Military Review

God save the king ...

God save the king ...

Questions of their personal safety Russian emperors fully trusted the will of the Lord
This material "Russian Planet" opens a series of publications devoted to the protection of the top officials of the Russian state - from kings to presidents.

For centuries, the lives of Russian rulers were threatened by intrigue and conspiracy, palace coups and foreign interests, and the will of the people sometimes turned into large-scale riots and violent terrorist acts. Peter III, Paul I and Alexander II were killed, attempts were made on Alexander III and Nicholas II.

The constant presence of contradictions, conflicts, and threats — when they were obvious, and when barely perceptible — made the royal environment take care of the existence and safety of the anointed of God. But the approach of the kings-emperors themselves seriously hindered the approach to this problem. And those who were entrusted with the imperial guard were often unable to justify high trust ...

His Imperial Majesty's own guard: 1550 – 1825

From archers to life guards

The first written information about service people related to the tsarist guards, refers to the reign of Ivan IV (the Terrible). So, in the decision of the Boyar Duma in August 1555, there was a decision to allocate 2 thousand palace archers near the Moscow Kremlin, which was due to the necessity of their permanent presence near the royal palace.

According to some data, the prototype of a modern personal security service appeared in Russia in the 17th century, in the era of the reign of Alexei Mikhailovich, nicknamed Tishayshim (1645 – 1676). Artamon Sergeevich Matveyev was engaged in the organization of security activity at the court of this monarch.

Being a multi-talented person, Artamon Matveev proved himself, speaking in modern language, not only as the creator of the state security system, but also as a talented counterintelligence and intelligence officer. We will see such striking examples more than once in later times. it historical given. It was the management of the protection or personal security of the first persons of the Russian state that has always been the work of chosen, trusted and professional people by the standards of one time or another. Russian characters did not know random characters, with the exception of fleeting figures of “troubled times,” in this position. Speaking the language of diplomatic Esperanto, the head of security always, albeit behind the scenes, was one of the most influential politicians in the Russian state. Those who did not understand this received lessons from life, sometimes very severe ...

The tablets of the XVII century state that on the instructions of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, Artamon Matveyev participated in the most important “sovereign affairs”. In particular, he advocated the allocation in the Streletsky order of the separate "military" (police and security) functions of the Streltsky regiments in relation to the vital activity of the tsar's not the court, but the palace. At the same time, the “cares” for the protection of the royal person and his esteemed family, the royal choir and the diplomatic corps were mentioned in official documents as separate tasks, different from all the usual habitual and not very popular functions of the archers.

In the 18th century, after the victory in the Northern War of 1700 – 1721, Russia became an empire, and the status of the head of state changed. Having concluded the Nishtadt peace treaty with Sweden, Peter I assumed the title of emperor. Changes have occurred in the system of organization of protection. The Strelets army, which was disbanded after the suppression of the 1698 uprising of the year, was replaced by the first Guards regiments - Preobrazhensky and Semenovsky, which Peter I founded at the end of the XVII century of the very regiments with which he used as a child to portray “funny battles”. They are the emperor's trust and formed the basis of the Russian Life Guards (from him. Leib - "body"), and they were entrusted with the protection of permanent and temporary imperial residences.

In 1724, the history of a special unit began - the guard of honor of the Horse Guards. Peter I formed a cavalry cavalry company to perform the functions of honorary escort and guard during the coronation of his wife, Empress Catherine I. At the end of the celebrations, the company was dissolved, but the practice of temporary creation of cavalry guard for individual ceremonies remained until the end of the 18th century. As a standing army unit, the Cavalry Guard Regiment was formed in 1800 under Paul I. He joined the Guard and existed for more than a century, until the end of 1917.

The practice of personal imperial protection under Peter I, with some minor changes, was maintained until the beginning of the 19th century. The names of the regiments and companies, their superiors, the form and insignia changed. But just as in the previous period, "professional" security units in the strict sense of the word did not exist. This honorable and, I must say, “bread” function was still performed by various court officials and military units.

