The last lover of the Empress – Іван Корсак

“If it were so” – Arceniy couldn’t hide bitterness in his voice – “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, but today Caesar needs much more… The empress’s decree demands lands of pontiffs and monasteries to be governed not by monastery servants but by ex-servicemen. They are wandering in monasteries, arrest horses, instruments and other property, as if for treasury, but treasury will never see it… Monastery forests are cut down.”

“Lord, why do you keep silent, why don’t other clerics defend themselves?”

Kalnishevskiy said and stumbled, he was sorry for words which burst involuntarily. But didn’t he keep silent too when they ordered from St. Petersburg to teach Russian in schools and soon eight hundred Ukrainian schools were closed on the Left Bank? Didn’t he keep silent when the history of his land was stolen in Gluhov, when all diplomatic and state documents were taken to Moscow archive of the General Staff?

“Peter, don’t think about it” – Arceniy shook his head as if Kalnishevskiy had uttered his thoughts aloud – “it is written: there is time to cast away stones and there is time to gather stones. God will judge, this means stones will be gathered …”

Arceniy was genuinely glad to meet his fellow countryman, his heart warmed as if he were able to go back to the homeland for a moment. To Golden Domed Kiev, Peter Mogila’s academy, St. Sophia Cathedral in which there is a spirit of Yaroslav the Wise, Bishop Warlaam under the cathedral rang, archbishop of Kiev who in far 1723 dedicated him to monkery. He often thought about return to Ukraine, he filed a petition about it. He wrote angry letter when there were more soldiers than monks in monasteries. The metropolitan confirmed that College Savings wanted to make a slave of the Holy Church and its servants. The College complained to the Senate and the Bishop was summoned to the Moscow Synod office, and they declared him a reprimand.

Indignant metropolitan asked to release him from the leadership of the Diocese of Rostov referring to the disease. Lord Arceniy wrote, “Let me go to Novgorod-Siverskiy, Spassky Monastery in Chernihiv…”

Synod was happy with retirement of Arceniy and prepared a report for the empress. But Elizabeth did not approve of the report in vain.

Meeting with Kalnishevskiy, news from native land warmed the Lord’s heart. But it was the last meeting – not destined to be more…


What the empress should do with Arceniy Matsievich? Should she execute or pardon him? To break him on the wheel or send to his diocese as Elizabeth did, clenching her teeth?

Catherine II saw breaking on the wheel. Criminals are taken to a special penalty on a chariot, riflemen are holding candles in their hands, the closer to the execution site, the greater the crowd of onlookers, who are greedy to the spectacles; and now the high platform on which there is the pillory with chains, gallows, rack, block, pointed stakes on which severed heads will be put, executioner takes whips, branding, curling tearing nostrils, mites and saber blades to cut off noses, ears and tongue; executioner is doing it slowly and with obvious pleasure, because he is the most important here and hundreds of eyes are looking at him. According to the decree about breaking on the wheel criminal was tied to the rings, they hit his backhand on the joints – sentence always ordered to break ribs, hands or legs, and bones cracked as dry branches with groans and shouts of criminals and squeals of delight, and fun of the crowd.

The empress thought that Arceniy Matsievich deserved punishment without doubt. On the other hand, Catherine II was always cautious, she wared of possible unrests among people, and she didn’t want to create a martyr for the faith from this lier, discourteous pastor. Secret expedition did not eat bread from treasury in vain, the empress knew about palms which were thrown under metropolitan’s feet when he was taken to the trial, and there were rumors about a prophetic dream of monk Theophylact: he addressed as if with a prayer to St. Demetrios who answered, “Why do you address to me, humble Theophylact? There is one among you who deserves no less holiness, this is Rostov metropolitan Arceniy…”

The empress was putting her thoughts on invisible balance; scales were rocking and couldn’t stop. And she didn’t have right to make an error at that moment.

Eddies of fate raised her and were twirling her long and threw her on Imperial Throne at last, her, who was German, who was of other confession and didn’t have a drop of Russian blood. She will have a chance and time to express her opinion about Russian state and people, about Russian ruling elite, opinion which appeared incidentally in the letter to baron Friedrich Grimm, “Half of those who are still alive, or idiots, or madmen: try to live with these people when you can.”

And she, who was educated and energetic, had to lead this stupid nation to something better, Didro was in communication with Voltaire about this. There must be no obstacles on this way and any resistance must be crushed down.

Her husband, thrown emperor isn’t a barrier any more; he will not be able to get out from under the gravestone of Alexander Nevsky Lavra. One more legitimate emperor Ivan Antonovich is a prisoner in reliable walls of Shlisselburg fortress: he won’t see human face for a long time, he is ordered to hide behind the screen when a guard enters the cell. Reliable guard is ordered to kill immediately those who tries to dismiss a prisoner.

On the way to the great aim – to lead these half fools, half madmen to wealth, there was the last barrier: contumacy of the Church and such pastors as Arceniy who tell that she was not a legitimate empress. But her mind will master it. She will gain new living spaces for Russians, and she will let contemptible Jews live only below the limit of settlement, and only first guild merchants, highly educated Jews, former recruits, registered prostitutes and baptized Jews will be out of the limit.

But there is one more barrier, about which only some people in the whole empire can guess – Mikhail Lomonosov. But she managed to clear this hurdle providently before her enthronement.

…The emperor Peter I was dying very hard. He didn’t know the reason for his illness – either cold, or poison, or maybe running syphilis, poorly cured by bad doctor – but somebody put the burr on his chest and each breath cost him an incredible effort. But when the emperor understood that it was his hour of death, he confessed to Feofan Prokopovich, “Lord, I have one more sin” – Peter was wheezing, not talking, rattle was pulling out of the chest with a stop, piecemeal – “I have a son, nobody knows about him, his name is Mikhail Lomonosov.”

The emperor told about that distant sin, now with a rattle, then in a whisper.

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