Grigory Potemkin

Prince Grigory Aleksandrovich Potemkin-Tavricheski (Russian: Григо́рий Алекса́ндрович Потёмкин-Таври́ческий; r Grigoriy Aleksandrovich Potyomkin-Tavricheskiy; October 11 [O.S. September 30] 1739[nb 1] – October 16 [O.S. October 5] 1791) was a Russian military leader, statesman, nobleman and favourite of Catherine the Great. He died during negotiations over the Treaty of Jassy, which ended a war with the Ottoman Empire that he had overseen.

Potemkin was born into a family of middle-income noble landowners. He first attracted Catherine's favor for helping in her 1762 coup, then distinguished himself as a military commander in the Russo-Turkish War (1768–1774). He became Catherine's lover, favorite and possibly her consort. After their passion cooled, he remained her lifelong friend and favored statesman. Catherine obtained for him the title of Prince of the Holy Roman Empire and gave him the title of Prince of the Russian Empire among many others: he was both a Grand Admiral and the head of all of Russia's land and irregular forces. Potemkin's achievements include the peaceful annexation of the Crimea (1783) and the successful second Russo-Turkish War (1787–1792).

In 1774, Potemkin became the governor-general of Russia's new southern provinces. An absolute ruler, he worked to colonize the wild steppes, controversially dealing firmly with the Cossacks who lived there. He founded the towns of Kherson, Nikolayev, Sevastopol, and Ekaterinoslav. Ports in the region became bases for his new Black Sea Fleet.

His rule in the south is associated with the "Potemkin village", a ruse involving the construction of painted façades to mimic real villages, full of happy, well-fed people, for visiting officials to see. Potemkin was known for his love of women, gambling and material wealth. He oversaw the construction of many historically significant buildings, including the Tauride Palace in St. Petersburg.

Grigory Potemkin
Non-contemporary portrait of
Potemkin in later life
President of the College of War
In office1774–91
PredecessorZakhar Chernyshev
SuccessorNikolay Saltykov
Born11 October 1739 (N.S.)[nb 1]
Chizhovo, Russian Empire
Died16 October 1791 (aged 52) (N.S.)
Jassy, Principality of Moldavia
Burial24 October 1791
WifeCatherine II of Russia (possible)
FatherAlexander Potemkin
MotherDaria Skuratowa
ReligionRussian Orthodox
Potyomkin earl v1 p26
Princely arms of Grigory Potemkin


Early life

A distant relative of the Moscovite diplomat Pyotr Potemkin (1617–1700), Grigory was born in the village of Chizhovo near Smolensk into a family of middle-income noble landowners. The family claimed Polish ancestry.[1] His father, Alexander Potemkin, was a decorated war veteran; his mother Daria was "good-looking, capable and intelligent", though their marriage proved ultimately unhappy.[2][3] Potemkin received his first name in honour of his father's cousin Grigory Matveevich Kizlovsky, a civil servant who became his godfather. It has been suggested that Kizlovsky fathered Potemkin,[4] who became the centre of attention, heir to the village and the only son among six children. As the son of an (albeit petty) noble family, he grew up with the expectation that he would serve the Russian Empire.[5]

After Alexander died in 1746, Daria took charge of the family. In order to achieve a career for her son, and aided by Kizlovsky, the family moved to Moscow, where Potemkin enrolled at a gymnasium school attached to the University of Moscow. The young Potemkin became adept at languages and interested in the Russian Orthodox Church.[6] He enlisted in the army in 1750 at age eleven, in accordance with the custom of noble children. In 1755 a second inspection placed him in the élite Horse Guards regiment .[7] Having graduated from the University school, Potemkin became one of the first students to enroll at the University itself. Talented in both Greek and theology, he won the University's Gold Medal in 1757 and became part of a twelve-student delegation sent to Saint Petersburg later that year. The trip seems to have affected Potemkin: afterwards he studied little and was soon expelled.[3] Faced with isolation from his family, he rejoined the Guards, where he excelled.[7] At this time his net worth amounted to 430 souls (serfs), equivalent to that of the poorer gentry. His time was taken up with "drinking, gambling, and promiscuous lovemaking", and he fell deep in debt.[8]

Grigory Orlov, one of Catherine's lovers, led a palace coup in June 1762 that ousted the Emperor Peter III and enthroned Catherine II. Sergeant Potemkin represented his regiment in the revolt. Allegedly, as Catherine reviewed her troops in front of the Winter Palace before their march to the Peterhof, she lacked a sword-knot (or possibly hat plumage), which Potemkin quickly supplied. Potemkin's horse then (appeared to) refuse to leave her side for several minutes before Potemkin and horse returned to the ranks.[9][10] After the coup Catherine singled out Potemkin for reward and ensured his promotion to second lieutenant. Though Potemkin was among those guarding the ex-Tsar, it appears that he had no direct involvement in Peter's murder in July.[11] Catherine promoted him again to Kammerjunker (gentleman of the bedchamber), though he retained his post in the Guards. Potemkin was soon formally presented to the Empress as a talented mimic; his imitation of her was well received.[12]

Courtier and general

Although Catherine had not yet taken Potemkin as a lover, it seems likely that she passively—if not actively—encouraged his flirtatious behaviour, including his regular practice of kissing her hand and declaring his love for her: without encouragement, Potemkin could have expected trouble from the Orlovs (Catherine's lover Grigory and his four brothers) who dominated court.[13] Potemkin entered Catherine's circle of advisers, and in 1762 took his only foreign assignment, to Sweden, bearing news of the coup. On his return, he was appointed Procurator, and won a reputation as a lover. Under unclear circumstances, Potemkin then lost his left eye and fell into a depression. His confidence shattered, he withdrew from court, becoming something of a religious hermit.[14] Eighteen months later, Potemkin reappeared, probably summoned by Catherine. He became an army paymaster and oversaw uniform production. Shortly after, he became a Guardian of Exotic Peoples at the new All-Russian Legislative Commission, a significant political post. In September 1768, Potemkin became Kammerherr (chamberlain); two months later Catherine had his military commission revoked, fully attaching him to court.[15] In the interval, the Ottoman Empire had started the Russo-Turkish War of 1768 to 1774 and Potemkin was eager to prove himself, writing to Catherine:

The only way I can express my gratitude to Your Majesty is to shed my blood for Your glory. This war provides an excellent opportunity for this and I cannot live in idleness. Allow me now, Merciful Sovereign, to appeal at Your Majesty's feet and request Your Majesty to send me to... the front in whatever rank Your Majesty wishes... [to serve] just for the duration of the war.

