Grigory Alexandrovich Potyomkin – Russian statesman and military reformer, diplomat, general-field marshal was born on 13 (24) September.
He was the son of the army officer and got brilliant home education, later continued his studying in the gymnasium at the University of Moscow, where he displayed a keen interest in sciences but soon was disillusioned and expelled for not showing diligence.
In 1762 Grigory Alexandrovich participated in the Palace Revolution in 1762, which enthroned Catherine II. He was promoted to the lieutenant of the Guards and rewarded with 10 000 roubles and 4 000 serfs.
He distinguished himself in the Russo-Turkish War 1768–1774 and was promoted to the General and soon invited to the capital, where he moved up the ladder.
His relationship with the Empress Catherine II took on a more intimate character which favoured his promotion: he was appointed to the position of the Vice-President of the Military Collegium, bestowed with the honorary title of Count and General-Adjutant and put in charge of irregular forces. The favour of the Catherine II, high status by the Court and in the governmental affairs made Potyomkin the most powerful person in the country. He proved to be the talented administrator and became the personal adviser of Catherine II throughout her reign in developing the policy of the Absolutist Government.
In 1774 Potyomkin suppressed the Pugachev revolt, and in 1775 he came up with the idea of destroying Zaporizhian Sich – the possible seat of antigovernment rebellions.
In 1776 Grigory Alexandrovich was made the governor of New Russia, Azov and Astrakhan and he started to carry out ambitious projects for attracting orthodox people of Balkans to these territories. In 1783 Potyomkin realized his aim of annexing the Crimea to Russia, for which he received the victory title of His Serene Highness Knyaz Tavrichesky, or Prince of Tauris. Potyomkin presided over the development of New Russia and building such cities as Kherson, Nikolaev, Sevastopol and Yekaterinoslav. He developed the Russian naval and merchant fleets on the Black Sea, which played a crucial role in Wars against Turkey.
In 1784 Potyomkin was promoted to the President of the Military Collegium, the position, which let him carry out number of reforms in the Russian Army and introduce more comfortable uniform, in particular.
During the Russo-Turkish War 1787–1791 Grigory Alexandrovich was appointed the Commander in chief of the Russian Army, but his main priority remained the organizing issues and in fact this often prevented the army of A. V. Suvorov from action. Nevertheless, he had successes and after storming Ochakov he returned to St. – Petersburg, where he died of fever on 5 (16) October 1791.
Lit.: Бантыш-Каменский Д. Н. 28-й генерал-фельдмаршал князь Григорий Александрович Потёмкин-Таврический. М., 1991; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL: http://militera.lib.ru/bio/bantysh-kamensky/31.html.
Based on the Presidential Library’s materials: