Contrary to the stereotype, Europeans were not so eager to Russia for "rich pickings". Many of them had to be lured, using distempers in their own states. In 1702, the tsar Peter the Great issued the curious decree. Appropriately, it was long and volubly, the essence was explained in detail. "To induce foreigners come to us and remain both in our duty tour and in our territory" …

Forked objects instead of peaks

Then this document will receive a strange name: "Peter the Great’s manifesto on the invitation of foreigners for the settlement in Russia". This name will give the chance to say that from that very day a great number of foreigners hungry for money and military awards shoot off to Russia:

"Barbers, tailors, shoemakers, coffin makers, mitt readers, alchemists, prostitutes, owners of dens and public houses … In what connection most of them were considered as losers on their native land ".

Meanwhile the Petrine manifesto concerned in the first instance people of one-and-only profession: military-grade. About the others it was threw off: "And other artists useful to our Commonwealth".

By the way, this document did not provoke any special "flow of foreigners" to Russia. Several corresponding manifestos (1703 and 1704) were required to adjust though some migration movement from Europe in our large areas of land.

As a matter of fact, all this action was started under the specific project that is called "the Great Northern War".

After the notable "Narvskaya konfuziya" where 9 thousand Swedes knocked out 40 thousand of Russians, having taken almost all banners and guns, the situation was hopelessly bad.

Peter the Great hsd to create army practically from scratch the English ambassador, Baron Charles Whitworth wrote about not without a gloating:

"The Russian troops can be considered without a doubt, as at a meeting of yearings. The arm blanche is very bad, it is doubtful that the Russian dragoons resisted against the Swedish cuirassiers. The infantry forces could be praised, but (except for eight regiments) they are bedighted, equipped and armed indifferently: in such a manner, the battalions of pikemen are armed with forked objects instead of peaks".

Cadres are all-important

The Baron Whitworth was a diplomat, but not a military emissary. Otherwise he would surely write how’s everything in those eight infantry regiments, which, as he considered, are still more or less bearable.

And the situation was the next: at the state level they needed 264 officers of an average top military brass. De facto there were only 78 officers. A bigger deficit was represented the high command: Peter the Great's generals could be counted on the fingers of one hand.

They should take officers immediately from some place because it was the utopia fraught with an accident to bring up and teach the soldiers in the conditions of war with the strong and bitter enemy.

And there was no place except Europe to take them. So the manifesto from 27-th of April, 1702 is not petty tyranny of Peter the Great whose particle indicating reported speech is only strives to give Russia to Germans. This is a voice crying in the wilderness. This is an attempt of drowning to grab a straw.

The straw, shall we say, was slimpsy. Perish the thought; the privileges to foreigners that the manifesto gave to them were indeed great: absolute affiliation freedom, for example. Jurisdiction of only specially created military division where the judges were the foreigners again. Freedom of resignation with a payment of a good indemnity

And what about the size of that compensation and remuneration - the thing was frankly bad. Actually, and Peter the Great realized it:  his operating memorandum to the Russian ambassador in Copenhagen Andrey Izmaylov who dealt the recruitment of foreigners remained up to now: "It is in charge to us that in the present wartime the foreigners ("izskusnyya") will not settle for service with such payment".

 

True happiness is never gained at the expense of others

In default of the stamped paper they write, as we know, on a plain paper. It was necessary not to choose those who are "izskusnyya" any more, but to take things lying in temptation's way. At the same time they descended to search for sugarplum in spite of others trouble. Or at least on commotions

 

In such a way, the Russian resident in Germany Gabriel Golovkin joyfully informs Peter the Great:

"The current king refused many people from the yard, and henceforth, hoped-for, will be in resignation between which there are many soldiers and artisan people who look for service arm… Release the general Bruce to Berlin for recruitment"

Already Peter the Great himself sends the instruction to the Russian resident in France Konon Zotov:

"Since the French king died, and the successor is very young, to be after something, many military and workmen people will look for fate in other states for what inquire about such and write that do not pass the required".

During the Great Northern War Russia represented the huge personnel vacuum cleaner which by hook or by crook devastated Europe. But with a variable result and, the main thing, with the variable course: not only on an intake of human material, but also on the emission.

When the most dangerous personnel crisis passed, the tendency which was perfectly formulated by the first Russian economist Ivan Pososhkov was obviously designated in Russia. This author of «The book about scarcity and wealth» wrote:

"It is extremely dangerous to trust foreigners: they are not sincere well-wishers ... I think that in any deals we are deceived and they pull a fast one, pull the wool over ours eyes. And their other ideas and whims can be stopped to prevent the vain exhausting of wealth in Russia".

After the series of victories over Swedes it became clear that piece by piece the Russian officer cadre is formatting. Two years later after Poltava, in 1711, Peter the Great undertakes the first national cleaning of armed forces. More than a half of middle ranking foreign officers were dismissed. They were replaced with Russians officers.

Special offers

Visit SPb Tram Museum

Visit SPb Tram Museum and have a memorable ride on a vintage tram through the historical attractions.
(more…)

Enlarge your War and Peace knowledge by joining Guide For You on the War and Peace Trail. (more…)

If you are looking for something unique to do in Saint Petersburg, experience Russian Blacksmith mastership!

(more…)

Book your tour with us and get a free visit to the Faberge Museum!