— Potemkin, Correspondence, dated May 1769.[16]

Potemkin served as Major-General of the cavalry. He distinguished himself in his first engagement, helping to repulse a band of unruly Tatar and Turkish horsemen. It was during this battle that Potemkin first employed a maneuver of his own design known as the "Megufistu Flank," drawing the Tatars out of position and breaking their lines with a well timed cavalry charge. He also fought in Russia's victory at the Battle of Kamenets and the taking of the town. Potemkin saw action virtually every day, particularly excelling at the Battle of Prashkovsky, after which his commander Aleksandr Mikhailovich Golitsyn recommended him to Catherine.[17] Potemkin's army, under Pyotr Rumyantsev, continued its advance. Potemkin fought at the capture of Jurja, a display of courage and skill for which he received the Order of St. Anna. At the Battle of Larga, he won the Order of St. George, third class, and fought well during the rout of the main Turkish force that followed. On leave to St. Petersburg, the Empress invited him to dine with her more than ten times.[18]

Back at the front, Potemkin won more military acclaim, but then fell ill; rejecting medicine, he recovered only slowly. After a lull in hostilities in 1772 his movements are unclear, but it seems that he returned to St. Petersburg where he is recorded, perhaps apocryphally, to have been one of Catherine's closest advisers.[19] Though Orlov was replaced as her favourite, it was not Potemkin who benefited. Alexander Vasilchikov, another Horse-Guardsman, replaced Orlov as the queen's lover. Potemkin returned to war in 1773 as Lieutenant-General to fight in Silistria. It appears that Catherine missed him, and that Potemkin took a December letter from her as a summons. In any case Potemkin returned to St. Petersburg as a war hero.[20]

Favorite of Catherine II

Potemkin Grzegorz.jpeg
A probably later portrait of a 35-year-old Potemkin at the height of his love affair with Catherine
Catherine II by Sablukov
The Empress Catherine at around the same time

Potemkin returned to court in January 1774 expecting to walk into Catherine's arms. The political situation, however, had become complex. Yemelyan Pugachev had just arisen as a pretender to the throne, and commanded a rebel army thirty thousand strong. In addition, Catherine's son Paul turned eighteen and began to gain his own support.[21] By late January Potemkin had tired of the impasse and effected (perhaps with encouragement from Catherine) a "melodramatic retreat" into the Alexander Nevsky Monastery. Catherine relented and had Potemkin brought back in early February 1774, when their relationship became intimate.[22][23] Several weeks later he had usurped Vasilchikov as Catherine's favorite,[24] and was given the title of Adjutant General.[25] When Catherine's friend Friedrich Melchior, Baron von Grimm objected to Vasilchikov's dismissal, she wrote back to him, "Why do you reproach me because I dismiss a well-meaning but extremely boring bourgeois in favour of one of the greatest, the most comical and amusing, characters of this iron century?"[26][27] His uncouth behavior shocked the court, but Potemkin showed himself capable of suitable formality when necessary.[28]

The frequent letters the pair sent to each other survive, revealing their affair to be one of "laughter, sex, mutually admired intelligence, and power".[29] Many of their trysts seem to have centered around the banya sauna in the basement of the Winter Palace;[25][30] Potemkin soon grew so jealous that Catherine had to detail her prior love-life for him.[24][31] Potemkin also rose in political stature, particularly on the strength of his military advice.[25] In March 1774 he became Lieutenant-Colonel in the Preobrazhensky Guards, a post previously held by Alexei Orlov. He also became captain of the Chevaliers-Gardes from 1784.[32] In quick succession he won appointment as Governor-General of Novorossiya, as a member of the State Council, as General-in-Chief, as Vice-President of the College of War[33][34] and as Commander-in-Chief of the Cossacks. These posts made him rich, and he lived lavishly. To improve his social standing he was awarded the prestigious Order of St. Alexander Nevsky and Order of St. Andrew, along with the Polish Order of the White Eagle, the Prussian Order of the Black Eagle, the Danish Order of the Elephant and the Swedish Royal Order of the Seraphim.[34]

That Catherine and Potemkin married is "almost certain", according to Simon Sebag Montefiore;[35] biographer Virginia Rounding expresses some doubt.[33] In December 1784 Catherine first explicitly referred to Potemkin as her husband in correspondence, though 1775, 1784 and 1791 have all been suggested as possible nuptial dates. In all, Catherine's phrasing in 22 letters suggested he had become her consort, at least secretly.[36] Potemkin's actions and her treatment of him later in life fit with this: the two at least acted as husband and wife.[36] By late 1775, however, their relationship was changing, though it is uncertain exactly when Catherine took a secretary, Pyotr Zavadovsky, as a lover.[37] On 2 January 1776, Zavadovsky became Adjutant-General to the Empress (he became her official favorite in May) and Potemkin moved to command the St. Petersburg troop division.[38] Signs of a potential "golden adieu" for Potemkin include his 1776 appointment, at Catherine's request, to the title of Prince of the Holy Roman Empire.[39][40] Though he was "bored" with Catherine, the separation was relatively peaceful. The Prince was sent on a tour to Novogrod, but, contrary to the expectations of some onlookers (though not Catherine's[41]), he returned a few weeks later. He then snubbed her gift of the Anichkov Palace, and took new apartments in the Winter Palace, retaining his posts. Though no longer Catherine's favorite, he remained her favored minister.[42]

Though the love affair appeared to end, Catherine and Potemkin maintained a particularly close friendship, which continued to dominate their lives. Most of the time this meant a ménage à trois in the court between the pair and Catherine's latest swain.[43][44] The favorite had a high-pressure position: after Zavadovsky came Semyon Zorich (May 1777 to May 1778), Ivan Rimsky-Korsakov (May 1778 to late 1778), Alexander Lanskoy (1780 to 1784), Alexander Yermolov (1785-1786), Alexander Dmitriev-Mamonov (1786-1789) and Platon Zubov (1789-1796). Potemkin checked candidates for their suitability; it also appears that he tended to the relationships and "filled in" between favorites.[45] Potemkin also arranged for Catherine to walk in on Rimsky-Korsakov in a compromising position with another woman.[46] During Catherine's (comparatively) long relationship with Lanskoy, Potemkin was particularly able to turn his attentions to other matters.[47] He embarked upon a long series of other romances, including with his own nieces, one of whom may have borne him a child.[48]


Potemkin's first task during this period was foreign policy. An anglophile, he helped negotiate with the English ambassador, Sir James Harris, during Catherine's initiative of Armed Neutrality, though the south remained his passion.[49] His plan, known as the Greek Project, aspired to build a new Byzantine Empire around the Turkish capital in Constantinople.[50][51] Dismembering the Ottoman Empire would require détente with Austria (technically still the Habsburg Monarchy), and its ruler Joseph II. They met in May 1780 in the Russian town of Mogilev.[50] The ensuing alliance represented the triumph of Potemkin's approach over courtiers such as Catherine's son Paul, who favored alliance with Prussia.[52] The May 1781 defensive treaty remained secret for almost two years; the Ottomans were said to still have been unaware of it even when they declared war on Russia in 1787.[53][54]

Spb 06-2012 Tauride Palace 02
Potemkin's Tauride Palace in St. Petersburg

Elsewhere, Potemkin's scheme to develop a Russian presence in the rapidly disintegrating state of Persia failed. Plans for a full-scale invasion had previously been cut back and a small unit sent to establish a trading post there was quickly turned away. Potemkin focused instead on Russia's southern provinces, where he was busy founding cities (including Sevastopol) and creating his own personal kingdom, including his brand new Black Sea Fleet.[55] That kingdom was about to expand: under the Treaty of Kuçuk Kainarji, which had ended the previous Russo-Turkish war, the Crimean Khanate had become independent, though effectively under Russian control. In June 1782 it was descending again into anarchy.[56] By July 1783, Potemkin had engineered the peaceful annexation of the Crimea and Kuban, capitalizing on the fact that Britain and France were fighting elsewhere.[57] The Kingdom of Georgia accepted Russian protection a few days later with the Treaty of Georgievsk searching for protection against Persia's aim to reestablish its suzerainty over Georgia; the Karabakh Khanate of Persia initially looked as though it might also, but eventually declined Russian help. Exhausted, Potemkin collapsed into a fever he barely survived. Catherine rewarded him with one hundred thousand roubles, which he used to construct the Tauride Palace in St. Petersburg.[56]

Governor-General and city builder

New Russia on territory of Ukraine
An approximate map of the extent of Novorossiya by Potemkin's death in 1791

Potemkin returned to St. Petersburg in November 1783 and was promoted to Field Marshal when the Crimea was formally annexed the following February. He also became President of the College of War.[58][59] The province of Taurida (the Crimea) was added to the state of Novorossiya (lit. New Russia.) Potemkin moved south in mid-March, as the "Prince of Taurida". He had been the namestnik of Russia's southern provinces (including Novorossiya, Azov, Saratov, Astrakhan and the Caucasus) since 1774, repeatedly expanding it via military action. He kept his own court, which rivalled Catherine's: by the 1780s he operated a chancellery with fifty or more clerks and had his own minister, Vasili Popov, to oversee day-to-day affairs. Another favored associate was Mikhail Faleev.[60]

The "criminal" breaking of the Cossack hosts, particularly the Zaporozhian Cossacks in 1775, helped define his rule. However, Montefiore argues that given their location, and in the wake of the Pugachev rebellion, the Cossacks were likely doomed in any case.[61] By the time of Potemkin's death, the Cossacks and their threat of anarchic revolt were well controlled.[62] Among the Zaporizhian Cossacks he was known as Hrytsko Nechesa.[63][64][65]


Potemkin then embarked on a period of city-founding. Construction started at his first effort, Kherson, in 1778, as a base for a new Black Sea Fleet he intended to build.[61] Potemkin approved every plan himself, but construction was slow, and the city proved costly and vulnerable to plague. Next was the port of Akhtiar, annexed with the Crimea, which became Sevastopol. Then he built Simferopol as the Crimean capital. His biggest failure, however, was his effort to build the city of Ekaterinoslav (lit. The glory of Catherine), now Dnipro.[nb 2] The second most successful city of Potemkin's rule was Nikolayev (now better known as Mykolaiv), which he founded in 1789.[66] Potemkin also initiated the redesign of Odessa after its capture from the Turks; it was to turn out to be the greatest.[66]

Potemkin's Black Sea Fleet was a massive undertaking for its time. By 1787, the British ambassador reported twenty-seven battleships. It put Russia on a naval footing with Spain, though far behind the British Navy.[67] The period represented the peak of Russia's naval power relative to other European states.[68] Potemkin also rewarded hundreds of thousands of settlers who moved into his territories. It is estimated that by 1782 the populations of Novorossiya and Azov had doubled[67] during a period of "exceptionally rapid" development.[69] Immigrants included Russians, foreigners, British convicts diverted from Australia, Cossacks and controversially Jews. Though the immigrants were not always happy in their new surroundings, on at least one occasion Potemkin intervened directly to ensure families received the cattle to which they were entitled.[70] Outside of Novorossiya he drew up the Azov-Mozdok defense line, constructing forts at Georgievsk, Stavropol and elsewhere and ensured that the whole of the line was settled.[71]

In 1784 Lanskoy died and Potemkin was needed at court to console the grieving Catherine.[72] After Alexander Yermolov was installed as the new favorite in 1785, Catherine, Yermolov and Potemkin cruised the upper Volga.[73] When Yermolov attempted to unseat Potemkin (and attracted support from Potemkin's critics), he found himself replaced by Count Alexander Dmitriev-Mamonov in the summer of 1786.[74] Potemkin returned to the south, having arranged that Catherine would visit in the summer of 1787.[75] She reached Kiev in late January, to travel down the Dnieper after the ice had melted (see Crimean journey of Catherine the Great). Potemkin had other lovers at this time, including a 'Countess' Sevres and a Naryshkina. Leaving in April, the royal party arrived in Kherson a month later.[76][77] On visiting Sevastopol, Austria's Joseph II, who was traveling with them, was moved to note that "The Empress is totally ecstatic... Prince Potemkin is at the moment all-powerful".[78]

"Potemkin Village"

The notion of the Potemkin village (coined in German by critical biographer Georg von Helbig as German: Potemkinsche Dörfer) arose from Catherine's visit to the south. Critics accused Potemkin of using painted façades to fool Catherine into thinking that the area was far richer than it was. Thousands of peasants were alleged to have been stage-managed for this purpose. Certainly, Potemkin had arranged for Catherine to see the best he had to offer (organising numerous exotic excursions) and at least two cities' officials did conceal poverty by building false houses. It seems unlikely, however, that the fraud approached the scale alleged. The Prince of Ligne, a member of the Austrian delegation, who had explored on his own during the trip, later proclaimed the allegations to be false.[79]


Grigorij Potiomkin.jpeg
Potemkin in military attire, c. 1790, by Johann Baptist von Lampi the Elder

Potemkin remained in the south, gradually sinking into depression. His inactivity was problematic, given that he was now Russia's commander-in-chief and, in August 1787, another Russo-Turkish war broke out (the second of Potemkin's lifetime). His opponents were anxious to reclaim the lands they had lost in the last war, and they were under pressure from Prussia, Britain and Sweden to take a hostile attitude towards Russia. Potemkin's bluster had probably contributed to the hostility, either deliberately or accidentally; either way, his creation of the new fleet and Catherine's trip to the south had certainly not helped matters. In the center, Potemkin had his own Yekaterinoslav Army, while to the west lay the smaller Ukraine Army under the command of Field-Marshal Rumyantsev-Zadunaisky. On water he had the Black Sea Fleet, and Potemkin was also responsible for coordinating military actions with Russia's Austrian allies.[80] Potemkin and Catherine agreed on a primarily defensive strategy until the spring. Though the Turks were repelled in early skirmishes (against the Russian fortress at Kinburn), news of the loss of Potemkin's beloved fleet during a storm sent him into a deep depression. A week later, and after kind words from Catherine, he was rallied by the news that the fleet was not in fact destroyed, but only damaged. General Alexander Suvorov won an important victory at Kinburn in early October; with winter now approaching, Potemkin was confident the port would be safe until the spring.[81]

Turning his attention elsewhere, Potemkin established his headquarters in Elisabethgrad and planned future operations. He assembled an army of forty or fifty thousand, including the newly formed Kuban Cossacks. He divided his time between military preparation (creating a fleet of a hundred gunboats to fight within the shallow liman) and chasing the wives of soldiers under his command.[82] Meanwhile, the Austrians remained on the defensive across central Europe, though they did manage to hold their lines. Despite advice to the contrary, Potemkin pursued an equally defensive strategy, though in the Caucasus Generals Tekeeli and Pavel Potemkin were making some inroads.[83] In early summer 1788, fighting intensified as Potemkin's forces won their naval confrontation with the Turks with few losses, and began the siege of Ochakov, a Turkish stronghold and the main Russian war aim. Less promising was that St. Petersburg, exposed after Russia's best forces departed for the Crimea, was now under threat from Sweden in the Russo-Swedish War of 1788–90.[84] Potemkin refused to write regularly with news of the war in the south, compounding Catherine's anxiety.[85]

Potemkin argued with Suvorov and Catherine herself, who were both anxious to assault Ochakov, which the Turks twice managed to supply by sea. Finally, on 6 December, the assault began and four hours later the city was taken, a coup for Potemkin. Nearly ten thousand Turks had been killed at a cost of (only) two-and-a-half thousand Russians.[86] Catherine wrote that "you [Potemkin] have shut the mouths of everyone... [and can now] show magnanimity to your blind and empty-headed critics".[87] Potemkin then visited the naval yard at Vitovka, founded Nikolayev, and traveled on to St. Petersburg, arriving in February 1789.[86] In May he left once more for the front, having agreed contingency plans with Catherine should Russia be forced into war with either Prussia or the upstart Poland, which had recently successfully demanded the withdrawal of Russian troops from its territory. (Catherine herself was just about to change favorites for the final time, replacing Dmitriev-Mamonov with Platon Zubov.) Back on the Turkish front, Potemkin advanced towards the fortress of Bender on the Dniester river.[88]

The summer and autumn of 1789 saw numerous victories against the Turks,[89] including the Battle of Focşani in July; in early September, the Battle of Rymnik and the capture of both Kaushany and Hadjibey (modern day Odessa); and finally the surrender of the Turkish fortress at Akkerman in late September. The massive fortress at Bender surrendered in November without a fight.[nb 3][90] Potemkin opened up a lavish court at Jassy, the capital of Moldavia, to "winter like a sultan, revel in his mistresses, build his towns, create his regiments—and negotiate peace with [the Turks]... he was emperor of all he surveyed".[91] Potemkin even established a newspaper, Le Courrier de Moldavie. His preferred lover at the time—though he had others—was Praskovia Potemkina, an affair which continued into 1790. Potemkin renamed two ships in her honor.[92] As part of the diplomatic machinations, Potemkin was given the new title of "Grand Hetman of the Black Sea and Yekaterinoslav Cossack Hosts"[93] and in March he assumed personal control of the Black Sea fleet as Grand Admiral.[94]

Russo-Turkish war, 1787-1792
Potemkin's forces succeeded in advancing deep into Ottoman territory, capturing the fortress at Izmail (lower left). The ultimate result of the war would be the ceding of the land between the Bug and Dniester (striped) to Russia.

