Orlov brothers. Collage created for this article
Few noble families and families had such a great influence on history Russia, like the Orlovs. They, of course, cannot be called small-land nobles, but they were very far from the Golitsyns, Trubetskoy and Dolgoruky in terms of nobility, nobility and wealth - almost like heaven. However, in the second half of the 1763th century, five brothers of this family suddenly found themselves at the pinnacle of power, and at the same time “made themselves”. The case is extremely rare in world history: it was not the favorite's family that owed everything to the monarch, but, on the contrary, Catherine II, who took the Russian throne with the help of the Orlovs, was in debt to them. She herself understood this. “I owe to the Orlovs that I am,” she said in XNUMX to the French ambassador, Louis Auguste de Breteuillem.
The Orlov brothers and Catherine II. Collage created for this article
Being siblings, they turned out to be so different in character and abilities that only two can be called "Catherine's eagles", Gregory and Alexei, who "dragged" everyone else along with them.
The origin of the brothers
The noble family of the Orlovs descends from Lukyan Ivanovich Orlov, who owned the village of Lyutkino, Bezhetsk district, Tver province. His grandson Ivan rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel of one of the Moscow rifle regiments and was involved in the famous Streletsky revolt, but was pardoned by Peter I: as the family tradition says, for having successfully joked while standing on the scaffold.
The fate of his son Gregory was more successful. He rose to the rank of major general and actual state councilor, for some time served as acting governor of Novgorod, but died in 1746, when his eldest son was only 13 years old. This son was Ivan - the eldest of the famous brothers. It was he who became the head of the family, taking upon himself all the worries of managing the undivided estates. There were five brothers in total, as we remember: Ivan, Grigory, Alexey, Fedor and Vladimir. Grigory and especially Aleksey deserve not even one article, but a cycle of articles each. The rest of the special feats in their lives have not performed. Let's try to talk a little about them.
F. Rokotov. Portrait of Count I. G. Orlov, between 1762 and 1765
The eldest of the famous brothers was born in 1733. Already at the age of 13, as we remember, he became the eldest in the family, taking care of both household matters and the fate of his younger brothers, from whom he received the respectful nicknames Starinushka and Papinka-Sudarushka. His authority in the family was indisputable, the younger brothers invariably kissed his hand when they met and did not sit down in his presence.
At 16, he entered the elite Preobrazhensky Guards Regiment as a private. At that time, even the soldiers of this regiment were nobles, and the reigning monarch has always been its colonel. The elder Orlov did not differ in ambition and did not have enough stars from the sky. After the palace coup of 1762, in which Grigory and Alexei played an important role, he became the count and captain of his Preobrazhensky regiment - and immediately retired and left Petersburg. But even the unmarried husband of the Empress Gregory and the super-passionate Alexei, whom Catherine II herself was afraid of until her knees trembled, did not dare to disobey the elder brother (which is why she sent him abroad with an unspoken ban on returning to Russia, and Alexey could return only by capturing "Princess Tarakanova "). After the coup, Ivan could for some time become a de facto shadow ruler of Russia, but he did not show any interest in politics, was not ambitious and ambitious, apparently believing that he had already received more than he could have hoped for.
Subsequently, the eldest of the Orlovs only twice participated in events that can be called historical. In 1767 he was a member of the so-called Commission for drawing up a new code (new laws of the Russian Empire). And in 1772 he became one of the six founders of the Moscow English Club. Died Ivan Orlov at the age of 58.
F. Rokotov. Portrait of Grigory Orlov
Much more ambitious and ambitious turned out to be Ivan Orlov's younger brother, Gregory, whom Catherine II called "by far the most handsome man in the empire."
He was born in 1734 and, having completed training in the land nobility corps, in 1749 ended up in the second most important Guards regiment - Semyonovsky. In 1757 he was transferred from there to the army as an officer, took part in the Seven Years' War and was wounded three times in the battle of Zorndorf.
In 1759, Grigory Orlov returned to St. Petersburg, where he served in an artillery regiment, and in 1760 he became an adjutant to Count P.I. Shuvalov, who served as General Feldzheikhmeister. It all ended with the fact that Grigory seduced the mistress of his chief, Princess Kurakina, and was sent to continue serving in the fusilier grenadier regiment. It was then that the Grand Duchess Catherine turned her favorable gaze to the dashing and daring fellow, in whose bed he replaced the Pole Stanislav Ponyatovsky, the secretary of the British ambassador Charles Williams. She achieved the appointment of her favorite as treasurer of the Chancellery of Artillery and Fortification, the funds of which he later shamelessly used to prepare a coup.
