Nicholas Mavrocordatos (Greek: Νικόλαος Μαυροκορδάτος, Romanian: Nicolae Mavrocordat; May 3, 1670 in Constantinople – September 3, 1730 in Bucharest) was a Greek member of the Mavrocordatos family, Grand Dragoman to the Divan (1697), and consequently the first Phanariote Hospodar of the Danubian Principalities - Prince of Moldavia, and Prince of Wallachia (both on two separate occasions). He was succeeded as Grand Dragoman (1709) by his brother John Mavrocordato (Ioan), who was for a short while hospodar in both Wallachia and Moldavia.
Deposed as Grand Dragoman in Moldavia in favor of Dimitrie Cantemir, owing to the suspicions of his Ottoman overlord, Sultan Ahmed III, he was restored in 1711 (after Cantemir's rebellion during the Russo-Turkish War of 1710-1711), and, for this second rule, is considered the first in a line of Phanariotes in Moldavia (indicating that the election by the traditional Moldavian council of boyars was no longer enforced).
Soon afterwards, he was replaced by Mihai Racoviță and became ruler of Wallachia, being thus the first Phanariote in that country — after the Porte decided to regulate the same system following the rebellion of Ștefan Cantacuzino. According to Anton Maria Del Chiaro, the Florentine secretary to Constantin Brâncoveanu (predecessor and rival of Ștefan Cantacuzino), Mavrocordatos tortured and otherwise persecuted Wallachian boyars who had supported the Cantacuzinos, and also ordered the execution of Ștefan's son.
In 1716, during the Austro-Turkish War, Mavrocordatos attempted to resist Habsburg invasion, but was betrayed by his boyars and had to flee to the Ottoman-held town of Rousse. He returned to Bucharest with Ottoman assistance, and executed a number of his adversaries, including Lupu Costachi, but was deposed by the troops of Prince Eugene of Savoy, and held prisoner in Sibiu.
Replaced by his brother John until 1719, he was restored after the Peace of Passarowitz - through which the country lost its westernmost part, Oltenia, to the Habsburgs; Nicholas' second ascension followed a period of major distress, including a bubonic plague outbreak and a major fire in Bucharest (it is possible that John himself had died as a result of the epidemic). Prince Nicholas died while in office in Bucharest; he was succeeded as prince of Wallachia in 1730 by his son Constantine Mavrocordatos, who would rule Wallachia six times and Moldavia five times until 1769.
Nicholas was also noted for awarding tax exemptions to the majority of high-ranking boyars, as the first ruler to concede to the growth of the monetary economy and the decay in importance of manorialism.
Page #2 of the Holy and Godly Gospel Book (1723, now in the Stavropoleos Monastery library) printed during the reign of Nicolae Mavrocordat. It shows the coat of arms of Moldavia (left) and Wallachia (right).
Mavrocordatos being captured by Habsburg troops (1716), as imagined in an Imperial gazette of the time.
Stavropoleos Church, in an 1868 lithograph by Amadeo Preziosi.
Nicholas Mavrocordatos was the first in a line of rulers appointed directly by the Porte. He introduced Greek manners, the Greek language and Greek costume, and set up a splendid court on the Byzantine model; at the same time, Mavrocordatos was influenced by the Age of Enlightenment, the founder of libraries, the builder of the monumental Văcărești Monastery and of the Stavropoleos Church, and himself the author of an original work entitled Peri kathekonton / Liber de Officiis (Bucharest, 1719). He wrote also the first Greek novel, Philotheou Parerga / The Leisures of Philotheos.
A polyglot, he surrounded himself with savants from several parts of Europe, including the Daniel de Fonseca and Stephan Bergler; his library was among the continent's most treasured. Mavrocordatos engaged in a correspondence with major religious figures of his time, including Jean Leclerc, William Wake, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Chrysanthus, Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem; the first volume written by an author from the Danubian Principalities to be published in England was Mavrocordatos', and it is during his last rule in Wallachia that a more intimate knowledge of politics and society in the Kingdom of Great Britain became evident in historical records kept by locals (the chronicler Radu Popescu recorded the ascension of George II as King of Great Britain).