So what kind of person was Emperor Paul? Are those who considered him a despot and tyrant?
We will try to draw a historical portrait of the emperor through the prism of his military activities. Especially since she, especially when Paul was a cesarevitch, and gave rise to many myths about him. Perhaps the most ridiculous of them is the order of the heir to send a horse guards regiment to Siberia.
Under the yoke of the mother
The key to understanding those or other actions and decisions of Paul is in the circumstances of his life, most of which he spent practically in exile, occupying the throne at the age of 42 years only after the death of her mother, Empress Catherine II. It is important to emphasize that she was a usurper, for she overthrew one legitimate monarch, Peter III, did not wish to transfer the throne after coming of age to her son Paul, and finally, with her and in fact, according to her order, another legitimate pretender to the throne was killed - John VI.
Young Paul was shocked by the death of his father - he could not forgive her mother, although there is no direct evidence of the murder of Peter III, and even more so on the orders of Catherine II. In his youth, the heir, who felt the dislike of his mother, had to endure resentment on the part of Catherine's nobles. And the empress often unjustly offended her son, who was lost in her presence. All this, of course, had a negative effect on the cesarevich's state of mind and, as they say now, loosened his nerves.
His personal life at first also did not differ well-being. The first wife died in childbirth. The second wife of Paul was the Wurttemberg princess Sofia Dorothea, who received the name Maria Feodorovna when she accepted Orthodoxy. The young people fell in love with each other and Pavel finally found peace in the family.
Catherine II presented the newlyweds a manor in Pavlovsk, where balls and home performances were often held, in which the heir himself participated. Another manor Paul, donated by the empress to his son, was the famous Gatchina.
Soon Maria Feodorovna gave birth to sons - Alexander and Konstantin, but the joy of the spouses was marred by the decision of the Empress to take the children from their parents. Later, Catherine II allowed Paul, but rather rarely see her sons, depriving them of their father's upbringing. The Cesarevich's mental equilibrium was again disrupted. Did this turn Paul into a close, freaky and capricious person? No, there is evidence of many people who personally communicated with the heir. Thus, the French envoy in Russia, Ségur, wrote about Paul: “He was educated, he noticed a great mental alertness and noble exaltation of character ...”
The crown prince thirsted for deeds and military glory: he repeatedly asked for the wars so frequent during the reign of Catherine II, but he was constantly refused, except for one occasion, which will be discussed below.
The Empress understood that the participation of the heir in the hostilities would bring him popularity in the army and allow him to speak more decisively about her legitimate rights to the throne. Therefore, Paul had to direct his enormous energy to the small Gatchina army, which his mother allowed him to create. By 1796, six infantry battalions were formed, one company of rangers, three cavalry regiments, one Cossack squadron, and finally one company of artillery.
In essence, Paul was doing the same thing as Peter I during his youth, the formation of "amusing" regiments. Only Peter was then much younger, and having reached the age of majority, he showed great determination in the struggle for the throne. By the way, one could add that Peter was cruel in the battle for power, but Paul was not a cruel man.
Everyone knows that the son of Catherine II had great respect for the Prussian king and commander Frederick II. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Gatchina troops were dressed in uniforms according to the Prussian pattern, as well as they also served according to the Prussian charter.
Was Fridrihomania so characteristic of a crown prince justified? At first glance, the answer is no. Detractors and subsequent researchers accused Paul of servility before the Prussian king, moreover, more than once beaten by Russian troops.
However, any army, no matter how well trained and armed it may be and no matter how talented its commander may be, may suffer defeat. History knows many such examples. But failures on the battlefield do not devalue either the military experience of a high-class army or its leader. And the reasoning that Pavel blindly copied and thoughtlessly transplanted Prussian experience onto Russian soil is nothing more than a myth.
Another thing - was it worth it at all to turn to the military heritage of Frederick II? The reasons for this were. Arguing more broadly, we note that the very geopolitical position of Russia and the wars that shook it inevitably led to borrowing all the best in military affairs that their neighbors had. There are many examples. Let us turn at least to the XVII century. He entered the military history of Russia and the regiments of the new system, formed according to the Dutch-Swedish model, and the reytar regiments formed on the basis of the Swedish model, and Prince Ivan Khovansky even created a regiment of winged hussars according to the Polish model.
Our ancestors took from the Europeans only the most effective things from a military point of view. In the same XVII century, the Swedish and Dutch infantry were reputed to be the most combat-ready in Europe, as were the Swedish Reiters and Polish Hussars — the best cavalry in the Old World.
In the second half of the next century, the Prussian army created by Frederick II, in terms of statute, organization and tactics (the famous oblique order), was considered by many to be the most advanced in Europe.
Nor were our compatriots an exception in such assessments. Even Generalissimo Alexander Suvorov considered it necessary to study the military experience of the Prussian king. A similar opinion was shared by another famous Russian commander, Field Marshal Pyotr Rumyantsev-Zadunaysky, thanks to whom the Prussians were defeated at Gross-Egersdorf, and the steadfastness of his division allowed him to win at Kuners-Dorf. But this did not prevent Rumyantsev from adopting all the best from the Prussians, and there was much to learn from them.
Suffice it to say that it was in their army that the rate of fire was increased: with the use of an iron ramrod, it increased from one to three shots per minute. And if the Prussian soldiers were in the ring of intense enemy fire, they were able to respond with volleys in a rhythm that literally overwhelmed the enemy.
And the generally accepted opinion about Prussian warriors as soulless machines cannot be considered fair either. Prussian soldiers almost daily saw their king Frederick II, who knew many of them personally and repeatedly took off his hat to them. Is this not an example to follow?
Now a few words about the appearance of the Pavlovian army. The emperor was criticized for blindly copying Prussian military uniforms. Criticized largely fair. However, at all times and in any army, innovations in the field of uniforms had both advantages and disadvantages. The same Potemkin uniform, so often opposed to the uniform of the Gatchina army, also had its drawbacks: the helmet, for example, was inconvenient.
The innovations of Paul were practical. In particular, the notorious braid - supposedly unnecessary decoration. Suvorov, in his peculiar ironic manner, said: “The saber is not a book, a scythe is not a sword,” adding to this: “But I am not a German, but a natural hare”.
So, just curled around an iron rod braided with black leather, the braid did not serve as an ornament, but protected the warrior’s neck and back from saber strikes. Wig had to salit and powder. However, contrary to popular belief, the Prussians salili and powdered hair just before worship and the highest reviews. The same is true in the Russian army. And before approving new models of uniforms, Paul tried them on himself.
Now a few words about the so-called Pavlovian drill, as if replacing the soldiers with real combat training. To begin with, within reasonable limits, she disciplines the soldiers and teaches their coordinated actions in the ranks. And against the background of the dismissed Catherine’s guard, the drill was absolutely necessary.
Innovator in artillery
But was the little Gatchina army involved in the drill alone? Not at all. Paul conducted and maneuvers with the forcing of rivers and the development of volley fire, methods of bayonet fighting and the reflection of the naval assault of the enemy.
All this should not come as a surprise: Pavel was well versed in military affairs, and he learned it through self-education — specifically, military science did not teach him. What did the crown prince prefer in the military sphere? He loved and knew the fleet. But perhaps the focus was on artillery. Documents proving this are sufficient.
As an example, we give a few facts. In 1793, in the Gatchina army, thanks to the efforts of the Tsarevich, tools appeared with more advanced carriages, lighter and more mobile than in the army of Catherine II. At the initiative of Pavel, for the first time, he had tried out the targets for card-shooting, which were later used throughout Russian artillery.
Let us quote some documents testifying to the cesarevich's innovative activities in the field of artillery and published in one of the articles devoted to the Gatchina army, candidate of historical sciences, senior researcher of the Military-Historical Museum of Artillery, engineering troops and communications troops of Yevgeny Yurkevich: “Beginning of full and diverse development firing on the target and the artillery maneuvers were laid by Paul I in the artillery of the Gatchina troops, she had previously been trained in shooting at the target on the shields, and then organized a city The dks, in which the artillery exploded land mines, ignited the prepared combustible substances with grenades, bombs and brandkugel, and finally, the towns themselves were smashed with nuclei ”.
The merit of Paul I in training Gatchina gunners for "whole" shooting is exceptionally great - at that time, "... our gunners considered accurate shooting from guns to be impossible." The Tsarevich on the example of his gunners managed to prove the fallacy of this opinion.
“The foundations developed in Gatchina artillery served as the basis for further organizational changes in all Russian artillery, which began with the accession to the throne of Paul I,” wrote Lieutenant-General Brandenburg. The experience of organizing, training, and organizing the artillery materiel of the Gatchina troops was widely used in Russian artillery not only in the reign of Emperor Paul, but also in the development of artillery shells of the 1805 system of the year, often called the Arakcheev one, at the beginning of the 19th century.
Eloquent lines testifying that the crown prince and his little Gatchina army also spent time not only on the parade ground. Contrary to popular opinion, she showed herself in a real battle case, taking part in the Russian-Swedish war 1788 – 1790. True, Catherine II allowed her son to send only one cuirassier regiment and four foot cannons to the theater of military operations. The latter arrived at Vyborg, but did not participate in the battles and soon returned to Gatchina.
Paul, at the head of the cuirassier, in August 1788 approached the Friedrichsgam fortress, near the walls of which he gained his first combat experience: he reconnoitered the area under enemy fire. Unfortunately, for the brave prince, this experiment was the last. Neither the Russian nor the Swedish command was active and Paul returned home. But his grenadiers as part of the Navy fleet took part in the victorious battle of Rochensalm in August 1789 ...
Taking care of a soldier
It should also be noted: the critics of Paul’s military reforms, focusing on some of his excesses, do not want to take into account that, without exaggerating the emperor, he was distinguished by his concern for the Russian soldier. What was it expressed in? In the fact that the construction of barracks began in Russia for the first time, the salaries of soldiers and officers were increased, the military orphanage was organized, the number of soldiers' schools increased.
Overcoats were introduced into the troops, replacing the epanche, which looked like a cloak-tent and did not completely warm in the cold. By the way, about the frost: thanks to the order of the emperor in the winter, soldiers stood up for the guard in sheepskin coats and felt boots.