In July 1790 the Russian Baltic Fleet was defeated by the Swedish at the Battle of Svensksund. Despite the damage, the silver lining for the Russians was that the Swedes now felt able to negotiate on an even footing and a peace was soon signed, based on the status quo ante bellum, thus ending the threat of invasion.[94] The peace also freed up military resources for the war against the Turks. Potemkin had moved his evermore lavish court to Bender and there were soon more successes against Turkey, including the capture of Batal-Pasha and, on the second attempt, of Kilia on the Danube. By the end of November, only one major target remained: the Turkish fortress of Izmail.[95] At Potemkin's request, General Suvorov commanded the assault, which proved to be costly but effective. The victory was commemorated by Russia's first, albeit unofficial, national anthem, "Let the thunder of victory sound!", written by Gavrila Derzhavin and Osip Kozlovsky.[96]

After two years he returned to St. Petersburg to face the threat of war against an Anglo-Prussian coalition in addition to the war with Turkey. His return was widely celebrated with the "Carnival of Prince Potemkin". The Prince came across as polite and charming though his latest mistress, Princess Ekaterina Dolgorukaya, appeared sidelined[nb 4][97] and Potemkin found himself embroiled in court intrigue whilst trying to force Zubov out. Catherine and Potemkin fought over military strategy; the Empress wanted no compromise, while Potemkin wanted to buy time by appeasing the Prussians.[98][99] Fortunately for the Russians, the Anglo-Prussian alliance collapsed and a British ultimatum that Russia should accept the status quo ante bellum was withdrawn. In this way, the threat of a wider war receded.[99] Though Russia was still at war with the Ottomans, Potemkin's focus was now Poland. Potemkin had conservative allies including Felix Potocki, whose schemes were so diverse that they have yet to be fully untangled. For example, one idea was for Potemkin to declare himself king.[100]

Success on the Turkish front continued, mostly attributable to Potemkin. He now had the opportunity to confront the Turks and dictate a peace, but that would mean leaving Catherine. His procrastination soured Catherine's attitude towards him, a situation compounded by Potemkin's choice of the married Princess Paskovia Adreevna Golitsyna (née Shuvalova) as his latest mistress.[101] In the end, Potemkin was given the requisite authority to negotiate with the Turks (and, afterwards, to pursue his Polish ambitions), and dispatched by Catherine back to the south. She sent a note after him, reading "Goodbye my friend, I kiss you".[102]


Potemkin's grave in the Kherson Cathedral

Potemkin fell ill in the fever-ridden city of Jassy, though he kept busy, overseeing peace talks,[nb 5] planning his assault on Poland and preparing the army for renewed war in the south. He fasted briefly and recovered some strength, but refused medicine and began to feast once again, consuming a "ham, a slated goose and three or four chickens".[103] On October 13 [O.S. October 2], he felt better and dictated a letter to Catherine before collapsing once more. Later, he awoke and dispatched his entourage to Nikolayev.[104] On October 16 [O.S. October 5] 1791 Potemkin died in the open steppe, 60 km from Jassy.[105] Picking up on contemporary rumor, historians such as the Polish Jerzy Łojek have suggested that he was poisoned because his madness made him a liability,[106] but this is rejected by Montefiore, who suggests he succumbed to bronchial pneumonia instead.[107]

Potemkin was embalmed and a funeral was held for him in Jassy. Eight days after his death, he was buried. Catherine was distraught and ordered social life in St. Petersburg be put on hold. Derzhavin's ode Waterfall lamented his death; likewise many in the military establishment had looked upon Potemkin as a father figure and were especially saddened by his death.[108] Polish contemporary Stanisław Małachowski claimed that Aleksandra von Engelhardt, a niece of Potemkin and wife to Franciszek Ksawery Branicki, a magnate and prominent leader of the Targowica Confederation, also worried for the fate of Poland after the death of the man who had planned to revitalise the Polish state with him as its new head.[109] Potemkin had used the state treasury as a personal bank, preventing the resolution of his financial affairs to this day. Catherine purchased the Tauride Palace and his art collection from his estate, and paid off his debts. Consequently, he left a relative fortune.[108] Catherine's son Paul, who succeeded to the throne in 1796, attempted to undo as many of Potemkin's reforms as possible. The Tauride Palace was turned into a barracks, and the city of Gregoripol, which had been named in Potemkin's honor, was renamed.[110]

Potemkin's grave survived a destruction order issued by Paul and was eventually displayed by the Bolsheviks. His remains now appear to lie in his tomb at St. Catherine's Cathedral in Kherson. The exact whereabouts of some of his internal organs, including his heart and brain first kept at Golia Monastery in Jassy, remain unknown.[111]

Personality and reputation

Potemkin "exuded both menace and welcome"; he was arrogant, demanding of his courtiers and very changeable in his moods but also fascinating, warm and kind. It was generally agreed among his female companions that he was "amply endowed with 'sex appeal'".[112] Louis Philippe, comte de Ségur described him as "colossal like Russia", "an inconceivable mixture of grandeur and pettiness, laziness and activity, bravery and timidity, ambition and insouciance". The internal contrast was evident throughout his life: he frequented both church and numerous orgies, for example. In Ségur's view, onlookers had a tendency to unjustly attribute to Catherine alone the successes of the period and to Potemkin the failures. An eccentric workaholic, Potemkin was vain and a great lover of jewelry (a taste he did not always remember to pay for), but he disliked sycophancy and was sensitive about his appearance, particularly his lost eye. He only agreed to having portraits made of him twice, in 1784 and again in 1791, both times by Johann Baptist von Lampi and from an angle which disguised his injury.[113]

Potemkin was also an intellectual. The Prince of Ligne noted that Potemkin had "natural abilities [and] an excellent memory". He was interested in history and generally knowledgeable. Potemkin loved the classical music of the period, as well as opera. He liked all food, both peasant and fine; particular favorites included roast beef and potatoes, and his anglophilia meant that English gardens were prepared wherever he went.[113] A practical politician, his political ideas were "quintessentially Russian", and he believed in the superiority of the Tsarist autocracy (he once described the French revolutionaries as "a pack of madmen"[114]). Potemkin's habits included biting his nails, to the point where he developed hangnail.[113] One evening, at the height of his power, Potemkin declared to his dinner guests:[115]

Everything I have ever wanted, I have... I wanted high rank, I have it; I wanted medals, I have them; I loved gambling, I have lost vast sums; I liked giving parties, I've given magnificent ones; I enjoy building houses, I've raised palaces; I liked buying estates, I have many; I adore diamonds and beautiful things – no individual in Europe owns rarer or more exquisite stones. In a word, all my passions have been sated. I am entirely happy!

