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Birth of Mikhail N. Muravyov-Vilensky, eminent Russian statesman and military leader

12 October 1796

1 (12) October 1796 was born Mikhail Muravyov-Vilensky, Count, Russian statesman, General of Infantry.

The family of Muravyov became known in the 18th century and gave the country a galaxy of prominent public, government, and military leaders. Mikhail’s father, Nicholas, was a general, a veteran of the Napoleonic wars; his brothers were a Decembrist Alexander, a military and statesman Nicholas (who later was granted an honorary prefix "Karsky" to the family name) and an Orthodox spiritual writer and historian Andrew.

Mikhail was educated at home and in 1809 entered the Physics and Mathematics Faculty of the Moscow University. Muravyov showed a brilliant success in studies and at age of 14 founded the Moscow Mathematical Society, where he delivered free public lectures on some subjects. Within the "Society" were trained the guides of columns - future officers of the General Staff. Despite his young age, Muravyov, who had already begun his military service, was appointed examiner to the General Staff. In early 1812, he was promoted to the rank of ensign of the retinue of His Imperial Majesty, and in the spring of that year he was assigned to the Chief of Staff of the Western Army, Count L. L. Beningsen. At the age of almost 16, he participated in the fighting of the Patriotic War that had just begun. During the Battle of Borodino, Muravyov, being in the battery of Rayevsky, was seriously wounded and had been treated for a long time in the rear.

In early 1813, he was again sent to the regular army and took part in the famous Battle of Dresden. After the foreign campaigns of the Russian Army, Muravyov returned to Russia and was engaged in training the officers for the General Staff. At that time he became close friends with the future Decembrists and was a member of a number of secret societies - "The Holy Artel", "The Union of Salvation" and "The Union of Welfare." After the protest actions of the Semenov Life Guards in 1820, he quitted his revolutionary activities. In the end of 1820, Muravyov, by then promoted to lieutenant colonel, retired for health reasons and moved to his estate in the province of Smolensk. In early 1826 he was arrested due the case of the Decembrists and imprisoned in the Peter and Paul Fortress, but in June of that year was released and soon again enlisted in the service.

In the summer of 1827 Muravyov was appointed vice-governor of Vitebsk, and a year later became the governor of the Mogilev Province. In this position, Michael pursued an active policy of Russification of Belarusian lands; on his initiative the Lithuanian legislation was replaced with the all-Russian one in the province, and the Russian language was introduced for the paperwork instead of the Polish. Muravyov was governing Mogilev when the Polish uprising of 1830-1831 began. However, taking efficient measures he had not let it spread over the province entrusted to him. In 1831 he was appointed governor of Grodno. In this role, Muravyov had earned the reputation of a fighter against sedition, extremely hard and rough administrator. As a result of Muravyov’s relentless struggle with the Polish gentry, there were numerous conspiracies and denunciations against him. Thus, in 1835 he was transferred to the post of military governor of Kursk.

In the summer of 1842 Muravyov became a senator and a privy councilor, and was appointed to the post of the head of the Land Survey School. In 1849 he was promoted to lieutenant-general, and in 1850 he became a member of the State Council. Under Alexander II the career of Mikhail Nikolayevich thrived rapidly: in 1856 he was promoted to General of Infantry and was appointed Chairman of the Department of principalities, and a year later - the Minister of State Property.

In early 1863, in the western regions of the Russian Empire broke a new Polish rebellion, and in May of that year, Muravyov was appointed governor-general with extraordinary powers of seven provinces at once: Vilna, Kovno, August, Vitebsk, Minsk, Mogilev and Grodno. By the spring of 1864, the suppression of the Polish in the region was completed. During his governing, Muravyov pursued a policy of radical Russification of western regions. For his determination and steadfastness in the suppression of the rebellion, the liberal community called him a "Hangman."

In April 1865 M. N. Muravyov was dismissed from his post at his own request and received the title of Count and an honorary prefix to the name - Vilensky.

In April 1866 he was appointed chairman of the commission for the case of the attempt of D. V. Karakozov on the life of the emperor, but failing health had not allowed him to bring the investigation to the end.

Mikhail Muravyov-Vilensky died August 31 (September 12), 1866 at the age of 69. He was buried in the cemetery of the Lazarev, Alexander Nevsky Lavra.

Lit.: Имеретинский Н. К. Воспоминания о графе М. Н. Муравьёве // Исторический вестник, 1892. Т. 50. № 12; Кропотов Д. А.Жизнь графа М. Н. Муравьёва в связи с событиями его времени и до назначения его губернатором в Гродно. СПб., 1874; Муравьёв-Виленский М. Н. «Готов собою жертвовать…» М., 2009; Розанов В. В. Был ли жесток М. Н. Муравьёв-Виленский? // Русское слово, 24 сентября 1896 г. № 257; Сорокин Р. М. Н. Муравьёв в Литве. 1831 г. // Русская старина, 1873. Т. 8. № 7.

From the Presidential library materials:

Ананьев С. В. М. Н. Муравьев-Виленский: политическая биография. Автореф. дис. … канд. ист. наук. Саратов, 2007;

Кропотов Д. А. Жизнь графа М. Н. Муравьева, в связи с событиями его времени и до назначения его губернатором в Гродно. СПб., 1874;

Миловидов А. И. Освобождение крестьян Северо-Западного края и поземельное устройство их при графе М. Н. Муравьеве. Вильна, 1901.