Military Review

Count Grigory Orlov

5
Grigory Orlov - one of the major figures of the Russian stories: military and political figure of the eighteenth century, a favorite and associate of Catherine II.
Grigory was born in 1734 in the family of State Councilor Grigory Ivanovich Orlov, who married Lukery Ivanovna Zinovyeva rather late. This couple had nine children, but five sons survived who were distinguished by extraordinary friendship and devotion. At the time of the birth of the future commander and politician, his father served as governor of the city of Novgorod. But soon the family moved to Moscow. As far as we know, Gregory studied science and arts at home, and not very successfully. There is evidence of Empress Catherine II that her pet could not read French and did not understand the language. But nature has awarded Orlov physical strength and beauty, courage and determination, at the same time it was a rather generous and sympathetic person.

Count Grigory Orlov


In 15 years, Gregory was brought to St. Petersburg and determined to receive education in the Land Cadet Corps. Orlov began military service in the Semenov regiment. Of great growth, strong build, muscular and broad-shouldered, he was known as the first strongman in the army. A lieutenant, then a captain, a member of the Seven Years' War of 1756-1763, in which all the major European powers found themselves. In the battle of Zorndorf, he received several wounds, but he left his regiment for another reason. It was then that a high-ranking officer of the Prussian army was captured by the Russians, and Orlova was included in the team that accompanied the prisoner, first to Königsberg, and then to St. Petersburg. Here Gregory rested from the army and joined the secular pleasures and entertainment, to a large extent thanks to the brothers Alexei and Fyodor, who served in the Transfiguration and Semenov regiments. Handsome Gregory was involved in numerous love stories.

In 1760, he enters the service in the artillery department and becomes the adjutant of its head, Peter Ivanovich Shuvalov. Then there is an acquaintance with Catherine, the wife of the heir to the Russian throne, Grand Duke Peter Fedorovich. Soon Grigory Orlov and Catherine become lovers. In 1761, Empress Elizabeth Petrovna died, and the Grand Duke ascended the Russian throne under the name of Emperor Peter III. But he did not rule long. The conspiratorial sentiments against him existed even during the life of Elizabeth, and the Orlov brothers among them were active participants. All their aspirations were associated with Catherine, whom they saw as the real ruler of Russia instead of her weak spouse, besides the admirer of the whole Prussian. Gregory and his brothers carried out a huge hidden activity - they found all the new supporters of Catherine in the guard environment, tried to arouse as many sympathies as possible to her in military circles. The officer society constantly gathered in the Orlovs' house, where they found a warm welcome and good companionship. The soil was prepared, but it was impossible to start decisive actions immediately after the death of Elizaveta Petrovna: Besides, Catherine was soon to give birth to a child. It was the son of Gregory Orlov. Appearing on the light, he received the name of Alexei.

Some time later, another event happened, much louder, which determined the course of further Russian history. Peter III was overthrown, the army, the Senate and the Synod swore allegiance to Catherine. Grigory Orlov, faithful to her, was the most active participant in all changes. It is no coincidence that at the celebrations in Moscow concerning the coronation of the new Russian empress he was appointed the main manager. After the coup, the Orlov brothers received count titles, lands and peasants, and Gregory himself received the rank of major general and the title of real chamberlain, awarded with a sword adorned with diamonds and the highest order of Alexander Nevsky. After a year since the beginning of the reign of the new empress, Count Orlov receives another great Russian award - the Order of St. Andrew the First Called. Catherine highly appreciated her favorite, speaking of him as a person combining intelligence, beauty and the best spiritual qualities. At this time, it is him who she considers her best assistant in the arrangement of the Russian state. In her memoirs, Catherine speaks of him as a person with the greatest abilities, but spoiled by nature, who lacks consistency in everything that does not take in this moment. Catherine was even going to marry him, but changed her mind. The phrase of the influential political figure Nikita Ivanovich Panin that the order of the empress is a law for all his subjects, which influenced her decision, is known, but will they also obey the wife of Count Orlov?

And Gregory at this time tries to eliminate gaps in his education, his natural sciences are especially interested. He gladly indulges in physical and chemical experiments, as well as equips an observatory with a telescope, in which you can look at the surrounding views and the starry sky. Although these classes were amateurish, but Orlov made an enormous contribution to the development of all Russian science, of course, not personal discoveries, but due to the fact that he had a significant patronage of Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov. In addition, he supported the writer Denis Ivanovich Fonvizin, self-taught inventor Ivan Kulibin, and also corresponded with the representative of the French Enlightenment, Jean-Jacques Rousseau. According to the memoirs of contemporaries, he did not show a strong desire to engage in affairs of state, but he was responsible for the responsibilities entrusted to him, whatever the scope. Count Grigory Orlov participated in the creation of the Free Economic Society, along with another associate of Catherine, Roman Vorontsov, and the librarian of the Empress Ivan Taubert. The purpose of this society was designated as the distribution among the people of useful knowledge needed in agriculture and house building. This is the oldest of Russian scientific societies. For his work, Orlov provided his home. He was the first elected chairman (president) of society. This institution worked on the issue of improving the life of the peasants of the Russian Empire, and its head himself proposed to conduct a study on whether to grant property to peasants. Also, as a deputy from one of the districts of Petersburg province, the count was a participant in the work of the Commission that drafted the new Code. And Orlov refused to be elected to the marshals of the commission, but he actively participated in all meetings. He supported urgent issues of Russian farmers and defended peasant farms.

