Nikolay Pavlovich Ignatyev
Nikolay Pavlovich Ignatyev
|Born||29 January 1832|
|Died||3 July 1908(aged 76)|
|Occupation||diplomat,statesman, politician, legislator|
Count Nikolay Pavlovich Ignatyev (historical spelling: Nicolai Ignatieff; Russian: Никола́й Па́влович Игна́тьев; 17 January Old Style (N.S. 29 January) 1832 – 20 June Old Style (N.S. 3 July) 1908), a Russian statesman and diplomat, became best known for his aggressive expansionism in support of Russian imperialism. In dealing with China, he secured a large slice of Chinese territory by the multi-lateral Treaty of Peking in 1860. As the Russian ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1864 to 1877, he worked to stir up pan-Slavic feeling and nationalism against the Ottomans, and had some responsibility for the Bulgarian rebellion of April 1876. He encouraged his government to declare war on Turkey in 1877, and after the decisive Russian victory he negotiated the Treaty of San Stefano in 1878. It heralded greatly strengthened Russian influence in the Balkans. However Britain and Austria intervened and forced the retraction of the treaty. As Minister of the Interior (in office: 1881-1882), Count Ignatyev promoted ultraconservative and Slavic-nationalist policies.
Early life and military career
Nikolay Ignatyev was born in St Petersburg, to Maria Ivanovna Maltsova and Captain Pavel Nikolayevich Ignatyev. His father had been taken into favour by Tsar Nicholas I, owing to his fidelity on the occasion of the Decembrist revolt in 1825, and Grand Duke Alexander (later Tsar Alexander II) stood sponsor at the boy's baptism. After graduating from the Corps of Pages, at the age of seventeen he became an officer of the Russian Guards, serving with His Majesty's Hussar Guards Regiment. Ignatyev was then appointed to the General Staff and become adjutant to the general commanding in the Estonian military district. He was promoted to major in 1856. During Ignatyev's subsequent career he was at odds with Count Pyotr Shuvalov: another Corps of Pages alumnus.
Diplomatic career and involvement in the Great Game
Ignatyev's diplomatic career began at the Congress of Paris in 1856, after the Crimean War, where he participated in the negotiations regarding the demarcation of the Russo-Ottoman frontier on the lower Danube. He was then appointed as military attaché at the Russian Embassy in London. This assignment was a short one. According to the memoirs "Fifty Years of Service" written by his nephew Alexei Alexeyevich Count Ignatiev, Nikolay Ignatyev "inadvertently" pocketed a newly developed cartridge while inspecting the ordnance works of the British Army. In order to avoid diplomatic embarrassment he returned to Russia.
Two years later he was sent with a small escort on a dangerous mission to the Central Asian states of Khiva and Bukhara. The khan of Khiva laid a plan for detaining him as a hostage, but he eluded the danger and returned safely, after concluding a treaty of friendship with the emir of Bukhara.
Ignatyev's next diplomatic exploit was in the Far East, as plenipotentiary to the court of Peking (Beijing). When the Qing Chinese government was terrified by the advance of the Anglo-French expedition of 1860 and the burning of the Summer Palace in the Second Opium War, he worked on their fears so dexterously that, in the Convention of Peking, he obtained for Russia Outer Manchuria – not only the left bank of the Amur, the original object of the mission, but also a large extent of territory and seacoast south of that river that would become the Russian Maritime Province. See Amur Annexation.
Ignatyev's success was supposed to prove his capacity for dealing with "Orientals" and paved his way to the post of ambassador at Constantinople, which he occupied from 1864 to 1877. Here his chief aim was to liberate the Christian nationalities in general and the Bulgarians in particular from Ottoman domination and bring them under the influence of Russia (See also Bulgarian Exarchate and Constantinople Conference). His restless activity in this field, mostly of a semiofficial and secret character, culminated in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, at the close of which he negotiated with the Ottoman plenipotentiaries the Treaty of San Stefano. As the war which he had done so much to bring about did not eventually secure for Russia advantages commensurate with the sacrifices involved, he fell into disfavour with Alexander II in part due to efforts of Count Pyotr Shuvalov, and retired from active service. Soon thereafter the Treaty of San Stefano was revised through the Treaty of Berlin, 1878, signed on Russia behalf by Count Pyotr Shuvalov.
Although Count Ignatyev remained widely popular in Bulgaria and was even considered by some for the Bulgarian throne, the throne was eventually granted to Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg, his personal enemy.
In the meantime Count Ignatyev served as Governor of Nizhny Novgorod, where he was credited with the expansion of the Makaryev Fair. Shortly after the accession of Alexander III in 1881, he was appointed Minister of the Interior on the understanding that he would carry out a nationalist, reactionary policy. In regards to the constitutional movement, he had personally told Alexander III that "the revolutionary movement could easily be crushed." After a period of intense, violent, destructive antisemitic rioting, known as pogroms, which some accused Ignatyev of fomenting, he issued the infamous "May Laws" in May 1882. Other sources suggest he in fact followed a government policy (not always enforced by local authorities) of strict suppression of rioters and protection of the Jewish population:
Nikolai Ignatiev, installed as Minister of the Interior in May 1881, decided on a policy of firm repression, although it was made difficult by the unforeseeable character of the outbreaks and his limited forces. Nevertheless, he ordered his men to fire upon rioters. In the towns of Borisov and Nezhin this resulted in fatalities. In Kiev, 1400 arrests were made. Many in the government felt this was still inadequate. The police chief of Kiev wrote apologetically to the Tsar that the local military tribunals had been too lenient with the rioters; Alexander III wrote in the margin: “This is inexcusable!”
He retired from office in June 1882. Explanations include that he was suspected of dishonesty or extortion, or that the Tsar feared he intended to introduce constitutional government by reviving the Zemsky Sobor (parliament). He had been referred to as "Lord Liar", and Simon Sebag Montefiore has suggested he may have suffered from Munchausen Syndrome. After that time he exercised no important influence in public affairs. He died in 1908.
Ignatyev's son, Count Pavel Ignatyev, served as the last Minister of Education under Tsar Nicholas II and later moved to Canada. His grandson, George Ignatieff, was born in Russia and became a Canadian diplomat, and his great-grandson, Michael Ignatieff, was the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada from 2008 to 2011.
- A frequented trade pedestrian street in central Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, is named Graf Ignatiev Street after Count Ignatyev. It is popularly known simply as Grafa, "The Count".
- The Bulgarian villages of Graf Ignatievo in Plovdiv Province and Ignatievo in Varna Province were also named in his honour.
- Mount Ignatiev on Graham Land in Antarctica is named after Nikolay Ignatiev.
- John L. Evans, Russian Expansion on the Amur, 1848-1860: the Push to the Pacific (Edwin Mellen Press, 1999).
- George Ignatieff (1985). The Making of a Peacemonger: The Memoirs of George Ignatieff. University of Toronto Press. pp. 25–32.
- Peter Kropotkin (1905-01-01). "The Constitutional Movement in Russia". revoltlib.com. The Nineteenth Century.
- (F. Roger Devlin, "Solzhenitsyn on the Jews and Tsarist Russia")
- Sebag Montefiore, Simon (2016). The Romanovs. United Kingdom: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. 464.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ignatiev, Nicholas Pavlovich, Count". Encyclopædia Britannica. 14 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 292.
- Ignatieff. George (1985). The Making of a Peacemonger: The Memoirs of George Ignatieff. University of Toronto Press. pp. 25–32.
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