Burkhart Christopher von Munnich (in a different spelling - Burkhard Christoph von Munnich) was born 9 in May 1683 in Neuenhüntorf (Neuen-Guntorf) near Oldenburg. He was descended from a noble family of Munichs. His father was a great engineer, advisor to the court of the Danish king. Therefore, the son mastered the engineering and drawing arts, knew mathematics well, learned Latin and French, and also gained experience in the field of hydraulic engineering. In 16 years went on a journey, entered as an engineer in the French service and was in Strasbourg when the war began for the Spanish inheritance. The young specialist was well known in certain circles and received an invitation from Marshal Villeroy to stay in the French service. But, he rejected this flattering offer, because he did not want to fight against his compatriots.
Minich left France and entered the service in Hesse-Darmstadt. He served as a captain, and when he distinguished himself during the siege of Landau in 1702, he was transferred to the Hesse-Kassel guard and promoted to major. In 1709, he distinguished himself in the battle of Malplaketka and received the rank of lieutenant colonel. In the battle of Dennes 1712, Minich was badly wounded and captured. In March 1714, peace was signed between France and Austria in Rashtadt. Minich received freedom. In Hesse, he was met with respect, was granted the rank of colonel. He returned to the engineering profession and began building a canal connecting Fulda to Weser.
However, Minich's ambitious soul demanded more significant things. He was not satisfied with the service of the Hessian Landgrave. In the North of Europe there was a war between the Swedish Empire and Russia, Poland and Saxony. Minich entered 1716 for the service of the Elector of Saxon and King of Poland Augustus II. In Warsaw, he formed the Polish regiments and in the 1717 year he was promoted to major general. A brave and active general was involved in active life in Poland: the struggle of the Confederates, the enmity of the Polish gentry against Augustus and his supporters, riotous metropolitan life. As a result, Minich fought duels several times, killed Colonel Gunf, was wounded in another duel. But Augustus forgave a brave general.
In the Russian service
The king's mercies for Minikh caused the envy of a number of high-ranking officials, including the royal favorite Fleming, to him. Not tolerating insults, but not being able to answer the same, Minnich decided to abandon the Saxon service. He wanted to go to Stockholm, the intelligent and brave commander was called to the Swedish service. But the death of the Swedish king Charles XII forced him to accept the offer to go to the Russian service. In 1721, at the invitation of the Russian ambassador in Warsaw, Grigory Dolgorukov, Minich arrived in Russia to conduct engineering affairs, conceived by the sovereign Peter Alekseevich.
When Minich presented the drawing of the new fortification of Kronstadt to Peter, a contented tsar said: “Thanks to Dolgorukov, he delivered me a skilled engineer and general.” Peter and Minich became associates. The simplicity of circumvention, the greatness of the Russian monarch, his colossal plans to transform the state, his active and active life, so opposite to what he saw in the West, captivated Minich. Minikh honestly said that he was not a specialist in the fleet, cavalry, artillery, that he was a poor architect, and offered his services in infantry, serfdom and teaching the emperor’s grandson mathematics, fortification and military art.
Minich with Peter traveled to Narva, Revel, Kronstadt. He made plans to strengthen Kronstadt, to build a harbor in Oranienbaum, a military port in Rogervik. The demise of his father made Minikh ask the emperor for home leave. Peter let him go, but with the condition that he would come back. Departing the Persian campaign in 1722, the emperor entrusted Minich with the arrangement of navigation on the Neva and granted him the rank of lieutenant-general. After returning from a campaign, the sovereign was very pleased with the work of the general: "No one understands so well and does not fulfill my thoughts like Minihs."
