Zubov Platon Alexandrovich, favorite of Catherine 2: biography, photo, portrait
In June 1789, the imperial motorcade moved from St. Petersburg to Tsarskoe Selo. Next to the carriage, adorned with a royal monogram, a twenty-year-old beauty pranced on his horse, astonishing the look of his article and grace. From the window gloom behind him, the eyes of a woman who had lost her youth, but still retained the features of grandeur and former beauty, were continuously watching him. That day in the metropolitan sky rose the star of the new Catherine's favorite, whose name - Platon Zubov - will become a symbol of the end of the reign of the greatest Russian empress.
Military career, which began after the student's desk
The last favorite of Catherine II, the most illustrious prince Zubov Platon Alexandrovich, born November 26, 1767, was the third son of the provincial vice-governor and manager of the estate of Count Saltykov - Alexander Nikolaevich Zubov, whom his contemporaries called "the most dishonest nobleman in the whole state." Apparently, there were grounds for that.
Hardly having reached the age of eight, the future Serene Prince, and at the time just Platosha, was enlisted as a sergeant in the Life Guards Semenovsky Regiment. While the boy was growing up and getting a home education, his military career was going uphill, and after a lapse of time he received another rank. As soon as the boy was twelve, he was transferred to the Horse Guards by a sergeant-major, and five years later he was promoted to cornet.
For the first time in the army that was then in Finland, Plato was in 1788, where he soon received another promotion, becoming a second captain. Such a rapid advancement of the young man's career is explained by the patronage of Count Saltykov, whose father served as the manager, and who quite distinguished Plato for his "modesty and respect".
But the real take-off of his dizzying career began exactly on the summer day from which we started the story. Thanks to the patronage of the same Count Saltykov, Platon Zubov is appointed commander of the Horse Guards, sent to Tsarskoe Selo - the residence of the empress - for guard duty there. This move coincided with the "resignation" of the next Catherine's favorite Count AM Dmitriev-Mamonov, and the heart of the aging, but still loving Empress was free.
As is known, emptiness is generally contrary to nature, and especially to the woman's heart, and Anna Nikitichna Naryshkina, faithful to the Empress, devoted to the Empress, hastened to make up for it. It was with her mediation that the Russian autocrat came to a rapprochement with the young Horse Guards she liked so much.
At first he received an invitation to dinner and received a pleasant conversation, and then was received in the private chambers of Catherine. Apparently, Platon was worthy of her attention, as literally three days later he was granted a ring with diamonds and 10 thousand rubles in cash, and two weeks later he was promoted to colonels and aide-de-camp.
It is very possible that, given their age difference (Catherine was already over sixty at that time), she experienced very mixed feelings for her twenty-two-year-old, in whom the passion of a woman in love was mating with maternal tenderness. But, one way or another, Platon Zubov and Catherine became inseparable. Soon he settled in the palace, where he was assigned the same chambers that formerly occupied by his predecessor - Count Dmitriev-Mamonov. In the autumn of the same year, Zubov was appointed a cornet of the Cavalry Division and was promoted to major general.
The old favorite and his young successor
It should be noted, however, that the evil tongues claimed that this connection was nothing more than the result of political intrigue, initiated by the enemies of the Most Serene Prince Potemkin, removed from the Catherine's Alcove, but remained, nevertheless, her closest friend and influential dignitary. All the former young favorites were his proteges and therefore did not pose a danger to the all-powerful prince. Courtiers, however, dissatisfied with his influence on the empress and who wanted a speedy overthrow, needed a different candidate.
Potemkin, who was at that time in the Moldavian principality, the empress wrote about her new favorite as a recently appeared to her "pupil" and "newcomer". The lordly prince, who strictly controlled her heartfelt affection, at first did not give the next novel a serious meaning. According to the information he had at his disposal, the young man was a very shallow and short-sighted sham who did not pose a threat to him.
"Tooth", which prevented Potemkin
By the way, I liked Potemkin and Zubov himself. Plato in the presence of Catherine personally wrote to the prince a letter in which he expressed his respect and devotion. At first it had an effect, but soon the experienced nobleman, feeling the danger, began to set up the empress against her new "disciple", convincing her in letters that he was "shoddy" and "insignificant" person. But there was an unexpected - Catherine, who always followed his advice unerringly, this time became obstinate and flatly refused to part with her dear "novice" heart.
