Ypsilanti (Family) - Encyclopedia

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YPSILANTI, or HYPSILANTI, the name of a family of Phanariot Greeks claiming descent from the Comneni. ALEXANDER YPSILANTI (1725-1805) was dragoman of the Porte, and from 1 774 to 1782 hospodar of Wallachia, during which period he drew up a code for the principality. He was again appointed hospodar just before the outbreak of the war with Austria and Russia in 1790. He allowed himself to be taken prisoner by the Austrians, and was interned at Briinn till 1792. Returning to Constantinople, he fell under the suspicion of the sultan and was executed in 1805. His son Constantine (d. 1816), who had joined a conspiracy to liberate Greece and, on its discovery, fled to Vienna, had been pardoned by the sultan and in 1799 appointed by him hospodar of Moldavia. Deposed in 1805, he escaped to St Petersburg, and in 1806, at the head of some 20,000 Russians, returned to Bucharest, where he set to work on a fresh attempt to liberate Greece. His plans were ruined by the peace of Tilsit; he retired to Russia, and died at Kiev. He left five sons, of whom two played a conspicuous part in the Greek war of independence.

Alexander Ypsilanti (1792-1828), eldest son of Constantine 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 Philike, 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 ?ay 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 ,9th 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.

Demetrios Ypsilanti (1793-1832), second SOD of Prince Constantine, distinguished himself as a Russian officer in the campaign of 1814, and in the spring of 1821 went to the Morea, where the war of Greek independence had just broken out. He was one of the most conspicuous of the Phanariot leaders during the earlier stages of the revolt, though he was much hampered by the local chiefs and by the civilian element headed by Mavrocordato. In January 1822 he was elected president of the legislative assembly; but the ill-success of his campaign in central Greece, and his failure to obtain a commanding position in the national convention of Astros, led to his retirement early in 1823. In 1828 he was appointed by Capo d'Istria commander of the troops in East Hellas. He succeeded, on the 25th of September 1829, in forcing the Turkish commander Aslan Bey to sign a capitulation at the Pass of Petra, which ended the active operations of the war. He died at Vienna on the 3rd of January 1832.

Gregory Ypsilanti (d. 1835), third son of Prince Constantine, founded a princely family still settled near Briinn. Nicholas Ypsilanti wrote Memoires valuable as giving material for the antecedents of the insurrection of 1820 and the part taken in them by Alexander I. of Russia. They were published at Athens in 1901.

See the works cited in the bibliography of the article Greek Independence, War Of, especially the Dorcimcov ivropucov of J. Philemon.

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