Andrey Osterman

Count Andrey Ivanovich Osterman (Russian: Андрей Иванович Остерман) (9 June 1686  – 31 May 1747) was a German-born Russian statesman who came to prominence under Tsar Peter I of Russia (Peter the Great) and served until the accession of the Tsesarevna Elizabeth. His foreign policy was based upon the Austrian alliance. General Admiral (1740; dismissed 1741).

Andrey Ivanovich Osterman
Генрих Иоганн Фридрих (Андрей Иванович) Остерман
Minister of Foreign Affairs (Russia)
In office
MonarchEmpress Anna
Emperor Ivan VI
Grand Duchess Anna Leopoldovna
Preceded byGavriil Golovkin
Succeeded byAlexey Cherkassky
Personal details
Heinrich Johann Friedrich Ostermann

9 June 1686
Died31 May 1747 (aged 60)

Early career

Born in Bochum in Westphalia, of middle-class parents, his original name was Heinrich Johann Friedrich Ostermann. Ostermann became secretary to Vice-Admiral Cornelis Kruse, who had a standing commission from Peter the Great to pick up promising young men, and soon thereafter entered the tsar's service. The young man's knowledge of the principal European languages made him the right hand of Vice-Chancellor Shafirov, whom he materially assisted during the troublesome negotiations which terminated in the peace of the Pruth (1711). Osterman, together with General Bruce, represented Russia at the Åland peace congress of 1718. Shrewdly guessing that Sweden was at exhaustion point, and that Heinrich von Görtz, the Swedish plenipotentiary, was acting ultra vires, he advised Peter to put additional pressure on Sweden to force a peace.[1]


In 1721 Osterman concluded the Peace of Nystad with Sweden, and was created a baron for his services. In 1723 he was made vice-president of the ministry of foreign affairs for bringing about a very advantageous commercial treaty with Persia. Peter also constantly consulted him in domestic affairs, and he introduced many administrative novelties, e.g. "the Table of Ranks," and the reconstruction of the College of Foreign Affairs on more modern lines.[1]

During the reign of Catherine I of Russia (1725–1727) Osterman's authority still further increased. The conduct of foreign affairs was left entirely in his hands, and he held also the posts of minister of commerce and postmaster-general. On the accession of Peter II of Russia Osterman was appointed governor to the young emperor, and on his death (1730) he refused to participate in the attempt of Demetrius Galitzne and the Dolgorukovs to convert Russia into a limited constitutional monarchy. He held aloof till the empress Anne was firmly established on the throne as autocrat. Then he got his reward. His unique knowledge of foreign affairs made him indispensable to the empress and her counsellors, and even as to home affairs his advice was almost invariably followed. It was at his suggestion that the cabinet system was introduced into Russia.[1]

All the useful reforms introduced between 1730 and 1740 are to be attributed to his initiative. He improved the state of trade, lowered taxation, encouraged industry and promoted education, ameliorated the judicature and materially raised the credit of Russia. As foreign minister he was cautious and circumspect, but when war was necessary he prosecuted it vigorously and left nothing to chance. The successful conclusions of the War of the Polish Succession (1733–1735) and of the war with Turkey (1736–39) were entirely due to his diplomacy.[1]

Vice-chancellor of all Russia

During the brief regency of Anna Leopoldovna (October 1740-December 1741) Osterman stood at the height of his power, and the French ambassador, Marquis de La Chetardie, reported to his court that "it is not too much to say that he is tsar of all Russia" Osterman's foreign policy was based upon the Austrian alliance. He had, therefore, guaranteed the Pragmatic Sanction with the deliberate intention of defending it. Hence the determination of France to remove him at any cost. Russia, as the natural ally of Austria, was very obnoxious to France; indeed it was only the accident of the Russian alliance which, in 1741, seemed to stand between Maria Theresa of Austria and absolute ruin. The most obvious method of rendering the Russian alliance unserviceable to the queen of Hungary was by implicating Russia in hostilities with her ancient rival, Sweden, and this was brought about, by French influence and French money, when in August 1741 the Swedish government, on the most frivolous pretexts, declared war against Russia. The dispositions previously made by Osterman enabled him, however, to counter the blow, and all danger from Sweden was over when, early in September, Field-Marshal Lacy routed the Swedish general von Wrangel under the walls of the frontier-fortress of Willmanstrand, which was carried by assault.[1]


