“Duke Peter Georgievich of Oldenburg is a kind, honest man, who does good to many people,
and has never harmed anyone. More to that, we, Russians, should always remember that it is
him and his significant donations that we owe the establishment of the Law School,
and it is his noble character that we owe the unselfishness of the school’s students…”
P. V. Dolgorukov
14 (26) August 1812, in Yaroslavl, was born Peter G. (Konstantin Friedrich Peter) of Oldenburg, Duke, General of Infantry (1841), Chairman of the St. Petersburg Supervisory Board (from 1844), Chief of the IV Office of His Imperial Majesty's Chancellery for institutions of Empress Maria (1860-1881), Senator (1834-1838), member of the State Council (1836).
Peter Georgievich came from a German sovereign family of dukes of Oldenburg; his father was Peter Friedrich Georg of Oldenburg - Governor-General of Tver, Yaroslavl and Novgorod Provinces, chief of communication lines. His mother, Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna, was the daughter of Paul I.
Peter was educated at home, in Württemberg, and from 1819 - in Oldenburg, where, under the guidance of renowned educator, H. Runde, he studied law; he spoke fluently Russian, French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, knew Greek, Latin.
The candidacy of Peter Georgievich was nominated for Greek throne, but in November 1830, Nicholas I called him to serve in Russia, and in December the duke joined the Life Guards regiment. A few years later he was promoted to Major General (1832) and then to Lieutenant-General (1834), and from 1836 served as head of the military educational institutions.
In 1834, Peter Georgievich left the army and was appointed a member of the Advisory Board to the Minister of Justice, and then a senator in the 1st Department of the Senate. Having noticed a severe lack of legally educated officials, in January 1835 he presented to the Emperor a draft to establish a Law School, developed jointly with M. M. Speransky. After approval of the project, the duke financed the purchase (over 1 million rubles) of a building in St. Petersburg, at the corner of Fontanka and Sergius Street (now the Tchaikovsky Street). Grand opening of the school was held in December 1835 in the presence of the emperor. On the same day Peter Georgievich was approved trustee and awarded the Order of St. Vladimir, 2nd class. Later, the prince became the initiator and the first chairman of the Russian Society of International Law founded in 1880 in St. Petersburg.
In 1836, Peter Georgievich was a member of the State Council; in 1842 he served as chairman of the Civil and Religious Affairs, was adjutant-general, and General of Infantry. In 1839 he was made an honorary trustee of the St. Petersburg Board of Trustees, and from 1844 – the chairman of the Board. From 1841 to 1859 Peter Georgievich served as chairman of the Free Economic Society, and from 1845 - chairman of the newly established General Council of Women’s Educational Institutions.
From 1839, the duke directed many agencies of the Office of Empress Maria, the number of which had risen 4 times under him. Ardent supporter of charity, he spent a lot of energy and personal resources to improve the organization of former and new hospitals, almshouses, orphanages. This was noted by the authorities, and in August 1860 Oldenburg was appointed chief superintendent of the IV Department of His Imperial Majesty's Own Chancery.
In addition to public affairs, the duke was interested in art, literature, wrote poetry, ballads, elegies, both in German and in Russian, translated Russian folk songs into German.
2 (14) May 1881 Peter of Oldenburg died. He was buried in the Trinity-Sergius Hermitage near St. Petersburg.
In 1889, in St. Petersburg, on Liteiny Avenue, was erected a monument to Peter G. of Oldenburg with the inscription: "To the educated philanthropist."
Lit.: Благотворительность и милосердие в Санкт-Петербурге: рубеж ХIХ-ХХ веков. СПб., 2000; Немцы в России: петербургские немцы: сб. статей. СПб., 1999; Степанец К. В. Просвещённые благотворители — Ольденбургские // Грани губернской жизни: благотворительность в образовании, культуре, медицине. Материалы Вторых губернских чтений, посвященных 60-летнему юбилею ЛОУНБ. СПб., 2005. С. 96-111; Управленческая элита Российской империи. История министерств. 1802-1917. СПб., 2008. С. 60.
From the Presidential library materials: