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Vorontsov, Mikhail Illarionovich

VORONTSOV, MIKHAIL ILLARIONOVICH (1714-1767), Russian imperial chancellor, was the first to become prominent. At the age of fourteen he was appointed a Kammer junker at the court of the cesarevna Elizabeth Petrovna, whom he disllor materially assisted during the famous coup d'ttat of the 6th of December 1741, when she mounted the Russian throne on the shoulders of the Preobrazhensky Grenadiers. On the 3rd of January 1742 he married Anna Skavronskaya, the empress's cousin; and in 1744 was created a count and vice-chancellor. His jealousy of Alexis Bestuzhev induced him to participate in Lestocq's conspiracy against that statesman. The empress's affection for him (she owed much to his skilful pen and still more to the liberality of his rich kinsfolk) saved him from the fate of his accomplices, but he lived in a state of semi-ecli] during the domination of Bestuzhev (1744-1758). On the disgrace of Bestuzhev, Vorontsov was made imperial chancellor in his stead. Though well-meaning and perfectly honest, Vorontsov as a politician was singularly timorous and irresolute, and always took his cue from the court. Thus, under Elizabeth he was an avowed enemy of Prussia and a warm friend of Austria and France; yet he made no effort to prevent Peter III. from reversing the policy of his predecessor. Yet he did not lack personal courage, and endured torture after the Revolution of the 9th of July 1762 rather than betray his late master. He greatly disliked Catherine II., and at first refused to serve under her, though she reinstated him in the dignity of chancellor. When he found that the real control of foreign affairs was in the hands of Nikita Panin, he resigned his office (1763). Vorontsov was a generous protector of the nascent Russian literature, and, to judge from his letters, was a highly cultivated man.

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

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