Medals of the era of Alexander II: from the Russian-Turkish war to the attacks of "Narodnaya Volya"
At that time, the Russian Empire had only one ally in the West - the Prussian kingdom. But it was not worth relying on the loyalty of the Prussians, at least until Prussia itself dragged at the tail of the more powerful powers. Therefore, it was so important for St. Petersburg to support the Pan-German sentiments in Berlin. In general, it turned out to be sufficient to take a neutral position in the unification of the German lands, which Russian diplomacy led by Alexander Gorchakov did.
The strengthening of Prussia after the seven-week Prussian-Austro-Italian war of 1866, which ended with the lightning-fast defeat of the Austrians and the emergence in Europe of a new formidable army that retained superiority over the enemy until the 40-s of the XX century, was extremely worried about France. Although the irritation of Napoleon III corresponded to the plans of the Prussian Chancellor Otto Bismarck: self-confident, by deft intrigues he forced the French in the summer of 1879 to declare Prussia a war. Blitzkrieg brought France to its knees: its armed forces capitiously capitulated, was captured and deposed at home by Napoleon III. Contributions amounted to fabulous five billion francs.
England, accustomed to acting on the continent by someone else’s hands, is now, figuratively speaking, left without them. Therefore, in order to get rid of the Turks, Russia needed only to cajole Austria, weakened by a succession of defeats. Emperor Franz Joseph was promised Bosnia and Herzegovina in exchange for solid neutrality.
The Turks also added fuel to the fire. The Crimean War was fought by Western Europeans because of them, but not for them. Neglecting this essential difference, the Ottomans, in violation of the same ever-memorable Treaty of Paris obliging them to weaken the oppression of the Christian population, began to ruthlessly destroy this population. They were especially fierce in Crete and in Bulgaria, where tens of thousands of civilians became victims of bashibuks. Details of the Turkish atrocities became known throughout Europe and caused a wave of indignation. However, the road to Constantinople was far from being open to Russia.
On the Black Sea dominated the modernized Turkish fleet. The Austrians, especially after their betrayal in the Crimean War, could not count much. Given all this, Alexander II was cautious.
Serbia and Montenegro provoked him to active actions. In June 1876, they declared war against Turkey. They relied not so much on their own strength as they hoped that Russia would not allow their defeat. In this case, the Serbian army suffered a series of failures and in August turned to the great powers with a desperate request for mediation in the conclusion of peace. At the last moment, Istanbul accepted a Russian ultimatum and ceased hostilities. The Turks, of course, did not know that a secret agreement had already been concluded between Russia and Austria, according to which the Ottoman Empire was finally left to itself in the imminent impending clash with its northern neighbor.
Enlisting neutrality, mostly forced, of the main European political players, excluding the UK, 12 (24) in March 1877, Russia declared war on Turkey. After passing through Romanian territory, the Russian army forced the Danube to fight, and, having entered Bulgaria, in July approached Pleven.
True, the leadership of the army, carried out by Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich Sr., could not be called successful. The emperor also quite stupidly intervened in command. It ended with the Osman-Pasha corps slipped into Pleven literally under the nose of the Russians. Therefore, the peaceful occupation of the city turned into a protracted siege, costing much effort and sacrifice.
In July, the Russians occupied the strategically important Shipka Pass leading to the Balkans. However, the strength to move on was not enough. I had to go everywhere on the defensive.
November 28 (December 10) Osman Pasha tried to escape from the blocked Pleven. Turks attacked by dense masses suffered huge losses; completely bloodless they were forced to lay down weapon.
The imperial army received long-awaited reinforcements, and the Western detachment of General Joseph Romeyko-Gurko, having passed over the mountains in the worst weather conditions, 23 December 1877 (January 4 1878) took Sofia.
On the same day, the 45-thousandth Southern detachment of General Fyodor Radetsky came into motion; he had to overcome the Shipka Pass, from which the Turkish army defended Wessel Pasha. 27 – 28 of December (8 – 9) of January, the fairly thinned columns of Nikolay Svyatopolk-Mirsky and Mikhail Skobelev succeeded in encircling the Turks near Shanev. Wessel Pasha capitulated - the last serious obstacle on the road to Adrianople and the Ottoman capital fell.
Soon the fighting in the Balkans ended. In the Transcaucasian theater, the Turks, meanwhile, were also defeated, although the heavily fortified Erzerum, where the remnants of the defeated Turkish army were hiding, the Russians could not take.
The preliminary Santo Stefano peace agreement concluded with the Sultan, unfortunately, turned out to be actually crossed out by the Berlin treatise imposed on Russia by the efforts of Britain and Austria. The latter took possession of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The British occupied Cyprus. The interests of the Balkan states, considering the newly formed Bulgaria, were practically ignored and infringed upon.
Certain territorial acquisitions (Southern Bessarabia, Kars, Batum), thanks to the Slavic brothers and the medal “In Memory of the Russian-Turkish War 1877 – 1878”, minted from silver and light and dark bronze, became a consolation for the Russians. On the front side of her face is an Orthodox cross surrounded by radiance, standing on a fallen crescent. Dates in an arc from two sides - "1877" and "1878". The inscription on the back is already known to us, but here it is also full of bitter irony: “DON'T NAM, - DON'T NAM, - AND NAME IS YOURS”. Ribbon combined Andreevsko-Georgievskaya.
