Roumania Past and Present eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 315 pages of information about Roumania Past and Present.
This was a species of compromise which was no doubt satisfactory to the guaranteeing Powers, with their conflicting interests, but was not at all to the taste of the young nation struggling for union and independence.  By a clever and perfectly justifiable manoeuvre the people of Moldavia and Wallachia proceeded to supplement the deliberations and decisions of the Powers, by each choosing the same ruler, Captain John Couza, and, in spite of protestations from the Porte, which refused to recognise this as a lawful proceeding, Couza, under the title of Alexander John I., mounted the united throne as Prince of Roumania.  In 1861, chiefly in consequence of the recommendation of the guaranteeing Powers, the Porte assented to the union.

[Footnote 168:  P. 183.]

XI.

Prince Couza was born at Galatz in 1820.  He was of an old boyard family, and was educated at Jassy, Athens, and Paris.  In 1845 he married Helena, the daughter of another boyard, Rosetti, and subsequently held high offices in the State.  His princess was a patriotic lady who founded and supported many charitable institutions, amongst others the orphan asylum known as the Asyle Helene, of which we have already spoken; and had her husband recognised her virtues, and remembered his own obligations to her; he would probably have still sat upon the throne of Roumania.  For there is no doubt that during the earlier part of his reign, which lasted from 1859 to 1866, he enjoyed the cordial support of all parties in the State; but he soon endeavoured to render himself absolute, and in 1864 he effected a coup d’etat, very similar to the one which has recently been perpetrated by the Prince of Bulgaria, in all probability under the same tutelage.  In his case, however, the nation refused to submit to such an arbitrary proceeding, and although it succeeded for a time, that, coupled with his avarice, gross immorality, and general misgovernment, led to his ultimate downfall.  In 1864 the monasteries were secularised, that is to say, they were claimed as State property, a proceeding which was sanctioned by the guaranteeing Powers against payment of an indemnity.  In 1865 a complete reform took place in the relations between the landed proprietors and the peasantry, who were freed from feudal obligations and became part owners of the soil.  Of this reform we have already spoken at length.  As we have said, however, the personal actions of the Prince, who enriched himself at the expense of a still suffering country, sought by every means in his power to obtain absolute rule, and led an openly immoral life, against which his advisers protested and warned him in vain, led to what some have called a conspiracy, but which was an uprising of all the leading representatives of the people, lay and military, who united to drive him from the throne.

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