Participation in this policy Grigory Orlov never took. If he had to deal with foreign affairs, then he did it at the request of the empress. He was the most influential person in the Russian state at that time, and foreign politicians tried to sway his sympathies to their side. But for them he was an unreliable ally, because he had no solid political convictions. A military leader, he remained in the capital during the Russian-Turkish war. He was a member of the Special Council created for this occasion at the High Court. Twice a week, its members gathered, and Catherine was present at these meetings. It was on the initiative of Grigoriy Grigorievich that the project for the liberation of Greece and the Balkans from Turkish rule began. He insisted on sending three squadrons under the command of his brother Alexei Orlov to the Mediterranean.

The inscription that Orlov was saved from trouble Moscow was stamped on the gate established in the garden of Tsarskoye Selo. Trouble is a plague epidemic sweeping the city in 1771. Gregory was sent by the Empress's order there to fight the contagion, while he was given special powers, including to suppress the rebellion. As with any government business, he took it actively and without fear. Two commissions were created in the city - the safety and the executive, new hospitals and quarantines were opened. Patients began to provide free food, livelihood, clothing and other necessary things. The flow of food into the city has been increased. For orphans, a shelter was established, which operated at public expense. The family of the Orlovs, their family home, was given to another hospital. In all these events, Gregory personally participated directly. As contemporaries testified, he himself came to the hospitals, assisted the sick, appeared among the people, did not refuse to participate in the processions of the cross, praying for deliverance "from the ulcer." And when this happened, a medal was established in honor of the victory over the disease with a portrait of Count Orlov. He was greeted with honors in Petersburg, and yet it was noticeable that Catherine had a new favorite. First, the lieutenant of the Horse Guards Regiment, Alexander Vasilchikov, was marked by a golden snuffbox for good guarding, further - more ... Grigory Orlov never changed his habits with respect to women, he had friends even while he was in very close relations with the empress. Catherine looked at it through her fingers, but for the time being. Perhaps the link between Orlov and the maid of honor, Ekaterina Zinovyeva, by the way, his cousin, was decisive in their break. Judging by the testimonies of contemporaries, this woman, in the empress's favorite, caused serious and deep feelings, forcing him to move away from the royal persona as from a mistress. Grigory Orlov fell into disfavor. However, Catherine II did not take revenge and did not take punitive measures. Just the former first assistant was practically removed from public affairs, he was banned from entering the capital. But after a while this measure was also canceled, and later the empress and her favorite reconciled at all, although, of course, they did not return the previous relationship. All this time, Grigory Grigorievich had health problems: insomnia, seizures, and nervous disorders. In order to distract and unwind, he sets off to travel - Italy, France, England ...

Returning to Russia, he was warmly received by the empress, which caused surprise and even envy in society. At this time, he formalizes his long-standing relationship with Ekaterina Zinovieva. The Empress did not interfere with this, on the contrary, she welcomed the former rival to the state ladies, presented many gifts and the Order of St. Catherine. A happy and peaceful life came for Orlov, but, as it turned out, not for long. During a trip abroad for treatment, the wife of Grigori Grigorievich died in Lausanne. He had had strong nervous disorders before, but now his mind could not stand it, Orlov began to lose his mental abilities. The brothers took him to Moscow, and the empress sent a handwritten letter in which she expressed sincere condolences and her greatest participation in his affairs and health, as well as hope for the long days of his life. But all these hopes vanished when she saw the former favorite. In her notes, she noted the calmness and weakness of Orlova, the incoherence of his thoughts and words. And the only thing left for him is an unshakable attachment to her ...

13 April 1783, Grigory Orlov, died. The coffin with his body was carried out by the four brothers of the Orlovs, and the officers of the Horse Guards asked for permission to carry the body of the commander to the last orphanage with their own hands. In the estate Otrada Serpukhov district rested the ashes of the Orlov brothers. There is an erroneous opinion that when the estate was destroyed in 1924, the Bolsheviks destroyed their remains. In fact, the coffin with the body of Gregory long before that would have been transferred to one of the Novgorod monasteries and buried next to the brothers Fyodor and Alexey. Now these burials are not preserved.

It is known that Grigory Orlov had three children out of wedlock. His son and Empress Catherine, Alexey, gave birth to the count family of Bobrinsky. Two pupils, Natalya and Elizaveta Alekseyev, according to legends were also his daughters, however, it is not known from whom. Orlov had no children in wedlock.
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  1. leon-iv
    leon-iv 17 October 2012 10: 46
    +3
    I admire Catherine as a woman. Through the bed I was able to find so many prominent men and assign them to the right places.
    1. klimpopov
      klimpopov 17 October 2012 12: 53
      +1
      Quote: leon-iv
      assign to the right places.

      Twice (do not take for insult)
      A pastel is not a pastel, but the result is important ...
  2. omsbon
    omsbon 17 October 2012 15: 22
    +1
    Weak to the front, Catherine, she used this front right!
    Deserving great gratitude of descendants, the struggle of Grigory Orlov with the plague in Moscow. The plague is now a terrible enemy, but in 1771 it was worse than the Turks, Swedes and Pugachevites.
  3. Argonaut
    Argonaut 17 October 2012 16: 14
    +2
    Grigory Grigorievich Orlov is an outstanding and outstanding Russian statesman, who served Russia a lot and disinterestedly. Honor to him and eternal memory.
  4. Megatron
    Megatron 18 October 2012 21: 26
    0
    Right now we would have such rulers!