Statesman and military leader, Alexander Danilovich Menshikov, was born

16 November 1673

“It is remarkable, that Prince Menshikov, who was not born a nobleman, and was illiterate, due to his work enjoyed such a complete confidence of his master, which enabled him in course of many years in row to control the vast Empire...”.

Count B.C. Münnich.

On November 6 (16) 1673 in Moscow was born a statesman and a military leader, Count, Prince, Generalissimus Alexander Danilovich Menshikov.

Alexander’s father — Daniil Menshikov, who was at first a court stableman, then participated in one of “amusing regiments” and rose to the rank of a corporal. The poverty prevented him from giving his son any education, and the boy was making a living on the streets as a vendor of staffed buns.

Alexander’s natural intelligence and witty character caught the attention of Franz Lefort, Russian military figure of Swiss origin, an advisor of Peter I, who took him into his service. Soon Menshikov became the batman of the young tsar, and due to his devotion and incredible diligence won his complete confidence. Being enrolled by Peter I to the company of “amusing regiments”, Alexander Danilovich — with the foundation of “Preobrazensky regiment” in 1693 — took the position of a bombardier. In 1695 and 1696 he took part in Azov campaigns, where he distinguished himself in seizure of the Ottoman fortress Azov. After the Streltsy Uprising he participated in searching and mass execution of Streltsy.

Alexander Danilovich accompanied Peter I in his Grand Embassy to Europe, travelled with him to Prussia, England, Germany and Holland. For almost half a year together with the monarch he had been successfully learning shipbuilding and other crafts.

During the Northern War of 1700-1721 Menshikov commanded large forces of infantry and cavalry, distinguished himself in the siege and storming of fortresses, in many battles. In 1703 acting with Peter I in the mouth of the Neva River he gained the first naval victory over the Swedes, and was awarded the Order of St. Andrew.

In 1703 Alexander Danilovich was assigned the governor of Ingermanland Governorate (later — St. Petersburg Governorate), directed building of St. Petersburg, as well as Kronstadt, the shipyards on the Neva and Svir Rivers, Petrovsky and Povenetsky gun factories. He made contribution to capture of Dorpat, Narva and Ivangorod, was awarded the rank of lieutenant-general (1704), then he led military actions in Lithuania and Poland. In 1705 he received the Polish Order of the White Eagle, while the next year he became a Prince of the Russian Empire.

On October 18 (29) 1706 Menshikov at the head of the Russian Army, 10 000 men strong, defeated utterly the Swiss Corps of the General А. Mardefeld. The Swedes lost a few thousand men, while А. Mardefeld was captured. Losses of the Russian troops turned out to be minor. As a reward for this victory tsar presented Alexander Danilovich a baton, decorated with precious stones, and promoted him to the colonel of the Life Guards of Preobrazhensky regiment.

Menshikov played a significant role in the Battle of Poltava (June 27 (July 8) 1709). Commanding the left flank, he inflicted a defeat to the Corps of the General Ross, what predominated the victory of the Russian Army. For the victory in Poltava Menshikov was given the rank of the General Field Marshal.

During 1709-1713 Alexander Danilovich was in command of the Russian troops in Poland, Courland, Pomerania and Holstein. From 1714 he was governing over the territories won from the Swedes, which entered the Russian State (the Near Baltic, Izhora land), and was in charge of collecting state revenues.

In 1715 Menshikov with a Navy arrived in Revel, where he directed the construction of the harbor. For participation in maritime affairs against the Swedes and concern about the Navy he was awarded the rank of Rear Admiral (1716). In 1718-1724 and 1726-1727 the Prince was the President of the Military Collegium. On the day of the Treaty of Nystad conclusion, which brought to an end the long struggle with the Swedes, Menshikov was given the rank of the Vice Admiral.

After the death of Peter I, relying on the Guard, on January 28 (February 8) 1725 Menshikov enthroned Catherine I and in fact became the ruler of Russia.

After the death of Catherine I, Alexander Danilovich was accused of abuses and embezzlement of state property. Following the results of the investigation commission of the Supreme Privy Council, on September 8 (19) 1727 by the Decree of 11 year old Emperor Peter II he was stripped of all his positions, awards, property, titles and with his family was exiled to the Siberian town of Beryozov.

On November 1 (12) 1729 aged 56 Alexander Danilovich passed away.


Lit.: Беспятых Ю. Н. Александр Данилович Меншиков: мифы и реальность. СПб., 2005; Князь Александр Данилович Меншиков // Н. И. Костомаров. Русская история в жизнеописаниях её главнейших деятелей. Отд. 2. Гл. 18; Павленко Н. И. Александр Данилович Меншиков. М., 1983; Бантыш-Каменский Д. Биографии российских генералиссимусов и генерал-фельдмаршалов. СПб., 1840. Ч. 1. 4-й Генерал-Фельдмаршал, 1-й Генералиссимус Князь Александр Данилович Меншиков; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL:

Based on the Presidential Library’s materials:

Краткое описание жизни и деяний генералиссимуса князя Александра Даниловича Меньщикова. М., 1873;

Михеев С. П. История Русской армии. М., 1910. Вып. 1;

Петровский сборник, изданный «Русскою стариною» 30 мая 1872 года. СПб., 1872;

Полевой, Николай Алексеевич. Русские полководцы, или Жизнь и подвиги российских полководцев от времен императора Петра Великого до царствования императора Николая I. СПб., 1845;

Порозовская Б. Д. А. Д. Меншиков: его жизнь и государственная деятельность. СПб., 1895;

Тарапыгин Ф. А. Известные русские военные деятели: краткое их жизнеописание. СПб., 1911;

Юль Юст. Записки Юста Юля датского посланника при Петре Великом (1709-1711). М., 1899.