Alexander Mourouzis

Alexander Mourouzis (Greek: Αλέξανδρος Μουρούζης; (1750/1760-1816) was a Grand Dragoman of the Ottoman Empire who served as Prince of Moldavia and Prince of Wallachia. Open to Enlightenment ideas, and noted for his interest in hydrological engineering, Mourouzis was forced to deal with the intrusions of Osman Pazvantoğlu's rebellious troops. In a rare gesture for his period, he renounced the throne in Wallachia, and his second rule in Moldavia was cut short by the intrigues of French diplomat Horace Sébastiani. Through his mother, he was a member of the Ghica family an Orthodox Phanariote family of Albanian origin.[1]

Alexandros Mourouzis
Portrait of Mourouzis, by Nikiforos Lytras.


Alexandru Moruzi at Curtea Nouă
Alexander Mourouzis welcoming the British ambassador in Curtea Nouă.

A member of the Mourouzis family of Phanariotes and the son of Constantine Mourouzis (one of the few Ottoman-appointed Princes to die in office),[2] he was educated to speak six languages in addition to his native Greek. Alexander was Grand Dragoman of the Porte under Sultan Selim III, in which capacity he helped mediate the 1791 Treaty of Jassy, ending the Russo-Turkish War of 1787–1792.[3] Selim rewarded his service by appointing him to the throne in Iași (Moldavia) in January 1792,[4] and transferred a year later to the throne of Bucharest (1793–1796), where his first year in office coincided with a bubonic plague outbreak (which he dealt with by quarantining and confining the ill to the village of Dudești).[5]

Dismissed owing to intrigues at the Ottoman court, he was reinstated in Bucharest (1798–1801). In 1799, he passed a resolution ending the labor conflict at the cloth factory in Pociovaliște (presently part of Bucharest).[6] After reforming its system of worker employment and payment, as well as hiring Saxon experts from Transylvania to manage the industry, he denied the workers' request to institute two weeks off for each week of labor, and ordered activities to be resumed, while stressing that it was imperative to respect the Ottoman demand for textiles (see Labor movement in Romania).[7] At the time, the employees did not receive payment, but worked in exchange for tax exemptions.[7]

Over the following year, Mourouzis had to deal with the incursion of Pazvantoğlu's rebellious troops in Oltenia, which resulted in the plundering and burning down much of the city of Craiova.[8] News of the Craiova's destruction reached Bucharest and Mourouzis forbade fleeing the city; however, this did not prevent the boyars from sending their wealth into Habsburg lands for safekeeping.[9] Mourouzis built fortifications on the road to Craiova and on the banks of Olt River; he attacked Pazvantoğlu's troops, who used the city's ruins as barricades — after several days of fighting, Pazvantoğlu and his troops fled Craiova and returned to Vidin.[10] Powerless against the latter's destructive attacks, he asked to be relieved of his position, and, in a highly unusual gesture, paid off Ottoman authorities in exchange for his own replacement.[11]

At the insistence of the French Empire, he was again appointed Prince of Moldavia (1802–1806 and 1806–1807), but was ultimately dismissed through another French intervention at the Porte - on August 12, 1806, Horace Sébastiani, the French Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, called on Selim III to punish Constantine Ypsilantis' pro-Russian activities in Wallachia, and to prevent a Moldavian-Wallachian-Russian alliance.[12] This last event constituted one of the causes for the Russo-Turkish War of 1806–1812.

Mustafa IV ordered Mourouzis to be sent to the galleys, but he was pardoned soon after.[4] He died at his home in Constantinople, and rumor had it that he was poisoned.[4]


Mourouzis was an Enlightenment prince, whose time on the two thrones was connected with modernization. The prince belonged to the Freemasonry, having affiliated with two separate Lodges: in 1773, he was a member of the one active in the Transylvanian city of Hermannstadt, and, after 1803, belonged to the Moldavian Freemason branch in Galați.[4] His Western contacts and his political ideals were probably connected with the goal of uniting the two Danubian Principalities under a single prince, as a symbolic legacy of Dacia: an 1800 atlas published in Vienna referred to his two rules as a single leadership of "the two Dacias".[4] As local legislation was primarily based on Byzantine law, he acknowledged the importance given to the Hexabiblos of 14th century Byzantine jurist Konstantinos Armenopoulos, and ordered it to be translated into Romanian — although it failed to become official law in Wallachia, the Hexabiblos was widely used for reference by the Bucharest Divan.[13]