Such a high position by itself created all conceivable and inconceivable conditions for the intervention of the army elite in the policy of the state, the influence on the emperor's effective environment. To exclude the participation of the guard in the palace coups, if any, was almost impossible. The security system of those years lifted the military people into the orbit of state affairs. And the military who were intruded into political processes and intricately intertwined palace intrigues, which were ordered by the decree of the emperor-emperor to protect him (and other crowned persons), could also deprive him of not only the throne, but also of life itself. This is not a Russian feature. The same was true, for example, in Ancient Rome, where, according to historians, the Praetorian Guard was involved in the killings of more than half of its “protected persons”.

But the expression “History teaches that it does not teach anything” would not be entirely appropriate here. The participation of the guardsmen in the palace coups of the XVIII century, the assassination of Emperor Paul I in 1801, and the Decembrist uprising in 1825, forced the monarchs and their entourage to seriously think about creating a professional - even if this adjective has not yet found its place in the mind of the courtiers - state protection .

14 December 1825, the issue of the personal safety of Nicholas I and his family rose more than acutely. Getting dressed in the morning, Nikolai Pavlovich said to his "security chief and hedgehog with this" Alexander Khristoforovich Benkendorf: "Tonight, maybe both of us will not be more in the world, but at least we will die fulfilling our duty." In fact, there were considerable forces on the side of the Decembrists, and the regicide as one of the possible variants of the development of events was not excluded by them ...

Questions of their personal safety Russian emperors fully trusted the will of the Lord
His Imperial Majesty's own guard: 1826-1866

“Where the sovereign, there is no police”

After the December events at Senate Square, at the end of the investigation, in the spring of 1826, Emperor Nicholas I created a Separate corps of gendarmes. Its main task becomes operational work to ensure state security within the Russian Empire. June 25 was appointed Alexander Khristoforovich Benkendorf to the post of chief of gendarmes (analogous to the modern Minister of the Interior, but with immeasurably greater powers and influence). And a week later, on July 3, the emperor signed a decree on the formation of the Third Division as part of His Own Imperial Majesty's Chancellery (SE EIC). This decree included a clause on the creation of His Main Imperial Majesty's apartment. That's how the hero of World War 1812, Count Alexander Benkendorf, strategically thought. It was at this time and it was these structures that laid the foundation for the special services in the field of ensuring the personal security of the top officials of the Russian Empire.

The gendarmes held special courses. They studied the structure of the corps, the rights and duties of conducting inquiries and correspondence, special rights and duties of officials of the railway administration, political search and history of the revolutionary movement, anthropometry, ciphers, secret correspondence.

Of course, the new division was not formed from scratch. Until 1826, the Office of Special Affairs under the leadership of Maxim Yakovlevich von Fock operated in the structure of the Ministry of the Interior. A note from 14 in July 1826 of the year referred to the warning of “malicious acts against the person of the sovereign emperor.” This meant that the Third Division first of all ensures the personal safety of the king and his entourage, thereby protecting, protecting, reliably ensuring the "safety of the throne". At the same time, the Third Department, speaking in modern language, was, of course, an operational structure, but rather an analytical rather than a “guards”: its main tasks were to collect and summarize the information received from the agents and the information collected by themselves.

The basis of the new structure was an agent network created by von Fock. Since the main danger to the throne, according to analysts Benkendorf, came from among the opposition nobility, the network should have agents in this insidious environment. Agents were available. These included State Councilor Nefediev, Count Lev Sollogub, College Councilor Blandov, writer and playwright Viskovatov. Nonspecialists can only guess about the methods of recruiting agents, but the course of studying these technologies is the main one in any modern “operational” academy.

At the same time, bearing in mind the December uprising, the officers of the Third Division showed special interest in the army, and the guard was not overlooked, since it was the military who had repeatedly distinguished themselves as conspirators and organizers of palace coups. “Trust, but verify!” - there is nothing more to add.

