Artemy Volynsky

Artemy Petrovich Volynsky

Artemy Petrovich Volynsky (Арте́мий Петро́вич Волы́нский in Russian) (1689 – 1740) was a Russian statesman and diplomat. His career started as a soldier but was rapidly upgraded to minister under Peter the Great and governor of Astrakhan. Peter stripped him of nearly all his powers until Catherine I appointed him governor of Kazan.

Conspiracy under Anna of Russia earned him a trial with Biren's men; he was executed on June 27, 1740.

Military youth

Artemy Volynsky was a son of Peter Volynsky who came of an ancient Gediminids family. Artemy's father was one of the dignitaries at the court of Feodor III, and also a voivod in Kazan. He entered a dragoon regiment in 1704 and rose to the rank of captain, by 1711; then, exchanging the military service for diplomacy, he was attached to the suite of Vice-Chancellor Peter Shafirov. He was present during the Pruth Campaign, shared Shafirov's captivity in the Seven Towers in Constantinople.

Minister for Peter the Great

In 1715, by orders of Peter the Great he was sent to Ispahan, Persia (which he reached in March 1717) as a Russian minister to explore the area and find a way by sea to India. During his travelling he was supposed to redirect the silk trade route in Persia to Russia with the Armenians' help. During his stay in Ispahan, Volynsky signed a treaty with the Shah Husayn giving commercial advantages over a country torn by revolts.

In 1718 Peter made him one of his six adjutant generals, and governor of Astrakhan. In this post Volynsky displayed distinguished administrative and financial talents. In 1722 he married Alexandra Naryshkina, Peter's cousin. The same year he was accused of peculation and other offences to the emperor, who caned him severely and deprived him of his plenipotentiary powers, despite his undeniable services in Persia, but for which Peter could never have emerged so triumphantly from the difficult Persian war of 1722-1723.

Governor of Kazan

Catherine I made Volynsky governor of Kazan for a short time, and he held the same post for two years (1728-1730) under Peter II. But his incurable corruption and unbridled temper so discredited the government that he was deprived of the post shortly after the accession of Anne. From 1730 to 1736 Volynsky served in the army under Munnich. In 1737 he was appointed the second Russian plenipotentiary at the abortive congress of Nemirov held for the conclusion of peace with the Porte.

Condemned under Anne

In 1738 he was introduced into the Russian cabinet by Biron as a counterpoise against Andrei Osterman. Volynsky, however, now thought himself strong enough to attempt to supersede Biron himself, and openly opposed the favorite in the State Council in the debates as to the indemnity due to Poland for the violations of her territory during the War of the Polish Succession, Biron advising that a liberal indemnity should be given, whereas Volynsky objected to any indemnity at all.

Biron thereupon forced Anne to order an inquiry into Volynsky's past career, with the result that he was tried before a tribunal of Biron's men. The charges faced were that he, as a minister, and Andrei Fedorovich Khrushchev (1691—1740), as an assistant minister, tried to dethrone Queen Anna for Peter the Great's daughter, Elizabeth. He was arrested on June 23, 1740 and thus condemned to be broken on the wheel and then beheaded. On the scaffold, by the clemency of the empress, his punishment was mitigated to the severing of his right hand followed by decapitation in June 27, 1740. The sentence was executed on Poltava Victory's day and Volynsky had by his side Pyotr Mikhailovich Eropkin & A. F. Khruschov.

A tombstone in their honour was erected in 1741 by order of Elizabeth of Russia over their burial place beside St. Sampson Cathedral. That was the only thing that was visible over their grave until 1885 when a monument was placed as they were seen as national heroes because they opposed to German ideas, that of Biron. Although Britannica stated in 1911 that The whole business seems to have been purely a piece of vindictiveness on the part of Biron., since the erection of the monument, there was controversy over their plans since Volynsky's work General Project of Internal Affairs of the State state that they were conspirators in a plan to overturn the Empress.


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