Prince Alexander Andreyevich Bezborodko (Алекса́ндр Андре́евич Безборо́дко) (1747–1799) was the Grand Chancellor of Russia and chief architect of Catherine the Great's foreign policy after the death of Nikita Panin.
On the conclusion of the peace of Kuchuk-Kainarji (1774) the field marshal recommended him to Catharine II, and she appointed him in 1775 her petition-secretary. He thus had the opportunity of impressing the empress with his brilliant gifts, the most remarkable of which were exquisite manners, a marvellous memory and a clear and pregnant style. At the same time he set to work to acquire the principal European languages, especially French, of which he became a master. It was at this time that he wrote his historical sketches of the Tatar wars and of Ukraine.
His activity was prodigious, and Catharine called him her factotum. In 1780 he accompanied her on her journey through Novorossiya, meeting the emperor Joseph, who urged him to study diplomacy. On his return from a delicate mission to Copenhagen, he presented to the empress "a memorial on political affairs" which comprised the first plan of a partition of Turkey between Russia and Austria. This document was transmitted almost word for word to Vienna as the Russian proposals. He followed this up by Epitomised Historical Information concerning Moldavia. For these two state papers he was rewarded with the posts of "plenipotentiary for all negotiations " in the foreign office and postmaster-general.
The second Turkish War (1787-92) and the Swedish war with Gustavus III (1788-90) heaped fresh burdens on his already heavily laden shoulders, and he suffered from the intrigues of his numerous jealous rivals, including the empress's latest favorite, A. M. Mamonov. All his efforts were directed towards the conclusion of the two oppressive wars by an honorable peace. The pause of Verela with Gustavus III (14th of August 1790) was on the terms dictated by him. On the sudden death of Potemkin he was despatched to Jassy to prevent the peace congress there from breaking up, and succeeded, in the face of all but insuperable difficulties, in concluding a treaty exceedingly advantageous to Russia (9th of January 1792). For this service he received the thanks of the empress, the ribbon of St Andrew and 50,000 roubles.
On his return from Jassy, however, he found his confidential post of secretary of petitions occupied by the empress's last favorite, Prince Zubov. He complained of this "diminution of his dignity" to the empress in a private memorial in the course of 1793. The empress reassured him by fresh honors and distinctions on the occasion of the solemn celebration of the peace of Jassy (2nd of September 1793), when she publicly presented him with a golden olive-branch encrusted with brilliants. Subsequently Catharine reconciled him with Zubov, and he resumed the conduct of foreign affairs. He contributed more than any other man to bring about the downfall and the third partition of Poland, for which he was magnificently recompensed.
Bezborodko was the only Russian minister who retained the favor of Paul to the last. During the last two years of his life the control of Russia's diplomacy was entirely in his hands. His programme at this period was peace with all the European powers, revolutionary France included. But the emperor's growing aversion from this pacific policy induced the astute old minister to attempt to "seek safety in moral and physical repose." Paul, however, refused to accept his resignation and would have sent him abroad for the benefit of his health, had not a sudden stroke of paralysis prevented Bezborodko from taking advantage of his master's kindness. He died at St Petersburg on the 6th of April 1799.