Sava Vladislavich

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An imaginary portrait from the early 20th century

Count Sava Lukich Vladislavich-Raguzinsky (Russian: Са́вва Луки́ч Рагузи́нский-Владиславич; Serbian: Сава Владиславић Рагузински, Sava Vladislavić Raguzinski; 16 January 1669 – 17 June 1738) was a Serbian merchant-adventurer and diplomat in the employ of Peter the Great. He conducted important diplomatic negotiations in Constantinople, Rome and Beijing. His most lasting achievement was the Treaty of Kiakhta, which regulated relations between the Russian Empire and the Qing Empire until the mid-19th century. Also, he was an author of a whole number of pamphlets, monographs, treaties and letters concerned with liberating the lands of the Slavs, then occupied by the Ottoman Empire and the forces of Leopold I.


Sava, named after Saint Sava, was born in 1669, in the village of Jasenik near Gacko, Bosnia Eyalet, Ottoman Empire. His father, Luka Vladislavić, was a Serb landlord. The family was driven out from Gacko by the local Turks, and settled in the Republic of Ragusa. Having settled with his family in Ragusa (Dubrovnik), Luka enrolled Sava in the best schools there. The well-being of the citizens of Ragusa depended on maritime commerce; Sava Vladislavich was no exception. For higher education, Sava was sent abroad, first to the Republic of Venice to study Italian, Latin, philosophy, law, commerce and maritime science, then, to Spain and France where he took advanced courses in international law and commerce which became a great aid to his father's merchant business in Ragusa.

Russian service[edit]

A commercial project brought the young merchant to Constantinople, where, in the absence of a permanent Russian mission, he was entrusted with various tasks by the Russian foreign ministers Vasily Galitzine and Emelian Ukraintsev. It so happened that his own commercial interests always went hand-in-hand with those of the Russian government. In 1702, he made the acquaintance of Peter the Great in Azov.

With an eye toward profiting from the fur trade with Russia, Vladislavich visited Moscow in the next year, but, after obtaining important privileges from the Tsar, returned to Constantinople, where he represented Russia's interests, in tandem with Pyotr Andreyevich Tolstoy, until the Battle of Poltava. It was he who purchased for the Tsar a black page, Ibrahim Hannibal, the ancestor of the great Pushkin. In 1708, he relocated to Moscow and soon received from the Tsar the lands in Little Russia, where Nezhin was made the centre of his commercial operations.

The "Illyrian Count" (as Vladislavich liked to style himself) maintained trade contacts with fellow Serbs and was under the impression that they would rise in revolt against the Sultan as soon as the Tsar invaded the Danubian Principalities. Having launched the invasion in 1711, Peter sent him on a mission to Moldavia and Montenegro, whose population Vladislavich was expected to incite to rebellion. Little came of these plans, despite the assistance of a pro-Russian colonel, Michael Miloradovich (the ancestor of Count Miloradovich). There has been preserved an inscription from that time, in a chronicle:

In the year 1711 Mikhail Miloradovich came to Montenegro, to the great misfortune of the Monastery and of Montenegro.... [for Vizir Kiuprili in 1714] razed Montenegro and destroyed the church and the Monastery.

From 1716 to 1722, Vladislavich resided in Italy, dividing his time between the advocacy of his own private interests and those of the Tsar. He entertained the aristocracy of Venice as well as foreign visitors, Ernest Louis, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt (1667-1739), Charles I, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel (1654-1730), Girolamo Colloredo, Governor of the Duchy of Milan (then under Austrian rule), Prince Teodor Konstanty Lubomirski, Anselm Franz, 2nd Prince of Thurn and Taxis, and Count Charachin. It was to this patron that Antonio Vivaldi dedicated La verità in cimento at Venice in 1720. While in Italy, among other commissions, he supervised the education of Russian nobles (such as painter Ivan Nikitich Nikitin) and prepared important, secret political treaties with Pope Clement XI. It was he who acquired in Venice an assortment of marble statues that still decorate the Summer Garden in St. Petersburg.

Treaty of Kyakhta[edit]

In 1725, Vladislavich retraced the steps of Spathari's travels, leading a large Russian mission to negotiate a new treaty with the Qing Empire. The extended and fractious negotiations with the Qing Emperor and his officials resulted in the Treaty of Burya, which adopted the doctrine of Uti Possidetis Juris for delimiting the Russo-Chinese border. In 1728, these provisions were finalized in the Treaty of Kyakhta, which also incorporated Vladislavich's proposal on the construction of an Orthodox chapel in Beijing.[1]

Viewing the commonly agreed border as an "everlasting demarcation line between the two empires",[2] Vladislavich spared no effort to further trade and commerce on the border. He personally selected the location for the Russian trade factory of Kyakhta, where the district of Troitskosavsk commemorates his name. As a reward for his part in securing a favourable treaty with China and establishing the Tea Road between the two countries, he was invested with the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky. He also drafted a comprehensive project of financial reform and left a detailed description of the Qing Empire. In a secret memorandum (1731), Vladislavich cautioned the Russian government against ever going to war with China.


In 1722, Sava Vladislavich published his most famous work, a translation in Russian of Mavro Orbin's Il regno de gli Slavi (1601; The Realm of the Slavs), which included a long passage on Kosovo. It was a tremendous sensation in Russia and the Balkans, and attracted the attention and discussion of all cultured society. It was said that "nowhere was there a rather large library that did not have a copy of Sava Vladislavich's translation of Orbini."


According to Serbian poet and diplomat Jovan Dučić, descendant of Sava's either half-brother or first cosuin Duka (whence the eponymic family name Dučić), "Sava Vladislavich occupied a distinguished position among Russian diplomats in the eighteenth century. During two and a half decades, he took part in all important events of the Russian empire as a legate of the Czar (Peter the Great) and Czarina (Catherine I of Russia)."

The fortress of Troitsko Savsk (see Kyakhta) was named after him at the time when he was negotiating a second treaty in 1727 between Russia and China.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stephen Uhalley, Xiaoxin Wu. China and Christianity: Burdened Past, Hopeful Future. M.E. Sharpe, 2001. ISBN 0-7656-0661-5. Page 169.
  2. ^ Quoted from: Peter C. Perdue. China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia. Harvard University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-674-01684-X. Page 250.

Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainBrockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary (in Russian). 1906.


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