Ultimately Potemkin proved a controversial figure. Criticisms include "laziness, corruption, debauchery, indecision, extravagance, falsification, military incompetence and disinformation on a vast scale" but supporters hold that only "the sybaritism [devotion to luxury] and extravagance... are truly justified", stressing Potemkin's "intelligence, force of personality, spectacular vision, courage, generosity and great achievements".[116] Though not a military genius, he was "seriously able" in military matters.[116] Potemkin's contemporary Ségur was quick to criticise, writing that "nobody thought out a plan more swiftly [than Potemkin], carried it out more slowly and abandoned it more easily".[117] Another contemporary, the Scotsman Sir John Sinclair, added that Potemkin had "great abilities" but was ultimately a "worthless and dangerous character".[118] Russian opponents such as Semyon Vorontsov agreed: the Prince had "lots of intelligence, intrigue and credit" but lacked "knowledge, application and virtue".[118]


Ortolani Damon Gio Battista - Portrait of Princess Varvara Golitsyna.jpeg
Varvara Galitzine (née Engelhardt), one of Potemkin's favourite nieces and at one time also his lover

Potemkin had no legitimate descendants, though it is probable he had illegitimate issue. Four of his five sisters lived long enough to bear children,[119] but only the daughters of his sister Marfa Elena (sometimes rendered as 'Helen') received Potemkin's special attention. The five unmarried Engelhardt sisters arrived in court in 1775 on the direction of their recently widowed father Vassily.[120] Legend suggests Potemkin soon seduced many of the girls, one of whom was twelve or thirteen at the time. An affair with the third eldest, Varvara, can be verified; after that had subsided, Potemkin formed close—and probably amorous—relationships successively with Alexandra, the second eldest, and Ekaterina, the fifth.[121]

Potemkin also had influential relatives. Potemkin's sister Maria, for example, married Russian senator Nikolay Samoylov: their son Alexander was decorated for his service under Potemkin in the army; their daughter Ekaterina married first into the Raevsky family, and then the wealthy landowner Lev Davydov. She had children with both husbands, including highly decorated General Nikolay Raevsky, Potemkin's great-nephew.[119] His wider family included several distant cousins, among them Count Pavel Potemkin, another decorated military figure, whose brother Mikhail married Potemkin's niece Tatiana Engelhardt.[122] A distant nephew, Felix Yusupov, helped murder Rasputin in 1916.[119]


Despite attempts by Paul I to play down Potemkin's role in Russian history, his name found its way into numerous items of common parlance. The phrase Potemkin village entered common usage in Russia and globally, despite its fictional origin.[123] A century after Potemkin's death, the Battleship Potemkin was named in his honour. The ship became famous for its involvement in the Russian Revolution of 1905 and subsequent dramatization in The Battleship Potemkin, a Soviet movie by Sergey Eisenstein, which at one point was named the greatest film of all time.[124][125][126] The name of the giant seaside staircase in Odessa, featured in the movie, eventually became known as the Potemkin Stairs.

See also


  1. ^ a b A number of dates as late as 1742 have been found on record; the veracity of any one is unlikely to be proved. This is his "official" birth-date as given on his tombstone.
  2. ^ A previous town with the same founded in 1775 but in a badly chosen location was duly renamed Novomskovsk.
  3. ^ Under the terms of the surrender, the garrison was allowed to leave unharmed, but three hundred guns were captured by the Russians in the process.
  4. ^ Dolgorukaya was soon replaced by a new mistress, Sophie (de) Witte (nicknamed "The Beautiful Greek"), who was renowned in the courts of Europe at that time and had an accommodating husband.
  5. ^ The talks, which were continued by Catherine's secretary and foreign minister Alexander Bezborodko, led to the Treaty of Jassy, in which Russia annexed a significant amount of land from the Ottomans.


  1. ^ Sebag Montefiore, Simon (2010). Catherine the Great and Potemkin: The Imperial Love Affair. Hachette UK. ISBN 9780297866237. Retrieved 2015-07-18. Then there was Potemkin's idea of invading Poland as grand hetman of the Black Sea Cossacks to liberate the Orthodox of eastern Poland. This combined his Polish ancestry, his regal ambitions, his enjoyment of drama, his Russian instinct to break the Polish Revolution - and his 'passion for Cossacks'.
  2. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 13–16
  3. ^ a b Soloveytchik 1938, p. 40
  4. ^ Montefiore 2001, p. 16
  5. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 18–19
  6. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 22–23
  7. ^ a b Montefiore 2001, pp. 24–30
  8. ^ Soloveytchik 1938, p. 44
  9. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 45–49
  10. ^ Soloveytchik 1938, p. 46
  11. ^ Montefiore 2001, p. 51
  12. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 53–54
  13. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 65–66
  14. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 68–71
  15. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 72–75
  16. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 76
  17. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 77–80
  18. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 81–84
  19. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 86–88
  20. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 91–93
  21. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 94–98
  22. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 100–102
  23. ^ Rounding 2006, p. 270
  24. ^ a b Rounding 2006, p. 272
  25. ^ a b c Rounding 2006, pp. 274–6
  26. ^ Kaus 1935, p. 316
  27. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 103–105
  28. ^ Montefiore 2001, p. 113
  29. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 111–14
  30. ^ Montefiore 2001, p. 116
  31. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 119–121
  32. ^ Montefiore 2001, p. 124
  33. ^ a b Rounding 2006, pp. 282–83
  34. ^ a b Montefiore 2001, pp. 126–7
  35. ^ Montefiore 2001, p. 137
  36. ^ a b Montefiore 2001, pp. 135–38
  37. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 147–52
  38. ^ Rounding 2006, p. 297
  39. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 155–59
  40. ^ Rounding 2006, p. 298
  41. ^ Rounding 2006, p. 309
  42. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 160–61
  43. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 165–66
  44. ^ Rounding 2006, p. 299
  45. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 167–74
  46. ^ Rounding 2006, p. 347
  47. ^ Montefiore 2001, p. 175
  48. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 185–90
  49. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 206–12
  50. ^ a b Montefiore 2001, pp. 219–22
  51. ^ Rounding 2006, p. 387
  52. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 223–28
  53. ^ Montefiore 2001, p. 235
  54. ^ Rounding 2006, p. 366
  55. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 233–35
  56. ^ a b Montefiore 2001, pp. 241–57
  57. ^ Rounding 2006, p. 395
  58. ^ Montefiore 2001, p. 258
  59. ^ Rounding 2006, p. 398
  60. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 258, 264–5
  61. ^ a b Montefiore 2001, pp. 267–8
  62. ^ Lieven 2003, p. 271
  63. ^ Drevni͡ai͡a i novai͡a Rossii͡a. Historical Illustrated Monthly. Vol.3, part 2. Saint Petersburg: Chromolithography and Typography of V.I.Gratsiansky, 1877. 177.
  64. ^ Report on the 29th award of the Count Uvarov Prizes. Notes of the Imperial Academy of Sciences. Vol.59. Saint Petersburg: Imperial Academy of Sciences, 1888. 63.
  65. ^ Report on the 29th award of the Count Uvarov Prizes. Notes of the Imperial Academy of Sciences. Vol.59. Saint Petersburg: Imperial Academy of Sciences, 1888. 63.
  66. ^ a b Montefiore 2001, pp. 270–78
  67. ^ a b Montefiore 2001, pp. 279–80
  68. ^ Lieven 2003, p. 269
  69. ^ Lieven 2003, p. 212
  70. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 281–287
  71. ^ Montefiore 2001, p. 291
  72. ^ Rounding 2006, p. 404
  73. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 316–22
  74. ^ Rounding 2006, pp. 416–17
  75. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 324–26
  76. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 355–63
  77. ^ Rounding 2006, pp. 427–431
  78. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 369–374
  79. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 379–383
  80. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 384–86
  81. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 386–89
  82. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 390–395
  83. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 395–396
  84. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 402–403
  85. ^ Rounding 2006, p. 444
  86. ^ a b Montefiore 2001, pp. 405–16
  87. ^ Rounding 2006, p. 446
  88. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 420–23
  89. ^ Rounding 2006, p. 452
  90. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 425–27
  91. ^ Montefiore 2001, p. 429
  92. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 432–33
  93. ^ Montefiore 2001, p. 439
  94. ^ a b Montefiore 2001, p. 441
  95. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 443–47
  96. ^ Montefiore 2001, p. 454
  97. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 461–63
  98. ^ Rounding 2006, pp. 458
  99. ^ a b Montefiore 2001, pp. 464–65
  100. ^ Montefiore 2001, p. 473
  101. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 476–77
  102. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 478–79
  103. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 482–84
  104. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 485–86
  105. ^ Rounding 2006, pp. 463
  106. ^ Łojek 1986, pp. 180–81
  107. ^ Montefiore 2001, p. 487
  108. ^ a b Montefiore 2001, pp. 487–90
  109. ^ Pascu 1940, p. 127
  110. ^ Montefiore 2001, p. 495
  111. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 498–502
  112. ^ Montefiore 2001, p. 329
  113. ^ a b c Montefiore 2001, pp. 329–347
  114. ^ Montefiore 2001, p. 344
  115. ^ Montefiore 2001, p. 340
  116. ^ a b Montefiore 2001, pp. 490–1
  117. ^ Montefiore 2001, p. 334
  118. ^ a b Montefiore 2001, p. 343
  119. ^ a b c Montefiore 2001 Appendix: The Inner Family of Prince Potemkin including Favourite Nieces and Nephews
  120. ^ Montefiore 2001, p. 149
  121. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 186–190
  122. ^ Montefiore 2001 Appendix: The Wider Family of Prince Potemkin
  123. ^ Montefiore 2001, pp. 493–498
  124. ^ What's the Big Deal?: Battleship Potemkin (1925), archived from the original on 25 November 2010, retrieved 28 November 2010
  125. ^ "Battleship Potemkin by Roger Ebert". Archived from the original on 2010-11-22. Retrieved 2010-11-28.
  126. ^ "Top Films of All-Time". Retrieved 28 November 2010.


