Arakcheev, Aleksei Andreevich
Born Sept. 23 (Oct. 4), 1769, in Novgorod Province; died Apr. 21 (May 3), 1834, in the village of Gruzino, Novgorod Province. General of the artillery (1807) and a favorite at the courts of Paul I and Alexander I.
Son of a landowner of modest means in Tver’ Province, Arakcheev studied at the Artillery and Engineering Corps for Noble Cadets from 1783 to 1787. In 1792 he became inspector of Gatchina’s artillery and infantry and governor of Gatchina and in 17%, city commandant of St. Petersburg. Under Paul I, Arakcheev headed the reactionary reforms in the army—propagation of the Prussian military order, severe discipline (running the gauntlet), line tactics, and other changes. At the same time he somewhat improved the artillery’s organization and equipment. Despite Arakcheev’s enormous influence and decorations, he was twice dismissed by Paul I (1798, 1799–1801). In 1803, Alexander I reinstated him as inspector of the artillery. He was war minister from 1808 to 1810 and in 1810 became chairman of the State Council’s department of military affairs. From 1815 on, Arakcheev was virtually in charge of the affairs of the State Council, the Committee of Ministers, and His Imperial Majesty’s Private Office; he was the tsar’s only reporter on the affairs of most departments. He pursued a policy of extreme reaction, police despotism, and crude militarism, which later became known as arakcheevshchina after the name of Arakcheev. He earned the universal hatred of his contemporaries. A. S. Pushkin’s epigram on Arakcheev is widely known: “Tyrant of all the Russias, headsman of all the governors. . . . Full of wrath and lust for revenge, witless, heartless, and ignoble. ...” During the reign of Nicholas I, Arakcheev held only the post of chief commander of the military settlements (from 1817), although his methods continued to remain in force.