Exactly three hundred years ago, in the fall of 1721, the Treaty of Nystadt was signed, which consolidated the victory over Sweden and marked the end of more than twenty years (since 1700) of the Northern War.
The world was celebrated with lavish celebrations and amusements, culminating on October 22, old style (November 2, new style). On this day, Chancellor Ga-vrila Ivanovich Golovkin, on behalf of the Governing Senate, announced a request to Peter – “to accept the title of Father of the Fatherland, Peter the Great, Emperor of All Russia.”
That is, graceful etiquette was observed – “yielding to the most obedient requests of gentlemen senators.” About nine and a half centuries ago, when Pope Leo III proclaimed Charlemagne as emperor in Rome on Christmas Day 800. Which, according to the official version, was a surprise for Karl. In 1721, with the replacement of the Pope by Gavrila Ivanovich, the same thing happened.
Since then, almost two hundred years, until September 1917, when the Russian Republic was proclaimed (then, in the general collapse, this proclamation remained almost unnoticed, and Russia was rapidly becoming, no one knows what), this title remained unchanged. It seemed like forever.
The foreign policy significance of the proclaimed empire was evident, of cou-rse, not immediately. Even in our days, when the liberal principle “even call it a pot” operates in foreign rel-ations, it is not possible to achieve international recognition right away. What can we say about the beginning of the 18th century, when the title was not at all an empty phrase. The seniority, rights and privileges of powers were determined a-ccording to a clearly defin-ed scheme, at the top of w-hich was found the Roman emperor who was sitting in Vienna – the head of the Holy Roman Empire, he is also the Austrian Caesar.
Wedging into this scheme of the newly-minted Russian Empire changed everything. Moreover, the official recognition of the imperial dignity of Russia happened slowly. Immed-iately recognized the title o-nly then very small Prussia, in 1722 – Holland, in 1723 – Denmark, while Austria only in 1747, France and at all in 1757. Everything depended on a very confusing and multi-vector European policy, sometimes in need of Russia, sometimes not very much. Before the proud speeches of Catherine’s Chancellor Count Bezborodko: “With us, not a single cannon in Europe dared to fire without our permission” (and surely she didn’t dare?) – it was very far away.
On the other hand, if you recall the first post-Petrine decades with their monstrous disorder (although the second quarter of the 18th century was not very different in Europe), one can rather marvel that Russia was able to assert itself in its imperial claims, which are not so much as under Catherine the Great. but even under Elizaveta Petrovna no one seriously questioned it.
Either Russia, according to Pushkin, “entered Europe like a lowered ship, to the sound of an ax and the roar of cannons,” or, according to Chancellor Golovkin, “Peter was added to the society of political peoples,” but the very fact of inclusion was obvious, and the game in a European concert and not in the last roles, it continued until 1917, when the music was not the same.
True, the terrible turmoil that broke out that year could not finally write off the Russian Empire to the historical archive. By the middle of the 20th century, the empire as an idea was restored. And not only as an idea, but also as a practice. The expansion of Mosco-w’s power to Eastern Eur-ope, as well as its distant possessions in the Third World – if this is not an em-pire, then how can we call it?
Moreover, the rivals of our country were not at all shy in terms, and they called the USSR an empire, which in the geopolitical sense it, of course, was. Another thing is the official Soviet ideology, which, like the devil of incense, was afraid of this word when applied to itself. Yes, and Soviet leaders were someti-mes called all-Russian em-perors, but only in very private (and even risky) conv-ersations. Publicly, no way.
Here, on the one hand, there were difficulties in conjugating the Marxist-Leninist language with imperial practice, it was better not to tease the geese. On the other hand, the use of the word “empire” in relation to the unbreakable union of the free republics, which was united forever by the great Russia, could somehow not be so perceived by the representatives of these free republics. And this was highly undesirable.
Therefore, when the empire kept to itself, it didn’t seem to exist, and the word was allowed to be used, and in a purely negative sense (“damned imperial legacy,” “prison of peoples”), only when the empire began to burst at the seams under the life-giving pressure of revolutionary perestroika. “Imperial Russians” as well as “Russian world” were left without a positive word and without a positive slogan. Which also explains their unenviable post-Soviet fate. After all, the word “Russian world” to this day acts on the Westernizing, and therefore anti-imperial, public like a red rag on a bull.
However, even today, when three centuries have passed since the proclamation of the Russian Empire, it remains unclear: this is already a pure archeology, which has only historical interest, or in the modern world, which is rapidly moving in an unknown direction, the empire is still far from dead. it has every opportunity to be reborn again.
In Russian history, various social institutions were passed so many times at once and forever final, but, nevertheless, incorrect sentences, which is more appropriate to remember the words of the musketeer Athos: “Do not judge rashly,” say the Gospel and Mr. Cardinal. ” This also applies to the empire.