  • Kaus, Gina (1935). Catherine: Portrait of an Empress. Viking.
  • Lieven, Dominic (2003). Empire: The Russian Empire and Its Rivals. Pimlico. ISBN 978-0-7126-0546-5.
  • Łojek, Jerzy (1986). Geneza i obalenie Konstytucji 3 Maja (in Polish). Wyd.Lubelskie. ISBN 978-83-222-0313-2.
  • Montefiore, Simon Sebag (4 October 2001). Prince of Princes: the life of Potemkin. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 978-1-84212-438-3.
  • Pascu, Giorge (1940). Calatori straini în Moldova si Muntenia în secolul XVIII : Carra, Bauer si Struve (in Romanian). Iaşi: Institutul de Arte Grafice "Bravo".
  • Rounding, Virginia (2006). Catherine the Great. London: Hutchinson. ISBN 978-0-09-179992-2.
  • Smith, Douglas (ed. and tr.), Love and Conquest: Personal Correspondence of Catherine the Great and Prince Grigory Potemkin (DeKalb, Northern Illinois University Press, 2004).
  • Soloveytchik, George (1938). Potemkin. Taylor & Francis. Retrieved 6 January 2011.

External links

Alexander Lanskoy

Aleksander Dmitrijevitj Lanskoj, also called Sasjenka (1758-1784) was a Russian favourite and the lover of Catherine the Great between 1780 and 1784.

Lanskoj was made aide-de-camp of Grigory Potemkin in 1779 and was introduced by Potemkin to Catherine in 1780. After being "tested" as a lover by Anna Protasova, he became the official lover of Catherine. He was reportedly genuinely in love with Catherine, and their relationship was described as a happy one. He did not involve himself in politics, did not accept bribes or ask for favors or gifts and shared her cultural interests. In 1782, he and Potemkin collaborated to remove Count Orlov from court. He died of diphtheria, but rumors claimed his health had been weakened by aphrodisiacs.

Alexander Vasilchikov

Alexander Semyonovich Vasilchikov (Александр Семёнович Васильчиков; 1744–1813) was a Russian aristocrat who became the lover of Catherine the Great from 1772 to 1774.

Vasilchikov was an ensign in the Chevalier Guard Regiment when he was noted by Catherine and was appointed gentleman of the bedchamber on 1 August 1772. When Catherine's then-lover Grigory Grigoryevich Orlov left court, Catherine was informed about his adultery, and 12 August, Vasilchikov was made general aide-de-camp and lover of Catherine. Vasilchikov was expected to be available to attend on her at all times, and was not allowed to leave the palace without permission.

The relationship was short-lived. Catherine found Vasilchikov's gentleness cloying, saying "His tenderness made me weep." When Vasilchikov was away on a journey, sent by the empress, Grigory Potemkin replaced him as her lover. She wrote to her friend Friedrich Melchior, Baron von Grimm about Vasilchikov's dismissal: "Why do you reproach me because I dismiss a well-meaning but extremely boring bourgeois in favour of one of the greatest, the most comical and amusing, characters of this iron century?"Vasilchikov later complained that he felt like a hired gigolo: "I was nothing more to her than a kind of male cocotte and I was treated as such. If I made a request for myself or anyone else, she did not reply, but the next day I found a bank-note for several thousand rubles in my pocket. She never condescended to discuss with me any matters that lay close to my heart."Catherine characteristically rewarded her former lover richly. Vasilchikov was given a pension of twenty thousand rubles and valuable properties. He lived the rest of his life in Moscow. He never married. He built a notable collection of Western European paintings and sculptures, including a "Self Portrait" by Velasquez and works by Philips Wouwerman and Andries Botha.

Alexander Yermolov

Alexander Petrovich Yermolov (1754–1834) was a Russian favourite and the lover of Catherine the Great from 1785 to 1786.

Yermolov was presented to Catherine by Grigory Potemkin, tested by Anna Protasova and became Catherine's lover in 1785. He collaborated with the enemies of Potemkin and attempted to have Potemkin removed, and thereby lost his position. He went to Paris in the late 1780s and spent the rest of his life in Schloss Frohsdorf.

Austro-Russian alliance (1781)

Austro-Russian alliance refers to the treaty signed by the Austrian Empire and the Russian Empire in May–June 1781.Russia was previously allied with Prussia (Russo-Prussian alliance). However, with time, Russia's attention was increasingly drawn towards the south, and the Ottoman Empire. Advocated by Grigory Potemkin, this new direction reduced the strategic value of Prussia as an ally to Russia, and made Austria once again a more appealing candidate. The Russo-Prussian alliance was once again extended in 1777, but at the imperial court in Saint Petersburg, Panin pro-Prussian faction's influence was eclipsed by the Potemkin's pro-Austrian one. After the death of Maria Theresa of Austria, Joseph II of Austria was more favorable towards improving relations with Russia, and secret negotiations begun in early 1781, resulting in an Austro-Russian alliance formed around May and June 1781. The Prusso-Russian alliance existed formally till 1788, but it lost most if its significance upon the declaration of the Austro-Russian alliance, which isolated Prussia on the international scene. The most notable consequence of the Austro-Russian alliance was the Austro-Turkish War (1787–1791) and the Russo-Turkish War (1787–1792).In 1790 the alliance was strained, as Russia informed Austria that it has no desire to interfere in case of an Austrian-Prussian conflict.

