Alexander Gorchakov (1798–1883)

Alexander Gorchakov (1798–1883)

The collection focuses on the 220th birth anniversary of a graduate of the Imperial Lyceum in Tsarskoye Selo, an outstanding Russian diplomat, Minister of Foreign Affairs, the last Chancellor of the Russian Empire. It comprises archival materials (Prince Gorchakov’s draft on the emancipation of serfs, his correspondence with the Minister of Navy Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolayevich on the sale of Alaska, the Minister of Internal Affairs Count Valuyev, and the Minister of State Property Muravyov, the Russian Ambassador to Austria Ye. Novikov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan Terashima Munenori), scientific research which highlights the education of the Prince Gorchakov at the Imperial Lyceum in Tsarskoye Selo and the foreign policy of Russia in the second half of 19 century, as well as postcards with a portrait of the lyceum’s student Gorchakov, views of a privileged educational institution, and a documentary.

Prince Alexander Mikhailovich Gorchakov had been heading the Russian Foreign Ministry for more than twenty years. Eager to cancel conditions of the Peace Treaty of Paris (1856) that were the hardest for Russia, Alexander Gorchakov had started to improve the relationship with France, but the fact that the latter supported the Polish uprising that began in 1863 forced the minister to abandon this idea. He was deeply convinced that no outside intervention in Russia's internal affairs on the Polish issue could be accepted. This attitude was supported by Prussia, and the same year the convention was signed. Taking advantage of the war that broke out between France and Prussia and with the assistance of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Prussia, Otto von Bismarck, Alexander Gorchakov in 1870 announced to the European states about Russia's rejection of the Paris Treaty’s article, which prohibited Russia from keeping the navy on the Black Sea. The international conference, held in 1871 in London, was forced to admit this.

In the Eastern policy Alexander Gorchakov had a cautious stand. Fearing the clash with England and Austria-Hungary, the minister considered that it was too early for Russia to seize Constantinople and the straits, but he did not dare to insist that Russia maintained peace. The Berlin Congress, which took place at the end of the war in 1878 and the signed treatise which cancelled all the successes of Russia in the war, was called by Alexander Gorchakov the darkest page in his career. The following year the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was headed by Nikolay Giers.

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