30 January 1773|
Kruchyk village of Sloboda Ukraine Governorate in Russian Empire (today Ukraine)
|Died||4 November 1842
Nikolaev of New Russia Governorate in Russian Empire (today Ukraine)
|Known for||Founder of Kharkov University|
Vasily Nazarovich Karazin (Russian: Василий Назарович Каразин; 30 January 1773 – 4 November 1842) was a Russian enlightenment figure, intellectual, inventor, founder of The Ministry of National Education in Russian Empire and scientific publisher. He is the founder of Kharkov University (now V. N. Karazin Kharkov National University).
Karazin was born in Kruchik village, Kharkov Governorate, Russian Empire (now Bohodukhiv Raion of Kharkov Oblast, Ukraine), his father was Nazary Aleksandrovich Karazin, a Russian Imperial Army officer (noted for his involvement in Pârvu Cantacuzino's 1769 rebellion in Wallachia) and his mother was part of the Ukrainian Cossack elite. Karazin considered himself to be ethnic Serbian, though his paternal family originally known as Karadji stemmed from Greek people.
Vasily Karazin was educated in nobility schools in Kharkov and Kremenchuk. At the age of eighteen, he left for Saint Petersburg, and underwent military training in the prestigious Semyonovsky Regiment. He also studied at the School of Mines, one of the top educational institutions in Russian Empire at that time. Karazin was, nevertheless, opposed to this environment, and often reacted against the manners and customs condoned by the nobility of the times. Unsatisfied with his military service, he moved back to his village and married a fourteen-year-old serf.
In 1798, Karazin attempted to leave Russia given his opposition to the policies of Russian Emperor Paul I, but was denied a passport. After he attempted to cross the border illegally, he was swiftly arrested.
When Alexander I took power, Karazin began petitioning him with his views on government development, pointing out the state's need to invest in education. In 1802 he obtained the tsar's permission to open a university in Kharkov. On 1 September of that year, during a meeting of the Kharkov nobility, he gave a famous speech on the benefits of a university, asking for voluntary donations. Lacking sufficient funding and academic supplies, Karazin underwent hardship in achieving his educational priorities. The local elite preferred a military college in the city.
On 17 January 1805 the Kharkov University was opened; Karazin did not take part in the opening ceremony, as by that time he had lost his position with the Ministry of Education. According to Alexander Herzen, "the colossal ideas of Karazin were downscaled to a provincial German Hochschule". Forced to return to his village, Karazin did not give up on all his plans, and established a school for local children. In November 1808, Karazin wrote a letter to the emperor titled On non-intervention in European affairs for which he was arrested for the second time.
Karazin continued his academic work. He was a member of 7 academies, published more than 60 articles in different fields of science, primarily agriculture, pharmacology, chemistry, and physics. As an example of his innovative spirit, in 1810 in his village he opened Ukraine's first weather station.
Karazin repeatedly voiced critiques of what he viewed as Alexander's resistance to self-government and national education in the Russian Empire. Karazin was the founding father of the Ministry of National Education. His direct confrontation with Emperor Alexander I was so public, that in 1820–21 Karazin was even imprisoned in Shlisselburg fortress. After that he lived in his family estate. Karazin died in Nikolaev.
The Russian painter and writer Nikolay Karazin was his grandson.
- Kharkiv University (V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University), University in Kharkiv named in his honour
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