Alexey Dmitrievich lived a long enough life, which, in fact, ended with the Russian Empire, he died during the February revolution of 1917. The life of this person contains a large number of events of varying degrees of significance. In the army, he went from a non-commissioned officer to a lieutenant general. He paid a lot of attention to teaching, was a tutor, he rose to the rank of inspector of the State Administration of military schools. It was rightfully considered one of the most educated Russian generals, was a friend and fellow Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin. He was convinced of the need to revive the Olympic Games held in ancient Greece as a global sporting event that could unite the whole world.
Alexey Dmitrievich Butovsky came from a poor noble family of a landowner in the Poltava province. He was born 21 June (9 June old style) 1838, his childhood was spent in the village of Pelekhovshchina, Kremenchug district, Poltava province. Parents Nadezhda Stepanovna von Kaiser and Dmitry Petrovich Butovsky. The mother of the future general, Nadezhna Stepanovna von Kaiser, was descended from an ancient Ostsee noble family. The Butovo family was educated and well-read. It was always possible to find magazines and books in the house, children were encouraged to learn here, Alexei read the works of Pushkin and Gogol himself, he loved to study Solovyov's History. From his father he was able to get his first riding and fencing lessons, as was customary in such families.
Alexey Dmitrievich Butovsky
In 11 years, after completing the general course of the gymnasium, Alexey entered the Petrovsky Poltava Cadet Corps, where he studied from 1849 to 1853 a year. After completing his studies in the cadet corps, he entered the Konstantinovsky Artillery School in St. Petersburg, he studied in the 3 special class of the engineering department. He graduated from college in the year 1856. In the same year, from non-commissioned officers, he was promoted to ensign of the Life Guards Pavlovsky Regiment. He continued his studies at the theoretical department of the Nikolaev Academy of Engineering. At the same time, his military service did not particularly appeal to him. At that moment the country was experiencing a period of rather turbulent economic reforms, the youth in those years were fascinated by new trends in art and literature, and people seemed to be awakening from a long sleep.
After graduating from the Academy, Aleksey Butovsky served in the army for a short time, returning to his native Poltava, where in 1856-1861 he served as a military science tutor in his native Petrovsky Poltava cadet corps. After some time, he still returned to the army, received the next rank of lieutenant. He took part in the suppression of the Polish uprising 1863 year. For his valor in battle, he was awarded the Order of St. Anne. From 1864 to 1865 as commander of the staff captain he commanded a company, but this time he did not stay long in the active army, returning to teaching, while he was very closely engaged in military pedagogy.
His career was quite successful, which became a good ground for his new activities. By that time, he had already managed to publish a series of works that were devoted to aspects of physical education and enlightenment among young people. We can say that Alexey Butovsky was at the forefront of the popularization of physical culture among the population of our country. His career gradually developed, at first he was appointed tutor of the 1-th St. Petersburg Military Gymnasium, after which he was transferred to the 3-th St. Petersburg Military Gymnasium, where he was an assistant class inspector. In 1878, Butovsky was promoted to the next rank of colonel, he was appointed head of the Main Directorate of military schools.
Since 1880-ies, Alexey Dmitrievich Butovsky finally devotes his life to issues and problems of physical education and sports. In 1880 and 1890, on the instructions of the Russian military, he makes a fairly large number of trips to Europe, where he studies the teaching of gymnastic disciplines in various educational institutions. These trips allowed him to get a very extensive picture of the content and organization of work carried out in European countries in the field of physical education for young people.
IOC members (from left to right): 1. Dr. Willibild Gebhardt (Germany) 2. Baron Pierre de Coubertin (France) 3. Counselor Jiri Gut-Yarkovsky (Czech Republic) 4. Demetrius Vikelas (Greece) 5. Ferenc Kemeny (Hungary) 6. General A. Butovsky (Russia) 7. General Victor Balck (Sweden) (Athens, April 10 1896 of the year).
In 1888, Butovsky is appointed a member of the commission to develop issues of teaching in civilian educational institutions of the Ministry of Education of military gymnastics. In those years, his reflections on pedagogy could be read on the pages of the Military Collection and Pedagogical Collection. In this case, his theory of education remains relevant in our days. “Teaching bodily exercises,” wrote Alexey Butovsky, “can only be done by a person who can do them himself and experiences all the meanings of repetitive work from both the skill mastery and the general psycho-physical effect.” Butovsky was a supporter of the idea of his like-minded and contemporary, as well as the founder of the scientific system of physical education, Peter Lesgaft. Two of these people had the same views on the most complex issues that affected the relationship of mental, aesthetic, moral and physical development of the individual.
In 1890, Alexey Dmitrievich organizes the first summer courses in Russia for the training of officers - tutors of cadet corps and heads of various spheres of physical education. He will lead these courses for 16 years in a row. Also during these years, Butovsky read the author's course in the theory and methodology of physical and gymnastic exercises, published a textbook, and was many times abroad, where he tried to study advanced experience in physical education and physical culture.
