Prominent statesman, General of Infantry, Count Feodor Rostopchin was born 12 (23) March 1763, in the village of Kosmodemyanskoe, Livensky county, Orel province.
Feodor’s father was a retired major, veteran of the Seven Years War, Orel landowner Vasily Feodorovich. Together with his younger brother Peter, Feodor received a good education at home. At the age of ten, he was enlisted in the Life Guards regiment, and two years later in the rank of corporal was enlisted in the Corps of Pages. In 1782, he graduated from the Corps in the rank of lieutenant and continued his service in the Preobrazhensky regiment. Rostopchin’s military career was on the rise: in 1785 he was promoted to a sub-lieutenant, two years later – to a lieutenant, and in 1789 - to captain- lieutenant of the Life Guards.
In 1786-1788, Rostopchin made a long trip abroad to continue his education. During the trip, he took private lessons in mathematics and fortification, attended lectures at the University of Leipzig. Back in Russia, Feodor took part in military operations of the Russo-Swedish War of 1788-1790, and then in the Russian-Turkish War of 1787-1792. During a year he served under A. V. Suvorov and participated in the storming of Ochakov, in the battles of Rymnik and Focsani. In 1790, Rostopchin participated in the Finnish campaign for the second time, and commanding the Grenadier battalion was recommended for a decoration of the Order of St. George, which, however, he had not received.
In 1791, Rostopchin became good friends with Chancellor A. A. Bezborodko and was his assistant during the Jassy conference. In 1793, valet de chambre Rostopchin was assigned to a small court of Grand Duke Paul in Gatchina. The latter soon was filled with sympathy for Feodor and started to consider him a man personally faithful to him. After the death of Catherine II and the enthronement of a new emperor, Rostopchin’s career skyrocketed. He became adjutant-general of Paul I, was awarded the Orders of St. Anna and Alexander Nevsky , and in 1798 he was granted the rank of lieutenant general and the title of count.
In those years Rostopchin’s range of duties was extremely wide: he participated in the editing of the Military Statute in accordance with the Prussian model, served as director of the postal department, was in charge of the affairs of marriage and religious policy of the Russian Empire. The main Feodor’s activity during the reign of Paul actually was conduct of the foreign policy. In this capacity, he was contributed to Russia’s rapprochement with France and the cooling of relations with Britain.
The memorandum elaborated by Rostopchin provided for the use of contradictions between the European powers, including the conclusion of specific military and political alliances with France, Prussia and Austria, which, in case of division of the Ottoman Empire would ensure a stable position of Russia in Europe and the expansion of its influence on the Balkan countries. In addition, the activities of Feodor Rostopchin paved the way for the inclusion of Georgia in the Russian Empire.
In February 1801, Rostopchin fell into disgrace and was dismissed as a result of P. A. Palen’s palace intrigues in the preparation of a conspiracy against the emperor. After the murder of Paul I, Feodor was removed from government activities for 11 years, and lived in his estates, engaged with literature and agriculture. In March 1810, Rostopchin was appointed chief chamberlain and a member of the State Council, and the final return to the civil service took place in early June 1812. Rostopchin was given the rank of General of Infantry and was appointed Moscow Governor-General by Alexander I. The main occupation of Rostopchin under the outbreak of hostilities of the Patriotic War was to maintain order and internal peace in Moscow.
To develop patriotic spirit of townspeople, he began to regularly publish and distribute flyers, leaflets and reports containing information from the front, which were written in a simple vernacular. These materials were pasted like playbills and went down in history as "Rostopchin’s posters." After the publication of the manifesto on the convening of the national militia, 12 regiments totaling about 26, 000 people were formed in the short term. As the front approached Moscow, Rostopchin headed the evacuation of public and cultural values from Moscow, which, however, was not completed in full.
After leaving Moscow and its occupation by Napoleonic army, fires began in the city, which by the end of the third day engulfed almost the entire territory. Historical science has been long debating about the role of Moscow mayor in the fire; Rostopchin himself repeatedly rejected version of his participation in the arson. After the fall of Moscow, Feodor actively promoted among the population the idea of a of full-scale guerrilla war against the French, distributed leaflets and various materials. Returning to the city ravaged by fires and looting, the mayor took energetic measures to rescue and evaluate the survived assets, to prevent epidemics and various diseases among the population, as well as against pillage.
In the beginning of 1813, under the command of Rostopchin a Commission was established to restore the destroyed and burned buildings, and arrangements were made for issuing allowances to the affected residents.
In early autumn of 1814, Feodor Vasilievich was forced to resign from the post of governor-general of Moscow and appointed a member of the State Council, remaining in this position up to 1823. Due to failing health, he spent most of the last years of his life abroad. Feodor Rostopchin died in Moscow on 18 (30) January 1826, at the age of 62.
Lit.: Васькин А. А. Московские градоначальники XIX века: Ростопчин, Голицын, Закревский Долгоруков. М., 2012; Вяземский П. А. Характеристические заметки и воспоминания о графе Ростопчине // Русский архив, 1877. Кн. 2. Вып. 5; Грачёва И. В. Судьба «Московского властелина» // Московский журнал. 1997, № 2; Горностаев М. В. Генерал-губернатор Москвы Ф. В. Ростопчин: страницы истории 1812 года. М., 2003; Любченко О. Н. Граф Ростопчин. М., 2000;. Мещерякова А. О. Ф. В. Ростопчин: У основания консерватизма и национализма в России. Воронеж, 2007.
From the Presidential library materials:
Записка Московского генерал-губернатора Ф. В. Ростопчина в Комитет внутреннего ополчения от 4 августа 1812 г. о пожертвовании двух дворовых людей и вооружении их штабс-ротмистром Сикорским и о награждении его орденом Св. Владимира IV степени: Документ;
Записка Московского генерал-губернатора Ф. В. Ростопчина от 4 августа 1812 г. в Комитет внутреннего ополчения о пожертвовании 10 тыс. рублей московским купцом Савостиным и 31.300 шт. различной деревянной посуды московским мещанином А. Н. Елчинским и о награждении их золотыми медалями на Владимирской ленте: Документ;
Отношение Комитета по снабжению Московского ополчения от 31 июля 1812 г. московскому генерал-губернатору Ф. В. Ростопчину о пожертвовании владельцем оружейных заводов И. Р. Баташевым разного оружия на сумму 150 тыс. руб.: Документ;