There is a funny legend: in a letter to the Empress, answering a question about his health, Potemkin wrote that everything is healthy, but a tooth prevents him from tearing out when he arrives in Petersburg. Needless to say, this pun was directed against the young Zubov, whom Potemkin intended to separate Catherine. Running forward, it should be said that his plans were prevented by death, which caught the all-powerful nobleman on his way from Moldova to St. Petersburg.
New Zubov at the Empress's Court
Already in the autumn of the same year 1789, at the court appears another representative of the Zubov family - Valerian, who was a new favorite, his own brother. This eighteen-year-old boy, being presented to the Empress, immediately conquers her warm sympathy and becomes one more "disciple". About it, she writes Potemkin as a child, extraordinarily beautiful and in all her faithful. For him, Catherine asks the Sovereign for a worthy place in the army, which he leads, and from himself he complains to the young man the rank of colonel. Apparently, the "disciple" showed considerable ability.
Preserved curious documents that testify to the bounties that the empress showered at the expense of the treasury of one of his former favorites - Alexander Lansky. From them it follows that during the three years of his favor he received 100,000 rubles for a wardrobe and outfits, and the daily table, for which at least twenty people gathered, cost the treasury 300,000 rubles.
Personally, the Empress handed him 7 million rubles, not counting numerous gifts, such as diamond buttons on a jacket, two houses in St. Petersburg and countless serfs. It is possible to say with confidence that the Treasury and Zubov did not pay less. Plato was her last passion, and, presumably, in relation to him, Catherine was particularly generous.
He sent his inappropriately quick brother out of his sight, persuading the Empress to send him to Moldova to Potemkin, where a warm place was ready for him. So it was calmer - who could know if there would be enough room for both of them in the heart of a woman who was satiated with life? Apparently, Plent Zubov reasonably judged so. A photo from the portrait of his brother, where he is depicted in a hat with a luxurious plume, is presented in our article.
Beginning of government activities
In October 1791, the faithful assistant to the Empress in all state affairs suddenly died, the Most Serene Prince Potemkin. For Catherine this was a terrible blow, because now it was her responsibility to make important decisions. We needed a reliable and intelligent person who was always near. Such an attorney, in her opinion, could become Platon Zubov. Favorite as no one else was suitable for this role.
His Platos (so affectionately called him empress), she began to attach to state affairs during the life of Potemkin, but we can not say that in this he was able to succeed. According to contemporaries, Platon Zubov - favorite of Catherine II - with all his physical virtues did not possess a sharp mind or tenacious memory. Science was clearly not given to him, but at the same time he was able to impress the people around him with the impression of an intelligent and educated person. This was helped by the excellent knowledge of the French language, on which he spoke easily and at ease.
After the death of Potemkin, Platon Zubov, whose biography became the embodiment of court favoritism in full, rose in his career to a completely new level. Now, from a humble and respectful "disciple", he turned into an omnipotent courtier who did not consider it shameful to cry out to those nobles who before yesterday were still servile. From his pen in those years came the most unthinkable and absurd state projects, such as the seizure of the Russian fleet of Istanbul, the conquest of Vienna and Berlin, as well as the creation of a new state of Australia.
Strange as it may seem, but before that the wise and prudent ruler was influenced by the Zubov brothers - empty and unprincipled careerists. She signed decrees on the execution of their delusional projects and generously financed them. For example, she sent Valerian with the army on a campaign, the goal of which was to conquer Persia, and then India. It is believed that it was the brothers who persuaded the Empress to cruelly suppress the Polish insurrection, the liquidation of Poland as an independent state, the persecution of Radishchev, Novikov and the persecution of Freemasons.
At the peak of power
As Platon Zubov entered into force, Catherine II showered all his generous relatives and numerous relatives who came to Petersburg for ranks and riches. The favorite's father, Alexander Nikolayevich, becoming a senator, took bribes and traded his son's patronage. Other Zubovs did not lag behind him.
