod is also present on other Romanian coins: 500 lei 1941 - Liberation of the enthralled Moldavia, 20 lei 1991, 1 leu, 5 and 100 lei 2007 - 550 years since the enthronement of Stephen the Great in Moldavia and 10 lei 2008 - Voroneț Monastery.

Stephen the Great also appears on several coin issued by the Republic of Moldavia: 100 lei 2000 - 525 years from the battle of Vaslui and 100 lei 2004 - 500 years since his death.

Chronicler Grigore Ureche about the death of Stephen voivod

... And Stephen was burried by the country with grief and weep in monastery in Putna, that was built by him. So much grief was there, that all wept as after one's father, all witting they were bereft of much good and much shelter.

About the fleur-de lis ornaments

The fleur-de lis ornaments are intended to draw attention toward the Mușatin ascendence of Stephen the Great. The fleurs-de-lis appear on the very first Moldavian coins, struck under Peter I Mușat.

About the seal of Stephen the Great

The great seal of prince Stephen the Great has a shield bearing the Moldavian coat of arms at center, with the urus bearing the star between the horns, the sun (as a six petal rose) and the moon (as waning crescent) on the sides. Circular inscription in Slavic can be read something like: PECIATI IO STEFANI VOEVODA GOSPODAR ZEMLI MOLDAVSKOI, meaning SEAL OF IO STEPHEN VOIVOD, MASTER OF MOLDAVIAN LAND.

About the Putna monastery's church

Built between 1466 and 1469 and meant to be a princely final resting place, the church, consecrated to the Falling Asleep of the Mother of God, had a troubled history. In 1498 it was rebuilt after a fire, in 1654 it was destroyed by the Cossacks of Timuș Khmelnytsky (son of Bohdan), rebuilt once again by prince George Stephen and Eustratie Dabija, it fell in ruin as result of an earthquake and it was consequently restored between 1756 and 1760 by Metropolitan Jacob of Putna. In the last century it was restored according to modern technologies, paying close attention to the 15th century aspect it had.

Stephen the Great and the Holy on the evangel of Humor Stephen the Great and the Holy on an epitrachelion from Putna Stephen the Great in the votive painting at Dobrovăț Monastery near Iași - fresco from 1529

The main element of the coin design pictures the Moldavian voivod Stephen the Great and the Holy.

We could not find certain information about the person that created this well known portrait of Stephen the Great. All we found is that the author may be Costin Petrescu and that he was inspired by a postal card made in 1904, with the occasion of the Borzești commemoration.

Few images were preserved from the epoch of Stephen the Great. At left an illustration from the evangel (or gospel) from 1473 ordered by Stephen the Great for the Humor monastery (and manufactured by hieromonach Nicodim) can be seen. The voivod has whiskers and long hair, as he was represented on all embroidmeries and votive paintings (images with miniature of the monuments, held by the founders that offer them to patron saints - the name comes from the Latin votum, meaning promise or vow) in his epoch. The epitrachelion is an embroidered stole, a long scarf-like cloth, decorated with religious motifs, worn by the Orthodox priests and by the high hierarchs when officiating the religious service. On such an epitrachelion, preserved at Putna monastery, the voivod Stephen the Great and the Holy is depicted (see image at left).

Another very old painting of Stephen the Great is presented at left - the lower picture. This is a fragment from the votive painting of Dobrovăț Monastery near Iași. The stone church of Dobrovăț was founded by Stephen the Great in 1503, being finished by Bogdan III, son of Stephen. The church was painted in 1529, in the first reign of Petru Rareș, another son of Stephen the Great.

Mihail Sadoveanu about the quatercentenary commemoration of Stephen the Great's death

At the quatercentennial commemoration of great prince's death, writer Mihail Sadoveanu published an article (inside Sămănătorul review, issue 27 of July 4th 1904) where he put it: "... The Old Voivod sleeps his maybe afflicted by dreams sleep; and he further will. But one day his steel sword will cut through the grave and flash in the sun. And the spirit of his worthiness will pass like a thrill through the hearts awakened to a new life. Then, after centuries of nightmares, the torment on your face will unrinkle, you will smile and forget our drifting astray. Then, old man, your giant shadow will rise above armies new and your eyes will flash, and the sky will tremble with the voice of your people!". The prophetic words of Sadoveanu fulfilled just a few years after, in 1918, when he Great Romania came to existence. It was the year when the great ruler along his eternal resting place at Putna and the entire Bucovina (seized by Austrians in 1775) returned to the HomeLand.

About diacritical marks on Romanian coins of our times

Every language has its particularities, specific features that reflect over its writing and require special attention. Most of the languages that employ the Latin alphabet in their writing use special signs that affect the pronunciation of certain standard Latin vowels and consonants in order to better outline how words are uttered and related to one another. These special signs are called diacritical marks. Romanian is no exception to this rule.

As a special favor done to the memory of Stephen the Great and the Holy, diacritical signs were used in the writing of the great voivod's name on this coin! A true exception indeed, given the fact that Romanian diacritics are considered, for quite a time already, (so it turns out!), a burden too heavy for the rushed minds and hands of the 21st century. By analyzing, even superficially, the inscriptions on the recent Romanian coins (both circulation and anniversary ones), we notice that they have been thoroughly neglected. We find names of personalities such as Brancusi, Brancoveanu, Saguna, or toponyms: Ramnic, Cotofenesti and even Romania (instead of Brâncuși, Brâncoveanu, Șaguna, Râmnic, Coțofenești, România). Is such a writing obviously superior to that officially in use so that it should replace it justifiedly?

As an important herald of Romanian identity and presence on the geopolitical map, Romanian coins have a major cultural and political impact over the image of Romania both home and abroad. We deem that the steady use of these increasingly neglected signs on the coins (as well as on the frontispieces of various institutions) would be far from ridiculous and, on the contrary, constitute an important step towards normality from every reasonable point of view.

As a pertinent observation, all legends on the coins issued by the Republic of Moldavia respect flawlessly the Romanian language, the writing with diacritical letters included.

Back to the subject, we further notice that the same favor was granted to Stephen the Great on the 20 lei piece struck between 1991 and 1996 (yet theoretically up to 2003, as component of the mint sets of 2000, 2002 and 2003 - lacking from circulation because of the fact they were worth... nothing!). Probably his name was too notorious and too dear to Romanians to write it lispingly.

It is maybe worth pointing for unaware readers that S without a comma underneath is pronounced normally, and Ș in Ștefan is pronounced like sh in sharp. Unproper letter use leads to unproper pronunciation!

The gold coin pictures above are present on the site through the kind permission of Mr. Radu Lissner.

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