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Cuza, Alexander John

CUZA, ALEXANDER JOHN (or COUZA) [Alexandra. Joan] (1820-1873), first prince of Rumania, was born on the 20th of March 1820, at Galatz in Moldavia, and belonged to an ancient boiar, or noble, family. He was educated at Jassy, Pavia, Bologna and Athens; and, after a brief period of military service, visited Paris from 1837 to 1840 for a further course of study. In 1845 he married the daughter of another boiar, Elena Rosetti, who in 1862 founded the Princess Elena refuge for orphans, at Bucharest. Cuza was imprisoned by the Russian authorities for taking part in the Rumanian revolution of 1848, but escaped to Vienna. On his return, in 1850, he was appointed prefect of Galatz. In 1857 he rejoined the army, and within a few months rose to the rank of colonel. He became minister of war in 1858, and represented Galatz in the Assembly which was elected in the same year to nominate a prince for Moldavia. Cuza was a prominent speaker in the critical debates which ensued when the assembly met at Jassy, and strongly advocated the union of the two Danubian principalities, Moldavia and Walachia. In default of a foreign prince, he was himself elected prince of Moldavia by the assembly at Jassy ( 1 7 th Jan. 1859), and prince of Walachia by the assembly at Bucharest (5th Feb.). He thus became ruler of the united principalities, with the title Prince Alexander John I.; but as this union was forbidden by the congress of Paris (i8th Oct. 1858), his authority was not recognized by his suzerain, the sultan of Turkey, until the 23rd of December 1861, when the union of the principalities under the name of Rumania was formally proclaimed. For a full account of Cuza's reign see RUMANIA. The personal vices of the prince, and the drastic and unconstitutional reforms which he imposed on all classes, alienated his subjects, although many of these reforms proved to be of lasting excellence. Financial distress supervened, and the popular discontent culminated in revolution. At four o'clock on the morning of the 22nd of February 1866, a band of military conspirators broke into the palace, and compelled the prince to sign his abdication. On the following day they conducted him safely across the frontier. Prince Alexander spent the remainder of his life chiefly in Paris, Vienna and Wiesbaden. He died at Heidelberg on the isthof May 1873.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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