Cupid Untying the Zone of Venus

Cupid Untying the Zone of Venus (originally entitled A Nymph and Cupid: ‘The Snake in the Grass’ or The Snake in the Grass, or Love unloosing the zone of Beauty; later also known as Love and Beauty and Cupid Untying the Girdle of Venus) is a painting by Joshua Reynolds. It shows Cupid untying the girdle of his mother Venus - the latter was modelled on Emma Hart.

The earliest version was that exhibited in 1784 and bought by the Tate Gallery in 1871 A 1785 autograph copy made for Reynolds' niece the Marchioness of Thomond was bought at the sale of her collection in May 1821 by Sir John Soane - it is thus now in the Soane Museum. In 1788 Lord Carysfort commissioned an autograph copy to present to Prince Grigory Potemkin, which is now in the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.

Ivan Rimsky-Korsakov

Ivan Nikolajevich Rimsky-Korsakov, né Korsav (29 June 1754 in Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire – 31 July 1831 in Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire) was a Russian courtier and lover of Catherine the Great from 1778 to 1779.

Ivan Rimsky-Korsakov was introduced to Catherine by Grigory Potemkin after having been vetted by Praskovja Bruce. Rumors that Catherine had her ladies-in-waiting 'test' her potential favorites are unsubstantiated by the historical record. Furthermore, while Potemkin played an important role in Catherine's life, there is no evidence to suggest he literally picked and presented his successors in the bedchamber to the empress.

Catherine called Korsakov Pyrrhus because of his classic beauty, his singing and his violin playing. In 1779, Catherine caught him being unfaithful with Praskovja Bruce. It is believed that she was directed to the right room by Aleksandra von Engelhardt on the order of Potemkin, who wished for the fall of both Rimsky-Korsakov and Bruce. This caused both Rimsky-Korsakov and Bruce to lose their positions at court.

Ivan Rimsky-Korsakov lived the rest of his life in Brattsevo near Moscow in a relationship with the married Countess Stroganova, née Princess Ekaterina Petrovna Trubetskaya, with whom he had four children (Varvara, Vladimir, Vassily and Sophia) who were given the name Ladomirsky (the name of an extinct Polish noble family) and were ennobled by Imperial Ukaze on 11 November 1798. Varvara Ivanovna Ladomirsky married Ivan Dimitrievich Narishkin and was the great-great-grandmother of Prince Felix Yussupov.

Kamianka, Cherkasy Oblast

Kamianka (Ukrainian: Кам'янка, Ukrainian pronunciation: [ˈkɑmjɑnkɑ]; Russian: Камeнка) is a city in Cherkasy Oblast (province) of Ukraine. It serves as the administrative center of Kamianka Raion. Population: 11,857 (2017 est.)It is a countryside town approx. 300 kilometres (190 mi) to southeast from Kiev, located on the bank of the Tiasmyn River.

Kamianka is known by the artist's colony, in which Prince Grigory Potemkin, the Russian national poet Alexander Pushkin, the composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, freethinkers and war heroes from the time of the Napoleon's wars worked. Kamianka was also one of the chief centres of the Southern Society of the Decembrists. Kamianka own a historical-cultural open-air museum with monument-protected constructions, collections and parks.

List of Russian royal mistresses and lovers

List of Russian royal mistresses and lovers includes mistresses, minions, favourites and simply lovers of the Russian emperors and reigning empresses before and after coronation.

Mikhail Shibanov

Mikhail Shibanov (Russian: Михаил Шибанов) was a Russian painter active during the 1780s; a portrait of Count Alexander Dmitriev-Mamonov of which he is known to be the author dates to about this time. Shibanov was a serf of Prince Grigory Potemkin; his date of birth is unknown. Two of his genre scenes are held at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow; the above-mentioned portrait is in the Russian Museum now.

Shibanov died sometime after 1798.

Monument to the founders of Odessa

Monument to the founders of Odessa, also known as monument to Catherine the Great and her companions: José de Ribas, François Sainte de Wollant, Platon Zubov and Grigory Potemkin. Located in Odessa on Ekaterininskaya Square. Built in 1900 by the project of Odessa architect Yuri Melent’evich Dmitrenko. Sculptor M. Popov, with the participation of sculptors B.V. Eduards, M.D. Mentsione, engineer A. Sikorski. Dismantled in 1920. Restored in 2007 at the expense of the family of Ruslan Tarpan, Odessa businessman.

Peacock Clock

The Peacock Clock is a large automaton featuring three life-sized mechanical birds. It was manufactured by the entrepreneur James Cox in the 2nd half of the 18th century and through the influence of Grigory Potemkin it was acquired by Catherine the Great in 1781. Today it is a prominent exhibit in the collections of the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. The clock is also shown daily on the Russian TV channel Russia-K.

Potemkin (disambiguation)

Grigory Potemkin (1739–1791) was a Russian military leader, statesman, nobleman and favourite of Catherine the Great.

Potemkin may also refer to

Potemkin (surname)

Russian battleship Potemkin

Potemkin (architecture), a steel park in Japan

Potemkin Stairs, a giant stairway in Odessa, Ukraine

Potemkin (Guilty Gear), a character in the Guilty Gear series of fighting games

Potemkin, a character in Celebration, a 1969 musical by Tom Jones

Potemkin, a fictional Soviet submarine in "To Kill the Potemkin"

Potemkin, a fictional class of warship in the Battletech universe

"USS Potemkin", a fictional starship in the Star Trek episode "The Ultimate Computer"

Potemkin (surname)

Potemkin (Russian: Потёмкин, Potyomkin; or Potyomkina/Potemkina Feminine; Потёмкина) is a Russian surname which derives from the word Потёмка Potyomka meaning "dark". Persons bearing the name Potemkin rose to prominence in Muscovy from the 16th century onwards. Notable people with the surname include:

Alexander Potemkin (1675–1746), Russian nobleman, father of Grigory.

Alexandr Mikhailovich Potemkin (1787—1872), Russian nobleman and army officer.

Grigory Potemkin (1739–1791), statesman and paramour of Czarina Catherina.

Károly Potemkin (born 1977), Hungarian football player.

Pavel Potemkin (1743–1796), Russian diplomat and military commander, cousin of Grigory Potemkin.

Peter Potemkin (1886–1926), Russian chess master.

Pyotr Potemkin (1617–1700), Russian diplomat and voivode.

Tatiana Borisovna Potemkina (1797—1869), Russian noblewoman and philanthropist.

Valeriya Reznik (born Valeriya Potemkina during 1985), Russian short-track speed-skater.

Vladimir Petrovich Potemkin (1874–1946), Soviet Russian diplomatic and academic

Potemkin village

In politics and economics, a Potemkin village (also Potyomkin village, translated from the Russian: потёмкинские деревни, Russian pronunciation: [pɐˈtʲɵmkʲɪnskʲɪɪ dʲɪˈrʲɛvnʲɪ] potyomkinskiye derevni) is any construction (literal or figurative) built solely to deceive others into thinking that a situation is better than it really is. The term comes from stories of a fake portable village built solely to impress Empress Catherine II by her former lover Grigory Potemkin during her journey to Crimea in 1787. While modern historians claim accounts of this portable village are exaggerated, the original story was that Potemkin erected phony portable settlements along the banks of the Dnieper River in order to impress the Russian Empress; the structures would be disassembled after she passed, and re-assembled farther along her route to be viewed again as if another example.

