St. Petersburg: V Tipografii I. Glazunova, 1805. Octavo (17.5 × 11 cm). Contemporary quarter calf over marbled boards; 32 pp. Spine extremities chipped; light wear to boards; owner inscription to title page; light foxing throughout, still about good or better. Item #5857
This historical brochure contains brief accounts of the lives of Russian Emperor Paul I, the statesman and general Grigory Potemkin, and the statesman and de-facto head of Russian foreign policy Aleksandr Bezborodko. The brochure contains multiple “historical inaccuracies” such as listing the cause of death of the assassinated Emperor Paul I as “a sudden stroke.” The title page of the brochure notes that it was approved by the St. Petersburg censor, a fact suggesting that this version of Paul’s death, as well as other historical inconsistencies were held as official for a time.
Paul I (1754-1801) was the son of Catherine the Great, and enjoyed a relatively brief reign 1796-1801. Shortly after breaking his pact with his allies England, Austria, Turkey, and Naples, and signing a peace treaty with Napoleon in 1800, Paul I was assassinated in his bed chamber in 1801. Grigory Potemkin (1739-1791), a favorite of Catherine the Great, eventually became commander-in-chief of the Russian forces in 1787. While Paul I subsequently attempted to underplay Potemkn’s contribution to Russian military history, this brochure presents Potemkin in a very favorable light. Aleksandr Bezborodko (1747-1799) was the only minister of Catherine the Great who retained favor with Paul I, becoming the Grand Chancellor of the Russian Empire under the Emperor. The final section of the brochure encloses an address of Bezborodko to Paul I, requesting a leave from his post and a permission to travel abroad due to ill health – a leave he was granted but did not live to take advantage of dying soon after it was approved. KVK, OCLC show a sole copy, at the British Library.