The Ladoga Canal was the cause of the emperor's chagrin. Construction of the Ladoga Canal began in 1719 year. One of the sections of the Vyshnevolotsk waterway that connected the Volga with the Baltic passed through Lake Ladoga. This site was one of the most dangerous and difficult: frequent strong winds on the lake caused the death of hundreds of transport vessels. Therefore, Peter decided to build a bypass channel connecting the Volkhov and Neva. The length of the channel under the project was 111 kilometers (the result was 117 km), and the depth 2,1 m below the level of Lake Ladoga. It began at Novaya Ladoga and ended in Shlisselburg, where the Neva originates from Lake Ladoga. In the first quarter of the XVIII century, this canal became the largest hydraulic structure in Europe. The work went slowly, with serious difficulties, loss of life and high costs. This forced Peter Alekseevich to conduct an investigation. He instructed Minikh to inspect the construction of the canal. Menshikov and his favorite Pisarev (he was the head of the work) tried to prevent him, claiming that Minikh was a bad engineer. Minikh presented a report to the king, where he said that everything that had been done earlier was worthless and presented a new work plan. Opponents of Minich criticized his findings. The emperor decided a dispute in his style: he himself went to inspect the work. He walked with Minikh through the forests and swamps for three days, studied the situation and came to the same conclusions as the German general.
After completing the inspection, the king declared to Pisarev: “... there are two kinds of guilt: a mistake and a mischief - I will always forgive the first, and the second will always punish severely." The emperor ordered the arrest of Skornyakov-Pisarev and the lock German masters, they were put on trial. After this, the construction of the canal was taken under state control. Minich led the work. In 1724, Peter Alekseevich again visited the channel and was so pleased with the works of the general that he said: “Minich cured me - he is capable of great things.” The emperor decided to identify Minich to the place of Bruce as Feldtseyhmeister and entrust him with all hydrotechnical work in the Russian Empire. By the summer of 1725, 25 thousand people were involved in work on the channel: 7 thousand civilian workers and 18 thousand soldiers. The construction of the channel under the leadership of Minich was completed in October 1730, and in the spring of 1731, ships began to walk around it.
Channel Map of Emperor Peter the Great (1741-42).
Board of Catherine I and Peter II
The death of Peter Alekseevich put Minikh in a difficult position. His ill-wisher Alexander Menshikov became an all-powerful grandee, actually the ruler of Russia. But, age played his part. Munnich has already lost the ardor and temper of the young years. Life experience taught him to obey life circumstances. He could humble his pride there when it was needed. Acute intelligence, eloquence and dexterity in business allowed him to maintain a high position and continue to serve Russia. In addition, Minich entered into an alliance with Osterman. Therefore, Minich was able to continue work on the construction of the Ladoga Canal, and he was granted the newly founded Order of St.. Alexander Nevsky.
Going to the party Dolgoruky, Minich kept his position after the fall of Menshikov. Despite the conflict between the party of foreigners and the Russian party, Minich was granted the title of count, the rank of general-general and villages near Dorpat. In 1727, Peter II moved with his court to Moscow, where he was crowned. The new emperor was not at all interested in state affairs and led an idle life. Petersburg was empty, there was even an idea to deprive him of the status of the capital. Minich in this situation was appointed ruler of St. Petersburg, and from 1728, he is the Governor-General of St. Petersburg, Ingermanland, Karelia and Finland (up to 1734 of the year).
During this period, with the inaction of other dignitaries, he gained tremendous power. As a junior member of the Military Collegium, when Field Marshal Golitsyn was removed to Moscow, Vice President Lassi in Riga, and the inaction of other members of the college, he managed all military affairs. Munnich distributed the deployment of troops, was engaged in their supply, spent recruiting. He continued to work on the construction of the Ladoga Canal. Minikh continued the intensive construction begun at Peter in Petersburg, Vyborg and Kronstadt. At this time, he proved to be a skillful manager, an administrator with very deep knowledge in the field of hydraulic engineering and military affairs. During this period, the beginning of a regular sea connection with Western Europe was laid, and postal and passenger ships began to sail from Kronstadt to Lübeck and Danzig. In the capital on Vasilyevsky Island, they completed the construction of the Building of the Twelve Collegiums and the stone bastions of the Peter and Paul Fortress. Minikh organized parades and reviews of troops and celebrations during the launching of ships on the water, balls and gala dinners. Thus, in these troubled years, Minich was able to preserve his role as the most important city of the Russian Empire behind Petersburg.
In the reign of Anna Ioannovna
Minich was among those who supported Anna Ioannovna and the restoration of the fullness of imperial power. When Empress Anna took full power, Minich hurried to publicize this message in the capital and to support the autocratic power with the oath of the inhabitants and troops. Munnich received an honorary assignment: the burial of the tomb of Peter and the tomb of his wife, who until then had remained in the Peter and Paul Cathedral. Generous rewards were due to his diligence. He was awarded the Order of St.. Apostle Andrew, received the post of President of the Military Collegium, the rank of General Feldtseymehmeister. And in 1732, he received the wand of field marshal and the title of cabinet member (or highest council) under the empress. In addition to Minikh, Osterman, Golovkin and Cherkassky were members of the high council.