During his rules in Bucharest, Mourouzis notably rebuilt the princely residence of Curtea Nouă, instituted a boyar office as centralized tax collection in the capital city, and increased the water supply by tapping sources in the Cotroceni area.[14] His interest in waterworks was also manifested during his stay in Moldavia, where he tapped water and built a reservoir for the capital Iași[15] (through a system leading up to Golia Monastery)[16] and provided Focșani with water from over the Milcov River (achieved following an understanding with Wallachia's Alexander Ypsilantis).[4] It was in 1793 that the first modern retailing firm was inaugurated in Wallachia, maintained by the Frenchman Hortolan.[4]

Under his rules, Wallachian and Moldavian ships for navigation on the Danube were built at newly created shipyards.[4] He also organized the first mail delivery system in Moldavia.[4] Like his father before him, Alexander Mourouzis founded schools and donated six-year scholarships for disadvantaged children.[17] Among the educational institutions he created was the Orthodox seminary in Iași's Socola Monastery.[4] He took a personal interest in scientific education, and attended experiments in physics at the Moldavian capital's Princely School.[4]

During his first reign over Moldavia, Mourouzis notably passed a resolution clarifying the surface of land which boyars were required to allocate to peasants working on their estates. It is the first document to divide agricultural workers into the three traditional categories, based on the number of oxen owned, of fruntași ("foremost people"), mijlocași ("middle people") and codași ("backward people").[18] At the time, it was recorded that associations of fruntași could function as estate leaseholders in the service of boyars or Orthodox monasteries.[19] This right was suppressed in 1815.[20]

In cultural references

Mourouzis was the recipient of a panegyric authored by the Moldavian boyar poet Costache Conachi, who praised the prince's achievements in hydrotechnics.[16] Comments made on the poem, published by the Romantic nationalist Gheorghe Sion, were the subject of an 1873 disagreement between him and literary critic Titu Maiorescu. The latter placed Sion's essay among his examples of "inebriation with words" (a term which he and the Junimea society had coined as a definition for incoherent and needlessly subjective criticism).[16]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Penelea Filitti, p. 60.
  3. ^ Penelea Filitti, pp. 60-61.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Penelea Filitti, p. 61.
  5. ^ Djuvara, p. 199; Giurescu, p. 106; Penelea Filitti, p. 61.
  6. ^ Djuvara, pp. 190-191.
  7. ^ a b Djuvara, p. 190.
  8. ^ Ionescu, p. 254; Penelea Filitti, p. 61.
  9. ^ Ionescu, pp. 254-255.
  10. ^ Ionescu, p. 255.
  11. ^ Djuvara, p. 282; Penelea Filitti, p. 61.
  12. ^ Djuvara, p. 284.
  13. ^ Djuvara, p. 351.
  14. ^ Djuvara, p. 52; Giurescu, pp. 21, 111, 337; Penelea Filitti, p. 61.
  15. ^ Maiorescu; Penelea Filitti, p. 61.
  16. ^ a b c Maiorescu
  17. ^ Djuvara, p. 208; Penelea Filitti, p. 61.
  18. ^ Djuvara, p. 258.
  19. ^ Djuvara, pp. 258-259.
  20. ^ Djuvara, p. 259.


  • Neagu Djuvara. Între Orient și Occident. Țările române la începutul epocii moderne ("Between Orient and Occident. The Romanian Lands at the Beginning of the Modern Era"), Humanitas, Bucharest, 1995.
  • Constantin C. Giurescu. Istoria Bucureștilor. Din cele mai vechi timpuri pînă în zilele noastre ("History of Bucharest. From the Earliest Times until Our Day"), Editura Pentru Literatură, Bucharest, 1966.
  • Ștefan Ionescu. Bucureștii în vremea fanarioților ("Bucharest in the Time of the Phanariotes"), Editura Dacia, Cluj-Napoca, 1974.
  • (in Romanian) Titu Maiorescu. Beția de cuvinte în "Revista Contimporană" ("Inebriation with Words in Revista Contimporană") (wikisource)
  • Georgeta Penelea Filitti. "Cronici de familie. Moruzi: din satul Moruzanda - în scaunele domnești de la București și Iași" ("Family Chronicles. Moruzi: from Moruzanda Village to the Princely Thrones in Bucharest and Iași"), in Magazin Istoric, March 1997, pp. 59–63.