Grigory Orlov did not have any special talents, he could not be called educated either. Catherine herself said that her Grishenka "does not understand any sciences."
In 1770, the French ambassador reported from St. Petersburg: "Grigory (Orlov) is the empress's lover, he is a very handsome man, but, according to rumors, he is simple-minded and stupid."
But external data, incredible luck and remarkable courage turned out to be enough to be one of the most influential people of the empire for many years. Adventurism and courage are not the last factors of success. After all, the conspiracy that brought Catherine II to power was extremely poorly thought out and prepared. Any researcher who studies documents of those years will very soon inevitably have very unflattering thoughts about the mental abilities of both Catherine and her associates. However, as they say, the boldness of the city takes: the plan that was worthless was carried out with such confidence and such energy, and Peter III behaved so passively and indecisively and surrendered so easily that the coup d'état was a success, and at the head of the Russian Empire, to everyone's amazement, turned out to be a person who did not have any, even the most dubious and ephemeral, rights to a foreign throne for her. You can read about the palace coup in June 1762 in the article “Emperor Peter III. Conspiracy".
On the day of accession to the throne of Catherine II, Captain Grigory Orlov was awarded the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called and promoted to major general, on the day of coronation (September 22, 1762) he became a lieutenant general. On the same autumn day, he and all his brothers became counts. Ivan by that time was already a chamberlain, a former sergeant (some believe that he nevertheless managed to get the rank of lieutenant) Alexey was a major general, the younger Fyodor and Vladimir were chamber junkers. And the next year, Catherine obtained from the Austrian emperor Franz I of the union of Russia, the assignment of the title of His Serene Highness to Grigory Orlov. Roman Empire. One involuntarily recalls the words of AV Stepanov about "a gang of godless impudent people ... endowing themselves with different insignia and honorary positions."
The main and most worthy act in the life of Grigory Orlov was his activity in plague-ridden Moscow, where he was sent in the fall of 1771. The situation was very serious. Rumors spread in the city that the plague had been brought in and spread by German doctors, many of whom were killed as a result. The families of the dead resisted the burning of contaminated things. Superstitious Muscovites went to church en masse to venerate the "miraculous" icons; attempts to resist this madness cost Archbishop Ambrose his life. Grigory Orlov acted tough and effective, any attempts to resist the authorities were ruthlessly suppressed - up to executions. They say that the concealment of the sick, which the townspeople, who did not trust doctors, hid in their apartments, became a huge problem then. After G. Orlov ordered to issue 10 rubles to married people upon discharge from hospitals, 5 rubles to unmarried (very large money at that time), there were practically no people left wishing to hide from doctors.
From Grigory Orlov, Catherine II gave birth to a son who went down in history under the name of Count Alexei Bobrinsky.
F. Rokotov. Portrait of A. Bobrinsky in childhood, 1760
Some researchers also talk about the daughter of Gregory and Catherine, whom they believe to be Countess Natalia Buxgewden.
G. Orlov lost the title of favorite in 1772, giving it to Alexander Vasilchikov.
In 1777, Grigory married Ekaterina Nikolaevna Zinovieva. The marriage is very scandalous: the bride was 24 years younger than the groom and was his cousin, over whom he also exercised custody. The Senate tried to ban this marriage, but after the intervention of Catherine II, all formalities were settled. After 4 years, the wife of Grigory Orlov died without giving birth to an heir.
The end of his life was sad and terrible: he lost his mind, did not even recognize his brothers and died at the age of 48.
Orlov with a scar
Unknown artist. Portrait of A. Orlov against the background of the Battle of Chesme, Hermitage
Evgeny Tarl wrote about Alexei Orlov:
"No moral, physical, or political obstacles existed for him, and he could not even understand why they exist for others."
He also calls Alexei Orlov "a dangerous, formidable, ambitious, capable of anything, a man who dares to do anything."
And here is the opinion of the Ambassador of France, who reports to Paris:
"Alexey Orlov is the head of the party that enthroned Catherine ... Catherine honors him, fears and loves him."
