Chapter 1.
Caucasian vicegerency.

Prince A. I. Baryatinsky — a vicegerent and a personality.

In 1856, the vicegerent of the Caucasus was appointed Prince Aleksander Ivanovich Baryatinsky. He continued and developed the reforms, begun by his predecessor graph Mikhail Vorontsov. Large-scale reforms of the postal service in the Caucasus and the release of the Tiflis stamp are associated with a name of Baryatinsky. The personality of the Vicegerent-Prince had special significance for these transformations.

The painter M.A. Boleslavsky. Prince Alexander Baryatinsky in his young years.

The painter M.A. Boleslavsky. Prince Alexander Baryatinsky in his young years.

It was an amazing man. Historically, he had very close relations with the Emperor Alexander II. Partly due to this relationship Baryatinsky could introduce his reforms and innovations in the Caucasus. A special place of the count at the imperial court, and his unusual nature allows you to answer the question — why did the first stamp on the territory of the Russian empire appear in Tiflis. He was an extraordinary man, capable not only of military deeds, but also of determined actions in relation to the royal power itself.

Prince Alexander Baryatinsky was of noble-birth, Riurikid in the fifteenth generation. He was born and grew up in an atmosphere of unprecedented luxury. Only very few people in Russia owned the fortune, which his father bequeathed to him. His father, Prince Ivan Baryatinsky, died when Alexander was 10 years old. At age 14, his mother — Maria Baryatinsky, took the teenager with her second son Vladimir to Moscow to “master the sciences.” But two years later, Alexander desired to join the military.

In June 1831, he moved to St. Petersburg, and he was admitted to the school of guard sergeants and cavalry cadets with further enrollment to the Chevalier Guards. There he immediately showed indiscipline and restlessness. The result was the “weak success in the sciences”. Negligence in the studies passed into negligence in the service. The disciplinary regiment book had many entries about his penalties for “the pranks” of all kinds. As a result, the young Alexander Baryatinsky got his fame as a reveller, a playboy, a participant of binge-drinking parties and scandals. His mother generously provided her son with financial help. But this money was often not enough to pay his gambling debts. Once a future famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin and his friend Sergei Sobolewsky helped Baryatinsky to get out of such debt.

Tsar Nicholas I had heard about the unauthorized behavior of the young Prince, about his amorous adventures. Moreover, it became known about a love affair of Prince Alexander Baryatinsky with the emperor’s daughter — Grand Princess Olga Nikolaevna. Nicholas I was personally convinced that the relationship between them went beyond it was permitted. So he sent the young Prince Baryatinsky away to the Caucasus.

In the spring of 1835 20-year-old Alexander Baryatinsky holding the rank of cornet of the Imperial Guard Cuirassier Tsarevitch Regiment, arrived in the area of military operations. There was a different life there. There was a war in the Caucasus, and it was impossible to hide behind the noble family or great wealth. Baryatinsky had to quickly forget about the capital pampering and idle talk. It was with youthful courage that Prince threw himself into the hottest battles. During the clashes with the mountaineers, he repeatedly received perforating gunshot wounds. His comrades-in-arms used to say that “Prince Baryatinsky’s belly was like a sieve”. His courage, endurance and the ability to endure pain amazed a lot of people.

After he had received a heavy rifle bullet wound in his right side, Baryatinsky returned to St. Petersburg. He came to the capital from the Caucasus holding the rank of lieutenant; he was awarded by the honorary for the Russian Officers Golden Arms “for Bravery”. In 1836, after he had received the course of treatment, he was appointed to stay at His Majesty Successor Tsarevitch. Three years spent by him traveling with the heir over Western Europe, made them very close and initiated their long-lasting friendship with the future emperor Alexander II.

In March 1845, Alexander Baryatinsky, the owner of the magnificent estate of Marino and huge ancestral treasures, a handsome hero of the Caucasian War, who became the adjutant of His Imperial Highness in 1839, left the capital and came back to the Caucasus. That time he had the rank of colonel.

In February 1847 he was appointed the commander of the same Kabardinsky regiment, where he felt very much at home due to the years he spent there fighting at war. There he was promoted to the rank of Fugel-adjutant, and in June 1848, when Prince displayed his courage and bravery at the Battle of Gergebil, he became a Major-General with enrollment in the retinue of His Imperial Majesty. At the same time, the Emperor Nicholas I unexpectedly decided to “load young Prince with favors”. The tsar had personally chosen him a bride from the Stolypin’s family and thought of a plan to marry them. According to Nicholas I, it was hard to find a better husband for the maid of honor. In this case a fabulous wealth of the Prince was of great importance.

