1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Kurakin, Boris Ivanovich, Prince

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1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 15
Kurakin, Boris Ivanovich, Prince

KURAKIN, BORIS IVANOVICH, Prince (1676–1727), Russian diplomatist, was the brother-in-law of Peter the Great, their wives being sisters. He was one of the earliest of Peter’s pupils. In 1697 he was sent to Italy to learn navigation. His long and honourable diplomatic career began in 1707, when he was sent to Rome to induce the pope not to recognize Charles XII.’s candidate, Stanislaus Leszczynski, as king of Poland. From 1708 to 1712 he represented Russia at London, Hanover, and the Hague successively, and, in 1713, was the principal Russian plenipotentiary at the peace congress of Utrecht. From 1716 to 1722 he held the post of ambassador at Paris, and when, in 1724, Peter set forth on his Persian campaign, Kurakin was appointed the supervisor of all the Russian ambassadors accredited to the various European courts. “The father of Russian diplomacy,” as he has justly been called, was remarkable throughout his career for infinite tact and insight, and a wonderfully correct appreciation of men and events. He was most useful to Russia perhaps when the Great Northern war (see Sweden, History) was drawing to a close. Notably he prevented Great Britain from declaring war against Peter’s close ally, Denmark, at the crisis of the struggle. Kurakin was one of the best-educated Russians of his day, and his autobiography, carried down to 1709, is an historical document of the first importance. He intended to write a history of his own times with Peter the Great as the central figure, but got no further than the summary, entitled History of Tsar Peter Aleksievich and the People Nearest to Him (1682–1694) (Rus.).

See Archives of Prince A. Th. Kurakin (Rus.) (St Petersburg, 1890); A. Brückner, A Russian Tourist in Western Europe in the beginning of the XVIIIth Century (Rus.) (St Petersburg, 1892).  (R. N. B.)