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GREGORY (Grigorii) GRIGORIEVICH ORLOV...

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Originally appearing in Volume V20, Page 293 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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GREGORY (Grigorii) GRIGORIEVICH ORLOV, COUNT (1734-1783), Russian statesman, was the son of Gregory Orlov, governor of Great Novgorod. He was educated in the corps of cadets at St Petersburg, began his military career in the Seven Years' War, and was wounded at Zorndorf. While serving in the capital as an artillery officer he caught the fancy of Catherine II., and was the leader of the conspiracy which resulted in the dethronement and death of Peter III. (1762). After the event, Catherine raised him to the rank of count and made him adjutant-general, director-general of engineers and general-in-chief. At one time the empress thought of marrying her favourite, but the plan was frustrated by Nikita Panin. Orlov's influence became paramount after the discovery of the Khitrovo plot to murder the whole Orlov family. Gregory Orlov was no states-man, but he had a quick wit, a fairly accurate appreciation of current events, and was a useful and sympathetic counsellor during the earlier portion of Catherine's reign. He entered with enthusiasm, both from patriotic and from economical motives, into the question of the improvement of the condition of the serfs and their partial emancipation. He was also their most prominent advocate in the great commission of 1767, though he aimed primarily at pleasing the empress, who affected great liberality in her earlier years. He was one of the earliest propagandists of the Slavophil idea of the emancipation of the Christians from the Turkish yoke. In 1771 he was sent as first Russian plenipotentiary to the peace-congress of Focshani; but he failed in his mission, owing partly to the obstinacy of the Turks, and partly (according to Panin) to his own outrageous insolence. On returning without permission to St Petersburg, he found himself superseded in the empress's favour by Vasil'-chikov. When Potemkin, in 1771, superseded Vasil'chikov, Orlov became of no account at court and went abroad for some years. He returned to Russia a few months previously to his death, which took place at Moscow in 1780. For some time before his death he was out of his mind. Late in life be married his niece, Madame Zinoveva, but left no children. See A. P. Barsukov, Narratives from Russian History in the 78th Century (Rus.) (St Petersburg, 1885).
End of Article: GREGORY (Grigorii) GRIGORIEVICH ORLOV, COUNT (1734-1783)
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