Alexander Ypsilantis (1725–1805)

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Alexander Ypsilantis
Alexandru Ipsilanti.jpg
Prince of Wallachia
(1st reign)
Reign15 September 1774 – February 1782
PredecessorEmanuel Giani Ruset
SuccessorNicholas Caradja
Prince of Moldavia
ReignDecember 1786 – 19 April 1788
PredecessorAlexandru Mavrocordat
SuccessorEmanuel Giani Ruset
Prince of Wallachia
(2nd reign)
ReignAugust 1796 – December 1797
PredecessorAlexander Mourouzis
SuccessorConstantine Hangerli
Died13 January 1807
IssueConstantine Ypsilantis

Alexander Ypsilantis (Greek: Αλέξανδρος Υψηλάντης Alexandros Ypsilantis, Romanian: Alexandru Ipsilanti; 1726 – 13 January 1807) was a Greek Voivode (Prince) of Wallachia from 1774 to 1782, and again from 1796 to 1797, and also Voivode (Prince) of Moldavia from 1786 to 1788. He bears the same name as, but should not be confused with, his grandson, the Greek War of Independence hero of the early 19th century. The Ypsilantis were a prominent family of Phanariotes.


In 1774, as a diplomat in service to the Porte, Ypsilanti took part in the signing of the Treaty of Kuchuk-Kainarji with Russia; a year later, he was rewarded for this and other services by being appointed Dragoman of the Porte. Still in 1775, he was awarded the throne of Wallachia. This could only happen as the Russian troops were ending their occupation of Bucharest, begun in 1771. The throne had been vacant throughout this period, a hiatus provoked by Emanuel Giani Ruset's agreement with Catherine II at the start of the war.

As principal acts of his reign in Wallachia, Ypsilanti enforced a series of reforms. Several laws are grouped in the Pravilniceasca condică, called "Syntagmation nomikon" in its Greek version (roughly: "The Code of Byzantine customary laws"). Issued in 1780, the Code sought to amend fiscal, administrative, judicial and political flaws. During his judicial reform, Ipsilanti created civil courts in each Wallachian county.[1] What was in fact a radical redefinition of legal boundaries had to make occasional reference to Byzantine norms (the traditional laws in the two Principalities), due to resistance from conservative boyars in the Assembly (the Sfat). Most notably, the new laws tried to impose salaries for public offices, a measure intended to reduce fiscal burdens on the taxed social categories (that had been supposed to provide revenues for the fiscal agents, usually boyars, in an economy in which land ownership had become less of an asset than holding office) and ensure a more professional administrative structure.

Ypsilanti's reigns coincide with a critical moment in Ottoman history. In August 1787, Russia resumed hostilities (see Russo-Turkish War (1787–1792)), and the Porte faced a large-scale invasion of its Danubian territories as the Habsburg Empire joined the fighting (9 February 1788). A secondary effect of this event was the granting of military command over Turkish troops in the region to Ypsilanti: the gesture is also significant as a temporary re-shaping of status in the relations between Prince and Sultan for the context of Phanariote rule.

Sources suggest that Ypsilanti was considering an alliance with Austria, and had been negotiating with emissaries of Emperor Joseph II. However, as the Austrians occupied Iaşi in April, all contacts ceased and the Prince was kept in custody in Brno up to the signing of the peace treaty at Sistowa (autumn of 1791).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Djuvara, p. 69


  • (in Romanian) Vlad Georgescu, Istoria ideilor politice româneşti (1369–1878), Munich, 1987
  • (in Romanian) Mustafa A. Mehmet, Documente turceşti privind istoria României, vol. III, Bucharest, 1983
  • (in Romanian) Neagu Djuvara, Între Orient şi Occident – Ţările Române la începutul epocii moderne, Editura Humanitas, Bucharest, 2007
Preceded by
Scarlat Caradja
Grand Dragoman of the Porte
Succeeded by
Constantine Mourousis
Preceded by
Emanuel Giani Ruset
Prince of Wallachia
Succeeded by
Nicolae Caradja
Preceded by
Alexandru Moruzi
Prince of Wallachia
Succeeded by
Constantin Hangerli
Preceded by
Alexandru Mavrocordat
Prince/Voivode of Moldavia
Succeeded by
Austrian occupation