1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Mavrocordato

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MAVROCORDATO, Mavrocordat or Mavrogordato, the name of a family of Phanariot Greeks, distinguished in the history of Turkey, Rumania and modern Greece. The family was founded by a merchant of Chios, whose son Alexander Mavrocordato (c. 1636–1709), a doctor of philosophy and medicine of Bologna, became dragoman to the sultan in 1673, and was much employed in negotiations with Austria. It was he who drew up the treaty of Karlowitz (1699). He became a secretary of state, and was created a count of the Holy Roman Empire. His authority, with that of Hussein Kupruli and Rami Pasha, was supreme at the court of Mustapha II., and he did much to ameliorate the condition of the Christians in Turkey. He was disgraced in 1703, but was recalled to court by Sultan Ahmed III. He left some historical, grammatical, &c. treatises of little value.

His son Nicholas Mavrocordato (1670–1730) was grand dragoman to the Divan (1697), and in 1708 was appointed hospodar (prince) of Moldavia. Deposed, owing to the sultan’s suspicions, in favour of Demetrius Cantacuzene, he was restored in 1711, and soon afterwards became hospodar of Walachia. In 1716 he was deposed by the Austrians, but was restored after the peace of Passarowitz. He was the first Greek set to rule the Danubian principalities, and was responsible for establishing the system which for a hundred years was to make the name of Greek hateful to the Rumanians. He introduced Greek manners, the Greek language and Greek costume, and set up a splendid court on the Byzantine model. For the rest he was a man of enlightenment, founded libraries and was himself the author of a curious work entitled Περὶ καθήκοντων (Bucharest, 1719). He was succeeded as grand dragoman (1709) by his son John (Ioannes), who was for a short while hospodar of Moldavia, and died in 1720.

Nicholas Mavrocordato was succeeded as prince of Walachia in 1730 by his son Constantine. He was deprived in the same year, but again ruled the principality from 1735 to 1741 and from 1744 to 1748; he was prince of Moldavia from 1741 to 1744 and from 1748 to 1749. His rule was distinguished by numerous tentative reforms in the fiscal and administrative systems. He was wounded and taken prisoner in the affair of Galati during the Russo-Turkish War, on the 5th of November 1769, and died in captivity.

Prince Alexander Mavrocordato (1791–1865), Greek statesman, a descendant of the hospodars, was born at Constantinople on the 11th of February 1791. In 1812 he went to the court of his uncle Ioannes Caradja, hospodar of Walachia, with whom he passed into exile in Russia and Italy (1817). He was a member of the Hetairia Philike and was among the Phanariot Greeks who hastened to the Morea on the outbreak of the War of Independence in 1821. He was active in endeavouring to establish a regular government, and in January 1822 presided over the first Greek national assembly at Epidaurus. He commanded the advance of the Greeks into western Hellas the same year, and suffered a defeat at Peta on the 16th of July, but retrieved this disaster somewhat by his successful resistance to the first siege of Missolonghi (Nov. 1822 to Jan. 1823). His English sympathies brought him, in the subsequent strife of factions, into opposition to the “Russian” party headed by Demetrius Ypsilanti and Kolokotrones; and though he held the portfolio of foreign affairs for a short while under the presidency of Petrobey (Petros Mavromichales), he was compelled to withdraw from affairs until February 1825, when he again became a secretary of state. The landing of Ibrahim Pasha followed, and Mavrocordato again joined the army, only escaping capture in the disaster at Sphagia (Spakteria), on the 9th of May 1815, by swimming to Navarino. After the fall of Missolonghi (April 22, 1826) he went into retirement, until President Capo d’Istria made him a member of the committee for the administration of war material, a position he resigned in 1828. After Capo d’Istria’s murder (Oct. 9, 1831) and the resignation of his brother and successor, Agostino Capo d’Istria (April 13, 1832), Mavrocordato became minister of finance. He was vice-president of the National Assembly at Argos (July, 1832), and was appointed by King Otto minister of finance, and in 1833 premier. From 1834 onwards he was Greek envoy at Munich, Berlin, London and—after a short interlude as premier in Greece in 1841—Constantinople. In 1843, after the revolution of September, he returned to Athens as minister without portfolio in the Metaxas cabinet, and from April to August 1844 was head of the government formed after the fall of the “Russian” party. Going into opposition, he distinguished himself by his violent attacks on the Kolettis government. In 1854–1855 he was again head of the government for a few months. He died in Aegina on the 18th of August 1865.

See E. Legrand, Genealogie des Mavrocordato (Paris, 1886).