Alexander John Cuza

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Alexander John Cuza (in Romanian Alexandru Ioan Cuza pronounced [alekˈsandru iˈo̯an ˈkuza]; 20 March 1820 – 15 May 1873) was a Moldavian-born Romanian politician who ruled as the first Domnitor of the United Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia between 1859 and 1866.

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Early life

Born in Bârlad, Cuza belonged to the traditional boyar class in Moldavia, being the son of Ispravnic Ioan Cuza (who was also a landowner in Fălciu County) and his wife Sultana (or Soltana), a member of the Cozadini family of Phanariote origins. Alexander received an urbane European education, becoming an officer in the Moldavian Army (rising to the rank of colonel). He married Elena Rosetti in 1844.

In 1848, known as the year of European revolutions, Moldavia and Wallachia fell into revolt. The Moldavian unrest was quickly suppressed, but in Wallachia the revolutionaries took power and governed during the summer (see 1848 Wallachian revolution). Young Cuza played a prominent enough part to establish his liberal credentials during the Moldavian episode and to be shipped to Vienna as a prisoner, where he soon made his escape with British support.

Returned during the rule of Prince Grigore Alexandru Ghica, he became Moldavia's minister of war in 1858, and represented Galaţi in the ad hoc Divan at Iaşi, acting under the guarantee of the European Powers in the wake of the Crimean War to nominate a prince for Moldavia. Cuza was a prominent speaker in the debates and strongly advocated the union of Moldavia and Walachia. In default of a foreign prince, he was himself nominated in both countries by the pro-unionist Partida Naţională (profiting from an ambiguity in the text of the governing Treaty of Paris) and elected prince of Moldavia on 17 January 1859 (5 January Julian) and, after street pressure changed the vote in Bucharest, of Wallachia on 5 February 1859 (24 January Julian).

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