Nikolay Rumyantsev

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A portrait by George Dawe.

Count Nikolai Petrovich Rumyantsev (Russian: Никола́й Петро́вич Румя́нцев; 3 April 1754 – 3 January 1826), born in Saint Petersburg, was Russia's Foreign Minister and Chancellor of the Russian Empire in the run-up to Napoleon's invasion of Russia (1808–12). He was the son of Field Marshal Pyotr Rumyantsev-Zadunaisky from the Rumyantsev comital family.

Official career

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During the first years of the 19th century, Rumyantsev was very influential with Alexander I and his mother Maria Fyodorovna, serving as Minister of Commerce (1802–1811) and President of the State Council (1810–1812).

As Foreign Minister (appointed 1808), he advocated a closer alliance with France. On receiving the news of Napoleon's invasion of Russia (1812), he suffered a stroke and lost his hearing. When Napoleon entered Moscow, he advised the Emperor to dismiss Kutuzov and to seek peace at any cost. Eventually Alexander lost all confidence in Nikolay Petrovich, who retired in 1814 just before the Congress of Vienna.

Nicholas Rumyantsev died on 3 January 1826 in his neo-Palladian palace on English Quay in St Petersburg. His statue stands in front of the Gomel Palace in Belarus.

Scholarly pursuits

During the years of his foreign service, Nikolay Petrovich amassed a huge collection of historical documents, rare coins, maps, manuscripts, and incunabula which formed a nucleus of the Rumyantsev Museum in Moscow (subsequently transformed into the State Russian Library). Showing a keen interest in Russian history, Rumyantsev produced the first printed publications of several old Russian chronicles and ancient literary monuments of the Eastern Slavs. He presided over a circle of young antiquaries (such as Pavel Stroev and Ivan Snegirev) that later drifted into the Slavophile camp.

Rumyantsev also became a notable patron of the Russian voyages of exploration. He sponsored the first Russian circumnavigation of the globe. As a result, his name came to be attached to such exotic things as Spiranthes romanzoffiana, a North American orchid, Papilio rumanzovia, a large butterfly from the Philippines, Syagrus romanzoffiana, the Queen or Coco Palm tree of South America, between 1812 and 1842 the Russian name (залив Румянцева) for present day Bodega Bay, California.

References

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