The last lover of the Empress – Іван Корсак


Characterization by A. S. Pushkin,

“Catherine knew tricks and robberies of her lovers, but she kept silent. They were incited by such indulgence and their covetousness was measureless, and the most distant relatives of the temporary worker enjoyed his brief reign with greediness. All were stealing, from chancellor to a simple recorder, and everything was bribable.”


A. M. Turgenev,

“After examination of a man (designed to the highest rank for the empress) by Surgeon in Ordinary Rogerson, and after recognition him available-for service concerning health, he was brought to Anna Stepanovna Protasova on trial for three nights. When he satisfied the requirements of Protasova, she reported the Most Gracious Majesty about his reliability. Next day after the first date with the empress, new lover was brought to his rooms and reported about assignment to a position of adjutant; they gave him coat with diamond agraphia and 100,000 rubles of pocket money. Metropolitan came to a favorite on the next day for consecration and he was blessing him with holy water.”


Prussian envoy Solms reported in Berlin,

“I can not hold back any longer, and I can’t help reporting Your Majesty about an interesting event which has just happened in the court. The absence of count Orlov found very natural, but, nevertheless, an unexpected circumstance: Her Majesty found it possible to do without him, to change her feelings for him and to focus on a different subject. Horse Guards cornet Vasilchikov, who was accidentally sent with a small detachment to Tsarskoye Selo to bear the guard, attracted the attention of the empress, quite unexpectedly for everybody, because there wasn’t anything particular in his appearance, and he had never tried to succeed in life and he was known very little in the society. Her Majesty first showed sign of her attention during the movement of the court from Tsarskoye Selo to Petergof, presenting golden snuffbox for correct bearing the guard. Nobody attached any importance to this case, but frequent Vasilchikov’s visits to Petergof, her care to distinguish him from others, her more relaxed and cheerful spirit since removal of Orlov, displeasure of Orlov’s relatives and friends, and many other minor circumstances opened courtiers’ eyes. Although so far everything is kept secret, nobody doubts that Vasilchikov is in full favor with the empress; all have seen this especially since the day when he was appointed a bedchamber.”


Gelbich tells that Catherine went to the reception when there were all three applicants, appointed to the audience. Each of them stood, holding a bouquet of flowers, and she was speaking graciously to Bergman, then to Rontsov, and to Korsakov at last. His extraordinary beauty and elegance captivated her. Catherine smiled graciously at all, but she sent Korsakov with a bouquet of flowers to Potemkin, Korsakov became the next favorite. It is known from other highest quarters that Korsakov reached the desired position not immediately. In general, Catherine experienced a kind of moral breakdown in 1778, and she liked several young people at the same time. Englishman Harris notes Korsakov’s rising in June, and in August he already tells about his rivals, who try to take away the grace of the empress; they are supported by Potemkin from one side, and by Panin and Orlov from the other side; Strahov, “buffoon of the lowest level”, gains the upper hand over all in September, in four months major of the Semenov regiment Levashov takes his place, young man sheltered by countess Bruce. Then Korsakov returns to his position, but now he fights with Stoyanov, Potemkin’s favorite. In 1779 he wins a complete victory over rivals at last; he became a chamberlain and adjutant-general. Catherine wrote to Grimm, who considered his friend’s interest to be an usual whimsy, “Whimsy? Do you know what this is: this word isn’t proper here when they talk about Pirr, King of Epirus (so Catherine called Korsakov), and about this subject of seduction and despair of all the artists of all sculptors. Excitement, enthusiasm, but not whimsy promotes such ideal creations of nature… Pirr had never done any ignoble or graceful gesture or movement… But this is not effeminacy, but vice versa, courage, he is how you would like him to be…” Besides his amazing appearance, Korsakov charmed her with his wonderful voice. Reign of a new favorite makes the era in the history of Russian music. Catherine invited first actors of Italy in order Korsakov could sing with them. She wrote to Grimm, “I have never met anybody able to enjoy harmonic sounds as Pirr, King of Epirus.” Unfortunately for himself Korsakov couldn’t stay on the reached height. Once at the beginning of 1780 Catherine saw her favorite in the arms of her friend countess Brus. It strongly cooled her ardor, and soon twenty two year-old Horse Guards Alexander Lansky took Korsakov’s place.


Chancellor of Catherine II, count Bezborodko,

“What matters!.. They go on themselves. Mr Platon Zubov planned matters till 1797. Count Valeryan Zubov will have taken all important places by garrisons in Persia and Tibet to trade with India. Suvorov will go through Andrianopol to the Turkish capital, and fleet is prepared for it. They’re going to pacify China too…”

(Nikolay Ravich “Two capitals” (p. 300).


A. V. Khrapovitsky, Secretary of State of the Empress Catherine II,

“26th January, 1792. Papers were asked and Potemkin’s project about the conquest of Persia was found; these papers were taken and hidden.”

(“Notes of A. V. Khrapovitsky, Secretary of State of the Empress Catherine II”. Moscow, 1862).


“Notes of Alexander M. Turgenev” say that during the siege of Ochakov, when “army died of cold, hunger and living in dug-outs, but prince Potemkin gave balls, feasts, burned fireworks in his main flat, at the camp.., made love with… former laundress in Constantinople, then with wife of Polish general, count Witt, then with bought wife of count Pototskiy, and at last countess Pototskaya whose lovers were ministers and kings, being already old, she attracted attention even of Alexander Pavlovich.”


Igor Litvin. “The Lost World, or little-known pages of Belarusian history”,

When two years passed after the first division of Rzeczpospolita, territories were divided for the second time. Incipient rebellion led by Tadeusz Kosciuszko was suppressed with cruelty. In 1794 Suvorov’s army was raging in Belarus and Poland. Suvorov’s degenerates shot civilians in Kobrin and Malorita. They destroyed all life in their path on the outskirts of Warsaw. The entire population was shot in the Warsaw suburbs, Prague outskirts. In Warsaw Russian soldiers were carrying infants on their spears and bayonets in the streets. Perhaps the Poles will always remember this.


A. Langeron about P. Zubov,

“Every day since eight o’clock his hall was full of ministers, courtiers, generals, foreigners, petitioners, applicants or blessings. Usually they had been waiting for four or five hours and went away to return the next day. Finally, desired day came: door was opened, the crowd rushed there and found a favorite, sitting before the mirror and being combed, leaning a leg on a chair or table edge. Visitors were bowing at the feet, sprinkled with powder, ranked before him without moving or speaking. Favorite didn’t notice anybody. He was breaking letters and listening to them, diligently pretending to be busy with affairs. No one dared speak to him. If he addressed himself to somebody, that man was approaching to him after five or six bows. Having answered, he returned to his place on tiptoe. Those who Zubov didn’t speak to couldn’t come up, because he didn’t give an audience. I can prove that there were people who had been coming for three years and were not deigned a word…”

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