By this time Platon Zubov already fully entered the taste of power, especially since everyone around him contributed to it. The great general AV Suvorov gladly married him for his beloved daughter. Another our military genius - MI Kutuzov - according to the memoirs of his contemporaries, considered it an honor to personally weld Zubov coffee, and the poet Derzhavin devoted him laudatory ode. In general, everyone, as best he could, tried to please the darling of fate. A well-known portrait of Platon Zubov's brush, Ivan Eggink, stored in the Hermitage and presented at the beginning of this article, depicts him in that happy time.
End of a fairy tale
The end of such a brilliant career came on November 17, 1796, when his patron, Empress Catherine II, suddenly died in the Winter Palace. Among those who sincerely lamented this death, was primarily Platon Zubov - favorite of Catherine 2, whose biography from that day began to develop in a completely different direction.
Despite all the fears, the emperor Paul I ascended the throne did not oppress his mother's favorite, but simply sent him away under a plausible pretext abroad. However, soon news came to him that he began to smuggle his multimillion fortune abroad, than he did a tangible loss to the Russian financial system. In those days, such cases did not go away, and the angry emperor ordered to seize all his property.
Complicity in the murder
Remaining abroad without funds sufficient to cover his exorbitant expenses, Zubov was forced to return to his homeland, where he immediately joined the number of conspirators who were preparing the overthrow of Paul I. In the fateful night for the emperor on March 11, 1801, among those who entered the Mikhailovsky Palace , Was and Zubov. Plato, according to the memories of the participant of the events of Count Benigsen, was the first to break into the emperor's bedroom, and his brothers-Valerian and Nikolai-followed him. Perhaps, not his hand dealt a death blow to the crown, but the blood of the anointed of God lies on him.
During the reign of Alexander I Zubov had high hopes, as he personally participated in the elimination of his predecessor. He showed great zeal in matters, drawing up projects of state reorganization (meaningless, as in previous years), and even became one of the authors of the law on the abolition of serfdom that remained unaccepted. By nature, he was a typical opportunist, who branded a revolution in the time of Catherine, and in the reign of her grandson Alexander, who rallied for the constitution.
But all his attempts were fruitless. As is known, under Alexander I none of the former conspirators was marked by high state posts. Moreover, internally afflicted with remorse, the emperor tried to get rid of those who reminded him of the tragic death of his father. Among them was Zubov. Platon Aleksandrovich, having submitted to the circumstances, left the capital and settled in Lithuania, where, at the time of his brilliant career, received as a gift from Catherine II a luxurious estate.
The prototype of the "stingy knight"
In the last period of his life Platon Zubov - the favorite of Catherine II and the possessor of untold riches - became famous as an incredible miser, equal to whom it was difficult to find. Keeping in the cellars of his castle chests filled with gold (according to the most conservative estimates, his fortune amounted to twenty million rubles), he shamelessly robbed his own peasants, making them the poorest in the district. Painfully enduring even the most insignificant expenses, he did not hesitate to walk in old and ragged clothes, regretting the money to buy a new one.
His only joy was, descended into the basement, to contemplate the treasures stored in the dusty chests. It is known that the prototype for the writing of Pushkin by his famous "Mean Knight" was Zubov. Plato, over the years increasingly losing his human face, only once, as if waking from sleep, showed a previous interest in life.
The last years of life of the former favorite
The legend tells that shortly before his death, he accidentally saw a young girl of incredible beauty at the fair - the daughter of a local landowner. By that time he was already a widower and wanted to marry a young beauty. After receiving a categorical refusal from her, the old madman took out of his cellar a chest in which a million rubles was kept in gold, and simply bought the intractable girl from her father.
Platon Zubov finished his life in 1822 in Courland. After his death, the beautiful widow transported the remains to St. Petersburg, where they repaired in the ancestral tomb located in one of the churches of the Trinity-Sergius desert in Strelna. His last shelter he found next to the very same road that thirty-three years ago a brilliant motorcade was moving, and he, a twenty-year-old handsome man, pranced on a horse in front of the aging empress's eyes ...