But the Wallachian overreached them, and impaled them all; then crossing the Danube, he laid waste the Turkish territory. In 1462 Mohammad arrived at the head of an army, bringing with him Radu, Vlad's brother, to take the place of the latter. Like Darius, he sent a fleet of transports to the Danube to carry the army across. Vlad withdrew his forces into the deep oak-forests, which formed a natural fortification. One night he penetrated in disguise into the Turkish camp, hoping to slay Mohammad; but he mistook the tent of a general for that of the Sultan. By his address and boldness he seems to have inflicted a serious repulse on the invaders; but he was presently attacked on the other side by Stephen, the prince of Moldavia. After his divided army had sustained a double defeat, he fled to Hungary, and his brother Radu was enthroned by the Turks.
The stress of the struggle now devolved upon the northern principality of Moldavia, and there too a strong man had arisen. In 1456 Peter Aron gave tribute to the Turk, but this prince was overthrown in the following year by Stephen the Great. At first Stephen did not rise to his role of a champion against the unbelievers. He set his desire on securing the fortress of Kilia (near the mouth of the Danube) which belonged to Hungary and Wallachia in common, and he actually urged Mohammad's invasion. But he failed to win Kilia at this moment, and his capture of it three years later, when Wallachia belonged to the Turk, was an act of hostility to Mohammad. Five years later he invaded Wallachia, dethroned Radu, and set up in his stead La'iot, a member of the Bassarab family which has given its name to Bessarabia. At this time Mohammad was occupied with other things, but the conflict would come sooner or later, and Stephen stirred himself to knit alliances and form combinations to east and to west. He was in communication with Venice, with the Pope, with Uzun Hasan. The victory of Terdshan left Mohammad free to throw an army into Moldavia under the command of Sulayman Pasha. Stephen, reinforced by contingents sent by the Kings of Poland and Hungary, gained at Racova (on the Birlad stream) a great victory—the glory of his reign—which entitles him to a place near Hunyady and Scanderbeg (1475). But a new element was brought into the situation in the same year by the simultaneous expedition which was sent against the Genoese settlements of the Crimea. Caffa capitulated—40,000 inhabitants were sent to Constantinople; and its fall was followed by the surrender of Tana (Azov) and the other stations. Mohammad could now launch the Tartars of this region against Moldavia on the flank; and next year (1476) this befell. Unassisted by Poland or Hungary, who were each suspicious of his relations with the other; attacked by the Wallachian prince whom he had himself enthroned; assailed on the other side by the Tartars,—Stephen was worsted with great loss by a Turkish army led by the Sultan, who had come to avenge the shame of Racova, in a