Despite the seriousness of the measures taken, the emperor of all Russia, due to the congenital syndrome of “God's chosen people”, was arch-secured in matters of his personal safety. Nicholas loved to walk around the capital, go out to the people, pray in churches, make pilgrimages to monasteries - and all this without protection. Of course, the gendarmes were warned about such a "peculiarity" of the king, but they did not have the slightest experience in such situations.

Alexander Khristoforovich Benkendorf in the uniform of the Life Guards of the Gendarme semi-squadron “Portrait of A. H. Benkendorf in the uniform of the Life Guards of the Gendarmes semi-squadron”, a copy of Egor Botman by Franz Krueger, the Museum of the Guard

Nicholas I loved to walk alone along the same routes, so many subjects knew exactly where and at what time they needed to go in order to meet the emperor face to face.

In his famous book “Moscow and Muscovites,” Mikhail Zagoskin wrote: “You would look at the Kremlin then, as our big bell and the Russian tsar, engulfed on all sides by waves of countless crowds of people, go through the entire square to pray at the Assumption Cathedral. - How? - interrupted Duvernie (French traveler. - RP). - Yes, does your sovereign walk on this square on foot with such a confluence of people? .. - Yes, yes, on foot; and even sometimes it happens very closely. - What are you saying! .. But, probably, the police? .. - Where is the sovereign, there is no police there. - Have mercy! But how is it possible? .. To walk in the midst of a disorderly crowd of people alone, without any guard ... - I see, gentlemen, the French, - I said, looking almost compassionately at the traveler, - you will never understand us. Our king does not need a guard: his guard is all Russian people. ”

Probably, in these words there was a grain of truth, and a considerable one: the whole is not all but the broad masses of the people for sure. The Decembrists who conspired, according to Lenin, were "terribly far from the people." And in previous centuries, and throughout the Nicholas era, the threat (both real and hypothetical) for the life of the autocrat emanated mainly from the military aristocracy. The system of protection of the sovereign was based on this doctrine.

In January 1827, the emperor created the guard military (commandant) units of the palace guards, in particular the company of palace grenadiers.

In 1828, the current guard unit was created permanently (24 hours per day) - His own Imperial Majesty's convoy, now known as the Cossack convoy. Nicholas I personally made changes to the governing documents for this unit. The convoy was required to regularly engage in vocational training and had a regular training program. By the middle of the 1840, the reorganization of the protection was almost complete.

"Thaw" of the XIX century

Under Alexander II, the situation in the country radically changed. The tsarist government was ready for liberal reforms and proved its readiness with deeds. But some segments of Russian society met these reforms is not benevolent.

A wave of peasant uprisings swept the country, many of which were suppressed with the help of the army. The growth of radical sentiment was felt in the urban community, especially in the student environment, from which the main danger to the life of the autocrat now began. It was then that the ominous idea of ​​regicide appeared and began to gain popularity in the revolutionary movement. The sacredness of the image of the king in the perception of the people, the identification of power with one person caused the revolutionaries to be tempted to put an end to the whole system with one blow.

Then before the III Department new tasks were set. At the beginning of the 1860-ies, the head of the III Division and the chief of gendarmes Vasily Andreyevich Dolgorukov and the St. Petersburg military governor-general Alexander Arkadyevich Suvorov were instructed to keep a close watch on all those departing to Tsarskoe Selo by rail. In turn, the police of Tsarskoye Selo were entrusted to monitor all visitors.

On the eve of the abolition of serfdom, the order of the royal protection was changed. The Cossacks of the convoy began to guard not only the residence, but also the king outside them. The number of the convoy was then 500 people. 8 December 1861 was established by city guards to guard imperial residences.

Back in 1860, Adjutant General Nikolai Ignatiev, an experienced intelligence officer and diplomat, sent a note to his highest name, proposing to build a personal security system in a new way. She was rejected by the emperor, who believed that traditional measures to ensure his safety were enough. Like his father, Alexander II of the guard next to him did not tolerate and preferred walking alone.

