Basarab I the Founder (Romanian: Basarab Întemeietorul), also Basarab I the Great (Basarab cel Mare), was voivode or prince of Wallachia (c. 1310/1319–1352). His rise seems to have taken place in the context of the war between the Kingdom of Hungary and the Orthodox states in the north of the Balkan Peninsula. Around 1324 Basarab became a vassal of King Charles I of Hungary (1308-1342), but later the king called him ‘unfaithful’ on the pretext that Basarab had occupied crown territories.
Basarab I's name was originally Basarabai and lost the ending -a when it was borrowed into Romanian. The name is of Cuman or Pecheneg origin and most likely meant "father ruler". Basar was the present participle of the verb "to rule", derivatives attested in both old and modern Kypchak languages. The Romanian historian Nicolae Iorga believed the second part of the name, -aba ("father"), to be an honorary title, as recognizable in many Cuman names, such as Terteroba, Arslanapa, and Ursoba.
In 1330 King Charles I launched an expedition into Wallachia to restore his authority over that area. On November 12, after three days of fighting, Basarab defeated the Hungarian forces at the battle of Posada. The battle marked the end of Hungarian rule and the appearance of the first independent Romanian principality.
Basarab founded the first Romanian ruling dynasty which was named after him.
From the mid-14th century onwards his name appears in Serbian, Hungarian, Moldavian and Polish sources as the name of Wallachia, and from the 15th century as a name for the territory between the lower reaches of the rivers Prut and Dniester. Bessarabia became the name of the whole land between the Prut and the Dniester (i.e., today’s Republic of Moldova) only after the Russian conquest of the area in 1812.
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