It now became evident to La Chetardie that only a revolution would overthrow Osterman, and this he proposed to promote by elevating to the throne the tsesarevna Elizabeth, who hated the vice-chancellor because, though he owed everything to her father, he had systematically neglected her. Osterman was therefore the first and the most illustrious victim of the coup d'état of 6 December 1741. Accused, among other things, of contributing to the elevation of the empress Anne by his cabals and of suppressing a supposed will of Catherine I made in favour of her daughter Elizabeth of Russia, he threw himself on the clemency of the new empress. He was condemned first to be broken on the wheel and then beheaded; but, reprieved on the scaffold, his sentence was commuted to lifelong banishment, with his whole family, to Berezov in Siberia, where he died six years later, in 1747.[1]

Osterman's children returned to the court during the reign of Catherine the Great. His elder son, count Feodor Andreevich (1723–1804), was the senator and governor of Moscow (1773). Another son, Ivan Andreevich (1725–1811), was the Russian ambassador in Stockholm and then, for 16 years, the Chancellor of the Russian Empire (1781–97). After his death the Osterman titles and estates passed to his nephew, Alexander Ivanovich Tolstoy, chancellor of the Russian military orders.


  1. ^ a b c d e f  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainBain, Robert Nisbet (1911). "Osterman, Andrei Ivanovich, Count" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 20 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 357. This cites:
    • S. Shubinsky, "Count A. I. Osterman" (Rus.) in Syevernoye Siyanie, vol. ii. (St Petersburg, 1863)
    • D. Korsakov, From the Lives of Russian Statesmen of the XVIIIth Century (Rus.) (Kazan, 1891)
    • A. N. Filippov, "Documents relating to the Cabinet Ministers of the Empress Anne" (Rus.) (St Petersburg, 1898) in the collections of the Russ. Hist. Soc. vol. 104
    • A. A. Kochubinsky, Count A. I. Osterman and the proposed Partition of Turkey (Rus.) (Odessa, 1889)
    • Hon. C. Finch, Diplomatic Despatches from Russia, 1740–1742 (St Petersburg, 1893–1894) in the collections of the Russ. Hist. Soc. vols. 85 and 91
    • R. Nisbet Bain, The Pupils of Peter the Great (London, 1897)
    • The Daughter of Peter the Great (London, 1899), chapters 1–3.

External links


Andrey, Andrej or Andrei (in Cyrillic script: Андрей , Андреј or Андрэй) is the Bulgarian, Russian, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Czech, Slovene, Croatian, Macedonian or Belarusian form of Andrew.

Burkhard Christoph von Münnich

Burkhard Christoph Graf von Münnich (Христофо́р Анто́нович Миних, tr. Khristófor Antónovich Minikh; 19 May [O.S. 9] 1683 – 27 October [O.S. 16] 1767) was a German general who became a field marshal and political figure in the Russian Empire. He was the major Russian Army reformer and founder of several elite military formations during the reign of Anna of Russia. As a statesman, he is regarded as the founder of Russian Philhellenism. Münnich also was a hereditary engineer and a specialist in hydrotechnology. He had the grade of count of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.

Cabinet of Ministers of the Russian Empire

The Cabinet of Ministers was the supreme state body established on November 4, 1731 by the decree of Empress Anna Ioannovna. On December 23, 1741, after the accession of Elizabeth Petrovna, it lost its powers and was transformed into the Personal Office of the Empress. In 1756, its functions were transferred to the Conference at the Highest Court.

Fyodor Apraksin

Count Fyodor Matveyevich Apraksin (also Apraxin; Russian: Фёдор Матве́евич Апра́ксин; 27 October 1661 – 10 November 1728, Moscow) was one of the first Russian admirals, governed Estonia and Karelia from 1712 to 1723, was made general admiral (1708), presided over the Russian Admiralty from 1718 and commanded the Baltic Fleet from 1723.

Gavriil Golovkin

Count Gavrila (Gavriil) Ivanovich Golovkin (Russian: Гаври́ла (Гаврии́л) Ива́нович Голо́вкин) (1660 – 20 January 1734) was a Russian statesman who formally presided over foreign affairs of the Russian Empire from 1706 until his death. The real control over Russian diplomacy during his lengthy term in office was exercised by Boris Kurakin until 1727 and by Andrey Osterman after his death.

