Boris Kurakin

Boris Kurakin

Prince Boris Ivanovich Kurakin ("Борис Иванович Куракин" in Russian) (7.20(30).1676, Moscow - 10.17(28).1727, Paris) was the first permanent Russian ambassador abroad, and one of the closest associates of Peter the Great. He was also the tsar's brother-in-law, being married to a sister of Eudoxia Lopukhina.


The Kurakins were one of the greatest Gedyminid families of Muscovy, whose members were promoted straight to the rank of okolnichy, skipping lower ranks like stolnik. In 1683, Boris Kurakin was appointed to young Peter's retinue and took part in all of his military games. In 1695-1696, he participated in the Azov campaigns. In 1697, he was sent to Italy to learn navigation.

His long and honorable diplomatic career began in 1707, when he was sent to Rome to induce the pope not to recognize Charles XII's candidate, Stanislaus Leszczynski, as king of Poland. In 1709, Boris Kurakin was appointed commander of the Semenovsky Regiment during the Battle of Poltava. From 1708 to 1712, he represented Russia at London, Hanover, and the Hague successively, and, in 1713, was the principal Russian plenipotentiary at the peace congress of Utrecht. From 1716 to 1722, he held the post of ambassador at Paris, and when, in 1722, Peter set forth on his Persian campaign, Kurakin was appointed the supervisor of all the Russian ambassadors accredited to the various European courts. In 1723, he attempted to arrange the marriage of Elizaveta Petrovna to Louis XV. Next year, he was sent to Paris as an ambassador, where he would eventually die.

Kurakin's descendants were also noted for their diplomatic careers. His son Alexander (1697-1749) was likewise ambassador to Paris, whereas the latter's grandson Alexander Kurakin (1752-1818) served as ambassador to Paris and Vienna under Alexander I and Vice-Chancellor of the Russian Empire in 1796.


The father of Russian diplomacy, as he has justly been called, was remarkable throughout his career for infinite tact and insight, and a wonderfully correct appreciation of men and events. He was most useful to Russia, perhaps, when the Great Northern War was drawing to a close. Notably, he prevented Great Britain from declaring war against Peter's close , Denmark, at the crisis of the struggle. As Duc de Saint-Simon put it, "c'etait un grand homme, bien fait, qui sentait fort la grandeur de son origine, avec beaucoup d'esprit, de tour et d'instruction".

Kurakin was one of the best-educated Russians of his day, and his autobiography, carried down to 1709, is an historical document of the first importance. He intended to write a history of his own times with Peter the Great as the central figure, but got no further than the summary, entitled "History of Tsar Peter Aleksievich and the People Nearest to Him (1682-1694)". His vast archive was published in the 19th century, revealing Kurakin as a master of literary style. He is held responsible for introducing many new words to the Russian language.

External links

* [ Genealogy of Kurakin Family]

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