- 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 ambassadorabroad, 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
Gedyminidfamilies 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 retinueand took part in all of his military games. In 1695-1696, he participated in the Azov campaigns. In 1697, he was sent to Italyto learn navigation.
His long and honorable diplomatic career began in 1707, when he was sent to
Rometo 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 Regimentduring the Battle of Poltava. From 1708 to 1712, he represented Russiaat London, Hanover, and the Haguesuccessively, and, in 1713, was the principal Russian plenipotentiaryat the peace congress of Utrecht. From 1716 to 1722, he held the post of ambassadorat 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 Petrovnato 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
Viennaunder Alexander I and Vice-Chancellor of the Russian Empirein 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 Warwas drawing to a close. Notably, he prevented Great Britainfrom declaring war against Peter's close , Denmark, at the crisis of the struggle. As Duc de Saint-Simonput 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 archivewas 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.
* [http://genealogy.euweb.cz/russia/kurakin1.html Genealogy of Kurakin Family]
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