But the marriage was not in the plans of Alexander Baryatinsky. For a while, he managed to evade the will of the emperor. But when the tsar’s wrath became extremely strong, the Prince made a step quite incredible for that time. Being the elder son he was supposed to inherit the wealth from his father which he refused in favor of his younger brother. So, in an instant the richest man in Russia had turned into an ordinary soldier, living on the state salary. Nobody was happy with the poor bridegroom — neither Nicholas I, no the bride. The wedding was canceled. The Prince, himself was inwardly proud of his deed, and in a moment of candor once told a friend: “I have not succumbed to the emperor himself. And what an emperor!...”

However, it was only after the death of Nicholas I that the young Prince managed to become the first person in the Caucasus. The throne was occupied by his son Alexander II. The new emperor did not see “for the role of the Russian proconsul in the East” a more suitable person, except Baryatinsky. Therefore, in the summer of 1856 Baryatinsky was appointed the commander of the Separate Caucasian Corps, and from 1 July 1856 “performing the duties of Vicegerent”. In the August of the same year he became the vicegerent of the Caucasus with further promotion into a general from infantry.

From this moment the deep reforms developed in the Caucasus. They could be put into life only by such a brave and educated man like Prince Alexander Baryatinsky. The powers of the vicegerent and personal friendship with the Emperor of Russia allowed him to carry out any initiative, regardless of the Government officials. In addition to it there were legendary military deeds of the Prince. Having totally conquered the Caucasus and captured the main enemy in the Caucasian War Imam Shamil, Baryatinsky became a field marshal at the age of 44. It was the highest military rank he could get. But the adventures of the Prince did not end there.

There happened an unexpected thing. 45-year-old field marshal and the vicegerent of the Caucasus passionately fell in love! He loved so strongly and passionately, as it could happen only in adolescence. But he had to pay a fortune for his feeling. Not to marry one woman, he had to refuse the wealth and on the contrary to marry another one — he had to leave the post of vicegerent of the Caucasus. In May 1860 Prince Alexander departed from the Caucasus to a long vacation abroad due to his “ruined health.” This wording concealed the dramatic events of his personal life. That was a love affair!

Baryatinsky had developed a romantic relationship with the wife of one of his staff officers — Lieutenant Colonel Davydov. This young woman was the daughter of the well-known all over Tiflis Princess Mary Orbelyani. Georgian women have always conquered many men by their beauty. They attracted not only the field marshal, but even the emperor himself. The Prince had known that woman when she was a child and continued to call her just Lisa. He behaved with her like an old relative or a guardian of a little child. Baryatinsky used to tell everyone that he was taking care of her education and development of the mind, that they were reading serious books. They spent the whole evenings together. These strange pedagogical exercises were known throughout the city. A lot of rumors were spread about them.

The husband of the Princess, a man of a very limited mind, enjoyed the Field Marshal’s favor and hoped to get a place of quartermaster-general. Temporarily he was even appointed to this position. But this test revealed his weakness. When the hope to make a career was ruined, there happened a public scandal between the husband and the wife. Princess Mary ran away and disappeared into nowhere. Irritated husband became the laughingstock of the whole town. He was furious and threatened to go to St. Petersburg to seek justice. But he ended up resigning and fleeing abroad. At that time his wife and the field marshal himself were also abroad. [8]

The vicegerent, like a mountaineer kidnapped and hid his beloved Georgian princess in the place, where nobody could take her away from him according to strict Russian laws. This is what was meant by “treatment abroad”. This escape with the mistress did not suppose a quick return. The career cross was finished. Baryatinsky resigned but received it only in 1862. Outraged husband came abroad to demand satisfaction. The field marshal fought a duel for the sake of the love of the beautiful Georgian woman. For a long time that duel blocked the opportunity for Baryatinsky to return to Russia, which he badly missed.

They had lived together with Elizaveta Dmitrievna, nee Princess Orbeliani Dzhambakur-Orbeliani for almost 20 years. The Prince died in Geneva, but his will was to be buried in Kursk province, in the ancestral village of Ivanovo, which was fulfilled. [9]

As we can see, the biography of this remarkable man, his temperament and nature not only allowed him to win on the battlefield and resolutely implement the reforms, most daring for that time (including those in the postal service), but also to undertake the steps in his personal life, which none of his contemporaries would dare!