A Clever, Wily Fellow: Nicolay Pavlovich Ignatyev

Gerald Morgan charts the life and times of a senior Russian diplomat in nineteenth century China and Turkey, who outwitted his opponents by charm and guile.

During the last hundred years or so of the Imperial regime in Russia by no means all the senior members of the Tsars’ governments were Russian; a significant number were Baltic Germans. These men were all loyal servants of their Tsars, and it was strongly in their favour that they were incorruptible. For the most part they remained socially aloof and unrussified. Two outstanding examples were Gagemeister, with the unenviable job of Finance Minister, and Count Nesselrode, the latter serving as Foreign Minister from 1816 till 1856.

Of the nine Ambassadors to London between 1812 and 1917, four were Baltic Germans, of whom Baron Brunnow held the post for over thirty years, till he was succeeded by a Russian, Count Schuvalov, in 1874. Throughout that time he was a steadying influence during the periodic crises in Anglo-Russian relations.

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