Minich was at the top of honors. During this period, the party of foreigners won a complete victory over the Russian party. However, Minich has a rival. A new temporary worker appeared at court - Ernst Johann Biron. This man was insignificant in his gifts, but controlled the will of the empress. Hardly Anna reigned in Russia, Biron received the rank of Chief Chamberlain, the Order of St.. Andrew became a count and a prince. And this is in the absence of any achievements in the field of service to Russia. Suspicious, self-serving and cruel, Biron became a real monster at court. Many Russian dignitaries fell into disgrace and were repressed. Minich was open enemy and rival Biron. Because of this, he fell out with Osterman, this crafty courtier went over to the side of the empress's favorite. The Empress, convinced of the need of Munnich for government, restrained the attacks of his rivals.
Minikh continued important state affairs. The Ladoga Canal was completed, which was a positive development for the development of the Russian economy. Empress Anna, with her retinue, first sailed along the canal on a yacht and opened navigation. Munnich put in order the army finances, established a hospital for the wounded and garrison schools with the troops. The field marshal formed two new guards regiments - the Horse Guards and Izmailovsky (named after the village near Moscow where the sovereign lived). He established the Gentry Cadet Corps for the 200 in the capital, and then the 360 nobles (and in the future, the 400-500 youths should have been trained in it). Minich was the head of the corps until 1741. The cadet corps was divided into 4 classes: in the fourth (lowest) cadets were trained in Russian and Latin, penmanship and arithmetic; in the third - geography, grammar and geometry; in the second, fortifications, artillery, history, correct style and style, rhetoric, jurisprudence, heraldry, morality, and other military and political sciences. In the first class there was a specialization - the cadets were trained in what they showed the greatest success. The cadets of the 5-6 years studied, graduated after passing exams. In addition to Russian, they were taught French and German.
The field marshal made new states for the army, established in the troops a heavy (cuirassier) corps of 12 regiments, formed the first hussar regiments. Minikh equalized the salary of Russian officers with invited foreign military specialists (foreigners had a higher salary). He established sapper regiments - a new branch of military service in Russia, and also created an engineering school for officers. When it was built or improved 50 fortresses. All these activities have strengthened the defense of the Russian Empire.
War of the Polish Succession
However, while actively working to strengthen the army, Minich could not help but notice that he was practically removed from foreign policy. Despite the fact that he was a member of the cabinet, he was secretly negotiating with Austria and Prussia for the establishment on the Polish throne of the Saxon Elector Frederick Augustus (in addition, Russia and Austria formed an alliance against Turkey). In 1733, Polish King Augustus II passed away. The French proposed to the Polish throne candidature of Stanislav Leschinsky, who was already the Polish king and grand duke of Lithuania in 1704 — 1709, being an ally of Sweden. His daughter was married to the French king Louis XV. Russia and Austria were strongly opposed to the candidature of Leshchinsky. Leschinsky’s assertion in Rzecz Pospolita would have been a significant political victory for France and Sweden and undermined Russian influence in Poland. There was a danger that a powerful anti-Russian coalition would be created, consisting of Sweden, the Commonwealth and the Ottoman Empire, with the support of France.
Most of the Diet chose Leshchinsky to be kings. However, part of the nobility did not recognize him king and published a manifesto, where it was announced about the destruction of the principle of "free veto" (lat. Liberum veto). They began to fight against Leshchinsky and his supporters. Opponents of Leshchinsky held their own Diet and elected Friedrich August as king of the Saxon Elector. Leshchinsky with his supporters, as well as accompanied by French and Swedish ambassadors, went to Danzig, where he wanted to wait for the French squadron with the troops. Danzig was a port and was considered the best Polish fortress and one of the best fortresses in Europe. Its seaside location made it possible to receive assistance from Sweden and France.
Russian troops were sent to help the opponents Leschinsky. 15-thousand The corps was led by Minich’s rival, General-in-Chief Peter Lassi.
To be continued ...