And Count F. Golovkin, the Russian envoy in Naples, later said about him:
"I would not have entrusted him with a wife or daughter, but I could do great things with him."
The most outstanding and talented representative of the Orlov family was born in 1737, his family called him Alekhan, and his acquaintances in the guard also often called him. In 1749, together with his brother Grigory, he was enrolled as a private in the Semyonovsky Guards regiment, after 6 years he received the rank of sergeant. It was then that, in a drunken brawl, Alexei received a saber blow to the face and a nickname - Orlov with a scar.
During the Seven Years War, Alexei served in the Observation Corps, which guarded the rear of the active army. Upon completion of this campaign, he was transferred to the grenadier company of the Preobrazhensky regiment. It was Alexei, after the arrest of one of the conspirators, Peter Passek, who took Catherine out of Peterhof to the location of the Izmailovsky regiment, the first who swore allegiance to her as the new empress. He also took an active part in the arrest of Peter III and forcing him to abdicate the throne. Later, Alexei Orlov headed the jailers of the deposed emperor during a short stay in the Ropsha palace (Grigory Potemkin was then among his subordinates). The famous third letter of Alexei Orlov to Catherine of Ropsha, where he informs her about the murder of Peter III, is declared by some to be a fake. However, he himself repeated the information contained in this letter, with numerous witnesses (who knew nothing about his correspondence with Catherine in those tragic days) at a reception with the Russian ambassador D.M. Golitsyn in the spring of 1771 in Vienna:
I told about it on my own motivation ... everyone who heard it trembled with horror ... said many times that it was very sad for a person so humane to be forced to do what was required of him "(JH Casteras. Vie de Catherine II, imperatrice de Russie. Tome II. Paris, 1797).
And in a letter to Catherine, and in a story at a reception with Golitsyn, Alexey Orlov calls the murderer of the emperor F. Baryatinsky.
These tragic events were described in the article “Emperor Peter III. Murder and "life after death".
Alexey Orlov is undoubtedly the most outstanding and outstanding representative of his family, if not the only truly outstanding and outstanding one. One victory in the Battle of Chesme would have immortalized his name forever. Turkish Minister Resmi Effendi wrote about this defeat of the Ottoman fleet:
"All this is one of those rarities that historians call khodise-i-kyubra, great event, because they go out of the order of the nature of fate and happen three centuries".
Agree that such a recognition of the enemy is very expensive.
Resmi-Effendi also put Alexei Orlov on a par with Peter Rumyantsev in his notes (the comparison is more than flattering), calling both the great commanders of Catherine.
The French agent in Constantinople, Baron Tott, writes about the effect that the news of the Battle of Chesme produced in the Ottoman capital:
"The Padishah are in the most lively alarm, the ministers are depressed, the people are in despair, the capital is in fear of famine and invasion. This is the real situation of the empire, which one month before considered itself so formidable."
However, Aleksey Orlov also noted in Livorno, Italy, for his audacious and skillful kidnapping of "Princess Tarakanova", who caused great concern with her activities: this was described in articles "The high tragedy of" Princess Tarakanova " и “False Elizabeths. The sad fate of impostors "... He managed by crossing Arab, Friesland and English horses to bring out a new breed of trotters, which received his name - many people know about this. But at the Khrenovsky stud farm of Alexei Orlov, another, less known breed of horse was bred - the Russian horse. And even the first gypsy choir from Wallachia to Russia was brought by Alexei Orlov.
After the reburial of the ashes of Peter III, during which Alexei Orlov was forced to bear the imperial crown, and F. Baryatinsky and P. Lassek - the ends of the veil on which it lay, Baryatinsky was exiled to the village, and Alekhan, taking only his daughter with him, actually fled abroad. He returned to Russia after the assassination of Paul I and still managed to take part in organizing zemstvo militias in 1806-1807. The only daughter of Alexei Orlov, Anna, refused to marry and spent a significant part of her fortune on godly deeds. Especially large donations went to the Novgorod Yuryev Monastery, the abbot of which was her spiritual father, Archimandrite Photius Spassky. She died in this monastery in October 1848.
