Aleksei Petrovich Bestuzhev-Riumin

Bestuzhev-Riumin, Aleksei Petrovich

 

Born May 22 (June 1), 1693, in Moscow; died Apr. 10 (21), 1766. Russian statesman and diplomat; made a count in 1742.

Bestuzhev-Riumin was in the foreign service in Hanover and England in 1713–17. In 1720 he became Russia’s minister resident in Denmark and served as Russian ambassador there during 1734–40. With the support of E. Biron he became a cabinet minister in 1740. The next year, after the death of Anna Ivanovna, he was sentenced to death for participating in an attempt by Biron to seize power, but his sentence was commuted to exile. In 1741 he took part in a palace coup resulting in the ascension of Elizaveta Petrovna to the throne. She appointed him vice-chancellor, and in 1744 he was made chancellor in charge of foreign affairs, which he conducted until 1758.

Bestuzhev-Riumin’s political program was to strengthen the alliance with England, Holland, and Austria against France, Prussia, and Turkey. In his work he made use of monies provided to him by the English government in the form of a so-called pension. England’s entry into alliance with Prussia and the beginning of the Seven Years’ War (1756–63) forced Bestuzhev-Riumin to seek a rapprochement with France. The military setback suffered in 1757 by the army of Field Marshal S. F. Apraksin, who was close to Bestuzhev-Riumin, and Elizaveta Petrovna’s illness gave his opponents the chance to accuse Bestuzhev-Riumin of supporting the political plans of the future empress, Catherine II. In February 1758, Bestuzhev-Riumin was arrested and sentenced by an investigating commission to death, but Elizaveta Petrovna commuted his sentence to banishment. After the palace revolution of 1762, Bestuzhev-Riumin had all of his rights and titles restored by Catherine, and he was made a general field marshal, but he no longer played an active role in the country’s political life.

REFERENCES

Presniakov, A. “A. P. Bestuzhev-Riumin.” Russkii biograficheskii slovar’, vol. 2. St. Petersburg, 1900.
Ocherki istorii SSSR: Vtoraia chetvert’ XVIII v. Moscow, 1957.
Ocherki istorii SSSR: Period feodalizma: Rossiia vo vtoroi polovine XVIII v. Moscow, 1956.

A. A. ZALESSKII