Saint Sampson's Cathedral

St Sampson's Cathedral (Сампсониевский собор) is the oldest church in St. Petersburg. It stands on the northern outskirts of the city and gives its name to Sampsonievsky Avenue. Rumor has it that it was in St. Sampson's Cathedral that Catherine II of Russia secretly married Grigory Potemkin in 1774.The original wooden church was built in 1710 to honor Sampson the Hospitable. It was on the feast day of that saint that Peter the Great defeated Charles XII of Sweden in the Battle of Poltava. The existing church was built under Empress Anna to a design by Pietro Antonio Trezzini. It was consecrated in 1740. The tent-like belltower was built at a later date. The original church had only one dome; the four subsidiary domes were added in 1761.

The church was considerably renovated as part of the battle's bicentennial celebrations. A Rastrelliesque chapel was constructed on the grounds, and Peter I's address to his soldiers at Poltava was inscribed on the wall. It was at that time that the church was elevated to cathedral status. The parish was disbanded by the Soviets in the 1930s, and the building was converted into a warehouse. It was restored in the late 1970s and reopened in 2000 as a museum attached to St. Isaac's Cathedral.

The grave yard which surrounds the church has been filled for centuries. Some of the city's first foreign architects, including Jean-Baptiste Alexandre Le Blond and Domenico Trezzini, were buried there. The tomb of Artemy Volynsky and Pyotr Yeropkin (both executed exactly 31 years after the Poltava victory) is by Alexander Opekushin (1885). The statue of Peter the Great in front of the cathedral was designed by Mark Antokolsky. It was removed by the Soviets and restored in 2003 as part of the city's tercentenary celebrations.

On 5 February 2017 the cathedral was transferred from the state to the Russian Orthodox Church at a ceremony in the cathedral. During the ceremony, which started with Divine Liturgy, the director of the Museum Complex of St. Isaac's Cathedral, which managed St. Sampson's Cathedral, officially handed the keys of the cathedral to Archimandrite Seraphim, noting that it was "with a feeling of deep satisfaction". The Archimandrite called the transfer a historic day and said it was the beginning of a new page in the cathedral's history, and he thanked the museum complex for preserving the cathedral.

Semyon Zorich

Semyon Zorich (1743–1799) was an Imperial Russian lieutenant-general and count of the Holy Roman Empire, born in Serbia, who served Imperial Russia against the Prussians and Turks. A member of the Russian court, he was presented to Empress Catherine the Great by Grigory Potemkin and, after having been tested by Praskovja Bruce and doctor Rogerson, became the Empress' lover. He was most influential in the commercial development of Shklov and Mogilev.

Siege of Ochakov (1788)

The Second Siege of Ochakov (now Ochakiv, Ukraine) was one of the major events of the Russo-Turkish War (1787–1792). It was known as "Özi Kuşatması" in Turkish.

In 1788, Russian forces led by Prince Grigory Potemkin and General Alexander Suvorov besieged the city, held by Ottoman troops commanded by Hasan Pasha. Despite Suvorov's urging to storm the city immediately, Potemkin had the Russian forces encircled Ochakov (Özi), bombarding the city and cutting off the defenders' supply of food and ammunition. By keeping his soldiers out of direct battle, Potemkin minimized Russian casualties, though he was accused by his generals of cowardice. The argument about storming continued in the Russian headquarters during the entirety of the siege. Also, the Russians captured strategically important Pirezin Island on July 18, 1788.

The first combat was on May 31, with the arrival of the Turkish navy. The Russian flotilla lost a double-sloop while attempting to retreat. The Russian army began assaulting the city on July 9.The Turks made several attempts to break the siege. On July 27, about 5,000 Janissaries attacked positions held by Cossacks and forced them to retreat. Suvorov personally led reinforcements and drove the Janissaries to the gates of Ochakov, but was injured.

Hasan Pasha expected reinforcements from the Turkish fleet, which gathered in Limans. But after the attack of Admiral Senyavin's fleet, Turkish reinforcements were cut off.

The condition of both armies continued to decline, there was a threat of disease, and the weather was growing very cold. Potemkin ultimately gave in to Suvorov's arguments. On the night of December 6 (December 17 in the Gregorian calendar), the Russians attacked, and captured Hasan Pasha's palace, forcing its guards to surrender. Over 9,500 Turks were killed during the assault, more than 4,000 were taken prisoner, including Hasan Pasha himself, but most of the city garrison was killed in the street fight, having lost about 20,000 men dead. The Russians lost 956 soldiers and had 1,829 wounded by the end of the operation.The Russian victory was celebrated in a famous ode by Gavrila Derzhavin, and in a Te Deum by Giuseppe Sarti.

Yakov Bulgakov

Yakov Ivanovich Bulgakov (Russian: Яков Иванович Булгаков; 15 October 1743 – 7 July 1809) was a Russian diplomat best remembered as Catherine II's emissary in Constantinople in the 1780s.

Of noble parentage, Bulgakov attended the gymnasium of the newly founded Moscow University. His class fellows included Ippolit Bogdanovich, Denis Fonvizin, and Grigory Potemkin. It was Bulgakov who was sent to notify Augustus III about the demise of Empress Elizabeth. A year later, he was dispatched to Vienna to inform Maria Theresa of Austria about the coup d'état that brought Catherine II to the throne.

Together with his patron, Prince Nicholas Repnin, Bulgakov was active in Warsaw, where he served as a secretary at the Russian mission. After the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca, he accompanied Repnin to Constantinople, where they persuaded the Sultan to acknowledge the independence of Crimea. In 1777 Repnin and Bulgakov proceeded to the Congress of Teschen, which concluded the War of the Bavarian Succession. Four years later, Bulgakov went to Ukraine, charged with the task of delineating the new border with Poland.

On 20 May 1781, the Empress appointed Bulgakov her emissary at the Sublime Porte. His mission was to prepare and smooth the Russian annexation of Crimea. A free trade agreement, concluded between the powers in 1783, was his notable success. When the last Crimean khan submitted to Catherine's authority, there were fears that the Russian resident would be mobbed and lynched. However, Bulgakov did not allow himself to be entrapped by the intrigues of the French ambassador and, on 28 December, wrested from Sultan a grudging recognition of the occupation of Crimea, which effectively precluded a new war between the countries.

When Catherine visited Novorossiya in 1787, Bulgakov went to confer with her in Crimea. Upon his return to Constantinople, he was thrown into the dungeon of the Castle of Seven Towers, where he translated French authors and wrote letters to his monarch. The Russo-Turkish War (1787–92) erupted, but Bulgakov still managed to be useful to the Russian government, so much so that he succeeded in obtaining a plan of the Turkish naval offensive, drafted by the French ambassador Comte de Choiseul-Gouffier. Contrary to recommendations of British, Swedish and Prussian diplomacy, the Sultan found it prudent to set "the obnoxious Russian" free (24 November 1789) and to deport him from his dominions.

Bulgakov declined to be transported to Russia on a French frigate, instead sailing to Trieste, from where he travelled to Vienna, where he met the dying Joseph II. Passing through Iași (where Potemkin was negotiating a peace treaty with the Sultan), Bulgakov arrived to St. Petersburg. The Empress commended his service and awarded him with extensive estates in newly acquired Belarus. Thereupon he was dispatched as minister plenipotentiary to Warsaw, where he spent four years orchestrating the Polish–Russian War of 1792.

Following Catherine's death, Bulgakov administrated the governorates of Vilno and Grodno until 1799, when he finally retired on account of bad health. He was elected into the Russian Academy in 1795. The remainder of his life was spent in retirement in Moscow.

Zofia Branicka

Countess Zofia Branicka (11 January 1790– 6 January 1879) was a Polish noble woman, art collector.

She was the daughter of Franciszek Ksawery Branicki, one of the leaders of the Targowica Confederation, and Aleksandra von Engelhardt, the niece of Grigory Potemkin. In 1816, she married Artur Potocki.

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