Further reading

  • Florin Marinescu. Etude genealogique sur la famille Mourouzi ("Genealogical Study of the Mourouzis Family"), Centre de Recherches Néohelléniques, Athens, 1987.
Preceded by
Manuel Caradja
Grand Dragoman of the Porte
Succeeded by
George Mourouzis
Preceded by
Russian occupation
Prince of Moldavia
Succeeded by
Michael Drakos Soutzos
Preceded by
Caimacam Iordache Conta
Prince of Moldavia
Succeeded by
Scarlat Callimachi
Preceded by
Scarlat Callimachi
Prince of Moldavia
Succeeded by
Russian occupation
Preceded by
Michael Drakos Soutzos
Prince of Wallachia
Succeeded by
Alexander Ypsilantis
Preceded by
Constantin Hangerli
Prince of Wallachia
Succeeded by
Michael Drakos Soutzos
Dragoman of the Porte

The Dragoman of the Sublime Porte (Ottoman Turkish: terdjümân-ı bâb-ı âlî; Greek: [μέγας] διερμηνέας της Υψηλής Πύλης), Dragoman of the Imperial Council (terdjümân-ı dîvân-ı hümâyûn), or simply Grand or Chief Dragoman (terdjümân bashı), was the senior interpreter of the Ottoman government and de facto deputy foreign minister. From the position's inception in 1661 until the outbreak of the Greek Revolution in 1821, the office was occupied by Phanariotes, and was one of the main pillars of Phanariote power in the Ottoman Empire.

Imperial Russian Army

The Imperial Russian Army (Russian: Ру́сская импера́торская а́рмия, tr. Rússkaya imperátorskaya ármiya) was the land armed force of the Russian Empire, active from around 1721 to the Russian Revolution of 1917. In the early 1850s, the Russian army consisted of more than 900,000 regular soldiers and nearly 250,000 irregulars (mostly Cossacks).

The last living veteran of the Russian Imperial Army was Ukrainian supercentenarian Mikhail Krichevsky, who died in 2008.

Marițica Bibescu

Marițica Bibescu, born Maria Văcărescu, also known as Marițica Ghica (August 1, 1815 – September 27, 1859), was the Princess-consort of Wallachia between September 1845 and June 1848. A boyaress by birth, she belonged to the Văcărescu family. Her father Nicolae, her grandfather Ienăchiță and her uncle Alecu were politicians and professional writers; Marițica herself was an unpublished poet. She was orphaned as a child, but was looked after by her relatives and her family friends, including Prince Alexandru II Ghica and philanthropist Zoe Brâncoveanu. Described by period sources as exceptionally beautiful, if also vain and ambitious, she married in 1834 the Prince's brother, Spatharios Costache Ghica. Her adoptive clan, the Ghicas, remained the leading Wallachian family until late 1842, when Alexandru II was deposed by the Ottoman Empire.

Marițica's influence peaked again after the princely election of 1842–1843. Though her husband failed in his bid for the throne, Marițica became mistress of the winner, Gheorghe Bibescu, bearing him a child. Her third cousin, Gheorghe was at the time married to her godmother Zoe Brâncoveanu. Choosing to ignore public outrage, he finally obtained a divorce in 1844. The following year, he and Marițica were married in Focșani, a town situated on Wallachia's border with Moldavia. This was a lavish ceremony attended by Moldavian Prince Mihail Sturdza, who was their new godfather. Nevertheless, it had only partial recognition from the Wallachian Orthodox Church hierarchy. At odds with Metropolitan Neofit II, Gheorghe appealed to the Ecumenical Patriarch, and obtained approval after replacing Germanus IV with Meletius III. His effort included bribing the Ottoman Divan to depose Germanus.

