Sergiu Florin Nicolaescu (Romanian pronunciation: [ˈserd͡ʒju nikolaˈesku]; 13 April 1930 – 3 January 2013) was a Romanian film director, actor and politician. He was best known for his historical films, such as Mihai Viteazul (1970, released in English both under the equivalent title Michael the Brave and also as The Last Crusade), Dacii (1966, Les Guerriers), Razboiul Independenţei (1977, War of Independence).
Michael was born under the family name of Pătraşcu. In 1601, during a stay in Prague, he was portrayed by the painter Aegidius Sadeler, who mentioned on the portrait the words aetatis XLIII ("in the 43rd year of life"), which indicates 1558 as the year of Michael's birth. Very little is known about his childhood and early years as an adult. He is argued by most historians to have been the illegitimate son of Wallachian Prince Pătraşcu cel Bun, (Pătrașcu the Good) of the Drăculeşti branch of the House of Basarab, while others believe he merely invented his descent in order to justify his rule.His mother was Teodora Cantacuzino, a member of the Cantacuzino family, an old boyar family of Wallachia and Moldavia, allegedly descended from the Byzantine Emperor John VI Cantacuzenus.
Michael's political rise was quite spectacular, as he became the Ban of Mehedinţi in 1588, stolnic at the court of Mihnea Turcitul by the end of 1588, and Ban of Craiova in 1593 - during the rule of Alexandru cel Rău. The latter had him swear before 12 boyars that he was not of princely descent. Still, in May 1593 conflict did break out between Alexandru and Michael, who was forced to flee to Transylvania. He was accompanied by his half-brother Radu Florescu, Radu Buzescu and several other supporters. After spending two weeks at the court of Sigismund Báthory, he left for Constantinople, where with help from his cousin Andronic Cantacuzino and Patriarch Jeremiah II he negotiated Ottoman support for his accession to the Wallachian throne. He was supported by the English ambassador in the Ottoman capital, Edward Barton, and aided by a loan of 200,000 florins.Michael was invested Prince by Sultan Murad III in September 1593 and started his effective rule on October 11.
Not long after Michael became Prince of Wallachia, he turned against the Ottoman Empire. The next year he joined the Christian alliance of European powers formed by Pope Clement VIII against the Turks, and signed treaties with his neighbours: Sigismund Báthory of Transylvania, Aron Tiranul of Moldavia and the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf II. He started a campaign against the Turks in the autumn of 1594, conquering several citadels near the Danube, including Giurgiu, Brăila, Hârşova, and Silistra, while his Moldavian allies defeated the Turks in Iaşi and other parts of Moldavia.Mihai continued his attacks deep within the Ottoman Empire, taking the forts of Nicopolis, Ribnic, and Chilia and even reaching as far as Adrianople. At one point his forces were only 24 kilometers from Constantinople.
In 1595, Sigismund Báthory staged an elaborate plot and had Aron the Tyrant, voivode of Moldavia, removed from power.Ştefan Josica (Báthory's chancellor and an ethnic Romanian) masterminded the operation. Ştefan Răzvan arrested Aron on charges of treason on the night of April 24 (May 5) and sent him to the Transylvanian capital at Alba Iulia (Gyulafehérvár) with his family and treasure. Aron would die poisoned by the end of May in the castle of Vinc. Sigismund was forced to justify his actions before the European powers, since Aron had played an active role in the anti-Ottoman coalition. Later on, in the same city of Alba Iulia, Wallachian boyars signed a treaty with Sigismund on Michael's behalf. From the point of view of Wallachian internal politics, the Treaty of Alba Iulia officialized what could be called a boyar regime, reinforcing the already important political power of the noble elite. According to the treaty, a council of 12 great boyars was to take part alongside the voivode in the executive rule of the country.