K. Levitsky. Portrait of F. G. Orlov
The fourth brother from the famous Orlov family, Fedor, who was nicknamed Dunaiko in the family, was born in 1741. He also took part in the Seven Years War and was involved in the conspiracy of 1762, for which he received the rank of captain of the Semyonovsky Life Guards Regiment from the new empress. However, in 1764 he left military service, taking the post of head (chief prosecutor) of the naval department of the ruling Senate.
In 1767, as a deputy from the nobles of the Oryol province, Fyodor worked in the Commission for Legislation (here he met with his older brothers, Ivan and Gregory).
During the next Russian-Turkish war, F. Orlov returned to the army, leading in 1770 the landing troops of the squadron of Admiral Spiridov (the First Archipelago Expedition of the Russian Fleet). During the Battle of Chesme, Fyodor was on the battleship Saint Eustathius, which collided with the burning Turkish ship Real-Mustafa. The Ottoman commander was on this ship, so it is often called the flagship, but this is not true: the Turkish flagship was called Kapudan Pasha and its opponents were the Russian ships Three Saints and Saint Januarius.
Fragments of the burning mast of the Real Mustafa fell into the open powder magazine of the Russian ship, and the command was given to leave it. It is said that during the evacuation, Fedor Orlov managed to save (by throwing into a lifeboat) several sailors, including Spiridov's son. Fyodor himself, together with the admiral, jumped into it literally an instant before the explosion of their ship.
Later F. Orlov took part in the battle at Lake Hydra and headed the squadron that cruised off the Koroman coast.
Having received the rank of general-in-chief after the conclusion of the Kuchuk-Kainardzhiyskiy peace, Fyodor Orlov filed a petition for dismissal from military service. After that he lived in Moscow as a private person. He died in 1796 at the age of 45. Fedor Orlov was not married and had no legal offspring. However, he left 7 illegitimate children: 5 boys and 2 girls, who later received their father's surname and a noble title. It is interesting that during the performance of the Decembrists in 1825, the two sons of Fedor ended up in different camps. Mikhail, a participant in the war of 1812 and the foreign campaign of the Russian army, was among the Decembrists, for which, due to the intercession of his brother Alexei (his opponent on Senate Square), he received a very mild punishment - he was sent into exile in his Kaluga estate and returned to Moscow in 1831 ... Alexei was also a military officer, a participant in the battles of Austerlitz and Borodino. It was to him in 1819 that Pushkin dedicated these lines:
Bellona's fiery pet,
A loyal citizen is at the throne!
Orlov, I will stand under the banners
Your warlike squads.
A loyal citizen is at the throne!
Orlov, I will stand under the banners
Your warlike squads.
F. Kruger. Portrait of A.F. Orlov, 1851
This son of Fyodor Orlov took the side of Nicholas I and on December 14, 1825, he personally led the Life Guards Cavalry Regiment in an attack on a square of rebels. As a result, he rose to the position of Chief of the Separate Corps of Gendarmes and Commissioner of the Emperor at the Paris Peace Congress in 1856.
It was A.F. Orlov who achieved the greatest success among the descendants of the famous brothers.
V. Tropinin. Portrait of V.G. Orlov, 1826
The youngest of the Orlov brothers, Vladimir, was born in 1743 and lived the longest life, having died in 1831. This was the most atypical of the Orlovs, who "due to poor health" and "mental inclination to science" instead of serving in the army went to study at the University of Leipzig. Having barely returned to Russia, the 24-year-old boy was appointed to the post of chief director of the Academy of Sciences (!), Which he held from October 5, 1766 to December 5, 1774.
For seven years, having risen to the rank of lieutenant-general and the rank of chamberlain, the younger Orlov decided that he had fully fulfilled his duty to his homeland and retired at the age of 31. "Poor health" Vladimir far outlived the heroic brothers, having died at the age of 88. It was he who built the Otrada estate (modern Stupinsky district) in the village of Semenovsky near Moscow, in which the Assumption Church became the Orlov family burial vault: all five brothers and descendants of Vladimir himself are buried here.
Church of the Assumption in the Otrada-Semenovskoye estate, architect Domenico Gilardi, 1835
Vladimir became the only one of the Orlov brothers who left legitimate children: two sons and three daughters.
None of the representatives of this family - neither the legal line, nor the line of illegitimate descendants, did not occupy a position in society that even remotely resembled that of Grigory Orlov. And none of them inherited the genes for Alexei's overpassionarity.