Pavel also took care of raising the educational level of officers: on the initiative of Colonel Alexei Arakcheev, in 1794, classes were established in Gatchina for junior officers, lieutenants and junker officers. Artillery officers became teachers. Study in these classes was in the evenings (from 4 to 6 hours), so as not to interfere with the front-line exercises that were held during the day.
The soldiers who were in the service before Paul assumed the throne, it was announced that at the end of their term of service they would become single homes and receive 15 tithes of land in the Saratov province and in 100 rubles for home furnishing. In addition, it was Paul who introduced for the soldiers leave - 28 days per year.
The colonels under the new emperor could no longer arrogate to themselves what belonged to the lower ranks, who received the right to complain about the officers, this reduced the outrage of many of them, especially those who lived idle life in the capital. Moreover, officers who appropriated soldiers' money threatened hard labor.
By the way, it is unlikely that such a decree could be initiated by, say, Field Marshal Grigori Potemkin, or left the pen of Catherine II. After all, noblemen were officers in the army, and the empress never decided to infringe upon their interests during all the long years of her rule. Potemkin, however, was more interested in the appearance of the soldiers than in their inner life.
Orders, which previously were awarded only officers, began to complain and the soldier - this is the Order of St. Anne. Moreover, Russia is the first country in Europe where the lower ranks received such an award. It is noteworthy that the soldiers granted by this order were exempted from corporal punishment, which, under Paul, contrary to popular belief, was not so often practiced.
The sovereign forbade the use of lower ranks in the service of private houses, summer houses, and villages of the authorities — an affliction with which the Soviet army was struck. He has not become obsolete in modern Russian troops.
Pavel dismissed from the army all the undead and babies, recorded in the shelves with diapers. The nobleman now could not choose civilian service instead of military at will - this required the personal permission of the emperor.
Under Paul, they began to award for merits not only soldiers and officers, but also regiments, with him the significance of banners was raised.
Exclusively the idea of serving Russia
Now let's talk a little about attitudes towards people who are so often reproached by Pavel and are often judged on this topic by such primitive cliches of the Soviet agitprop as the 1940 film of the year Suvorov. It should be noted that it was under Pavel that the same Suvorov was awarded the highest rank in the imperial army - the Generalissimo. And the emperor's eldest son, Konstantin, took part in the famous Suvorov campaigns: Italian and Swiss. For participation in them, Pavel rewarded many officers who distinguished themselves in battles, and according to his decree, all lower ranks were given two rubles each in silver.
The generally accepted opinion about the excessively strained relations between Suvorov and Pavel is somewhat exaggerated. In the mass consciousness, the rather peculiar personality of Alexander Vasilyevich is generally strongly mythologized. And what is interesting: those who love to talk and write about the peace-loving nature of the Russian people and its foreign policy, are very honored by Suvorov, whose victories, with the exception of the battle on the Kinburn Spit, were won during the conquest wars.
In fact, what did Alexander Vasilyevich do with his miracle heroes in the same Italy and Switzerland? From whom did you defend Russia in the Apennines and in the Alps? Everything is simpler: Suvorov fought for the liberation of Italy from France for ... Austria. It was for this purpose that Russian blood was shed ... But this is so, by the way, for Paul’s foreign policy is a topic for another conversation.
In his state activity, Paul was guided solely by the idea of service: he himself served Russia and believed that such was the duty and the nobility. However, the well-known “Manifesto on the Freedom of the Nobility” and “The Charter for the Nobility,” as well as the internal policy of Catherine II as a whole, changed the moral character of this privileged class and not for the better.
Pretty soon it began to lead a parasitic way of life and degrade. Literally over the course of a century, a significant part of the nobility turned into a dog-dog, manil, nozdrev, gay, whose descendants for the most part did not even want to defend the empire that perished in 1917. And Paul’s attempt to stop this disastrous process for Russia was doomed to failure and cost him his life.
The emperor felt the approach of death, waited for the attempts on his life. In the evening of March 10, 1801, after dinner a few hours before death, rising from the table, Paul said: "What can be, not to be avoided." He was villainously murdered on the night of March 11 1801, reigned for four years, four months and four days ...
That morning, when a terrible crime was accomplished, on the balcony of the Mikhailovsky Castle, the residence of the autocrat, Paul's son, Alexander, appeared, before whom there were silent lines of crying grenadiers: the latter was certainly not seen in the villainous murderer of the tyrant. As the Russian people did not see him in the emperor, the German playwright August Kotzebue very accurately and accurately wrote: “Of the 36, millions of people at least 33 million had a reason to bless the emperor, although not everyone was aware of this.”
In conclusion, I note that I deliberately did not mention the negative aspects of the military activities of Paul — enough has been said about this. Alas, many researchers of the reign of this emperor sought to put on the mantle of judges, and biased judges. For they were ready to delight in the actions of Peter I, without paying due attention to the price paid for them, to turn a blind eye to debauchery and the impoverishment of morality in the era of Catherine II, admiring her “enlightenment.” Noble Paul was subjected to defamation. Truly, the mind does not understand Russia.