In 1677, while still a young man, Gavrila Golovkin was attached to the court of the tsarevich Peter, with whose mother Nataliya he was connected, and vigilantly guarded him during the disquieting period of the regency of Sophia. He accompanied the young tsar abroad on his first foreign tour, and worked by his side in the dockyards of Zaandam. In 1706, he succeeded Golovin in the direction of foreign policy, and was created the first Russian grand-chancellor on the field of Poltava (1709). Golovkin held this office for twenty-five years. In the reign of Catherine I, he became a member of the Supreme Privy Council, which had the chief conduct of affairs during this and the succeeding reigns. The empress also entrusted him with her last will whereby she appointed the young Peter II her successor and Golovkin one of his guardians. On the death of Peter II in 1730, he declared openly in favour of Anna, duchess of Courland, in opposition to the aristocratic Dolgorukovs and Galitzines, and his determined attitude on behalf of autocracy was the chief cause of the failure of the proposed constitution, which would have converted Russia into a limited monarchy. Under Anna, he was a member of the first cabinet formed in Russia, but had less influence in affairs than Osterman and Munnich.

In 1707, Golovkin was created a count of the Holy Roman Empire, and in 1710 a count of the Russian Empire. He was one of the wealthiest, and at the same time one of the stingiest, magnates of his day. His ignorance of any language but his own made his intercourse with foreign ministers very inconvenient. For the ultimate disgrace of his relatives, see the Lopukhina Affair. Yury Golovkin, Russia's first ambassador to China, was his great grandson.


Geheimrat was the title of the highest advising officials at the Imperial, royal or princely courts of the Holy Roman Empire, who jointly formed the Geheimer Rat reporting to the ruler. The term remained in use during subsequent monarchic reigns in German-speaking areas of Europe until the end of the First World War. At its origin the literal meaning of the word in German was 'trusted advisor'. The English-language equivalent is Privy Councillor.

The office contributing to the state's politics and legislation had its roots in the age of absolutism from the 17th century onward, when a governmental administration by a dependent bureaucracy was established similar to the French Conseil du Roi. A precursor was the Reichshofrat, a judicial body established by Emperor Maximilian I of Habsburg. In Austria the professional title of Hofrat (Court Councillor) has remained in use as an official title for deserved civil servants up to today.

With the Empire's dissolution and the rise of Constitutionalism in the aftermath of the French Revolution, the office of a Geheimrat became an honorific title conferred by the German states upon high officials, accompanied by the address Exzellenz. During that period related titles no longer affiliated with an office arose, like Geheimer Kommerzienrat, an award for outstanding contributions in the field of commerce and industry, or Geheimer Medizinalrat, an award for outstanding contributions to medicine. The term is also used in combination with the word Ecke – Geheimratsecke, colloquially describing male pattern baldness at the 'edges' of the forehead (i.e. the upper 'corners' of the face).

In the Republic of Austria the title was officially abolished in 1919. In Germany, the title largely disappeared after the fall of the German Empire in 1918, when the various princely states of Germany were replaced by the constituent states of the Weimar Republic, although Geheimräte continued to be appointed by the Free State of Bavaria. However, many honorees continued to use it, and the title Geheimrat, its abbreviation Geh. Rat and related abbreviations (Geh. Med.-Rat, Geh. Ober-Med.-Rat and even Geh. Hofrat) appear in captions until the 1930s, such as used by the German Federal Archives.

June 9

June 9 is the 160th day of the year (161st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. 205 days remain until the end of the year.

May 31

May 31 is the 151st day of the year (152nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. 214 days remain until the end of the year.

Military history of the Russian Empire

The military history of the Russian Empire encompasses the history of armed conflict in which the Russian Empire participated. This history stretches from its creation in 1721 by Peter the Great, until the Russian Revolution (1917), which led to the establishment of the Soviet Union. Much of the related events involve the Imperial Russian Army, Imperial Russian Navy, and from the early twentieth century, the Imperial Russian Air Service.

Minister of Foreign Affairs (Russia)

This is a list of foreign ministers of Tsardom of Russia, Russian Empire, Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, Soviet Union, and Russian Federation.

Prosecutor General of the Russian Empire

The Prosecutor General was one of the highest government positions in the Russian Empire, the head of the Governing Senate, who oversaw the legality of the activities of government agencies.