In one of the trips abroad, he met with the Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin, this happened in the spring of 1892 in Paris. Despite the considerable difference in age (Butovsky was older by 25 years), they were able to make friends. These two people had exactly the same views on sport, as well as its place in the education and upbringing of young people, on the future of the Olympic movement. Coubertin, who at that time headed the French sports union, already knew and studied some of Butovsky’s works, especially in army training. In the person of the Russian general, Pierre de Coubertin found a man who could support him in the question of the revival of the Olympic Games. At that time, many of his contemporaries, this idea seemed utopian. At the same time, Alexey Butovsky was not only well acquainted with the theory and practice of physical education of young people, he understood the ancient history, knew a lot about the Olympics and other sports competitions of that period. For Coubertin, the opinion of his older comrade was quite important, which was reflected in their personal contacts and correspondence. The views of Aleksei Dmitrievich could not but impose on the young then idealist Kuberten his mark.
Aleksey Butovsky evaluated the idea of the rebirth of the Olympic movement in the world as follows: “The idea of holding international games was excellent, it corresponded to the needs of humanity, the moral and physical rebirth of the younger generation.” For this reason, the election of Alexei Dmitrievich as the first IOC member from Russia was not an accident. 23 June 1894 at the International Congress in Paris, Pierre de Coubertin, among other members of the IOC, presented the Russian General Butovsky, who signed his name on the historical protocol of the first congress that decided to revive the Olympic Games.
First Olympic Games in Athens, 1896 year
In 1896, Butovsky attended the first Olympics in Athens. The book “Athens in the Spring of 1896” written by him was not only the first, but also the only publication in Russian devoted to this event. After returning to Russia from Athens, the general made a lot of efforts to transfer the ideas of Pierre de Coubertin to Russian soil, seeking for the country to participate in the next Olympic Games. His acquaintance with Coubertin allowed Butovsky to understand more deeply the essence of the Olympic ideas, so he purposefully tried to bring them to life, tackling the problem of the mass distribution of the ideas of physical education of the population. In 1899, Butovsky founded the Main Gymnastics and Fencing School, and in 1904, he created the All-Russian Society for the Advancement of Physical Development in the country.
Unfortunately, Butovsky’s efforts were in vain. He had few like-minded people in Russia, especially among high-ranking patrons. The development of the Russian Olympic movement was hampered by many reasons, among which were the lack of financial support from the government, the disunity of the sports organizations existing in the country, mass skepticism regarding the success of Pierre de Coubertin’s undertaking. For this reason, at the first three Olympics, Russia was not represented at all. Already in 1900, Alexey Butovsky, a member of the IOC for six years, voluntarily resigned and resigned. He did this in protest against the indifference of the royal court to the problems of physical education of young people, as well as numerous bureaucratic barriers.
At the same time, the Olympiads themselves gained more and more authority in the world. Therefore, 1908 athletes from Russia arrived at the IV Olympic Games in London 8 of the year: four wrestlers, two athletes, a cyclist and a skater. The results of the games are well known. Panin-Kolomenkin became the champion of figure skating games, and the wrestlers Petrov and Orlov won silver medals at the competitions.
16 March 1911 in Russia finally formed the National Olympic Committee (NOC), which was headed by Vyacheslav Sreznevsky, a graduate of the famous Kharkov professorship, who was also the head of the Society of Skating Fans. A year before the V Olympic Games, which took place in 1912, in Stockholm, the selection of competitors began. Since the Russian delegation was unsuccessful at the games, taking the last but one, 15, place in the unofficial team event, it was decided to hold competitions in Russia in the Olympic program. Already 20 August 1913 in Kiev on the initiative of Alexey Butovsky was held the First Russian Olympiad. According to the magazine "Beauty and Strength", the game data collected almost 500 athletes representing the cities of the empire 12. Among the participants were 285 officers of the gymnastic-fencing schools in military districts, as well as 25 Russian Olympians 1908 and 1912.
Commemorative coin of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation
Echo of the Kiev Olympics swept across the Russian Empire. For the first time, the sports organizers of the country were faced with the mass interest and burden of representatives of ordinary people to physical culture and sports. Much credit for this belonged to Alexey Butovsky. In 1915, the infantry general, Alexei Butovsky, was appointed inspector general at military schools. At the same time in the last years of his life, he almost completely lost his sight. But even in such conditions, he did not stop work, dictating his memoirs and various texts to his wife Anna Vasilyevna. After his death, he left more than 70 work on physical education and physical culture, their history.
Alexey Dmitrievich Butovsky died on February 25 of the year 1917 in Petrograd in the rank of lieutenant general at the age of 78 years. Fate took pity on him and saved him from the opportunity to observe the collapse of the empire, which he faithfully served for decades, and the subsequent civil war, which divided the country into two irreconcilable camps. He was buried at the Novodevichy cemetery of St. Petersburg. At the same time, the death of the general in those days went unnoticed, the February Revolution literally raged in the city, before the abdication of Emperor Nicholas II was less than a week.
Based on materials from open sources