Birthday anniversary of Alexander B. Kurakin, Russian diplomat

29 January 1752

18 (29) January, 1752 in Moscow, in the family of a chamberlain was born Alexander B. Kurakin, Prince, Russian diplomat, vice-chancellor of the Russian Empire (1796-1802), president of the College of Foreign Affairs, Chancellor of the Russian orders, Russian ambassador to Austria (1806 - 1808) and France (1808-1812).

As a child, Kurakin was enlisted as a sergeant to the Semenovsky Life-Guards Regiment. In 1763 he moved to St. Petersburg, living in charge of a relative, N. I. Panin, chief chamberlain and tutor of Grand Duke Pavel Petrovich. Thanks to contacts of his tutor, Kurakin soon became close with the heir to the throne of Russia. In 1766, Kurakin was sent to study in the Albertus College in Kiel (Germany). In the next two years, he traveled to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Denmark, Germany, and in 1770 he studied at the University of Leiden (the Netherlands), and then traveled across the Netherlands, Great Britain and France. In the spring of 1773 Kurakin returned to Russia.

In Russia Kurakin was attached to the Grand Duke Pavel Petrovich, and was one of the closest persons in attendance. In 1776 he accompanied Pavel Petrovich to Berlin to meet his bride Princess Sofia Maria Dorothea, the future Empress Maria Fedorovna. In 1778 Kurakin was promoted to chamberlain, and later was appointed Chief Procurator of the Senate, and in 1781he was elected leader of the nobility of St. Petersburg Province. In 1781-1782 he accompanied the future emperor for travel abroad. However, his friendship with the Grand Duke was not approved by the Russian Empress Catherine II who was reigning at the time. As a result, Kurakin was exiled from St. Petersburg to the village of Borisoglebsk, Serdobsk uyezd, the Saratov province (now Serdobsky district of the Penza Oblast).

In November 1796, after the death of Catherine II, Kurakin was allowed to return to St. Petersburg to continue his career. He was appointed marshal of the court, and ten days later was appointed vice-chancellor, and received 150 thousand rubles to pay his debts. That same year he was granted a title of privy councilor and the Order of St. Vladimir, 1st class and St. Andrew the First-Called. Under Pavel I Kurakin, along with Prince A. A. Bezborodko, participated in conclusion of a convention on the taking of the Malta Order under the protection of the Russian emperor.

In 1801, during the reign of Emperor Alexander I, Kurakin was appointed a member of the Fundamental Council and head of the Foreign Affairs Department, and from September 1802 - chancellor of the Russian orders. After the battle of Austerlitz in 1805, the Chancellor submitted to the Russian emperor an internal memorandum, where he stressed the need to prepare a large army to defend Russia and at the same time offered to negotiate with France.

In July 1806 Kurakin was appointed Russian ambassador to Vienna. Together with Prince D. I. Lobanov-Rostovsky he took an active part in signing the peace treaty of Tilsit (1807). From October 1808 Kurakin was the Russian ambassador in Paris, constantly informing Alexander I of the threat of war with France. He recommended to enlist the support of Austria and Prussia, or to achieve their neutrality, to conclude peace with Turkey and Sweden and to enter into an alliance with Britain. In 1811, in his letter to the emperor, the ambassador offered to avoid the general battle in the coming war, using the tactics of "a small war", to hamper the supply of the French army after its invasion of Russia. In February 1812, A. B. Kurakin offered to N. P. Rumyantsev, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, to begin negotiations with the French government to settle mutual claims, although he noted he did not believe in the success of this effort. In April 1812, at a meeting with French Emperor Napoleon I, he made an unsuccessful attempt to settle the Russian-French relations. But after Napoleon's departure to the army Kurakin resigned as ambassador.

In the last years of his life Alexander B. Kurakin did not play any active political role. He died in Weimar (Germany), June 24 (July 6), 1818. On the monument to Prince Kurakin, raised by the Empress Maria Fedorovna at Pavlovsk, was inscribed "To my husband’s friend."


Lit.: Донесения из Франции князя А. Б. Куракина императору Александру Павловичу / сообщ. А. Н. Шенигом // Русский архив. 1870. М., 1871. Стб. 1-136; Записка, поданная князем А. Б. Куракиным императору Александру Павловичу после Аустерлицкого сражения / сообщ. Н. С. Оболенским // Русский архив. 1869. Вып. 7. Стб. 1125–1138; Письма из Вены от князя А. Б. Куракина к государыне императрице Марии Феодоровне. 1807 год // Русский архив. 1869. Вып. 3. Стб. 385-517; Письма с дороги от князя А. Б. Куракина к государыне императрице Марии Феодоровне // Русский архив. 1868. М., 1869. Стб. 23-86, 161-240; Троепольский Т. Надписи в стихах к просекам, дорогам и храмам в Английском саду Его сиятельства князя Александра Борисовича Куракина, в вотчине его в селе Надеждине, Саратовского наместничества в Сердобской округе. М., 1796; Утверждённое положение князя Александра Борисовича Куракина … для учреждения после его кончины на вечные времена его саратовской вотчины в Надеждине богодельни, больницы и училища и для дарования после же его смерти вечной свободы оной вотчине его. СПб., 1807.


Based on the Presidential Library’s materials:

Архив князя Воронцова / под ред. П. И. Бартенева. Кн. 30: Письма Рожерсона, Н. Н. Новосильцова, историков Миллера и Бантыша-Каменскаго, Поццо-ди-Борго, князя Куракина и других лиц. М., 1884.