Siege of Viborg (1710)

The Siege of Viborg took place in the spring of 1710 during the Great Northern War (1700–1721), as a second attempt by the Russians to capture the fortress port of Viborg (Vyborg), near the modern border between Russia and Finland, after a failed attempt in 1706. After the outbreak of the war, Swedish forces had fortified themselves in the port of Viborg. In order to assure safety for the newly founded city of Saint Petersburg, Peter the Great ordered the Swedish fort to be secured. A first unsuccessful attempt was made in 1706. Later plans were put on hold because of other ongoing conflicts but, after the Russian success at the Battle of Poltava in June 1709, the men and resources were available to capture the town.

Thirteen thousand troops under General-Admiral Fyodor Apraksin marched to Viborg and laid siege on 22 March 1710. Magnus Stiernstråle, the Swedish commander at the fort, waited in vain for Swedish assistance, while a stalemate ensued because the Russians lacked sufficient artillery. In April, Peter the Great managed to bring through a fleet of 250 ships to deliver guns and supplies, and to help perform a final assault on Swedish positions. After these Russian attacks, the Swedish garrison surrendered on 12 June 1710.

Supreme Privy Council

The Supreme Privy Council of Imperial Russia, founded on 19 February 1726 and operative until 1730, originated as a body of advisors to Empress Catherine I.

Vitus Bering

Vitus Jonassen Bering (baptised 5 August 1681, died 19 December 1741), also known as Ivan Ivanovich Bering, was a Danish cartographer and explorer in Russian service, and an officer in the Russian Navy. He is known as a leader of two Russian expeditions, namely the First Kamchatka Expedition and the Great Northern Expedition, exploring the north-eastern coast of the Asian continent and from there the western coast on the North American continent. The Bering Strait, the Bering Sea, Bering Island, the Bering Glacier and the Bering Land Bridge were all named in his honor.

Taking to the seas at the age of 18, Bering travelled extensively over the next eight years, as well as taking naval training in Amsterdam. In 1704, he enrolled with the rapidly expanding Russian navy of Tsar Peter I (Peter the Great). After serving with the navy in significant but non-combat roles during the Great Northern War, Bering resigned in 1724 to avoid the continuing embarrassment of his low rank to Anna, his wife of eleven years; and upon retirement was promoted to First Captain. Bering was permitted to keep the rank as he rejoined the Russian navy later the same year.

He was selected by the Tsar to captain the First Kamchatka Expedition, an expedition set to sail north from Russian outposts on the Kamchatka peninsula, with the charge to map the new areas visited and to establish whether Asia and America shared a land border. Bering departed from St. Petersburg in February 1725 as the head of a 34-man expedition, aided by the expertise of Lieutenants Martin Spangberg and Aleksei Chirikov. The party took on men as it headed towards Okhotsk, encountering many difficulties (most notably a lack of food) before arriving at the settlement. From there, the men sailed to the Kamchatka peninsula, preparing new ships there and sailing north (repeating a little-documented journey of Semyon Dezhnyov eighty years previously). In August 1728, Bering decided that they had sufficient evidence that there was clear sea between Asia and America, which he did not sight during the trip. For the first expedition, Bering was rewarded with money, prestige, and a promotion to the noble rank of Captain Commander. He immediately started preparations for a second trip.

Having returned to Okhotsk with a much larger, better prepared, and much more ambitious expedition, Bering set off for an expedition towards North America in 1741. While doing so, the expedition spotted Mount Saint Elias, and sailed past Kodiak Island. A storm separated the ships, but Bering sighted the southern coast of Alaska, and a landing was made at Kayak Island or in the vicinity. Adverse conditions forced Bering to return, but he documented some of the Aleutian Islands on his way back. One of the sailors died and was buried on one of these islands, and Bering named the island group Shumagin Islands after him. Bering himself became too ill to command his ship, which was at last driven to seek refuge on an uninhabited island in the Commander Islands group (Komandorskiye Ostrova) in the southwest Bering Sea. On 19 December 1741 Vitus Bering died on the island, which was given the name Bering Island after him, near the Kamchatka Peninsula, reportedly from scurvy (although this has been contested), along with 28 men of his company.

Tsardom of Russia
Russian Empire
Provisional Government
Soviet Russia and
the Soviet Union
Russian Federation

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.