Policy disagreements between the conservative Gheorghe and liberal groups fed the Wallachian Revolution of 1848. During these events, Marițica remained by her husband's side, and was possibly present when he survived an assassination attempt. The couple eventually escaped Wallachia and settled in the Austrian Empire; the revolution was crushed by the Ottoman and Russian Empires, and the throne was handed to Marițica's brother-in-law, Barbu Dimitrie Știrbei. She and Gheorghe lived in Istanbul, and later in Paris, where Gheorghe continued to press for his recognition as Prince, as well as for union between Wallachia and Moldavia. His political career in Wallachia was resumed after the Crimean War, but his prospects of becoming Prince were ended during the electoral battles of 1859; his rival, Alexandru Ioan Cuza, was in a position to unite the two countries.

The same year, Marițica died of cancer in Paris. She was survived by five children from two marriages, including a son, Mihai Ghica, who died without heirs of his own, in 1926. Her female descendants married into several houses of European nobility, including Montesquiou, Rasponi-Murat, Courval, and Faucigny-Lucinge. In the arts, Marițica is remembered as a promoter of the Romanian dress, and a muse to painters Carol Szathmari and Constantin Lecca. Also a literary patron, she was the aunt of two other female writers, Elena Văcărescu and Dora d'Istria, as well as the stepgrandmother of poet Anna de Noailles. Marițica's grandson Léon de Montesquiou was a founding member and doctrinaire of Action Française.

Michael Drakos Soutzos

Michael Drakos Soutzos (Greek: Μιχαήλ Δράκος Σούτζος; Romanian: Mihai Draco Suțu) (1730-1803) was a Prince of Moldavia between 1792 and 1795. A member of the Soutzos family of Phanariotes, he was the grandfather of Michael Soutzos, himself a ruler of Moldavia between 1819 and 1821.


The Paharnic (plural: Paharnici; also known as Păharnic, Paharnec, or Păharnec; Moldavian dialect: Ceașnic, Greek: Παχαρνίκοσ, Pakharnikos, Russian: Пахарник, Paharnik) was a historical Romanian rank, one of the non-hereditary positions ascribed to the boyar aristocracy in Moldavia and Wallachia (the Danubian Principalities). It was the local equivalent of a Cup-bearer or Cześnik, originally centered on pouring and obtaining wine for the court of Moldavian and Wallachian Princes. With time, it became a major administrative office and, in Wallachia, also had a lesser military function. The retinue of such boyars, usually called Păhărnicei, was in both countries also a private army.

Dating back to ca. 1400, the Paharnici were at the forefront of political life in Wallachia over the following two centuries, often as a title associated with the Craiovești and Florescu boyars. Wallachian Paharnici were especially important during the 16th and 17th centuries, when they included figures such as Lupu Mehedințeanu, Șerban of Coiani, and Matei Basarab. They and other Paharnici established means of boyar protection against the social ascent of immigrant Greeks. Prince Constantin Brâncoveanu, himself a former Paharnic, gave a privileged position to the Păhărnicei, but put to death their controversial Paharnic, Staico Bucșanu. Before 1700, figures associated with the Moldavian office included close relatives of the monarchs, such as Alexandru Coci and Ștefan Lupașcu Hâjdău. Though the office itself steadily declined in importance, it was still subjected to a meritocratic reform by Prince Dimitrie Cantemir.

The Paharnici grew in numbers and declined in political relevancy from ca. 1720, with the rise of the Phanariotes, and ultimately fell into a second class of boyars. Their descendants were recognized as a branch of the small boyardom, alongside the Păhărnicei. While these became a rural middle class, the Paharnici offices were increasingly permeable to the commercial classes of the city. The three groups intertwined, with some Paharnici, including Ianache Hafta and Manuc Bei, having a noted effect on the development of Bucharest. Various Paharnici also participated first-hand in the cultivation of Romanian nationalism, leading up to Gavril Istrati's clashes with the Greek "Sacred Band".

From Moldavia, the office was for a while inherited by the Russian Empire, which preserved titular Paharnici in its Bessarabia Governorate. In both Moldavia and Wallachia, the Russian regime of 1834–1854 recognized a multitude of titular Paharnici, from inspectors Ion Heliade Rădulescu and Constantin N. Brăiloiu to painter Constantin Lecca. The proliferation of Paharnici and other offices, taken up by Moldavian Princes Ioan and Mihail Sturdza, contributed to social tensions, and then to a failed revolutionary attempt. Following the Crimean War, the position of Paharnic was abolished, alongside all other historical titles.

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