The Berlin treatise outraged the Russian society, which considered that Russia was once again placed on the foreign policy arena. But much more indignation was brought about by the many inconsistent domestic policies of the government, especially the implementation of the Great Reforms. Yes, the serfs received widely declared freedom, but with a lot of reservations, which immediately enslaved them. Peasant riots here and there shook the country with a small shiver, and while suppressing the uprisings, the authorities now and then went too far. Prisons were filled with all sorts of political prisoners. Under these conditions, the revolutionary organization “Earth and Will” (later “Black Repartition” and “Narodnaya Volya”), which soon turned to the practice of individual terror, raised its head again.
Although even before any “non-Cachevism” and “193's process”, two years after the abolition of serfdom, there was a “hunt for the king” (by the way, he himself was a passionate hunter), which ended up with his murder.
The first to Alexander II, who was walking around St. Petersburg without any protection, and that day, as usual, quietly entering the Summer Garden, shot 4 (16) in April 1866, 26 was a small-fledged Saratov nobleman Dmitry Karakozov. He believed that the regicide would trigger the social revolution. The attempt failed due to the promptness of the peasant Osip Komissarov, who grabbed the terrorist by the hand at the moment of the shot. Interestingly, Komissarov came from the village of Molvitino of the Buisk district of the Kostroma province. Another Savior of the Romanovs, Ivan Susanin, was born from there, in memory of which the village is now called Susanino, and the whole area is called Susaninsky.
For a quick reaction, the peasant was made into hereditary nobles, added the Kostroma prefix to his surname and was awarded a gold medal, made in one copy, with the emperor's profile on the obverse and the inscription on the reverse: April 4 of the Year 1866. Ribbon medals - Vladimirskaya. In addition, 3000 rubles were granted to the newly minted nobleman a year for a life pension, the Order of Saint Vladimir of IV degree (plus several foreign awards, including the French Order of the Legion of Honor) and assigned him to the Pavlograd 2 Guards Hussar Regiment. True, among the brave warriors, Osip did not settle down, he retired as a captain in the Poltava estate presented to him, bred bees at his leisure, drank bitter and died, forgotten by everyone, in 1892 year.
It is characteristic that, at first, Alexander could not believe that a Russian person attempted an assassination against him, the Russian tsar-father. When a captured Karakozov was brought to him, he directly asked the failed terrorist if he was a Pole.
As they say, he cried: a year later, in Paris, where the emperor arrived at the World Exhibition, Anton Berezovsky, the gentry, shot him. And again failure - the bullet landed in the horse.
Much more dangerous was the assassination attempt of retired collegiate secretary Alexander Solovyov, who was disillusioned with religion, on 2 (April 14) on 1879, on Bright Monday. And again the emperor was alone in his walk. He walked his usual route along the streets closest to the Winter Palace, which allowed the terrorist armed with a revolver to prepare well. At the corner of Palace Square, Solovyov fired several shots, the first from a distance of "about twelve steps," and rushed in pursuit of fleeing zigzags, like a hare, as an autocrat to the Singing Bridge. The last charge, the fifth offender, released into the crowd of runaway people, after which he was seized.
And again the terrorist was hanged, and six people who participated in his capture were awarded gold medals "For Salvation" on the Vladimir ribbon with a portrait of the rescued sovereign and an inscription corresponding to the title.
However, the terror turned out to be impossible to stop. November 19 (December 1) of the same year an attempt was made to explode the imperial train near Moscow. Alexander, who was returning from the Crimea, was saved by the fact that forward, contrary to the custom, they sent not the royal, but the retinue composition.
Not at all discouraged by this failure, the revolutionaries immediately organized a new attempt, this time right in the Winter Palace. Stepan Khalturin, having got a job working as a carpenter in the royal residence, managed to quietly carry three pounds of dynamite into the basement before the police came on his trail. A guardroom was located above the room in which he stored the explosives, and above the floor there was a canteen where Alexander usually dined.
The explosion took the lives of eleven sentries - soldiers of the Life Guards of the Finnish Regiment, the heroes of the recently ended Russian-Turkish war. The emperor lingered with dinner, but the charge would still not be enough to hit the third floor, only the dishes were broken.
Finally, 1 (13) March 1881, about 2 h. 25 min. afternoon, Alexander II was mortally wounded in a bomb blast on the embankment of the Catherine Canal in St. Petersburg. The first tossed a nineteen-year-old Nikolai Rusakov, filled with a hellish mixture of bundles for an armored royal carriage. The king was not injured, but passers-by were injured, a Cossack Life Guards of the Terek squadron who accompanied the king, and 14-year-old teenager from a butcher shop were injured to death. The sovereign left the carriage, approached the wounded, crossed over the dying. At this time, the runaway bomber grabbed and led to him. Alexander, having asked his name and rank, went to the parapet of the channel, and right here, another terrorist, Ignatius Grinevitsky, threw a bomb in the confusion unnoticed by the guard, right under his feet.
This second bomb was fatal - a bloody account of the Russian emperors was opened.
- Maxim Lavrentiev
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