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Bestuzhev-Ryumin, Mikhail Petrovich

BESTUZHEV-RYUMIN, MIKHAIL PETROVICH, Count (1688-1760), Russian diplomatist, elder brother of the foregoing, was educated at Berlin, and was sent by Peter the Great to represent Russia at Copenhagen in 1705. In 1720 he was appointed resident at London at a time when the English court was greatly inflamed against Peter, who was regarded as a dangerous rival in the Baltic; and Bestuzhev was summarily dismissed for protesting against the lately-formed Anglo-Swedish alliance. On the conclusion of the peace of Nystad in 1721 he was sent as ambassador to the court of Stockholm. His first official act was the signing of a defensive alliance between Russia and Sweden for twelve years, in 1724. He was successively transferred to Warsaw (1726) and to Berlin (1730), but returned to Stockholm in 1732. How far Bestuzhev was concerned in the murder (June 28th, 1739) of the Swedish diplomatic agent Sinclair in Silesia on his journey home from Constantinople, it is difficult to say. It is certain that Bestuzhev sent information to his court of Sinclair's mission, which was supposed to be hostile to Russia, and even supplied the portrait of the envoy for recognition. The Swedish authorities are unanimous in describing Bestuzhev as the arch-plotter in this miserable affair; yet, while the active agents were banished to Siberia, Bestuzhev was not even censured. The Sinclair murder led ultimately to the Swedish-Russian War of 1741, when Bestuzhev was transferred first to Hamburg and subsequently to Hanover, where he endeavoured to conclude an alliance between Great Britain and Russia. On his return to Russia in 1743, he was made grand marshal, and married Anna, the widow of Paul Yaguzhinsky, Peter the Great's famous pupil. A few months later his wife was implicated in a bogus conspiracy got up by the French ambassador, the marquis de La Chétardie, to ruin the Bestuzhevs (see Bestuzhev-Ryumin, Alexius), and after a public whipping, had her tongue cut out and was banished to Siberia. Thither Bestuzhev had not the manhood to follow her, but went abroad, and subsequently resumed his diplomatic career. His last and most brilliant mission was to Versailles, shortly after the conclusion of the coalition against Frederick the Great, where he cut a great figure. He died at Paris on the 26th of February 1760.

See Robert Nisbet Bain, The Daughter of Peter the Great (London, 1899); Mikhail Sergyievich, History of Russia (Rus.), vols. xv.-xxii. (2nd ed., St Petersburg, 1897).

(R. N. B.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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