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Ypsilanti, Alexander

YPSILANTI, ALEXANDER (1792-1828), eldest son of Constantino Ypsilanti, accompanied his father in 1805 to St Petersburg, and in 1809 received a commission in the cavalry of the Imperial Guard. He fought with distinction in 1812 and 1813, losing an arm at the battle of Dresden, and in 1814 was promoted colonel and appointed one of the emperor's adjutants. In this capacity he attended Alexander I. at the congress of Vienna, where he was a popular figure in society (see La Garde- Chambonas, Souvenirs). In 1817 he became major-general and commander of the brigade of hussars. In 1820, on the refusal of Count Capo d'Istria to accept the post of president of the Greek Hetairia Pkilike, Ypsilanti was elected, and in 1821 he placed himself at the head of the insurrection against the Turks in the Danubian principalities. Accompanied by several other Greek officers in the Russian service he crossed the Pruth on the 6th of March, announcing that he had the support of a " great power." Had he advanced on Ibraila he might have prevented the Turks entering the principalities and so forced Russia to accept the fait accompli. Instead, he remained at Jassy, disgracing his cause by condoning the massacres of Turkish merchants and others. At Bucharest, whither he advanced after some weeks' delay, it became plain that he could not rely on the Vlach peasantry to rise on behalf of the Greeks; even the disconcerting expedient of his Vlach ally Theodore Vladimiresco, who called on the peasants to present a petition to the sultan against Phanariot misrule, failed to stir the people from their apathy. Then, wholly unexpectedly, came a letter from Capo d'Istria upbraiding Ypsilanti for misusing the tsar's name, announcing that his name had been struck off the army list, and commanding him to lay down his arms. Ypsilanti's decision to explain away the tsar's letter could only have been justified by the success of a cause which was now hopeless. There followed a series of humiliating defeats, culminating in that of Dragashan on the 1oth of June.

Alexander, accompanied by his brother Nicholas and a remnant of his followers, retreated to Rimnik, where he spent some days in negotiating with the Austrian authorities for permission to cross the frontier. Fearing that his followers might surrender him to the Turks, he gave out that Austria had declared war on Turkey, caused a Te Deum to be sung in the church of Kosia, and, on pretext of arranging measures with the Austrian commander-in-chief, crossed the frontier. But the Austria of Francis I. and Metternich was no asylum for leaders of revolts in neighbouring countries. Ypsilanti was kept in close confinement for seven years, and when released at the instance of the emperor Nicholas I. of Russia, retired to Vienna, where he died in extreme poverty and misery on the 31st of January 1828.

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

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