Moreover, the police, who were well aware of the existence of revolutionary circles and their way of thinking, did not perceive them as a serious danger at that time. The revolutionaries were considered by the police as talkers, incapable of anything except endless demagogy. Soon, the guardians of order had to change their mind.

4 April 1866, Alexander II, after a walk with his nephews in the Summer Garden, got into a carriage, and then a young man came out from the crowd of onlookers watching the sovereign's promenade and brought a pistol at him. But the murderer’s hand was taken by the peasant Yakov Komissarov standing next to Kostroma. This is exactly the case when the unity of the people and the sovereign was manifested in deed. Yakov Komissarov became the second peasant from Kostroma after Ivan Susanin, who saved Russia from harm. The attacker was grabbed, and he didn’t manage to make the second shot.

The gunman was nobleman Dmitry Karakozov, shortly before this expelled from Moscow University for participating in student unrest. According to him, the king deceived his people with the reform of 1861 of the year, which only the rights of the peasants declared. Karakozov was sentenced to death by hanging.

Subscribe to our Telegram channel, regularly additional information about the special operation in Ukraine, a large amount of information, videos, something that does not fall on the site:

Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must sign in.
  1. Altona
    Altona 29 October 2015 17: 11
    The mistake of the kings was that they could not lead liberal reforms, because these reforms eventually swallowed them, without even choking ... It was necessary to leave the constitutional monarchy earlier, to apply civil liberties, which were talked about all the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries ... Of course, I simplify a lot, but the same mistake was made, they stopped asking from the old elite (nobles), but they did not create a new elite ...
    1. yuriy55
      yuriy55 29 October 2015 17: 22
      ... they stopped asking from the old elite (nobles), but they did not create a new elite ...

      Something reminds me directly ... I'm afraid to make a mistake in geography and in time ... lol
    2. Varyag_1973
      Varyag_1973 29 October 2015 17: 24
      How can you all not understand that liberalism is a deadly poison for Russia! In Russia, only firm and strong power has always been recognized! It was under the kings, during the USSR and under the new Russia! democracy, liberalism and other rubbish, this is for the West, but for us it’s only autocrat and it doesn’t matter what it is called: tsar, general secretary or president!
      1. yuriy55
        yuriy55 29 October 2015 17: 40
        How can you all not understand that liberalism ...

        Yes, everything is clear for a long time. The power vertical should be built so that it does not "bend in different directions" and pulls the cart in one direction. And, as it will be called: monarchy, totalitarian regime or democracy - there is not much difference.
        State affairs must be above personal interests ... yes
      2. Altona
        Altona 29 October 2015 17: 44
        Quote: Varyag_1973
        How can you all not understand that liberalism is a deadly poison for Russia!

        I was referring to the bureaucracy of the business sphere and its legislative arrangement, the emergence of a new class of the bourgeoisie, moreover, the industrial one, the unmapping of the peasantry and its enlightenment ... Something was done, of course, but we were far behind in social progress ... rights, respect for the law and property rights, freedom of opinion ... And the West slipped and slips us its "liberalism" - poisonous criticizing, demonizing and unconstructive ... And strong power can be in different ways strong - strong for its own or strong for everyone ...
        1. Down House
          Down House 29 October 2015 17: 59
          Quote: Altona
          This is genuine liberalism, equal rights, respect for law and property rights, freedom of opinion

          And what good is this?
          That everyone will be able to pull a blanket over themselves to the extent of their depravity?
          Always only that society develops, where this society collectively follows the best, and not when everyone follows those who come to their heads!
          1. Altona
            Altona 29 October 2015 19: 46
            Quote: Down House
            And what good is this?
            That everyone will be able to pull a blanket over themselves to the extent of their depravity?

