Roxandra Sturdza

Roxandra or Roksandra Sturdza

Portrait of 1830-e as Roksandra Sturdza
Born October 12, 1786
Died January 16, 1844 (aged 58)
Odessa, Russia
Nationality Russian
Other names Roksandra, Alexandra, Roxana, Roxane
Title Countess
Spouse(s) Albert-gaetan Edling (Count) (1771-1841)
  • Skarlat Sturdza (father)
  • Sultana Sturdza-Mourousi (mother)
Family Sturdza

Roxandra or Roxana or Roksandra Skarlatovna Edling-Sturdza (1786 – 1844) was a philanthropist and a writer. Her chief achievement was the foundation of schools and orphanages[1] for the young and needy refugees in Odessa during the years of wars and revolutions in the Balkans. She was a grandchild of the Grand Dragoman of Prince of Moldavia Constantine Mourousis; that and her own actions, vision, will and determination made her a prolific advocate of young refugee needs all over Europe.[2]

Early life

Princess Roxandra was born on 12 October 1786, Constantinople. Her parents were Skarlat Sturdza and Sultana Sturdza-Mourousi (1762-1839). Roxandra was a sister of Alexandru Sturdza and cousin of the Prince of Moldavia Mihail Sturdza.[3] In 1790, the Sturdza family moved to Iasi (Iași) Moldavia and then in 1800 settled in Saint Petersburg where Roxandra continued her education in Russian and Greek. In 1806 she became the master of ceremonies at the court of Alexander I of Russia and his wife Empress Louise of Baden. In 1809, Roxandra met Ioannis Kapodistrias the then Foreign Minister of the Russian Empire. This event was of great inspirational value and as a result the cultivated Roxandra was imbued with a sense of social purpose and philhellenism.[4]

Family roots

Roxandra’s maternal grandfather was the Prince of Moldavia, Constantine Mourousis (1730-1783). The Mourousis family was from the Greek Phanar neighbourhood of Constantinople. Members of this large family were cultural and political leaders of the Christian ottoman subjects who assured a path of political ascendancy for the descendents. Roxandra’s father Skarlat Sturdza, a notable alumnus of Princely Academy of Iași, was a scion of the long Moldavian Sturdza family of Greek ancestry whose members were active in humanitarian affairs since the 16th century or earlier. Soon after the Sturdza family emigrated from Moldavia to Saint Petersburg, Russia, Skarlat became Elizabeth Alexeievna (Louise of Baden)’s counselor.


In 1816, Roxandra got married to Baron Albert Cajetan Grafen von Edling (1771-1841), Minister and Marshal of the Grand Duke of Saxony-Weimar. Because of her marriage to Edling, Roxandra is also known as Countess Roxandra or Roksandra Skarlatovna Edling-Sturdza[5] and for many years she maintained land properties and residences in Weimar,[6] Berlin, Wien, Saint Petersburg, Wallachia, Bessarabia and Odessa. It is from these places that Roxandra devoted her time in philanthropic activities, she wrote her memoirs and became an ardent supporter of humanitarian affairs.


Roxandra’s legacy was the influence on the future.[7] She left behind the right attitudes in a period of multiple wars in Europe. She established schools and took a vocal stanch on the issues of aid, tender care, sheltering and education during the Greek War of Independence (1821-1832). As an avid supporter of philhellenism she was further inspired by Ioannis Kapodistrias, the prominent figure of the Greek Revolutions in 1821 and the ensuing years, and the first head of state of the first independent Hellenic Republic (1827-1831).

Philanthropy and altruism

Roxandra sponsored activities and established an organization helping the disadvantaged children to live healthily. Noted for her philanthropy, she provided clothing and food from her own family farms in Bessarabia to help the poverty-stricken refugees who had reached Odessa in consequence of the long Greek struggle and rebellion for freedom against the Ottomans. Her actions were intended to bring culture, learning and occupation to the suffered. Roxandra’s enlightened social approach was much admired all over the world.

She died on 16 January 1844, Odessa.

See also

Encyclopaedias, books and citations

References, notes and sources

  1. Historical Biographies by Helen Koukou, Athens 1997, Roxandra Sturdza page 405-409 ISBN 978-960-05-0715-7
  2. Women, Diplomacy and International Politics, Carolyn Routledge, 2015, Roxandra Edling-Sturdza:efforts and 240 letters directed to European Leaders
  3. Some members of Phanariotes families, had acquired great wealth and influence. Ioan Sturdza ruled in Moldavia
  4. Maria Anastasopoulou, Athens, 2004, Women and Philhellenism
  5. Roxandra, wife of Count Edling
  7. Roxandra's benevolence exerted a strong influence on society. Some years later Antonios Papadakis became the greatest benefactor of the University of Athens
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