The future Russian diplomat and statesman, prince, chancellor, a member of the State Council and the Cabinet of Ministers, a member of the Imperial Academy of Science, a holder of the highest Russian and foreign orders Alexander Mikhailovich Gorchakov was born on June 4 (15), 1798 in Hapsal of Eastland province (at present Haapsalu, Estonia) in a family of Major-General Mikhail Alexeevich Gorchakov.
Alexander Mikhailovich was first educated at home, then studied in St. Petersburg provincial gymnasium and in 1811 he passed the exams and entered the Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum where he had been a classmate of A. S. Pushkin, A. A. Delvig, W. K. Kuchelbecher, I. I. Pushchin.
At the age of 19 Gorchakov began his career of a diplomat in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the rank of a titular counsellor. In 1820-1822 he participated in the meetings of the Holy Union in Tropau, Laibach and Verona, from 1824 he was assigned the first secretary of the Russian embassy in London; in 1827 – in Rome; later he served in the Russian embassies in Berlin, Florence and Vena. In 1841 Gorchakov was assigned the extraordinary ambassador and the authorized minister to Wurttemberg court. In 1850-1854 he served at the same as the extraordinary ambassador to the German Union, in 1854 was sent as the ambassador to Vena.
Alexander Mikhailovich was a brilliantly educated man with a flexible, acute and farseeing mind. An inspired orator and the finest stylist, a master of a ‘filigree rhetoric’ (as described by A. I. Herzen), Gorchakov was notable for his refined manners, secular artistry, was quite pleasant and knew in perfection all the ways of diplomatic art.
In April of 1856 Gorchakov headed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He had been holding the post of the Minister for 25 years and was conferred the highest honors including the title of a prince and the rank of the state chancellor of the Russian Empire.
Many of the victories of the Russian diplomacy are related with the name of Gorchakov. In 1856-1863 Alexander Mikhailovich aspired to lift the limitations imposed to Russia by the Treaty of Paris of 1856 by means of establishing closer relations with France. However, when Napoleon III tied to use the Polish revolt of 1863 to the detriment of Russia, he decided to establish such relations with Prussia by observing the neutrality during its wars with Dania in 1864, Austria in 1866, France in 1870-1871. The defeat of France by Prussia allowed the prince to declare that Russia refuses the article of Paris Treaty of 1856 which limited its sovereignty at the Black Sea. Gorchakov succeeded in making the document acknowledged by other states at the International conference of 1871 in London. Gorchakov played the key role in creation of the ‘Union of three emperors’ in 1873. In 1875 he stove off the danger of all-European war.
The last large scale diplomatic action of Gorchakov was Berlin Congress of European states of 1878 which had determined the destiny of Turkish properties at Balkans. In the situation when the whole Europe was frightened by the successes of the Russian arms and the possibility of the Russian hegemony at Balkan Mountains, Gorchakov managed not just prevent the repeating of Crimea war and the creation of anti-Russian coalition, but also to defend the Russian national interests.
Lit.: Андреев А. Р. Последний канцлер Российской империи Александр Михайлович Горчаков. М., 1999; Волкова О. Ю. Министр иностранных дел Горчаков Александр Михайлович (1856–1882 гг.). // Международная жизнь. 2002. № 2; Игнатьев А. В. А. М. Горчаков — министр иностранных дел (1856–1882 гг.) // Отечественная история. 2000. № 2; Канцлер А. М. Горчаков: 200 лет со дня рождения. М., 1998; Лопатников В. А. Пьедестал: Время и служение канцлера Горчакова. М., 2004; Хевролина В. М. Министерство иностранных дел России в 1856-1878 гг. // Новая и новейшая история. 2002. № 4.
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