            Is it much better in the barracks? So that in the morning they would build everything, bring the decisions of the last Plenum of the Politburo, cut the same hair and give everyone a bowl of pearl barley? Here the progress is apparently great ... Arakcheev was carried away by the way, with military settlements, it ended in nothing ... And so that everyone has the same faith, and everyone has the same opinion ... Get lost.
            1. Down House
              Down House 29 October 2015 20: 30
              Quote: Altona
              Is it much better in the barracks?

              What do you suggest?
              Dissolve the barracks?
              Give soldiers equal rights with officers?
              The question is - why did officers study for 5 years if a soldier was drafted into the army yesterday, and today he has equal rights with officers ?!
              And most importantly - "well" such an army will fight without command!
              1. Altona
                Altona 30 October 2015 09: 36
                Quote: Down House
                What do you suggest?
                Dissolve the barracks?
                Give soldiers equal rights with officers?
                The question is - why did officers study for 5 years if a soldier was drafted into the army yesterday, and today he has equal rights with officers ?!
                And most importantly - "well" such an army will fight without command!

                It was not about the soldiers, but about the society to which you want to impose one point of view on all issues ... And the comparison with the barracks was a generalization ... You apparently can’t capture the context at all, but you decide to judge something ... Remove cap from your head and learn to think ...
    3. Down House
      Down House 29 October 2015 17: 55
      The mistake of the kings was that they could not lead the reforms at all.
      And liberalism has nothing to do with it, liberalism is generally evil.
      And it was not the lack of "freedom" that ruined the monarchy, but the banal lack of truly educated people in the country - there were catastrophically few workers / engineers / scientists, and without them, neither industry nor a strong army is possible - stimulate it with any reforms.
  2. starec.luka
    starec.luka 29 October 2015 17: 23
    they had to ... just look at the past .....
  3. yuriy55
    yuriy55 29 October 2015 17: 30
    Fairy-tale times, when a king lived in a certain kingdom, in a certain state, remained in distant childhood. To rule such a huge country as Russia, you need a faithful (who will not betray), a competent team, and the reign, as a system of power, should have become a thing of the past, not stick in the wheel of history. But, in general, the idea was this:

    1. Samurai3X
      Samurai3X 29 October 2015 19: 37
      And yet, without the powerful central figure that holds power in Russia, nothing good has ever happened. You don’t have to run far for examples.
      Call this person a king, secretary general or president. Without a central reinforced concrete power, a country goes into chaos every time. That proved both 1917 g. And 1991 g.
      No need to amuse yourself with illusions. If there were a man in the place of Nicholas II, such as Nicholas I or Peter I or Stalin, there would be no October and no USSR ... It is another matter that such people would not have brought the country to that state.
  4. moskowit
    moskowit 29 October 2015 19: 20
    No specifics, a set of common phrases. The author repeats the "hackneyed" myths. The first myth about the disbandment of the streltsy army. I will present only an extract from Wikipedia, not for acting professionals of military history ...

    "... The liquidation of the streltsy army was started by Peter I in January 1699 after the mass executions of the participants in the Streltsy riot in 1698. The disbandment took place gradually. Some of the streltsy were disbanded for" living "in the district towns. regiments were transferred to remote cities to carry out garrison service.

    However, the events of the initial stage of the Northern War forced the disbandment to be suspended. The rifle regiments took part in many battles of the early 1711th century, including the capture of Narva, near Poltava, in the Prut campaign in 15 [16], the riflemen fought as part of the Saxon troops allied with Russia [20]. The rifle units were finally liquidated only in the 17s of the XNUMXth century [XNUMX]. However, in some places the city archers remained as "serving people of the old services" almost until the end of the XNUMXth century [... "

    Nothing is said about the markets, the direct bodyguards, squires of the Moscow tsars ...
  5. moskowit
    moskowit 29 October 2015 19: 29
    The second myth. Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Corps of Gendarmes. During the reign of Nicholas the First, Lanskoy was ministers, in fact, during his time, a "special chancellery", Zakrevsky, Bludov, were separated from the ministry ...
    The Ministry of Internal Affairs has its own powers, and the political police (Separate Gendarmes Corps) have completely different ...