Between the 1st and 7th centuries AD, the south was intermittently under the Roman, and then Byzantine Empires.
Most of the Moldovan territory was a part of the Principality of Moldavia from the 14th century until 1812, when it was ceded to the Russian Empire by the Ottoman Empire (to which Moldavia was a vassal state) and became known as Bessarabia.
In 1856, southern Bessarabia was returned to Moldavia, which three years later united with Wallachia to form Romania, but Russian rule was restored over the whole of the region in 1878, during the 1917 Russian Revolution, Bessarabia briefly became an autonomous and then independent Moldavian Democratic Republic until it was integrated into Romania in 1918 following a vote of its assembly.
On 28 June 1940, the Soviet Union issued an ultimatum to Romania requesting the cession of Bessarabia and northern Bukovina, with which Romania complied the following day.
Soon after, the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic (Moldavian SSR, MSSR) was established, comprising about 65% of Bessarabia, and 50% of the now-disbanded Moldavian ASSR. As part of the 1941 Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, Romania regained the territories of Bessarabia and northern Bukovina, and seized Transnistria.
Like the present-day republic and Romania's north-eastern region, it was known to the locals as Moldova.