Gavriil Ivanovich, Count Golovkin - Encyclopedia




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GOLOVKIN, GAVRIIL IVANOVICH, COUNT (1660-1734), Russian statesman, was attached (1677), while still a lad, to the court of the tsarevitch Peter, afterwards Peter the Great, with whose mother Natalia he was connected, and vigilantly guarded him during the disquieting period of the regency of Sophia, sister of Peter the Great (1682-1689). He accompanied the young tsar abroadon his first foreign tour, and worked by his side in the dockyards of Saardam. In 1706 he succeeded Golovin in the direction of foreign affairs, and was created the first Russian grand-chancellor on the field of Poltava (1709). Golovkin held this office for twenty-five years. In the reign of Catherine I. he became a member of the supreme privy council which had the chief conduct of affairs during this and the succeeding reigns. The empress also entrusted him with her last will whereby she appointed the young Peter II. her successor and Golovkin one of his guardians. On the death of Peter II. in 1730 he declared openly in favour of Anne, duchess of Courland, in opposition to the aristocratic Dolgorukis and Golitsuins, and his determined attitude on behalf of autocracy was the chief cause of the failure of the proposed constitution, which would have converted Russia into a limited monarchy. Under Anne he was a member of the first cabinet formed in Russia, but had less influence in affairs than Ostermann and Miinnich. In 1707 he was created a count of the Holy Roman empire, and in 1710 a count of the Russian empire. He was one of the wealthiest, and at the same time one of the stingiest, magnates of his day. His ignorance of any language but his own made his intercourse with foreign ministers very inconvenient.

See R. N. Bain, The Pupils of Peter the Great (London, 1897).

(R. N. B.)

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